Peaceful Warrior

  • Adding Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs to your Yi Ren Qigong practice.

    8/31/2014
    I was sitting on the medical table and they were running tests on me. However, I was not in any major, imminent health danger. A supervisor and his student, a lovely pupil at the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine(SIOM), were testing my qi flow and pulses and deducing what points to place the acupuncture needles. This was my first acupuncture experience, and I was kind of nervous.

    They decided to that I had a lung/kidney imbalance and poked a few needles into me. I was told that my lung qi is kind of “sticky” and this could be caused by anxiety and depression. I was not very surprised about this, as depression and anxiety are two things I have been battling since adolescence. I have even been medicated a couple times, but Yi Ren Qigong and meditation has helped me keep my symptoms under control and I no longer take meds for the aforementioned ailments.

    I sat on the table for about 30 minutes with the needles in me and I immediately felt the needles “talk” to each other. I was told that my qi was pretty active, which is a good sign. As I sat there, thoughts about my issues started to swim in my mind. It was if the qi was making it very apparent what I needed to work on, and that acupuncture would be part of the tools to fix my issues of anxiety and depression.

    According to many qigong instructors, including Yi Ren Qigong teacher Brendan Thorson, acupuncture is part of three practices in Chinese Medicine that can lead to a healthier, happier life. Those are qigong, acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

    With regards to Chinese Herbs, after my treatment—after which I felt calmer and also a bit out of it, which is normal for a person’s first treatment— the lovely acupuncturist who is also trained in Chinese Medicine, gave me four bags of herbs to consume over the next couple of weeks, after which, I was told to come back and get another evaluation, and if there are any changes, then the mixture of herbs would be adjusted. Needless to say, I was very excited to be getting treatment for my issues, and Chinese herbs and acupuncture help. I have been practicing qigong for nearly five years now, tried Chinese herbs a couple times and enjoyed them, but this is the first time I have done all three: qigong, acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I definitely notice that doing all three has a stronger effect in balancing the body’s qi and in turn my mental clarity.

    This is your Peaceful Warrior, suggesting that if would like to complement your Yi Ren Qigong practice with something beneficial that could speed up your progress, give acupuncture and Chinese herbs a try: you may be happy you did…

  • Meditation is my Medicine

    7/09/2014

    Early in my Yi Ren Qigong practice, after an evening class, a fellow practitioner said to me “You are probably really sensitive, that is why energies—good and bad—affect you. You might have been a healer in a past life.”

    I am not sure if I was a healer, or if I am ultra-sensitive to life’s energies, but I will say that I have noticed that other peoples’ energies do tend to get stuck in my system at times, or at least it feels that way.

    A very popular way to get rid of foreign energies in your system in Yi Ren Qigong is the Small Universe Cultivating Exercise. However, what I have noticed this week is what really helps calm my mind and help draw me back into my body is meditation.

    There are many different types of meditation in Yi Ren Qigong and in the Taoist tradition in general. This week I have been switching back and forth from the Peaceful Mind Mediation and Wisdom Gate Meditation and it is helping me get through some major anxiety and depression issues, spurred by some personal issues related to career aspirations and romantic relationships.

    On Wednesday morning, I woke up with racing thoughts about all of my problems and delusional issues pertaining to what I think are psychological scars. I decided to immediately begin meditating. I sat with my legs crossed on the floor and held my hands in the Wisdom Gate Meditation Mudra, with my right hand lying over my left at the wisdom gate level and my thumbs pointed outwards.

    I then began counting over and over again up to six and breathing through my nose into my abdomen, scanning my body from my crown center to my earth center. The meditation was going fairly well, but I was still getting bombarded by intrusive, bad thoughts.

    What helped calm my mind, however, was when I began to focus on the back of my head behind the frontal lobe: the part of the brain called the Parietal Lobe. Once I did that, my mind almost immediately began to quiet down and it became easier to observe what was going on within my body. To me, this was a huge breakthrough.

    This week I also saw a scan of a brain belonging to a person who had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. Those with this disorder have intrusive thoughts that lead to illogical rituals. The scan showed a great deal of activity in the frontal lobe. In fact, the whole frontal lobe was lit up like a bright galaxy of stars. However, the person’s parietal lobe was barely lit up in the scan at all.

