Blog

  • All of Our Stories

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Yesterday I spent time telling my stories. By this, I mean that I told the story that I tell myself now —  today — about my personal reality. Afterwards, I reflected and thought to myself that this story of pain that I told was only one story that describes my life and my fears. It is the most painful story, which I rarely can share. And, I am very grateful for those loved ones, who hold it for me in their prayers.

    But, I have to say that when a new day comes, I often lay in bed thinking of how to change this story of pain and debilitation. My prayer is that Qigong will help me do this by gradually changing me–my essence and my energy. In time, perhaps, I will see that there are choices for me. I only hope I am not too late in starting this process. And, even that thought has to go away! I need to believe in the process of healing for anything to help me!

    Some days I can. These are the days when I have slept a good full night and am not in pain upon waking. These are rare days when I can see the sun and smile, planning my day to include my Qigong practice, a little fiddle playing in the tunnel and time with the children in my life! These are the days when I am alert and I can relax because I have not had Western medicines for pain. My stories begin to have a positive light to them on these days. I think about how I will go home in October to visit my family in West Virginia. I plan for music jams and afternoon walks….most of which don’t happen.

    I understand and practice “as if” in my life.  Living “as if” I am healthy and can pick up that child or walk a half a mile with the children and our kites! “As if” I can work all day and still go out to jam on my fiddle with the local Bluegrass Meetup! If not, I miss so much joy! Almost any amount of joy is worth the physical pain I endure as a result. Perhaps only people who endure chronic pain understand this concept. Because, many of my health care providers and supporters don’t seem to get it.  But, that’s ok. I plan (see, I deleted the word “hope”) to make what is left of my life the best it can be one day at a time.

    I don’t know who is reading this…but you must have noticed that I rarely write when I am in pain. So, the missing days/pages of my life here are the ones when I can’t seem to get out of bed. These are the days that I don’t want to tell you about because it doesn’t seem to help me, except upon reflection. I want to record this part of my life–my blogging part–as the positive “as if” part of my life.

  • Doing a Practice

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    Doing a practice–any practice really–is not an easy task. A million things get in the way of best intentions. Right now (and I am sooo grateful) I have way too much work for my health. I spend endless hours on the computer grading papers and working on seven different jobs. No time for art, music, exercise or my biggest commitment–Yi Ren Qigong!

    So, how am I going to solve this problem?  Well, I am not sure. I am working on it one moment at a time. It’s after 11pm tonight and I spent the day being much more physical than usual. I had a flat tire today that shifted everything for me. I was stranded for hours at the tire store and had to walk several blocks to and from a cafe for food (This is way out of my comfort zone, but I did it!) Then, because my car was empty for once, I cleaned it inside and out and shopped for food and graded at least 15 papers tonight. The point is that I won’t be doing my practice tonight. But, there is always tomorrow!

    By the way, this photo of a dandelion is by Emma. She’s an amazing photographer who is quite young and talented!

  • Laughter is the Best Medicine!

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    Today began as a struggle. But, I was able to turn it around and be gentle with myself. I made good food for myself, took breaks to rest, and did Qigong in the backyard twice for about an hour total. 

    At the senior center this morning I met a very nice woman who told me about the free classes she offers in “laughing yoga” practice. I hope to have the energy to go a few times and learn some of her skills. I think I would benefit and also would love to teach them to my sweet elders at the Adult Family Homes on Thursdays. What a great thing to practice laughter!

    I love this photo of me sitting at dusk on the Dungeness Spit last year out on the peninsula. It reminds me that I need to spend more time being still in nature.

  • Qigong is Good for Fibromyalgia

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Here is one of many links showing how Qigong helps with Fibromyalgia. People who practiced daily for 45 minutes to an hour had really good results in pain relief and better sleep.

    Even though I have not wanted to believe I have fibromyalgia, as well as scoliosis, I probably do.  About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with it here in Seattle. Maybe I was in denial, but I rarely mention it to Western MD’s, massage practitioners, naturopaths, physical therapists, etc.  Having scoliosis is enough of a burden.
    I realized that I am not doing enough Yi Ren Qigong. Monday I did about 30 minutes in the morning and then 15 minutes later in the day. On Tuesday I practiced with a friend for about an hour. Wednesday I practiced 15 minutes and today I did not practice at all. I will never get well, if I don’t apply myself and do this work. But, I am working too hard. Today I work 3 hours at the computer and then drove up north and worked 3 more hours on my feet making art, playing fiddle and singing to two separate groups of elders. I was in so much pain then, that I had to drive all the way home and get pain medication. It was my 60th birthday and I wanted to go to my birthday gathering with my family. But, I was in pretty bad shape even with the medication. I can only hope that I sleep tonight. I am so very tired. Then, I will get up while it is cool and do my qigong in the back yard. So, off to bed for me! Namaste!
  • Pain Cycles are Teachers

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Pain cycles are teachers! No kidding!

