When the pandemic arrived, as a teacher of the ancient Chinese movement form Qigong, I worried that I’d never see my students again.
Zoom came to my rescue.
I was thrilled to discover that I was now teaching students from New Zealand and New York along with UK students from all over the country. My audience reach suddenly went global, in a gentle way!
For a year and a half, my classes burgeoned.
Pretty soon, MY teachers, the guys who I’d only seen once a year (if lucky) when they embarked on a European tour, or when I made the trip to China myself, suddenly started putting out Online courses too.
My teaching model is weekly classes, in a gentle progression towards learning a full form.
To go really “deep” with me, you’d have to come on a retreat. (Which I, with my colleague John hold two or three times a year) The Retreat business clearly, was stopped dead on the spot.
From China with love..
My Teachers started to offer interesting sounding courses. I always want to support them, as they have always supported me personally. I became the publicity machine for them, letting all my students know what was on (and received a small renumeration, for my help..)
Lots of my students kept coming to my classes during the week, and also studied with my Teachers at weekends.
So far so good. It’s an inevitability that students would want to study with my teachers, because they have more depth of practice than I, and in the case of our particular form, they are also direct lineage holders, having been taught by Dr Pang himself. I too wanted to work with them, how could I blame my students!?
It’s true to say that I have lost a handful of students, who have ventured off on virtual Chinese journeys, and who have never returned.
I’m not so egotistical that I don’t understand that some students will spend a lifetime looking for a teacher, and that there’s a good chance I’m not he!
There is however a different issue here, that’s arisen from the sudden availability of all of these online courses.
One of my Chinese teachers calls it “excitement” – which is unfortunate, because in essence, he’s one of the one’s purveying it!
If you say to a Chinese teacher, “my back hurts – what can I do?” They’ll often reply “Practice, practice, practice…”
The idea being “keep calm and carry on!”
Generally, when you gently push your way through, the muscles finally stop complaining and relax and a new plateau is reached.
In our Form, there’s nothing that substitutes for actually doing the work.
There’s another truth, doing the work alone is much more difficult than doing the work in a group.
When you have fellow journeymen, then you can lift yourself through the pain to higher levels that you would never bother with on your own (Or on Zoom, where nobody can watch and monitor you) Science also teaches us that our brains “entrain” when we work in a space together, i.e harmonise.
Qi field theory
So to the Question of “Qi field theory” – No time, no space.
When we first started teaching on Zoom, I think everybody was sceptical as to how it would feel.
It took no time at all to realise that working “In the Qi filed” together was excellent.
Was it the same as working in a group, NO, but it was certainly a good substitute.
I think there’s “near field” Qi dynamics also, that don’t replicate over zoom.
It’s still better to be in a class, is my personal opinion.
The question hangs in the air, “Has Zoom cheapened the Qigong experience?”
The one thing that has become clear to me if this.
The Western Mind is taught to value “Information” and lots of it. The more you know, the higher your standing in society. (Or that was the case until recently, this idea was superseded by “The more you have, the higher your standing…”
Add intelligence and Money, and you get to the very top of our trees, vis a vis Steve Jobs and Bill Gates..) The most important thing to us seems to be “Pack in the Knowledge!”
The Eastern Mind however goes the other way. We’ve probably heard the phrase “Monkey Mind?”
If you sit still, and listen to what’s going on inside your head, what do you hear? A commentary of the day, and a critic of the life around you, maybe with a catchy tune to underscore it all?
In the East, many people use to follow a path of contemplation and quiet. (Even that is being eroded by Western Values these days.)
Science shows us that if we can switch off our minds, then we can trip our Para-sympathetic healing system into action, and bring about healing at a deep level.
Sitting listening to lots of theory, from teacher after teacher is NOT going to heal you.
I was deeply impressed by a lady I met in China who had healed herself of Breast cancer, not once, but twice in ten years. He daily regimen was to do Standing Meditation from seven to nine AM, and the same from seven to nine PM, every day, without fail. In the first month, she had dissolved her tumours, in the second month she shed her rather unfortunate addiction to prescription painkillers, and by the third month, all signs of her insomnia had disappeared too!
I met her a year down the road, and she was still “all clear” and practicing on!
In short then, nothing substitutes for doing the hard work. There’s no requirement to be constantly seeking something new, or a new teacher. When you find something that “feels” like the Truth to you, then stick to it, give it your all.
More information will not heal you
Doing Qigong online will help you, but in person is better.
Time to free yourself from your Pyjamas, and get back into class.
(Several years ago, Dr Pang said “Qigong is not enough, you have to be a family too..”
On the basis of that, I instituted coffee mornings after class, so that we can all socialise together, it’s a fundamental part of the healing process – and also not possible online! In the same way….)
It’s all about the excitement!
Ten different teachers, from exotic shores can tell you lots of different theories.
You then chew this information over and over, you study your copious notes, and in so doing exhaust your internal energy.
Come practice with me and heal yourself, without expending qi.
We sometimes practice an exercise called La Qi, you just open and close your hands 20 or 30cm’s at a time. It’s the most simple exercise on earth, however I have yet to find one as powerful.
“Practice casually, you should expect average results,” and “Keep It Simple Stupid!” – the old coaching acronym “KISS” still rings true.
Good old Zoom!
Has Zoom cheapened Qigong then?
The offerings online are now very broad, as teachers struggle to produce ever more interesting courses, with fascinating sounding names for the students who only ever “swim on the surface”
If it’s more information you want, there’s never been a better time!
However, if you’d like to be a “deep diver,” then there’s no substitute for joining our retreats, or coming to our classes.
Be careful not to get addicted to information, it’s very exciting, but so is cocaine!
Hao le! (It means everything is good already! – in Chinese..)
We have a retreat coming up very soon, Near Manchester – it’s not too late to book!
My weekly classes information is here too!