    The fact that my own obsessive thoughts and worries seemed to be turned down a great deal after my morning meditation leave me to believe that I was balancing the activity in my Frontal Lobe with my Parietal Lobe. This was very encouraging to me and I plan to keep up with my meditation two to three times a day.

    It is safe to say that Yi Ren Qigong is probably helping me more than any counseling or psychiatric medication that I have ever taken. This is not to say that Yi Ren Qigong well help everyone the same way, or that it is a substitute for psychiatric medication and/or counseling for those with emotional problems, but it certainly is working for me. For that I am very grateful.

  • Anger Can Cloud Your Judgment

    6/29/2014

    This week has really opened my eyes to how detrimental anger can be to your overall being. I have a friend who really wanted a job she applied for because she was dissatisfied with her working environment and pay. She aced the phone interview and was really excited. I went over to her apartment to celebrate with her and to wish her the best of luck with her in-person interview the next day.

    The next day, this young lady texted me basically saying that she felt she had failed miserably during the in-person interview, and she was sure that because she answered a couple questions wrong that she did not get the job. She told me she felt really sad and low.

    I went to her apartment that night to cheer her up. I found her in an intoxicated state and she started to trash her apartment in a fit of anger and rage. I did my best console her and assure her that she might still get the job and that she should not take it so hard. However, she was adamant about the fact that she had not gotten the job and that everyone seems to reject her, she is not good enough, et-cetera.

    The poor young woman even became suicidal as thoughts reeled in her head about the bleakness of her future. The next day at her current job, she even quit after being accused of applying for other jobs, and also for being on drugs, since she seemed out-of-touch. She was digging herself into an even deeper hole.

    However, the next day after she quit her current job, she got news that she actually got the job that she applied for and wanted so very badly. I joked with her that she had been worrying about nothing. She agreed. But why would this young lady torture herself so much just because of an interview that she thought she did horribly in?

    My thoughts are that she used a great deal of thinking process errors. For instance, she assumed that the hiring manager did not like her because a couple of her answers were not the best. Because she did not have enough confidence and self-love, she seemed to self-prophesize that she would not get the job and that because of that she was worthless and should just give up on life. In other words, she was being far too hard on herself and not looking on the positive side of things.

    She seems okay now and is happy to be starting her job on Monday. I hope that she learned that in the future not to let her anger cause her to make poor decisions. She is truly a great gal and I wish her the best.

    However, this week I was not spared from a situation that stirred up anger. Since late April, I have been trying to get my car tabs. In order to do so, I have to pass the emissions test. Well, for some reason the computer in my car that runs all the emissions diagnostics is not storing the data it needs in order to pass the emissions test. This has been extremely frustrating.

    When I did not pass the first time, I asked the tester what I could do to fix it, and he simply stated “Just drive it around more and come back.”

    I took the car to my mechanic a he reset my internal computer and told me to drive it around and then take it back to be tested.

    I did just that. However, this time I did not pass and was told to go to the main office and talk to the manager. I took both my failed testing papers in the office and the manager just looked at me strangely.

    “What’s this? I need the paperwork from your mechanic!”

    He then said some other things that I did not understand, since I was just told to go to the main office and not what I would have to show him. I was livid to say the least. I felt like I was being yelled at for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    So I went back to my mechanic and he stated that he is authorized to give me a waiver. He told me that all I have to do is show the people at the emissions the failed test paper he signed and that I should be good. Well, he was wrong.

    I go back to emissions and show one of the managers there my two failed tests and the signature of my mechanic.

    “Where’s the work order? I need a work order.”
    I was so confused at this point and extremely angry that the manager got very defensive and started yelling in at me.

    I told him what I was told by my mechanic, and he said I needed to read the packet that I was given when I failed the emissions test. I told him that I never got a packet and asked him if I could have one. He said he highly doubted that I was not given an info packet, refused to give me one and then glared at me and walked back to his desk in a different room. I was so full of rage, but then I began to breathe deeply from my belly and tell myself to accept the situation. Before practicing Yi Ren Qigong, I feel that I would have seriously raged and gotten out of hand. I would have asked to speak to his superior because he was rude and that they did not communicate very well with me. But what was the point?

