Archive for April, 2009

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day 2009 Photos

On, Saturday, April 25, a total of 20 people came to celebrate World Tai Chi and Qigong Day with me. We gathered and developed a lot of energy together.

"Riding the Waves", rising arms

"Riding the Waves", rising arms

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Teaching in Palm Springs

Teaching in Palm Desert

Teaching in Palm Desert

On my recent trip to Palm Springs (How I craved some warmth and sun) I taught a two-hour workshop on Five Flows Qigong. My friend and colleague Robert Haberkorn, DC, MMQ was kind enough to arrange and host the workshop at his office in the town of Palm Desert. Eight people including Robert were in the workshop. Read the rest of this entry »

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100 Day Discipline

There is a famous (in China) Wild Goose Qigong form called the First 64. It takes 5 to 6 minutes to go through this long form-not much time out of any given day. I wanted to practice it everyday to deepen my connection to it, memorize it my muscles and bones, and refine my performance of it. I also wanted the benefits that comes with practicing it- the flexibility, back strength, thigh strength, energization, etc., etc.

Commit to Qigong

I decided to commit to a daily practice for 100 days. This is called a 100-day discipline. It is astonishing how difficult it can be to just do something everyday. 6 minutes, all I needed. I practiced other Qigong during this time, and much Taiji; but I really wanted to get that 100 days in on that specific form. Below is my struggle to attain a crumb self-mastery.

Attempt 1: I began my 100 day discipline with The First 64 on January 21, 2009. I lasted five days before I forgot to do it on the sixth day.

Attempt 2: I started again. This time I made 31 days in a row, but then was sick one day. Maybe I should have been doing more Qigong to prevent the short illness.

Attempt 3: I assayed another attempt beginning on February 28. I got 31 days in a row again, then forgot to practice the form on the 32nd day. Damn!

Attempt 4: Alright, mistakes happen. I started over. I made 27 days this time before I sashayed away.

Attempt 5: For my next attempt, beginning on April 1 of 2009, I made it 39 days before the memory gremlin averted my focus on the goal. Thirty-nine, that’s good, but kind of lame too.

Attempt 6: June 12 to 13. 2 days. Kind of lost my oomph.

It’s not like I’m trying to climb Annapurna or something. It’s just a little form. A toy mountain.

My Haplessness Continued

Attempt 7: June 15. 1 day. Really lost my oomph. Maybe it is an Everest.

Attempt 8: June 17 to 19. 3 days. I’m starting to think I’m pathetic.

Attempt 9: June 22. to July 8. 17 Days. A little better.

Attempt 10: July 10 to 26. 17 days again.

Attempt 11: July 28-30.  3 days.

I’m not Robert the Bruce making 7 attempts to free Scotland.
At this point I said to hell with it. I practiced the form now and then in August and early September but I didn’t keep track of it or try for any records.

One More Try

I was looking at the calendar one day and realized that if I started anew, refreshed and with renewed intent, I could finish by Christmas (December 25.)

Attempt 12: Sept 14 to Dec 22. 100 days. Yeah!

I am a dedicated Qigong person and this was a tough battle, the battle of competing habits. I am sure that anyone reading this could do a better job that I did, and get their 100 days in with a lot fewer than 12 tries.

Renewing the Habit

Well, I could do better. On January 1, 2009 I decided to begin a new 100 day discipline. This time it would be two forms every day: “First 64” and one called “Spiral.” Today, I completed my 100 day discipline of this coupled practice. I had no false starts, being able to remember to practice and actually practicing both forms each day.

I found they were more in my consciousness in each day. It was easier to remember if I got the practice in yet. On a few days I didn’t really feel like doing the forms, but did anyway for the sake of my 100-day discipline, for my bid for perfect attendance upon this health-building practice. One day I had to practice gingerly, as my left toe had just suffered a smashing.

And Onward

I got each practice in and I’m already 33 days into my next 100 days. I started performing the Second 64 each day after getting some refinement coaching from Paul Li on March 9. I’ve been practicing each of these forms three forms daily since then.

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Change Your Life in 2 minutes a Day

Yesterday, in the “8-Pulling Waist” Qigong workshop, the topic of practicing came up. It almost always does come up, and should. Qigong, for all it’s barrels-full of benefits, isn’t much good to you if you don’t practice. Over and over I have heard from students how difficult it is for them to keep up a practice, despite their initial enthusiasms.

Practice is the First Principle

The first principle of qigong, as I see it, is to practice. More fully, the principle is: practice everyday. Doing some Qigong isn’t so tough; it’s getting into that daily habit that is hard.

Anybody Could Do This

The form we practiced yesterday takes 2 minutes to do. It took four hours to learn, for there are some intricate moves and internal understanding to teach. But going through it once takes 1/720th of a day to do. Anybody could commit to 2 minutes a day. Do this everyday for 100 days and you’ve made steps toward real accomplishment.

Start Small

If you have been unsuccessful as getting a practice going, it means you are trying to do too much for your current level of self-discipline. Start smaller. Here’s what you do: Take a short form or one exercise and just do that everyday. Write reminders to yourself. Mark it on your calendar every time you get that one practice in. You can always do more on any given day; but at least do that little amount.

As little as 200 Minutes to Start

That little daily practice will have some health effect on you, for it is Qigong. It will have a bigger effect psychologically. Once you have done something for 100 days in a row (taking 200 minutes total), it is much easier to practice something else, something more involved, for another 100 days. Maybe this time you do the short form 3 times or do a whole set of Qigong exercises.

Grow Your Practice

By building a daily habit, it will be easier to grow into more time with Qigong. For most people 20 or 30 minutes everyday is a good goal to eventually reach.

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A Simple Explanation of Qigong

Train Your Body to Work Better

Qigong is a strange-sounding, oddly pronounced word that simply means training your body to work better. Qigong trains you to be natural, at ease and empowered in your own body. Qigong trains your body to work better from the inside out. This happens not through some mystical process, but by natural means. By incrementally improving how you move, stand, breathe, and think, you change how your body works for the better. A lot better.

Release and Refresh

For instance, by learning how to put or allow just a little bit more distance between your bones, you create more space in your joints. This is like opening doors and windows in your home after a long winter (like the current one that is hanging on) to let in a fresh, enlivening Spring breeze. It clears and renews. Stale air is replaced. This is like riding on air instead of crunching gears.

Give Yourself Some Space

Opening your joints just a little gives more room for movement in each joint and the articular system of the whole body. It is like putting cushions between your bones. You are more comfortable in your body when less compacted. You acquire more capacity to take stress.  Synovial fluid of the joints can clear out stuck gunk. Joint tissue healing that might have been stalled can restart.

Get More Energy from Yourself

With less energy of the body being used to deal with the compacted joints, more is available for other processes. Maybe some chronic joint pain clears up, which is great in itself, and frees more energy yet. You will probably also breathe easier because your are less tense and rigid. This means you are clearing more gunk and junk out of your body and absorbing more oxygen, which gives you still more energy. Can you get a sense of how you now have more “Qi”?

Stick to Principles

Creating space between your joints is just one of many powerful, principles that is cultivated in Qigong practice. Learning and using that one principle of opening the joints can help you feel and be happier, healthier and more relaxed. I will write more about the specificities of joint-opening in a later post.

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