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Self Nurturing: The Qigong Experience

This is another catch-up which I referred to in my posting Freedom-  Also a Loss.  I had my Qigong experience in Orlando back at the end of April this year.  I read  Natural Awakenings, a free monthly newspaper that is mainly geared to health and alternative health practices and modalities.  For three years I had seen the advertisement for the Qi-Revolution event in Orlando in this newspaper and my curiosity was peaked.  But each year by the time I got around to checking into it, I already had another commitment.

So this year, or rather last year, because the initial advertising came out I believe sometime in October or November of 2010, I made sure I put it in my planner at first sighting.  Shortly after that I completed my registration and I was set to discover what this “energy event” was all about.  Because I saw the word “Qi” (which is pronounced “chi”), I had an idea that it was something akin to Tai Chi with which I am familiar.  However, nothing prepared me for the 4-day experience that I had with Qigong.

The event was held in one of the huge conference rooms at the Orlando Convention Center.  When I entered the room on the first day I remember my first feeling:  overwhelmed.  There were more than two thousand people present for this event and I didn’t know a single person.  The energy level was high and I was aware of a sense of anticipation buzzing around the room.  The second feeling was an old enemy re-presenting itself:  a feeling of “less than”.  Old toxic thought processes began to invade my mind.

“You shouldn’t have come here Margo, you’ll probably not be any good at it.”  “Most of these people are younger than you, what were you thinking of?”  “You’re going to make a fool of yourself in front of all these people.”  “How do you expect to keep up with everyone especially with the pain in your hip?”  And many other forms of “You’re no good”, “You’re not good enough” etc, and some other self-sabotaging phrases.  You get the picture.

After taking some deep breathes and centering in on my God, I was able to clear my mind and fill it with some positive affirmations.  Only then could I allow myself to feel the excitement and anticipation that was like an electric current all around me.  Only then did I really look around and notice that at least one third of the people there were over fifty, and quite a few were over sixty,and the really “young ‘uns” were a minority.  I smiled as I watched the negative thoughts scurry out of my headSmile.

Within two hours and after some great stretching exercises, we were all, yes all, more than two thousand of us, going through the first Qigong form.  I had no idea that it would be take about an hour to do this, and I am so glad I didn’t.  I think I might have panicked and run away.  But what was so amazingly awesome was that I was able to keep up, stay focused, and complete the whole form.  On top of that, what was wonderfully boosting for my self esteem was that younger people were needing to take a break half way through.

I am not sure that I can explain exactly what Qigong is, but I will attempt to do so.  Please be aware that this is my own subjective explanation.  Qigong is the practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for the purpose of exercise, healing, and meditation. But it is so much more than that.  Through the use of slow, controlled, focused movement the practitioner is brought to an awareness of the natural flow of energy that constantly surrounds us and that we have in us.  Through the practice of qigong it is possible to “harness” or “increase” this level of energy, bringing more into the body and sharing it out with the world.  It is what I refer to as the God energy.  I found the whole experience to be very spiritual.

I do know that I felt a tremendous “high” after that first session.  My body, despite some fairly severe pain in my left hip, felt alive and as though I could do almost anything.  I was very mentally alert and was aware of a sense of joy and lightheartedness.  It was as though in some way I had accessed a deeper part of me, or perhaps I had learned a different way to access my soul.  And by the way, no longer did I feel like a stranger in a crowd.  I felt like I belonged.

On the second day we did more Qigong and also learned a form of energy breathing.  If you want a serious natural high, then energy breathing is the answer.  This is something that I will not attempt to explain here because I don’t think I could do it justice.  You’ll just have to check out and see if there is an event near you and try it.

The other major component to this 4-day event was the approach to food healing.  Much of this I had heard before but in bits and pieces.  Jeff Primack, who is the driving force behind “Supreme Science Qigong” and the leader and main presenter of the 4-day Qi-revolution event, has taken all those “bits and pieces” and presents them as one whole healing source.  It felt as though someone finally gave me the key to the lock and showed me how to turn it. 

I have been working diligently on my approach to food for many years, but since this event it has been easier to bring things into place within my daily diet.  I am sixty seven years young, with just as many years of bad habits about food, plus I am a slow learner.  There are times when I can really follow true healthy eating, and there are other times when I just muddle along as best I can.  But somehow, since my Qigong experience, I manage to come back to the full healthy approach.  I am just so very grateful for this experience that has taught me to incorporate some very specific things on a daily basis into my nutrition plan today. Thanks to that I am almost totally free of arthritic pain.  My energy levels are so much higher and my body feels healthier in general.