    I then thought that maybe my mechanic spoke to someone from a particular emissions testing facility and did not tell me. I began to weigh the costs and benefits of losing my temper, and decided that the costs far out-weighed the benefits. I mean, in actuality, there is a protocol that states that if you do not pass the emissions due to your computer not being ready, that you have to spend at least $150 to try to repair the issue. My mechanic did not tell me about this, and on my initial visit to the manager’s office at the emissions testing facility, I was not given the instructions packet about what to do.

    Bottom line, there was a great deal of miscommunication and guess what, NONE of it was my fault. Initially I felt stupid and embarrassed about being yelled out of the emissions testing office twice. However, I was just doing what I was told to do. It was not my fault that my car’s computer system was not properly storing data. It was not my fault that the employee from the emissions testing facility did not give me the proper packet so that I knew exactly what I had to do to rectify the issue. It is not my fault that my mechanic can be a horrible communicator (albeit an incredible mechanic) and that he gave me wrong information. It simply was not my fault. So I had every right to be extremely angry, but again, what would that accomplish? Nothing. It would have clouded my thinking and I would have made the situation far worse. By humbly walking out of that office and then leaving a voice message for my mechanic explaining the situation, all while remaining calm, I am certain that my car tab issue will be resolved smoothly with little more complication. I did not let my anger control me and I am very proud of myself for this.

    So fellow Peaceful Warriors, let this be a lesson to us all that remaining calm in agitating situations is far wiser than losing one’s head. I hope you all have excellent weeks and Be Well!

  • Don’t fear the doldrums

    6/23/2014

    I am stuck. I feel like I am not going anywhere. But where am I trying to go? I have a faint idea of what my goals are, however, right now they seem unattainable. I feel like I am in a transition in which I am saying goodbye to my old life and my old self and waiting for my new self to arrive.

    However, I am not frustrated, anymore. During a meditation, I received information to trust the process of my evolution. Some of the things in my head seem very illogical and it feels like I am tormenting myself. However, one of the benefits of Yi Ren Qigong is that is gives you the courage to look at yourself in the mirror and the power to change the things you do not like—albeit the process, at times, can be a bit uncomfortable.

    I liken it to this, I am sure many of us have felt so down an tired, chaotic on the inside, that we cannot look at ourselves in the mirror, for fear of what our faces, with their alarmed eyes, might reveal. However, when I look at the mirror during times of crisis, I make it a point to change what I do not like. I smile at myself and remember I must love myself in order for anyone else to love me.

    All around me, there seems to be chaos. People are coming into my life that are incredibly unbalanced and unhappy. They seem to be attracted to me, like they are seeking others to be miserable with them. The old me might have obliged, the new me has learned to cut these people off. This is not because I feel that I am better than they are, but because I have learned that some people have chosen—yes chosen—a life of misery. It is true that some of us are more prone to despair, but all of us have the wherewithal to turn our lives around by leading a healthy lifestyle.

    An excerpt from Verse 15 of the Tao Te Ching reads. (to paraphrase)

    The sage is…as chaotic as a muddy torrent.
    Why “chaotic as a muddy torrent?”
    Because clarity is learned by being
    Patient in the presence of chaos.
    Tolerating disarray, remaining at rest,
    Gradually one learns to allow muddy
    Water to settle and proper responses to reveal themselves…

    If there are any of you out there that feel stuck as well, you are definitely not alone. My advice for you is to sit there and be stuck. This is not a time of despair—although it may seem like you will never be free again, you will. This is a time of excitement and a time to rejoice. Your eyes will soon see the world from higher ground and you will then be able to effortlessly look at yourself in the mirror and smile and look within and see how all of your effort paid off.

    This is your Patient Warrior urging you to all be well and keep your faith, even through seemingly chaotic times.

    Rejoice…

  • Face it, You’re Toe-rrific!

    5/10/2014
    I am going to get personal this week: well, more personal than usual. I am also going to get random: well, more random than usual.

    I suffer from toenail fungus. Yes, it’s kind of gross. I have had the fungus for about ten years now. I wonder, how did it get there? I thought only older people are afflicted with such a condition. Well, I was wrong.

