Do you like tea or coffee?
Is it the flavor? The shift in focus? A chance for your thoughts and feelings to settle?
Is it the memories of comfort and connection? Or, is a cup of comfort your only chance to be with and make sense of the confusions and conflicts of life?
Could it be the almost ceremonial opportunity to become present, and appreciate your experiences and existence?
I love tea. It is a lot like Qi Gong…
Choose one (or both) and within five minutes you can completely change your state of being and the rest of your day, or night. I also associate tea with Qi Gong because, when someone asks me about Qi Gong, I invite them to share some tea. This is a somewhat traditional thing to do in Daoist culture. It is also a polite way to say, ‘This will take more than a few minutes.’
So, I invite you to make a cup of tea.
Why Practice Embodied Mindfulness?
As a sentient being, who lives in a body, much of your existence is, and always will be, felt.
Feel into your spine right now.
If your spine could talk, what would it say?
How are you feeling in your belly?
How you feel physically, somatically, intuitively, instinctually, and existentially is who you are.
How you feel in your Body and Being, can determine your adaptability and the ways you ‘show up’ in the world. People close their eyes, take a deep breath, and sigh in the middle of conflict because they are feeling volatile. They also know that they have a choice.
Flip out – or feel in!
Try one of those sighs if you like – aaahhhhh…
Feeling into your physicality and intuition is a doorway to many things, such as Self-Regulation, being able to relax completely, and embodied or Somatic Emotional Intelligence. You just need a regular and deeply engaging practice. We all need a practice. Find a teacher with a clear, practical, and meaningful (to you) process of learning embodied awareness.
Relearn how to breathe.
Fall back in love with stillness and silence.
Dance like your Ancestors are watching!
Traditional conscious embodiment practices, like Qi Gong have been around for thousands of years – because they work. They can restore your birthright senses of agility, adaptability, and autonomy. These embodied states, not opinions, can reconnect you with your Anima, your Inborn Spirit, your Qi (the moving force that animates all life, and your Mojo (your instinctual physical vigor).
These practices also allow you to connect more deeply with the people in your life – and with the subtle energies around us all. Historically, these practices were considered to be Sacred, even a form of embodied prayer. This is still the experience of many Qi Gong practitioners today.
So, What is Qi Gong?
In the modern context, Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is a Conscious Embodiment, Healing, and Spiritual practice that involves and combines:
- Gentle and Rhythmic Movement
- Deep and Slow Stretching
- Transformational Breathwork
- Whole Body Relaxation
- Cultivating Awareness
- Meditative Presence
- Profound Immersive Stillness
- Cultivating Spiritual awareness
- Experiential Reunion with the Natural world
In daily life, Qi Gong is an individualized and intentional form of self-care that is practiced all over the world. For many, it is a primary method of healing oneself and others, enhancing athletic and/or martial arts capabilities, as well as cultivating Spiritual awareness, and a deeper connection with the Natural world.
With regular practice, most people reawaken a subtle ‘energetic’ awareness of their Somatic, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Instinctual experiences. This reawakening, or remembering, opens people to an ‘Inner Landscape’, and an inner journey of processes and practices that have profound impacts on one’s mindset, vitality, and longevity.
Why Practice Qi Gong?
For most practitioners, Qi Gong is a life-long journey of learning, playing, and celebrating a consciously embodied life.
For most of us, a daily practice, even if it is only a 5-minute chaotic check-in, puts us in touch with one of the most powerful secrets (or contexts) of life. You are sentient and most of the qualities of your existence are going to be sensual. Life, and having a body, seem to be about feeling as much, if not more, than doing. Qi Gong, and many other embodied practices, are a chance to combine both your ‘doing life’ and your ‘feeling life’.
Putting this ancient ‘secret’ of balancing your feeling and doing, begins with cultivating momentum, clarity, and growth.
Feeling Your Life
Imagine that you are a young animal growing up, playing rough and snuggling, with extended periods of stretching and yawning. Imagine you are a Lion Cub or an Otter, or any other animal you like.
As an animal, most of your embodied experience has been exactly the way life has always been, so all of your instincts, sensitivities, and natural curiosities are met and challenged every day. And everything works. The more you play with your instincts and follow your natural (lion or otter) curiosity, the better everything works.
Imagine waking up every day, always learning, always in your body, and always connected to your friends, your reflexes, and the Natural world. Imagine going to sleep after a full day of moving and feeling that way.
As Meister Eckhart says, ‘All Beings come into Being in a State of Being.’
When you imagine what it would feel like to be a cute and cuddly animal, that creates a very powerful change in your state of Being. Perhaps, because animals (you) are so innately playful, instinctual, and completely ready to engage in life. Animals remind us that we Belong in the world and that you have all of the resources you will ever need within you.
As you age, like most lions or otters, you may get more serious. As you get good at solving those daily ‘life or death’ problems, you may choose to seek less novelty. As the saying goes, ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!’
Depending on the kind of animal you are, the kind of life or death challenges you have faced, or may face every day, your mindset may get serious in a certain way. Depending on the way you physically get things done, like sitting in a chair or building rock walls, your body will get too stiff or too soft in tangible ways.
Everyone develops a default state of Being.
Every day, and at this moment, you can co-create your Jing Shen, the way your Mojo and Mindset feel and express themselves. Feeling into your Jing Shen, your State of Being, includes your vitality (or fatigue), alertness (or distraction), posture (or stiffness), level of mental and emotional availability (or overwhelm). And many other attributes.
Take a moment and have a Jing Shen awareness check-in. Right now, how does your vitality, alertness, posture, Mind, and Heart feel?
