Why I Teach Qi Gong
I was first introduced to Qi Gong when I was 10 years old as a martial arts student.
Over the last 35 years, I have had the good fortune of studying with lineage holding Masters of Martial Arts, Qi Gong, Daoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and a branch of Indigenous Healing practices. The intensity, direction, and specific focus of my training over three and a half decades has wandered in some ways and stayed true to certain paths in others.
There have been two defining experiences that feel worth sharing as an introduction to where I am coming from, as a Qi Gong student and teacher. One was a near-fatal rock-climbing accident that should have left me in a wheelchair, the other was living as a Hermit as a formal Daoist initiate. One kind of led to the other.
When I was 23 years old, I almost died falling off of a mountain. At the time, I was on the journey of becoming a professional Martial Arts teacher. I was certain that I would need to rethink my career and let go of my Passion.
Fortunately, with the guidance of amazing teachers and healers, and many months of daily Qi Gong, Daoist Inner Cultivation (Nei Gong), and Healing practices, I was on the mend and had recovered most of my agility and range of motion in just over a year. Whew!
The world that I had discovered; learning and practicing more advanced Inner Qi Gong (Nei Gong), began calling to me. Within a year I had moved across Canada, made my commitment to becoming a Daoist Priest, and found a place to go through my Initiation process – which involves 49 Days of complete solitude, and at least 4 hours per day of advanced Qi Gong practice per day.
As a part of my advanced training in Qi Gong and Daoism, I committed to the traditional 49 days of living as a hermit and exploring my meditation, breathwork and Qi Gong as deeply as possible every day. It was a life-changing experience. After the seven weeks were over I wanted to stay in the forest for the rest of my life. My practice had transformed in a way that could not have happened in any other way.
At the time I was teaching Qi Gong and Martial Arts and continuing my studies with three of the highest level Masters in the Western world. I had planned to return to my teaching and learning but had made a discovery that I did not want to lose. I had found that not having students and teachers watching my every move, stopped me from trying to get it ‘right’.
When I decided to stay in the forest, a quality of performance for others fell away and began to move in unexpected, but profoundly more effective (for me). Meditation invited me into a completely new dimension of stillness.
I lived that way for as long as possible but eventually had to return to the modern world, my students and teachers. I was nervous that people would complain about the changes I had made to my practice. I expected my students to be upset at having to learn things all over again and my teachers would try and make me go back to the old way.
The opposite happened.
One of my primary teachers smiled and said, ‘I see that you have bled into the scrolls.’
I had never heard that expression but it made perfect sense. What I had learned was what I could see and ‘read’ from my teachers. I had learned to imitate them all and had spent thousands of hours getting it ‘right’. We all have to go through that process. Learning from the outside in.
At some point, those of us who are committed to taking our practice as deep as possible need to practice from the inside out. As a teacher, it has become my passion to help people move in this direction as soon as possible.
Every Qi Gong teacher and student begins with imitating the scrolls – practicing what we can see and understand. Eventually, if you are determined and willing to commit a few years of personal practice, you will ‘bleed into’, or pour your heart and soul into your practice and then it will become yours.
It has always been this way.
This time ‘In the mountains and caves,’ as the expression goes, changed the nature of what I understood to be possible, at least experientially with practices like Qi Gong, Nei Gong, and Meditation. I decided to stay a lot longer…
After a few months of living away from all stimulation and human contact, I was very comfortable with a future of living monastically. Perhaps I would become a respected martial arts teacher, or perhaps I would become a priest and live that life. I was 24 years old at the time, and honestly, I had very little life experience because I spent all of my spare time training. I left my hermit life behind with three specific intentions. To find an authentic Daoist teacher and lineage, to teach Martial Arts, and to become a Healer.
A few short years later, I had completed my studies in Traditional Chinese medicine, began developing and teaching my own approach to the Combat side of Martial arts, and had received the teachings of an Oral tradition of Lay-Daoism.
Be careful what you wish for…
At 28 years old, and I am a bit embarrassed at my intensity as a young man, I became a co-founder of the first full-time, 5-Year Doctoral Program, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Canada. Besides writing, translating, and teaching some of the primary courses on Acupuncture, Herbology, and Theory, I was also responsible for developing the first (potentially) accredited Medical Qi Gong program in the West.
That endeavor is the source of this book on Qi Gong and Daoist Meditation practices.
Are you practicing from the outside in, or from the inside out?
As a Teacher…
I have taught Qi Gong for about 30 years. As a teacher, I am committed to helping my students find a good balance between learning from the outside and from their very individual inside. The first few years are always about getting the external physical details and principles refined enough that a person could practice, and potentially someday teach with confidence.
As soon as I see that a student is ready to shift their focus to their own intuition and understanding, I encourage them to commit to a 49-day solo retreat to pour their heart and soul into their practice. No teachers, no audience, no performance, and no distractions.