    What I believe caused my toenail fungus is bad habits. I would go to the gym and wear the same sweaty socks all day. When I got out of the shower, I did not dry my feet off with a blow dryer or towel. The toe fungus was a definite problem that I became aware of. It was not until this fall, about 10 years after it started accumulating, that I decided to do something about it, and be vigilant in my quest to cure my nails.

    I went to the store and bought an antifungal cream. Now, every single day, I get out of the shower, towel off, and then thoroughly blow dry my feet, take a toenail file and file my nails that have fungus to make them more porous, and then apply the antifungal cream. Then I place a Bandaid over the afflicted toes.

    Just this month, I have noticed that my nails are clearing up and most of them are devoid of fungus. Only a few still have a little bit left. Both my big toenails actually fell off and underneath them, the fungus is completely gone. New clear nails are growing in their places. I feel victorious.

    Now, there are other methods to cure toenail fungus, some of which include a pill and some even include using bleach and water. But I discovered what worked for me. I did not see any results for more than six months, but I knew that eventually my vigilance would pay off. It has.

    To me, toenail fungus can be like bad trapped energy in our body, including our organs. Yi Ren Qigong can help clear that pesky energy fungus out of our system and bring in more nourishing energy. However, this task could take a day, a week, a month, a year or even decades. The trick is to make Yi Ren Qigong a part of your daily routine. Many of us have seen or heard about people living in China who every morning, practice qigong and/or tai chi to help prepare them for their day. They might be on to something.

    So now I have confessed something unattractive about myself. In the past, it would be hard for me to divulge such things, which seems strange to me now. For instance, if my car had something wrong with it that I had the power to fix, why would I not fix it, or at least get a mechanic to fix it? From my experience, Yi Ren Qigong gives you the tools to fix things that are wrong with your body and also your spirit, psyche and mind.

    On a different note: Another thing I discovered this week is that one of the best ways to become happier is to not seek adulation or adoration from others, to not care too much what people think. Ultimately, you have to lose yourself in human form and find yourself in being form. You will never be happy if all you do is seek to fulfill the ego’s need to get approval from others. More and more I am losing my old self, and discovering my new self. This can be a scary process and I have had to endure some hardships along the way. One of our greatest fears can be of the unknown. This week, I will continue to repeat this mantra to myself when garbage thoughts come into my mind: Courage, Confidence, Strength and Faith. With dedication and vigilance, just like I whipped what seemed to be an impossible problem of curing my toenail fungus (some people live their entire lives with an unsightly yellow big toe, just as some people never get rid of bad, fungal, energy) I also have faith that I will cure myself of old, bad habits and negative behavior patterns, bringing myself back to my true self, unfettered by bad foreign energies.

  • How I became Captain America (sort of)

    5/4/2014

    What is a hero? To me a hero is many things. A hero can be anybody. This is because a hero is a person who overcomes his or her fears, works on weaknesses and optimizes his or her strengths in order to be the best person possible.

    During the last couple months, I have been watching a great deal of movies about fictitious comic-book heroes such as Iron Man, Spiderman, the Avengers and my favorite, Captain America. Why is he my favorite? It could be because I relate to him.

    No, I never was in the military, or even had a remote interest in being in the military. However, I was at one time energetically weak with a slight stature. I was not as scrawny as Captain America was before he became the subject of a military experiment to turn him into the ultimate American soldier. But I was skinny. I was about six feet tall and 140 pounds in high school (I even got down to almost 130 pounds at one point.) My basketball coaches and peers used to tease me all the time about my weight. Even though I ate like a horse and worked out, I could not gain weight very easily. So I quit sports out of frustration, and turned to other hobbies, such as music and writing.

    About that time, I was diagnosed with having a heart condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP), in which the heart’s mitral valve does not always close properly. In my case, as in most cases, MVP is not life threatening. Although, coincidentally, when I was diagnosed with it at 16, Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics, who had the same condition, ended up dying from it. I was even in Boston on a family vacation at the time Lewis passed away. Sitting in a Boston Hotel room, watching the news about Lewis on television, I decided then I had to quit the game I loved. Although I had played in my high school’s select basketball program for four years and would probably have been on the junior varsity team and eventually varsity as a backup shooting guard (I was good, but not a star player) I just had a feeling I needed to stop playing. Sometimes I regret that decision, but it allowed me to spend more time concentrating on my other passions.

