Tag Archives: Yi Ren Qigong

As 2018 nears its end…

As they say, shit happens, and a whole lot of shit happened in 2018. When I try to think 10,20,30 years into the future, I do not see the sort of world I would have wished for my grandchildren.

But this blog is about my life, particularly my inner, energetic life, so I will say that a little shit happened for me in 2018, but that all in all, I am reasonably content, happy with my family and friends and the circumstances of my life, and even a bit excited by the direction my taiji/qigong practice is taking me.

The “little shit” in my life was Bell’s Palsy, which I developed a bit more than three months ago. Bell’s Palsy is a more or less temporary paralysis of one side of the face. Its cause is not clear, but it’s likely the result of one of the herpes viruses (cold sores or shingles) resident in the body setting up shop in obne of the cranial nerves that serves the face. Most people mostly recover, and I may recover further, but my left eye still doesn’t fully close (mostly a problem because the cornea could dry out to the point of damage) and the left side of my mouth doesn’t work quite right (a problem for me because it won’t close properly on the mouthpiece of a Native American-style flute).

I now wear moisture-chamber silicone goggles to bed at night; they make me look rather like a fish from some woebegone watery world. If I had overcome my vanity, I would attach the selfie I took trying to smile when one side of my face was paralyzed and I was wearing the goggles.

Oh, well, enough of that….

I continue to do Yi Ren Qigong with friends, but I don’t think I will ever feel my organs or my meridians with any degree of precision, and I don’t believe my future lies with Yi Ren Qigong.
I have been going more and more often to the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle, which teaches the Hunyuan system of taiji and qigong. Compared to the Yang-style taiji I have done for many years, Hunyuan Chen-style taiji seems very organic and more like it fits my body; and compared to Yi Ren Qigong, Hunyuan Qigong seems blissfully simple and natural.

This weekend, I learned some things about relaxing into and moving in circles from my hip joints which resulted in my feeling incredibly grounded and stable. I was thrilled—and also aware that most of the other human beings on this planet would find me ridiculous.
Where will this lead? I don’t know. Deeper inside…..

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day. I will wake, make and drink tea and meditate while still sitting on my sofa and holding a lovely orb of ruby fuchsite, and then I will go out on my balcony to do some taiji. It will be quiet, because even though it may already be 7 a.m., there will be no beeping from the construction site next door because of the holiday.

While on my balcony, I will try to figure out if I can reposition my new second hummingbird feeder so as to foil the bully bird who spends his time sitting on a railing and keeping other hummingbirds away from both feeders.

At noon, my daughter and her family will arrive, and she will drive us to Seattle so that my son-in-law, my grandsons and I can walk across Lake Washington to Bellevue on the 520 floating bridge sidewalk (I take delight in the notion of walking on water). The walk will take about an hour; if we are lucky, we still see Mount Rainier.

At 3 I am due at an open house with one set of wonderful friends, and at 5, I will be eating dinner with some other friends, including my son’s long-ago soccer coach (which I mention by way of saying we go way back).

I will come home, and it will be quiet in my apartment as I live alone and my cat has been gone for a year. I may try to practice the flute a bit, and I will read the paper, then go to bed. Before I brush my teeth and put on my silicone goggles, I will hang a white plastic card on my doorknob so that in the morning, if I don’t remember to take it back in, or if something bad has happened to me during the night, one of my neighbors in this over-55 co-op where I live will knock on my door to make sure I’m OK.

It is, really, quite a lovely life….

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Why Is My Qi Running Amok?

It appears that qi is running loose in my body, doing what it will without regard for my conscious mind’s wishes, timetable or understanding—indeed, it seems to be running amok.

This would explain the events that I’ve written about in recent months, events that have been officially characterized as “spells.” It would also explain some more recent phenomena which I’m not calling spells and haven’t reported to my neurologist because they seem so clearly to be energy events and because they have not been accompanied by cognitive shifts.

Among the non-spell phenomena are what I refer to as “balance issues” when speaking with outsiders and as “internal energy swoopiness” when talking with friends who practice qigong. Also included are the periodic uprisings of sexual energy about which I speak only with qigong friends.

Yesterday, both of these phenomena occurred.

First came the balance/swoopiness-related event.

I was in my kitchen, doing kitchen things, when I paused and felt a wave of softness descend downward from my lower back. It was lovely, and I was thrilled. The same thing had happened a few days previous, and I was thrilled then, too. My qi was sinking instead of swooping!