    Reading this article by Brendan Thorson really helped me think about my fears, attitudes and depression around pain in a different way.

    Transcending Fears and Stress with Yi Ren® Qigong.

     
     
     
    I know the signs by now and not still sure exactly how to stop this pain cycle that I am beginning. I have slept very little for two nights. I did the thing I hate to do the most–I took some medication for pain. I have two big work days ahead of me. They push me to my limit under the best circumstances. No time to do Qigong until later today. At least now I have new tools to reduce or eliminate the pain. But, this is a s l o w road to recovery!
  • Choices

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Making choices that really work for us is easy, when we are in the flow. But, it’s not always easy to be in the flow in life. For me, there are more times when I feel I am clumsily clanking along–rather than everything happening with ease and for a reason. Today I reflected on when I feel that flow best and had a couple of  insights for myself.

    I don’t know about you, but for me, everything seems easier when there is enough time to accomplish my “Things To Do” list and reflect immediately–or even make changes right away by being flexible. Actually, everything flows better for me in my day if I don’t really have a big list. But, sometimes my list contains more than I can do in a week or a month! I know I am just setting myself up for disappointment.

    Lately, I have tried to make a list of everything that needs to be done and then prioritize it and spread it out over the next couple of weeks in my calendar. Many times I don’t do everything on my list. But, sometimes I surprise myself and have a really productive day. These days most often happen when I choose to take medications for my back pain from scoliosis/fibromyalgia. Without pain meds, I am usually unable to pull myself out of the funk and I end up just doing enough to get by. And, honestly, this is how it is most days, since I don’t like taking pain medications.

    Another day with only 20 minutes of qigong accomplished! But, on Saturday and Sunday I will participate in the Moving Qi seminar at The Noble School of Tai Chi & Qigong Training in the university district here in Seattle. I hope for some rest on Friday so that I can have the energy to do the practice and find my flow again!

  • Listening to My Body?

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Today I learned that listening to my body is very important to the healing process. It is not easy for me, nor is it what I typically think about when I hear, “Listen to your body.”

    When I am standing and activating my energy or breathing in with my Life Gate/Kidneys and out with my feet, my lower back and left hip and legs feel really hot and tense. As the day goes by, of course, it becomes more intense. And, I keep asking myself, “Am I crazy to keep going when I feel so much pain?” And, I won’t even tell you how it hurts to shift my weight onto my left foot and hold it.

    But, like any kind of new exercise, I hope that the pain gets to be less intense with time. After a year or two of practicing Yi Ren Qigong, I may find myself more wise and understand better what my body needs and is telling me. My teacher, Brendan, tells how he became more aware and sensitive to his different energy centers and organs. He tells us how our energy will develop in our bodies so that we can use it, move it and cleanse it to maintain our health. I know it works. I will never forget when I came to my second Level 1 class with a terrible back and headache. After an hour of energy activation exercises, I felt tremendously better and continued practicing all day.

    Already just weeks into this and barely able to practice independently, I see changes. My scoliosis typically puts much more stress on the left side of my body. And, my lower extremities are much weaker than on the right side. So, if I am listening to my brain talking, I feel like quitting. It’s exhausting to try to empty my mind–find Wu– and also feel this intense pain for ten minutes or more over and over again through out the day. Maybe it’s less. I feel rather timeless, when practicing Qigong. I know that it will stop hurting if I lay on the floor. But, I think it’s important to listen to the pain in my body too. I need to feel it and not avoid it so that I can understand it.

    I know that my pain is connected to my fears. I have been that way since I was a child–afraid of becoming crippled. Afraid of causing myself to be in more pain. Afraid of being dependent and different. Consequently, I am fairly stoic and not very kind to myself usually. I push hard, when I could stop and resign myself to poverty and disability. I am sure I am not alone in my feelings about when to give up or whether to just keep going until I can go no longer.