    Another basketball player, “Pistol” Pete Maravich (who I believe had he not injured his knee fairly early in his NBA career, would be more of a household name) was actually missing the left coronary artery of his heart. To me, it is amazing that he could even play basketball, let alone be a star player in college at LSU and in the NBA at Atlanta, New Orleans and Boston. Despite his rare heart defect, he became an incredible player and a true hero. Unfortunately, Maravich died young, at age 40, of heart failure, right after playing a pickup game.

    Despite my energetic and physical musculature shortcomings, I still worked out through college and after graduating in 2003 got up to a solid 165 lbs. with around 10 percent body fat. I was making progress with getting my muscles bigger and stronger, however, as was curious to me, I did not feel major improvements in my overall energetic levels and stamina. I thought I was just out of cardiovascular shape. However, it would not be until 2009, when I met Brendan Thorson, owner and instructor of the Noble School of Tai Chi and Qigong Training here in Seattle, Wa., that I would soon discover that weight training and cardio fitness were only part of the equation to becoming physically (and mentally) healthy. When I started taking classes from Thorson, I was fairly physically fit, but my stamina was not what I felt it could be.

    About a year after starting my Yi Ren Qigong training with Thorson, my energy levels increased dramatically, and my weight lifting performance improved as well. I gained more muscle mass and just as importantly my body began to feel less stiff and more flexible. I was integrating the physical body with the qi body and it felt amazing!

    This is not to say that muscle size is an indication of strength. In fact, in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tendon health and vitality is given more consideration for developing strength. However, in my case, I set goals for what I wanted to look like physically, and those goals were not necessarily to look like a body builder, but to look physically fit with lean (cut) muscles which would allow me to live an active and healthy lifestyle. I finally went from being Steve Rogers (Captain America’s real name) to Captain America. I was not injected with some scientific serum, but with qi (chi), harnessed and channeled into not only my muscles, but my body’s organs, tendons and endocrine glands, all by practicing this powerful form of Qigong called Yi Ren Qigong.

    So whether you are a comic fan, a sports fan or just a fan of successful people, remember those who are touted as heroes—or those we admire—often had to overcome many obstacles in life to achieve their high stature. We often only see the end results of their hard work, and not what it took to get those results. Speaking of which, I have to get back to working on myself right now…Until the next time, this is your peaceful warrior signing off…Be well…

  • Integrating Thinking and Feeling = Productive Time

    4/27/2014

    I have been doing a lot of reading this week. Not all of the books I have been reading are related directly to Qigong—Yi Ren or other styles—but rather books about learning and design. In one book titled “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman, the author brings up an interesting point about learning.

    [People develop math phobias] not because the material is difficult, but because it is taught so that the difficulty in one stage hinders further progress The problem is that once failure starts, it soon generalizes by self-blame to all of mathematics. …The viscous cycle starts: if you fail at something, you think it is your fault. Therefore you think you can’t do that task. As a result, next time you have to do the task, you believe you can’t so you don’t even try. The result is that you can’t, just as you thought. You’re trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Norman, 1988).

    This excerpt got me thinking about how that concept applies to Yi Ren Qigong and the concept of worrying: worrying that I will fail, worrying that I will not make any progress, worrying that I will not be able to memorize or do the exercises correctly, and—worrying that I don’t have enough time!

    I don’t have enough time to practice Qigong because I have to (fill in the blank). But actually, what I find is that when I am not practicing Yi Ren Qigong I spend most of my free time worrying. Instead of worrying for almost an hour a day that I am not going to the gym, eating right, practicing Qigong, meditating enough and doing other healthy lifestyle habits, I have found that I should just practice these habits.