In recent months, internal swoopiness has become the bane of my taiji practice. Balance was never my strong suit, largely because of creeping scoliosis and poor alignment of body parts. But even as my alignment has been improving, thanks to a lot of hard work, my ability to do the kicks required in the form has been declining.

This internal swoopiness is a bit like the way you feel when you’re back on land after having been on a boat, where things are going up and down inside but not outside; sometimes, especially when I’m tired or a taiji class is stressful, I’m feeling so much internal roiling that I’m amazed I don’t simply fall over.

Taiji people all say I need to relax and sink my qi, although it is hard to relax given how hard I am working to maintain proper alignment.

My own view has been that my difficulty grounding might have to do with the lack of energetic sensations in my legs and feet—I used to refer to them as my dead zone—and I’ve been addressing this on many fronts for quite a while. Success has begun to come, albeit in small increments. I can now feel energy moving up and down my legs as I inhale up from my feet and exhale down through my sacrum to the earth. But I still can’t stick a kick. Continue reading

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The Draining of My Brain

NOTE: I’ve not written many posts lately. I got sidetracked dealing with other aspects of my life. But also I haven’t been clear enough about what I think to try writing it down. The following post is probably too long, but let’s just say I’m making up for lost time. (Hah! Try telling that to any editor.) (Oh, well….)

Something is happening to my brain, and I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it is good or bad or if it’s the consequence of my qigong practice, of ordinary aging or even of some sort of disease process.

Well, some of it for sure is aging. Anybody who claims that age only matters if you’re a bottle of wine or a wheel of cheese has not sat with a group of people my age—73—who are trying to remember the name of a mutual friend, or a flower, or a movie or a book. We all hate it when that happens….

But there are other things—in particular, my “spells.”

I’ve never thought of myself as the sort of woman who’d have spells, but the word is there, in the report from the neurologist to whom I was sent after I’d had two of them.

They frighten me—but they also intrigue me. I want to know what they are, and what they portend, but I don’t know and haven’t figured out how to find out.

From a western medical point of view, my spells may have been cardiovascular events or, as I think more likely, they may have been neurological events, perhaps some sort of seizure. Neither of these alternatives is cheering.

On the other hand, as you will see when I describe my spells, they were also energy events, because, of course, everything is an energy event, but they were energy events with features akin to what I experience when I practice qigong. My qigong teacher, Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, has said they indicate progress in my qigong practice, and perhaps he is right. Maybe after a certain amount of energetic development, one’s brain must reboot.

I will start by describing the event that got my attention in a really big way.

It happened on Aug. 15, 2015, at the end of a period of significant stress. I’d felt I was handling everything well, and was enjoying that feeling, but in retrospect, perhaps I was not.

The day before the incident, I’d been working at my computer when I learned that I needed to assemble a group of people to meet in 20 minutes—not a big deal, really, but as soon as I started scurrying around to do what needed to be done, I felt like I was working through some sort of roiling mental and physical fog, and it was difficult to keep focused on what I was saying and doing. It was not a new feeling—for months I’d been experiencing a variety of odd sensations that I wrote off as energy things, or blood sugar things, or balance mechanism things, or digestive things—but it was more extreme and not at all pleasant.

However, the next morning, I felt fine. I went to a friend’s apartment for brunch and ended up staying five hours, talking about issues in the community in which we both live.

By the end of that time, I was sitting on my friend’s sofa, slumped down with my neck arched over the top edge. I was looking up and talking to her when I realized that I was having difficulty expressing myself because I couldn’t call forth names and facts that I knew I should remember. I got up and left, just wanting to go home, and walked through her building and another building feeling just a bit strange. I knew something wasn’t right. I stepped out into the sunlight to cross the parking lot in front of my building, and the back of my neck seized up. Continue reading

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Waking from Evening Overeating…

sad stomachI eat too much too late at night. Sometimes it’s because my teaching schedule has thrown my meal schedule off, but more often it’s because I’m restless and tired and have a refrigerator in my kitchen.

I know I shouldn’t do this; it just makes me fat, and besides, my qigong teacher Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun says the stomach and other “bag” organs need periods of being empty. But I haven’t been able to stop.

However, perhaps there is hope for change, hope in the form of qigong.

In my last post, about an insight I had on the negative thinking that is part of depression, I cited the following passage from Dr. Sun’s manual for Level I Yi Ren Qigong:

“It’s easy for the mind to lie and have illusions, but when the body begins to be aware, it can actually correct the mind’s misconceptions. This is one of the key points of Yi Ren Qigong practice. When a person becomes more energized and as the awareness of the body increases, the body will start revealing that person’s mental habits.”

