We all know this, right? We’ve attended workshops and read self help books on goal setting, on having a plan, being focused on a path, that sort of thing. We should, and we do, and we jot some things down and then life happens, and we get caught up in putting out fires instead of feeding the fire of passion in our hearts and souls. Maybe because I’m getting older and don’t have to worry about what I’m going to be when I grow up and maybe because I’m no longer putting all my energy into raising my kids and figuring out relationships…my options are narrowed, my time is limited, more and more I run smack dab into that reality. I no longer have the option nor the need to invent myself with career. NOW I return to soul work, not to invent but to discover all that has been patiently waiting in my being for solitude, practice, listening. Now is the time. Using this moment to make a better world becomes my intention. I need to put that intention to writing, shout it from the rooftop, chant a prayer each morning declaring my intention for this moment, for this day, for this life.
From Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.
And a wonderful, soul exciting interview about intention is at On Being, an interview with James Doty, “The Magic Shop of the Brain“.
In Wisdom Healing Qigong, the first part of our practice is setting the chi field, grounding ourselves in 6 directions with the earth and sky vertical directions and the 4 horizontal directions. We visualize the Mother Earth, the heavens, and the mountains, valleys, oceans and horizons of the 4 directions. We imagine our human selves as the link between heaven and earth and are energetically connected to all life here on earth.
One of my favorite contemplations is the Walk in Beauty Navajo prayer. I was reading it the other day after my qigong practice and I had an aha moment. This prayer also invokes the Source Energy, the Beauty, in 6 directions as well as in time and space. If we think of energy as beauty, and what a wonderful way to think of it, then setting the chi field and invoking the Walk in Beauty prayer is basically the same. How wonderful! To see the full prayer, try this link. Walk In Beauty An excerpt:
Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
May you walk in beauty on this day and every day, may your words be beautiful and may your beautiful energy being bring peace to our planet. Haola!* Namaste!
*Haola means All is Well, So Be It. It activates the belief in ultimate and fundamental goodness of the body, energy and all of life.
Step One: Notice! Anyone who has listened to or read Pema Chodron (or multiple other teachers) knows this step. Catch yourself, notice when you are “getting hooked” (shenpa!). Accept the feeling, don’t resist. “Remain like a log”, as Pema would say, to put a gap before responding in a habitual way. Accept the moment.
Step Two: Notice the energy in the reaction. Drop the story line, smile in your brain and send it good thoughts so it won’t take over the moment. Feel the energy and let it flow, don’t let it get stuck. Send it in to the earth (see blog post on Mother Earth as Composter). Chant, visualize the energy flow, smile, breathe, do some sound healing, whatever it takes to work with the energy.To activate means to consciously open to and cultivate what we desire in life. Activate a new response.
Step Three: ANY change of habit, even the smallest of victories (ie, hey I at least noticed my energy OR after the blow up I realized I could have handled that another way) is cause for gratitude. Appreciate that each time we accept and activate we are moving towards a whole new energetic way of being.
I’ve heard the above over and over listening to Pema’s audios and have read about it numerous times in books, magazines, etc. Repetition is the key to remembering to be sure, and that practice has helped me to a certain degree. But qigong has given me the connection and the foundation to truly make this acceptance and activation happen. I believe it’s because the WHQ moving meditations and sound healing practices connect me so intimately with my body, heart and mind that I have this new, close relationship with them. With my mind more connected to my heart, lungs, gut and my kidney’s adrenal glands, I can more quickly pick up those subtle changes in energy flow and so NOTICE a lot more quickly, which puts me on the road to acceptance, activation and appreciation. The 3 “A’s”. Guess I’ve accepted this teaching! 🙂
Have you ever been in meditation at a retreat or workshop so long that you get to a point you can either go crazy and run out of the building or accept and find a way to go on? (Because, let’s face it, at home in private we can decide the meditation is over.) I’ve had a few experiences like this.
One in Nova Scotia at a Pema retreat–and boy, I was so tempted to get up and run, seemed like the meditation went on for an hour or more. Hundreds of people, most of us in metal folding chairs, I can still picture and almost feel the inner angst of having to go another minute. But I did. Arg, what a struggle! Another time, I meant to leave evening meditation at Green Gulch Zen Center after the first 40 minute session (which I barely made it through) during the allowed time of walking meditation. I got stuck in the flow of the walking and pretty soon saw the large, wooden doors closing. I heard this “nooooo”scream in my mind but, I did make it through the next 40 minute meditation, but I remember the agony. My “monkey mind” was not a happy camper! I struggled to be in the moment because I really had no choice. Or did I? Of course I did. I could have gotten up, made a spectacle of myself, and knowing me, I would have made some excuse instead of saying “I can’t take this one more second”. Bow. 🙂 Acceptance is always a choice. And this struggle to complete a practice and the success of that is such a gift. Truly. The gift is accepting the struggle, accepting our limitations, and working through those. It’s our relationship to our head brain, that wonderful organ that sometimes resists our adventures into our other energy brains, that puts up a fierce resistance to that journey.