    For instance, for the next three months or so, I will be busier than the previous three months. However, in the previous three months, I fell behind in my Yi Ren Qigong practice. As a result, my overall well-being was not as balanced and I began to feel extremely stressed. Part of that stress was caused by knowing that I was not doing the things that keep me healthy. The thing is, balance is the key. Intellectual and business endeavors are important, however, as other Yi Ren Qigong practitioners have discovered, it is important to keep a balance between the mind, body and spirit: They all influence each other. And all of us have different needs. Take for instance this passage from the “Bhagavad Gita” Chapter 14 Text 5. “Because living entities have different kinds of bodies, in terms of the different aspects of nature, they are induced to act according to that nature. This is the cause of the varieties of happiness and distress.”

    All in all, we can think with our brains, but we have to remember that we can also think with our bodies. Our bodies can communicate a great deal of information to us. Some might call this kind of thinking “feeling” or “sensing.” This type of thinking is not considered intellectual, but it is just as import in your Yi Ren Qigong Practice. But don’t take my word for it: here is what renowned martial artist and Taoist Lineage Master Bruce Frantzis has to say about it in his book “Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation.” Here he is discussing the Teacher/Student relationship and how a teacher can communicate knowledge to a student.

    “Although words and symbolic representations or images can allude to mind/body/spirit knowledge, the words themselves are rather like the shadow of the thing, rather than the thing itself….”(Frantzis, 1998).

    Frantzis goes on to say (and this is my own summation in my own words) that a teacher’s energy that resides in his or her body and ultimately mind (not non-verbal cues, but rather feelings of knowledge—knowledge energy if you will) can be transferred to a student and implanted in his or her subconscious as a sort of seed of knowledge. These seeds sprout knowledge that is often more clear than what can be described with words and usually appears to the student when he or she is ready.

    I bring this up because I, like many practitioners, have made the mistake of thinking that I can learn the concepts of Yi Ren Qigong much like, say, Mathematics (ie. I can read the concepts and do the exercises and therefore gain full knowledge). However, in my experience, much more knowledge is gained not by letting the intellectual material teach me about the exercises but rather the exercises leading me to knowledge about the intellectual material—the written words.

    So this week, I thought about worry and how useless it is in my life. Of course we all have our worries and concerns. However, I have found that the answers to some of my questions are often discovered by taking time away from the task at hand to practice Yi Ren Qigong. This can often lead to more clarity in my mind, and more clarity leads to being more productive.

    Sources:
    Norman, Donald A (1988). The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY Basic Books.

    Frantzis, B.K. (1998). Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditatio Volume1, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

  • Intent and Letting Go:

    4/20/2014

    I was lying on the couch, watching TV when I noticed that my right kidney area began to spasm vigorously. I have heard of this happening to other Yi Ren Qigong students, but never experienced it myself. It lasted about five minutes, off-and-on, and when it was through, I noticed that I felt much more relaxed and freer from the anxieties that had been ailing me throughout the week.

    My experience might have been similar to what an ancient Qigong practitioner might have felt when connections were being made between the body’s organs and certain emotions and virtues. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, some of the emotions that the kidneys are associated with are self-confidence, self-esteem, fear, willingness and inner freedom. When my kidneys (mostly the right kidney) began to spasm, my first reaction was that of worry, but as time went on, I noticed that I could actually feel my lower back loosen up and the area where my kidneys reside began to feel stronger, less vulnerable and relieved—as if I had released bad energy from them.

    I am currently taking the Level II Yi Ren Qigong class taught by Brendan Thorson. During the first session this week, we did an exercise that included the following mantra “I am ready to explore the inner world and I look forward to experiencing the process of internal healing and development. I will be growing stronger and wiser from this energy practice and enhancement.”

    To me this mantra has to do with intent. In the past, I have recited this mantra, but did not fully absorb the words and let myself believe in them. I noticed that as we repeated these words and I put my intent into believing them, that afterwards, the exercises seemed to penetrate Qi into my body on a deeper, more beneficial level. My conclusion is that if you let yourself go and trust that Yi Ren Qigong is a real therapeutic way to heal and nurture your mind, body and spirit, then then you will make greater positive strides in your practice and ultimately your life.

  • Fears and Limitations

    I was thinking about something seemingly trivial the other day: When I was a teenager, I had a friend who could do a backflip on a large backyard trampoline. When I was younger, it bothered me that I thought I could not do the same. I wondered, could I not do a backflip because I was too scared to attempt it, or I had physical limitations—my back not being flexible enough, or my legs not being strong enough, etc.—that disallowed me from successfully completing a full backflip?