I think this passage also applies to an experience I had several days ago with a salad I should have forsaken. Continue reading

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Waking from a Depressing Habit

The lifting of clouds from Mount Rainier is like the lifting of the veil of depression.

The lifting of clouds from Mount Rainier is like the lifting of the veil of depression.

I was re-reading the manual for Level I Yi Ren Qigong the other day and found a passage about how practicing qigong can help us change harmful habits and negative patterns of thought:

“It’s easy for the mind to lie and have illusions, but when the body begins to be aware, it can actually correct the mind’s misconceptions. This is one of the key points of Yi Ren Qigong practice. When a person becomes more energized and as the awareness of the body increases, the body will start revealing that person’s mental habits.”

This wasn’t anything new. I’d heard Dr. Sun—Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, the man who developed Yi Ren Qigong—say similar things at many a qigong seminar.

I’d think, “Sounds great—but I don’t see any of my negative patterns disappearing; I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Voila!

Voila!

Now, however, perhaps I do—or at least I may have an inkling as to how it might work.

I’ve danced with depression my entire adult life—probably my kid life, too, only I didn’t have that word back then. After I started practicing qigong, my periods of depression didn’t seem to last as long, but I still went there—and recently I definitely did.

Depression has always felt like something beyond my control. When I’m in it, I’m in it—although thankfully I never get so far “in it” that I can’t function; I just experience a lot of self-hatred, anguish and despair. When I come out of it, I realize that I have come out of an altered state, but I have no idea how I got into that altered state or why I now feel better.

However, about two weeks ago, during a period when I was in and out of despair, I was able to see how one patch of dark thinking had quite likely caused another—had, indeed, caused me to spiral further downward. I could also see how I might have made things different. Continue reading

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Y’all Come: Qigong Classes This Fall

for blog face and handsMother Nature may yet throw us a curve ball, but it definitely feels like fall is coming. My body thinks so; my garden thinks so; my newspaper is full of ads for back-to-school supplies. And so it’s time to write about the qigong classes I’ll be teaching in Redmond, WA this fall.

I’ll be teaching two types of qigong—Taiji Qigong at the Redmond Senior Center and Yi Ren Qigong, Level I, in the classroom at the Vitamin Life store on Redmond Way. I’ll also be giving a free presentation at Vitamin Life at noon on Saturday, Sept. 13, during which I’ll talk about qigong in general and Taiji Qigong and Yi Ren Qigong in particular.

Some details on all of the above:

Free public presentation on qigong at Vitamin Life in Redmond, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13:

I’ll explain what qigong is and why I think it’s worth doing. And we’ll do some Yi Ren Qigong, since qigong should be experienced, not just talked about. Vitamin Life is at 15830 Redmond Way—and there’s no need to pre-register for this presentation; just come.

Taiji Qigong (aka Shibashi Taiji Qigong) at Redmond Senior Center, ongoing classes, 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Wednesdays:

Taiji Qigong is a relaxing, flowful system of qigong based on Yang-style taiji. It consists of 18 movements which I bookend with an energetic warm-up and close-down and accompany with music. Continue reading

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A Twisted Universe

Throughout the ages, qigong has mostly been a guy thing.

Its practices were developed by men for men; only a few women, most of them long ago, were able to slip through the cracks of cultural control to become adepts. But now many women are seeking and finding training; at the qigong seminars I attend, there are generally more women than men.

Since our physical bodies are different than men’s, our energetic bodies are doubtless different as well. So should our training and practices be different?

In taiji, the only point of difference I encountered was which hand should be placed against the body first when bringing both hands to dantian if you did a gathering breath following the form. And even then, teachers didn’t agree: Some said left first for women, and some said right first. My long-time Yang-style teacher Martin Mellish said that his teacher, the revered Madame Gao Fu, said she didn’t think it mattered, that you should do whichever felt right to you.

When I began studying Yi Ren Qigong, I learned that there were male and female versions for some of the exercises—although again, it was mostly a matter of hand positions. I always bristled slightly when Dr. Sun (Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, the man who developed Yi Ren Qigong) would have men and women do things differently. I would be thinking, hey, wait a minute, I don’t want to do the women’s version, I want to do the best version, the most powerful version—and I’ll bet that’s the men’s version. (It probably pays more, too.)

But I would dutifully use the female hand positions; who was I to know if it mattered?

However, recently Dr Sun created a significantly different female version of one of the key exercises of Yi Ren Qigong, a small universe exercise which brings energy up the back and over the top of the head in the Du meridian, and then down the front of the body in the Ren meridian. Continue reading

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