    What is quality of life anyway? I am not sure. I, like others who suffer from chronic pain with scoliosis, likely measure quality of life with how much pain we are in at that moment in time. The pain is never gone. So, less pain equals more fun today and more pain tomorrow. I make decisions about what I can do for fun by considering if I have the time to suffer more and possibly have to stay in bed most of the next day. Pain medication helps me be a happier, more active woman. But, it also has a trade off. I can take it for a few weeks, but then my stomach hurts so much that I have to quit.

    But, hey….who am I to complain! i almost feel guilty writing this. But, I know that other women my age have similar types of scoliosis. And, likely they have the same challenges and the pain cycles are probably similar. Anyway, I have so much to be thankful for in life. I will keep going with my Yi Ren Qigong practice. I have nothing to lose by doing this and everything to gain! Yes, I am grateful!

  • With Gratitude, I Practice Yi Ren Qigong

    Monday, August 5, 2013

     

    Today I feel so much gratitude! Grateful for my teacher, Brendan Thorson, who gave us so much of his wisdom and knowledge over the past two days in the Moving with Qi seminars here in Seattle. Grateful for my fellow qigong students moving along together through this process of building energy and learning to move it. Each of them brings a fresh perspective in their generous sharing each day of the seminars. For each of them, I am grateful.I feel so blessed! I learned how to make my body stronger and healthier by building and moving my qi energy to restore, heal and protect myself–physically, emotionally, energetically and spiritually.

    This morning I did my joint strengthening exercises, used my self massage techniques, activated my Life Gate/Kidneys, my feet, my heart center, my Third Eye, my shoulder center and my Dantian. I practiced breathing my qi energy into and out of each of them as well as I could remember.  I tried to do the Small Universe practice. Then, I practiced my Qi Ball exercises that are so much fun! I worked on the flow of my hand movements and weight shifting first. Then, I coordinated the different hand movements to my feet patterns taught in class. Here is a photo from the class:

    Brendan and Alan in class.

    And, the sweet thing is that I did all of it correctly. I always do! My teacher assures us that our bodies know/we know what we need to do and will always do our practices in ways that help us become more healthy and wise.  For this I am particularly grateful!

  • Sleep and Dream…

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Today I am exhausted again. I am learning so much about myself and my health. I went out last night to see dear friends and it was a much needed social time for me. But, I didn’t sleep last night. Today I have practice my Qigong twice–once alone and once with a friend. I did the Small Universe and the Peaceful Meditation. Now all I want to do is sleep and I can’t.

    The odd thing is that Sunday night after a full day of Yi Ren Qigong practice, I was able to sleep like a baby and woke up yesterday refreshed. I had a great day. I was full of energy and felt happy.

    So what does this tell me? Well, first of all, I know that I need to follow my intuition and what my body tells me. Still, even though I want to sleep in my cave for hours now, I think I will get up and go to the beach and enjoy being in nature. Then, I can come home and work more. I know that my work life is way out of balance and not good for my health. But, opportunities for work that I can do with my health limitations are few and far between. They cannot be passed up or ignored. Another thing I am seeing is that life is full of opportunities–some are unexpected and risky. But, they all are necessary for learning and personal growth.

    Time will tell where this journey takes me. So far, I have no idea of what will happen. I can only have faith that energy work, meditation practices and building strength in my core will help me live a longer, healthier life in the big picture.

  • Yin & Yang

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Yin and Yang!  I am learning so much about how we are affected by Yin and Yang energies. Today was the second and last day of the Level 1 Seminar Weekend at The Noble School of Tai Chi and & Qigong Training in Seattle. My teacher, Brendan Thorson, carried us through a long day of learning, sharing and building our skills and knowledge of Yi Ren Qigong. It was wonderful and I am glowingly exhausted! I feel good essentially, though my body aches and is tired. But, I just can’t shake my smile.

    You see, I slept very little last night–maybe two hours–due to a headache and back pain. I really wanted to stay home and rest today. But, I promised I would be there and needed to keep my word and have some faith in my ability to heal. I took pain pills with me and a heating pad. I had a blanket and some food and a pillow. I was sure I would need them! But, surprisingly I found that after about an hour of Qigong energy work and practice, I felt almost well. A wonderful new friend there also shared these exceptional certified pure and organic essential oils.
    So, I stayed all day and benefited by learning more than I can begin to remember tonight. Now, I am ready for an early night. My hip aches and I am sure that I will have my share of pain until my body adjusts. But, I am so happy and also more confident by the day that I will be able to be healed by this work. Someday, I will hike again and play music for hours without paying the price of pain. Yes!!! Thanks, Brandon, once again! And, gratitude to Dr. Sun, who was the beginning of this work!

     

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