Tag Archives: Damo

New Year’s Day Spiritual Recognitions….

Like many of you, I generally use the turning of the year to take stock of my life and make resolutions to fix some of the ways in which I find it, and me, wanting.

On this New Year’s morning, I had repaired to my sofa with tea and cat, prepared to do what I’ve done before, when I found an email from my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and his naturopath wife in my iPhone inbox.

They proposed doing a different sort of stock-taking: taking stock of what’s good and what’s working in our lives, instead of what’s wrong, and beginning the year with feelings of gratitude instead of focusing  on deficiency.

If we’re struggling in some areas, they suggested we bring kindly attention to those areas, without berating ourselves, and then realign, perhaps redefine, and shift from wanting to having.

Frankly, some years I would have found this message a bit pat, even cloying. This New Year’s Day I realized, slowly but surely, that it was just what I needed, and what I wanted to and could do.

There are many areas of my life where I realize on a regular basis that I am incredibly fortunate, where gratitude comes easily.

But my spiritual practices had become problematic. I worried that they were self-indulgent, perhaps even pointless, or worse. Taiji often felt like an exercise in failure, what with my balance/dizziness/internal swoopiness issues. And I didn’t know where to go with qigong, since maybe I’d been doing it wrong and/or amplifying flaws inherent to my aging brain, with the result being internal swoopiness instead of knowing and peace.

But as I pondered, I realized there were indeed positives in my spiritual practices, things I could be grateful for. Continue reading

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Inflated for the Holidays and More Curious Than Ever

What does it mean when a person standing across the room from you waves his arms in your direction and you begin to feel like a giant inflatable Santa Claus being blown up for a holiday display?

You marvel as your normally twisted torso is pulled into alignment and you get taller and rounder as everywhere you expand and fill with tingling.

This happened to me recently in a guided meditation class. The teacher, who is a Chinese medicine practitioner I’ve been working with, had offered to do an energy demonstration, and I had volunteered to be his subject.

He started out holding L-shaped dowsing rods in each hand. When they crossed as he walked towards me, he said that marked the edge of my energy field. Then he had me hold his smart phone. My energy field, as defined by the dowsing rods, shrank considerably. It grew larger again when he had me hold a black chunk of rock called tektite in the same hand as the phone, tektite being a rock said to protect against the effects of cell phone radiation.

My doubting mind was not impressed. How could I be sure that it was my energy rather than his conscious or subconscious intent that was affecting the dowsing rods he held in his hands?

But I could not deny what I felt when he then began waving his arms in my direction before walking towards me with the dowsing rods to demonstrate that my energy field was now even larger than it had been at the start of the demonstration.

The tingling and the sense of inflatable Santa expansion were very real—and I don’t think I produced those sensations with my mind because I had had no expectation that I would feel anything. As I said, my mind was in doubting mode.

The sensations were unique, although I have had people send energy into my body a number of other times. Twice, a teacher extended a soft white cloud around me; several times, massage therapists have sent energy down through my body from the top of my head; and even more times than that, I’ve held my hand between the hands of an energy practitioner and felt it go limp as my body filled with a subtle presence.

But this particular incident was both strong and recent, so it is on my mind. I have so many questions about it. Such as why I felt the results of his arm-waving so keenly when he was standing across the room from me when I’d felt nothing a few weeks previous, when he waved his arms in a similar manner as I was lying on his acupuncture table. Continue reading

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Has Qigong Harmed This Stressed-Out Old Person?

Late in the evening, when I’m too tired to do anything worthwhile, I like to watch Jimmy Fallon YouTube videos on my iPhone. I google “jimmy fallon youtube,” and my phone presents me with a list of clips from his shows. Once I watch one, I start getting lists that include “recommended for you” links to other talk shows, plus, occasionally, a wildcard recommendation based on my having watched some completely different video weeks or months previous.

And so it was that recently my phone “recommended for me” a video by Damo Mitchell titled “Qigong, Problems in Practice and Jing,” recorded for Singing Dragon’s Virtual Qigong Festival 2016 in April. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtub+damo+mitchell+problems+in+practice&view=detail&mid=1189B55F133E015B5DFA1189B55F133E015B5DFA&FORM=VIRE

Oh, my. Thank you, iPhone. I’m a serious Damo fan—and I’ve certainly had problems in practice.

I have now watched the video three times and have concluded that the “spells” and the ongoing internal swoopiness I’ve written about previously may well be the sorts of problems Damo’s talking about and may well have resulted from my qigong practice.

In the video, Damo says that one or two people out of 100 who take up qigong in a serious way will encounter problems. Sometimes it’s because they’re tuning into their bodies for the first time, and an existing condition pops into their awareness—which is good, because then they can seek treatment.

But some people may actually be harming themselves because moving their qi around in qigong draws upon their reserves of jing, which is the energetic foundation for qi. If their jing was running low to start with and becomes even more deficient through their practice of qigong, they may develop kidney deficiency symptoms like chronic exhaustion, tinnitus, panicky feelings when asked to breathe deeply, pressure rising up in the head and headaches, to name the problems I most relate to—which is most of the ones Damo named.

If this starts to happen, Damo says, you need to rebuild your jing, and the way to do it is through healthy living and stress reduction.

Healthy living means getting the right amount of sleep, generally 7-8 hours; eating a healthy diet; limiting alcohol; and not smoking. (Damo says a qigong student who smokes won’t get very far and a qigong teacher who smokes is a fool.)

For people who’ve drained their jing through stress, he recommends not more qigong but rather sitting with eyes closed, breathing and observing the body, for 20 minutes per day. Continue reading

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