I have just read through this posting and I realize that I have given a very poor “nutshell” idea of what my Qigong experience was about.  I guess it is something that you have to experience personally to have a full or better understanding of it rather than just reading words.  Much as I love my words, I am very conscious of the fact that sometimes they simply do not do justice to an event or situation.  This is one of those times.  Please check out Qigong for yourselves.  It really is quite amazing and will probably change your life forever.

Musings: Life As Water

I don’t know whether I have shared the water story yet.  After searching through my archives I have come to the conclusion that I have not and feel compelled to write it now.

It all began a couple of years ago as I was dealing with the latest “bombshell” from our daughter.  I knew to the depths of my soul that I was in deep trouble internally, because I wanted to “shut down”, run away, not see or talk with anyone.  Those are all danger signals for me.

I immediately alerted my support network and began what turned out to be two years of intense personal work.  I firmly believe that God provides – always, even when we are not quite aware of it.  In the month or so before the “bombshell”, I had heard about a couple of people who offered new-to-me alternative therapy, and I had put them in a file for future reference.

Well, now was the future, so I contacted them and made appointments.  They have both helped me tremendously in my personal growth, but more importantly they gave me incredible support as I dealt with very difficult times.  I also began working with an amazingly skilled and talented male massage therapist who was referred to me by a very trusted friend/female massage therapist.  There’s nothing like male energy to “shake things up a bit”.

At the time, I was also involved in some special one-on-one work with one of my very dear friends. As I spent some time with her one morning she suddenly said, a propos of nothing that we were talking about in that particular moment, “Margo I read something this morning and I think you would like it.”  She then proceeded to show me the 78th Verse of the Tao Te Ching written by Lao_tzu, as presented and commented on by Wayne Dyer in his book Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life, (which I then had to promptly go and buy!!).

I am going to write out the verse as it appears in the book:

Nothing in the world is softer
and weaker than water.
But for attacking the hard, the unyielding,
nothing can surpass it.
There is nothing like it.

The weak overcomes the strong;
the soft surpasses the hard.
In all the world, there is no one who does not know this,
but no one can master the practice

Therefore the master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow;
evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is the people’s greatest help.

True words appear paradoxical.

The ensuing chapter was titled “Living Like Water” and Wayne Dyer comments on the verse in the following way.  “Be like water seems to be repeated throughout the Tao Te Ching. ……..Water is elusive until you cease grasping and let your hand relax and be one with it – ………  Overcome the unyielding parts of your life by yielding! ……. Remember to stay flexible, willing to lower yourself in humility and appear weak, but knowing that you are in harmony with the Tao.  …….. When you stay soft and surpass the hard, you too will be indestructible.  There’s nothing softer than water under heaven, and yet there’s nothing that can surpass it for overcoming the hard.”

I knew in that moment that this was a huge lesson that I needed to take to heart.  I needed to practice being soft and flexible rather than being tough.  I needed, just like water, “to find my own level below all strong things”. I needed, just like water, to return to my own Source (which for me is God) and allow Him to use me over and over in ways that He sees fit.

After reading this passage and processing my thoughts, I came to a great place of peace.  Even though I was in the midst of great spiritual, emotional, mental, and consequently physical, turmoil I could feel God’s love and grace surround me and sustain me.

My husband was in San Diego at the time.  Later that day he called me and I was able to share my “water experience” with him.  As I was telling him the story, he suddenly said, “Oh my God, Oh my God!”.  In somewhat of a panic and with my heart beating wildly I shouted down the phone, “What’s the matter?  What’s happening?” 

His response sent chills up and down my spine, and I get goose bumps all over again as I recount these events.  He replied, “It’s OK, everything is OK.  It’s just that a girl is walking past and her T-shirt logo says ‘Water is Life’.  Needless to say I felt the hand of God right there.  I felt His presence and I knew that no matter what, He would always be there for me.      

Self Nurturing: Holistic Health

I am a firm believer in taking care of myself using everything available to do so.  I also confess to not using all those tools to the best of my ability.  I am a self-confessed stubborn, obstinate, procrastinating, pride-filled human being.  There are times when I take the “I can fix it in my time and in my way” mantra to the edge of insanity!