    To me, now, this query does not cause me any personal distress. I have always been a pretty competitive person, and this is probably why I wanted to be able to do what my friend could do. However, I have since learned a few things about life. For one, you often choose your own battles. But even more importantly, there is a very fine line between fear and limitations and that those who are successful are not afraid to toe that line, often failing many times before finding success.

    However, you also have to incorporate into this equation costs and benefits: Is it worth taking the risk to complete the task? Let’s say that I attempted to do a backflip on a trampoline and my intuition was correct: my back is not flexible enough and I don’t have the type of coordination it takes to do a backflip on a trampoline. The result could be me severely injuring by body, including breaking my neck. However, let’s say that I successfully completed the backflip, overcoming my fear. All in all, a successful backflip really has no major impact on my own life. Therefore whether I attempt the feat or not does not matter and I get to choose my own battle. For the record, I have never attempted to do a backflip on a trampoline and because of the possible negative result, I have no desire to.

    On the other hand, I know that everything carries some measure of risks. For instance, I know that every time I write a piece of text or a piece of music, someone could have something negative to say about it, and that could upset me. But what are the costs and what are the benefits? If I write something that a critic or friend dislikes, that is a cost. However, that same piece could give a person an insight into his or her own life, and that person could make better life decisions as a result. In this situation, although I sometimes become fearful and feel vulnerable before writing something, I know that the potential negative costs are well worth the potential positive benefits.

    This whole thought process was spurred by what Michael Jordan stated during his controversial 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame Speech. Although his speech at times seemed rather pompous and self-absorbed, he did end it with something that has stuck with me. Jordan stated:

    “Although I’m recognized with this tremendous honor of being in the Basketball Hall of Fame, I don’t look at this moment as a defining end to my relationship with the game of basketball. It’s simply a continuation of something I started a long time ago. One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50 [audience laughs]. Oh don’t laugh. Never say never, because limits (limitations) are often like fears—an illusion. “

    So starting this week, I personally pledge to stop negative self-talking myself out of doing things I desire and believe I have the capacity and facility to do. I could be wrong, but if I keep in mind the costs and benefits—the risks involved—and that failure is not a bad thing as it will steer me towards success, then what is to stop me? What is to stop you?

  • Perserverance

    Perseverance. That word can mean so much. I am not going to lie: I have seen many people reach a wall in their Qigong practice. Instead of taking a break or lessening the intensity of their practice, some people just quit altogether. I think that’s a huge mistake.

    I went to my first Yi Ren Qigong lesson in several months yesterday and I am sure glad that I did. Today, I feel stronger and more aware of what I need to do to continue to live a healthy life. Yi Ren Qigong along with tai chi and meditation will be a large part of the rest of my life. I know that through this spiritual journey that I will reach many obstacles and even feel like just going back to old programs and habits that don’t fix the problem and nourish my body and soul, but just act as an anesthetic, numbing the problem—not fixing it.

    In Level III yesterday, some of the exercises we practiced included re-directing our reproductive energies back into the body to nourish it and also, directing qi into the different glands of the endocrine system. I really felt the benefits to my endocrine system in my adrenal glands and thyroid. At the end of the class, my mind was much quieter and I felt more energetically balanced.

    I especially noticed that my kidneys sucked up the qi and my lower back, which had been a bit achy earlier in the day, felt stronger and free from pain. That is not to say that all I experienced during the lesson was pleasant: I did have moments of pain in my muscles and joints, but that subsided as the lesson continued. Some people have felt a great deal of pain the next day after a Yi Ren Qigong lesson. But this pain is not caused by the Qigong, but rather by the qi working through what could be old injuries or blocked qi along the acupuncture meridians…

    So my advice to those who are frustrated with their Qigong practice is to not give up! You will reach many hardships and obstacles along your Qigong journey, but if you persevere through them, the rewards are well worth you struggle…

    This is your Yi Ren Qigong friend, the Peaceful Warrior, signing off…

    Be well…
    The Peaceful Warrior.

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