ACCEPT–From Master Mingtong: “Your relationship to everything is mostly mental”. We react from our brains. As we learn to let go of the brain a bit and go into our bodies, notice and accept what is happening there, we will be cultivating that gap needed to make a different choice of how to react, how to use the energy being created by the moment. We will be learning to “stay”. Qigong practice helps deepen the connection with our bodies so that we can seize that moment to do so. Beyond external phenomena, beyond the label of good or bad, we start to notice how our bodies are responding to things happening externally. We can focus internally and do a check: what is my heart doing right now? My adrenal glands? How are my organ systems responding? Can I accept my own anger? My stress? And by accepting, then we can let go, activate the energy flow. Mentally this may seem impossible, but go into your body, do the practice, the energy work, and you can move the energy from stuck to flowing, from contraction to openness, from separation to connection.
ACTIVATE–Once you can accept your internal and emotional reactions to external stimuli, that opens the floodgate to activate a new energy response. Choose what is most desirable for you. If you want peace, joy, and health, these come from a continued flow of energy so open that stuckness. Visualize light going there, smile to those parts of the body affected, use sound to create energetic movement (chant, sound healing), then change starts happening. Qigong practice is a foundation for this new vision. External change is the outcome of internal change. That external change will come once we can notice, accept, and activate a different response from inside out. And don’t underestimate the power of visualization. Visualize the outcomes you want, move your energy in that direction. Ooo, another topic for a blog post!
APPRECIATE–“You can’t be grateful for everything (for example, war), but you can be grateful every moment” David Steindl-Rast, on On Being. We can and should be grateful that we have the luxury of working with our challenges. Since they are inevitable in life, Master Mingtong encourages us to find the joy in this work and to be grateful and appreciate those challenges that move us toward our highest purpose as a human being. And as scientific studies are showing, being grateful is good for our health. Studies show that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
And from the first post, one of my favorite quotes: Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov– “The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words thank you, I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capable of transforming everything.”
“It takes nine repetitions to form a new neural pattern, but it takes around a hundred repetitions to permanently stabilize that connection. The modern science of neuroplasticity validates the ancient science. That’s the reason we practice for a 100-day Gong” (from TheChiCenter)
More of Master Mingtong’s ideas: Gong means to practice but it goes beyond that. Gong means to work with the challenges of every day life through your practice. And just like you need to eat every day, consider that every day you need to care for your body by doing the de-stressing energy work of qigong. The body will contract every day with stress, so every day we need to practice, open the energy flow and connect with our bodies and let that stress go. Health is an every day choice.
Once you start qigong practice, you do start to notice the difference in your body on the days you do the practice and the days you do not. I can attest to this for sure, especially once I started a consistent, daily practice. Here’s another ah ha–sometimes “if we’re doing things for others, we can be responsible for them and make sure those things happen, but if it comes to doing something for ourselves, it can be different”. We often put ourselves last, when the most important thing is to care for ourselves, to be self compassionate, to be in harmony with ourselves so that we CAN offer our best to others. When you start a qigong practice, it becomes a commitment to oneself for mental, physical and emotional health. That’s good stuff!
I resisted the idea of 100 day Gongs for awhile. I figured I’d do the practices when I could, did not want to be stressed by HAVING to do them for 100 days in a row. That sounded basically impossible, especially while working, traveling, etc. But then I got into the teaching certification program where gongs are required. Now that I’ve completed two gongs, I am now a gong advocate! When you are committed to doing a practice 100 days in a row, you find creative ways to complete your practices and FIND ways to make time. There is a little wiggle room. If you miss one day of practice, you may do two practices the next day, that helped me a few times. But in general, it’s also motivating to practice every day so you don’t have to double up! So then, once you have completed the gongs, those practices have become a part of your life. It feels weird not to do them! You figured it out. You made space for practice in your crazy, busy day. It’s a beautiful thing!
A great, not too over committed way to start would be a 10 minute per day practice–it’s good to start somewhere! So, let’s say you try to get up 10 minutes earlier, that would be best. But you miss that, so then there’s lunch time, or evening, or right before bed…you can do this! Remember, think of it like eating. Your body wants this energy nourishment every day for optimum health.