However, I do not live like that most of the time – thank God.  With a great deal of help and support from too many people to be able to name individually (although some of them were mentioned in my posting Mentors-  Along the Path of Life) , I have found many ways and many tools to help myself.  I have also come to understand that my schedule does not always align with God’s schedule, or the universe’s schedule, or friend’s or doctor’s schedules!  And along the way I have acquired a little patience and a little humility and learned to live in joy.

I know that I have mentioned in previous postings that I use massage and Reiki as part of my preventive health measures.  Although some massage some of the time specifically helps any physical challenges that I may be facing, massage can always help, as long as I am completely open to it, my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being too.  Reiki, I believe, works in the opposite way.  I find that Reiki always brings me comfort, healing, and alignment on the emotional, spiritual, and mental levels and can also help on the physical plain.  In my personal opinion Reiki is “God medicine”.

There are many other forms of alternative therapy and also different lifestyles that can be used to better our general health and well-being.  Here I mention just a couple because they are also my own “weak areas” (read: areas in which I procrastinate or am pridefully stubborn!).  We read frequently that we are what we eat, which means that in some way I eat too much fat/wrong carbohydrate content because I am about fifty pounds overweight:-(.

Please understand (and here come a lot of excuses masquerading as reasons, I’m sure!) that I do not “overeat” in the generally recognized fashion.  I do not attack all-you-can-eat buffet lines going back as many times as possible because it’s a “good deal” – although I have done that in the past.  I do not eat “junk” food: I may have one or two hamburgers a year and perhaps one hotdog a year at the church picnic. 

I do not eat chips frequently; I’ll have a handful with salsa if we happen to eat out at a Mexican restaurant.  My pantry is not full of Twinkies, or Ho-Ho’s, or chocolate chip cookies, or Oreos.  However, I do enjoy a good dessert when we go to a restaurant that offers them, and I will have a chocolate binge once in a while that usually lasts for about a week to ten days.  All my meals are made from scratch using fresh products – no frozen or canned or packaged stuff.

But what I have to admit to is that sometimes I could eat less than I do.  I could put half of what I eat on my plate and still be feeding my body enough.  I just don’t want to if it’s something that I really like.  I should stop eating bread and pasta and rice – but I love it too much, and so for right now I’m not willing to give those items up.

Along with the food lifestyle, and hand-in-hand with it really, is the exercise thing.  Do you know what my biggest excuse is in this area?  I don’t want to give up a whole hour exercising(even if it is broken down into small bite-size ten minute segments during the day!) when I have so much else to do.  And right now, this very minute as I’m writing that, I am feeling just the teenziest, weenziest bit guilty because didn’t I just write a posting (Reading Or Writing- It’s Still About Words) in which I confessed to spending all my time reading for about ten days straight?

So here I am, this imperfect human being making my best effort along life’s path.  But what brought this whole subject up in the first place is that right now I have an irritating tickle cough.  It came on some time over the weekend and was preceded by a couple of days of not feeling quite right.  I immediately started treating myself with Silver Shield, double dosing my Vitamin C, and taking Oscillococcinum (don’t feel bad – I can’t pronounce it either!), a homeopathic product made by Boiron.  The thing is it hasn’t blossomed into flu nor have I had fever or feel sick.

I do not like putting chemical medications in my body unless I absolutely, life-or-death have to.  I choose to take many different supplements and a whole food grain to support my health system.  I haven’t had flu or a really bad throat in a few years and I’m sure that’s because I preventatively take care of my health.  In fact, any real health issues that exist in me today (high blood pressure, cholesterol, reflux) could all be taken care of if I ate differently and exercised more!!

I also go to a  Board Certified Holistic doctor once every three months because I know that she takes into consideration my whole being (mental, emotional and spiritual as well as the physical) when she treats me.  There is also a level of compassion in my sessions with her that I do not experience with a “traditional” doctor.  If I could afford it I would go once a month but unfortunately insurance doesn’t cover my visits with her so that’s out-of-pocket expense for me.  But I care enough about myself to sacrifice in other areas to afford her.

Maybe one day we will be offered the freedom, under whatever health care we have, to choose holistic health care along side traditional health care.  Actually traditional health care through the ages used to be more holistically based until the last century or so.  And of course today, fuelled by greed and power, most of the big pharmaceutical companies will probably fight tooth and nail against that.