Your default State of Being, embodiment, and adaptability change everything.
This includes, how you approach growing and Healing. If you live with a chronic illness, it can be hard to trust your body sometimes. If you have experienced Trauma, including the Trauma of chronic illness, you have most likely developed some coping patterns and other potentially limiting habits – and potentially unconscious protective States of Being.
Just like wild animals, young and old, if you experience a State of Being you do not enjoy or trust, you may begin to explore apathy or self-loathing. Which usually leads to seeking distraction, self-mutilation, or numbing out. These are unfortunately very common states of Being today.
If shifting your state is a birthright, it is no wonder that addiction, distraction, especially social media, are so popular. Today, we can all go online and find ways to shift our state in a positive way or find something familiar – even if it leaves us feeling a lot worse. The essence of addiction is choosing a familiar State of Being that has negative consequences, over experiencing a lot of existential visceral, and instinctual pain. Sometimes, choosing a beneficial state of being can feel out of reach, and self-medication is the only option you have.
It is also possible, as you get older – as a Lion, Otter, or Human – to choose to play more!
It is never too late to become a student of balance. In modern life, if things get too busy, too intense, or too lonely, for too long, they can throw you out of balance.
Remember the ancient ‘secret’ of balancing your feeling and doing. Also, remember that this path begins with cultivating momentum, clarity, and growth.
To return to balance in the short term, you need skills like Self-Regulation, Down-Regulation, and Co-Regulation. In the long term, you will need to explore the opposite of busy, intense, and lonely. That is how balance works, and balance is where forward momentum begins.
For everyone, lions, otters, and humans, these are the most important skills for longevity and for an abundance of joy in your life! Every form of regulation (mental, physical, and emotional) can create a tangible shift in your State of Being. The more often, the more weeks, months, and years; the more patient and honest, the more personal things get, the more momentum you will generate and benefit from.
Learning to navigate and choose your State of Being is a journey. It is also your Birthright.
The more regulation experience, transformation, learning, playful celebration, and letting go you engage in; the more you will begin looking at your life and your journey with new eyes. Hopefully, with eyes and a Heart that are free of the past, and open to the wonder of Life – and the felt-sense experience of now. This is where the clarity begins to happen.
Together, momentum and clarity generate an innate sense of confidence and playfulness. Like any instinctual Being, Lion, Otter, or Human, you will eventually (or may already) remember that you Belong here and have unknowable potential. You will find Self–Trust.
This is where the real growth and healing begins…
Qi Gong has evolved, over a very long time, to help people regulate (bring into balance and health) their body, mind, breath, emotions, and sense of connection. Personally, and Spiritually.
Qi Gong is also a path of self-discovery, abundant health, and a much more playful and passionate approach to growing up and growing old than almost anything that is out there.
A personal Qi Gong practice is meant to be a lifelong journey of learning how to learn, learning about who is doing the learning, and feeling into the subtle aspects of life that you may have forgotten or become numb to.
In modern life, Self-Regulation and remembering to choose your State of Being are essential. I think that is what Meister Eckhart was trying to tell us.
If all Beings coming into being in a state of Being, why not choose a beneficial one?
Healing and Growing with Qi Gong
In the classic text of Chinese Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing), it states:
“Medicinal herbs are beneficial, but a nourishing diet is better.
Healthy food is amazing, but Dao Yin (Qi Gong) is the most potent form of healing!”
Qi Gong is world-renowned for its low-impact exercise and scientifically proven health benefits.
There are thousands of different styles and lineages of Qi Gong, each with its own unique intentions and characteristics. Qi Gong is truly a vast resource of practical wisdom. This ancient and beautiful practice has the potential to change your relationship with your posture, gravity, how you sit, stand, walk, dance, and how you breathe. It will also, inevitably, bring you back in touch with your Jing Shen and your birthright to begin choosing your State of Being again. Remember, as a sentient Being, most of your existence will be sensual – or felt.
Is it time to learn some new beneficial habits and choices and build some momentum?
Is it time to explore clarity, Healing, and growth?
In the last two decades, the increased availability of instructors has made it possible for many people to learn this enriching practice and transform their day-to-day lives. The easiest and best way to find out what Qi Gong is like, is to go to a class. That is not always easy or possible, so I will describe the way I organize my classes to give you an overview of what most classes include. I will also discuss the experiential opportunities.
The second easiest way to find out what Qi Gong is like, is to go online and find people demonstrating which ever form of Qi Gong that you are curious about. There are traditions that focus on meditative presence and stillness, others that seek to express ecstatic whole-body movement, some have very specific forms of in-depth Breathwork, while the ancient Shamanic practices mostly focus on the release of Trauma and emotional disorientation.
However you choose to learn a few ‘moves’ from an actual moving person, it will help you learn from this book a great deal. I will include some links to videos that demonstrate some of the exercises presented here.
Humans are better at mimicking movements than postures or pictures. Once you have a feeling for the qualities of movement, gesture, and flow, you will learn all of the exercises included here with more ease and intuition. You may also become more present, adaptable, playful, and conscious about your embodied life. With some time and regular practice, you may begin to feel a tangible connection to all life, the Seasons, the Sun and Moon, and the Universe.
If you are a patient with any form of chronic illness, especially Autoimmune Disease, unresolved Trauma (PTSD), and/or Addiction, Qi Gong has many specific benefits that can improve your Health and State of Being in a short amount of time. It is best to communicate with your primary clinician about what you are engaging in – like the exercises in this book. It may also be beneficial to connect with a Qi Gong teacher or Healer who could show you more specifically what to focus on, or to get a bit of a ‘kick start’ to your personal practice.