I believe that each of us wants to dance to life in our own way.
Qi Gong is the most potent way that I know of to help people find their innate style of movement and expression. Combined with meditation and breathwork that help people dissolve unconscious and deeply held Somatic boundaries, Qi Gong is a path to Self-Awareness, Self Intimacy, and a true sense of personal and Spiritual Autonomy.
I would be honored to help you regain your birthright of playful self-expression.
As a Clinician…
I have been in clinical practice for over 25 years. Mostly learning how little we really know about health and disease.
For most of that time I have focused on helping people with Autoimmune Diseases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Addiction.
All too often, people with these conditions are left behind with largely ineffective treatments and passive illness management protocols. In my experience, just managing the symptoms of an illness will never resolve the root cause of any disease or internal disorientation.
As a clinician, I have combined the leading-edge sciences of Functional Medicine and Ancestral Nutrition with the ancient healing wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong. I have seen this combination of healing modalities help hundreds of people resolve or at least find relief from many of the complex, chronic, and degenerative diseases that plague modern society.
Fifteen years ago I began introducing Medical Qi Gong, Trauma Release, Breathwork, and more Personal Mentoring into my practice and my patients responded so profoundly that I have been teaching these practices to other clinicians and Qi Gong teachers ever since.
I encourage all of my patients to engage in meditation, Qi Gong, Yoga, Meditation, or any other mindfulness practice. I teach some Qi Gong, Breathwork, and meditation to my patients when I can. Clinical medicine is not really designed for that, which has been a motivating force in creating this website and these online courses.
People always get better faster (or progress slower) with a daily embodied awareness practice. Especially if that practice includes a conscious shift of state and narrative, as well as a tangible reduction in physical and emotional tension.
As a patient…
I have lived with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Coltis for almost 30 years. I admit to feeling frustrated that my Qi Gong practice wasn’t ‘working’ back then. Now I am grateful to be so much more aware of my health, my body, and how much trauma can effect your health.
Like many others, I had a very violent childhood. At first, it was a driving force in my becoming such a serious martial artist. I also had a near fatal rock climbing accident. It took two years to completely recover and be able to train and move effectively.
I am sharing these experiences because I want to shatter the projected beleif that Qi Gong, meditation, and martial arts are about control and perfection.
In my experience, life has many layers and many opportunities. The challenges we face and how we face them is what makes us who we are. Trying to be someone else, perfect, of magically powerful is going to distract any Spiritual seeker from even beginning their journey to becoming their authentic self.
As a patient, I use my Qi Gong practice to stay as healthy, aware, and present as possible. Meditation has become a silent visit with the wisdom of the Elders and Breathwork my medicine for when I need to shift my state and work with the subtle forces of life.
The integration of modern Trauma Release therapies with my other practices have made a profound difference in my life.
If you are living with Chronic Illness, Trauma, and/or Addiction, I encourage you to find a good teacher. It may help you heal in ways that will surprise you.
As a student…
I sometimes go to beginner’s classes to experience another person’s practice. Recently, I have been exploring other Qi Gong teachers online.
I learn something new from EVERY practice!
I once heard that wisdom is the combination of knowledge and experience in action, and that any knowledge is only valid if you are willing to learn you are wrong.
I will always be a student of Qi Gong, meditation, and Martial Arts. My absolute favorite experience to have is an ‘Ah Ha’ moment when learning something new and meaningful. It is also my favorite experience to share. I miss having a direct teacher guiding my practice in some ways, in other ways I feel that I have found an aspect of Qi Gong to research, develop, and teach.
Most of the courses that I offer are for those who plan to teach someday soon. I learn the most from attempting to communicate subtle specifics with others. If you want to teach, get really good at what you like the most. Then share it with friends, family, and your community as a volunteer. Learn to explain, and exaggerate, and find your flow, before you start teaching more publically. Use what you are learning about your inner landscape to encourage you to go deeper and try the practices you find challenging.
I had a teacher once who asked me to write down my most favorite and least favorite music. We were getting into some Nei Gong (Inner Cultivation) during some intense private training. The next class he played my favorite music, we danced and laughed and imitated rock and roll singers. Then he showed me why being emotionally invested, playful and curious were so important. I finally got something after months of frustration (for both of us).
Imagine dancing around like a teenager with an 80-year-old, world-famous Gong Fu (Kung Fu), and Qi Gong Teacher.
In the next class, he played the most annoying and ‘nails on a chalkboard’ music there is. Well, in my opinion. The amount of focus it took to follow his instructions taught me a great deal about focus and how easily distracted I can be, especially by preconceptions and opinions.
As a student, I am grateful that I will continue to learn by doing my best to teach this ancient and life-changing skill through a computer screen.
I look forward to helping you learn and learning together in a playful and focused way.