My Path to Qigong
Part One: Finding Peaceful, Purposeful Movement
It was a time in my life when so many things were happening at once.
I was in my mid 50s and my mother had just passed away. My kids had already left home, so once my mother was gone, I had no one to take care of. A wave of emotion hit me in my empty nest, and hard.
It made me pause and reflect on what I wanted for the last half of my life. I decided to go back to university and get a degree. I reasoned that that would keep me busy and help me stay active in my later years. So off I went!
It was challenging, it was exciting, and it was exhilarating. But at the same time, being in school means you have to sit down a good portion of the time and your schedule isn’t entirely yours to control, not to mention the pressure of papers and exams…
As much as I enjoyed what I was learning, the stress started to take a toll on my body. I had always been active but now it was a lot harder to go to the gym regularly. And whenever I actually did go I felt like I was just rushing through my workout. To make matters worse, no matter how fit I thought I was, I was 56 years old and about to discover the hard way that I needed to learn to respect my body in a new way.
Before long, an old problem with my lower back started to resurface, and intensely. I realized that if I was going to continue going to school without destroying my body, I would have to find a different way of staying fit.
I needed a kind of exercise that could accommodate my schedule and my body. It also had to help me breathe deeply… and relax! Ideally it would also be something I could draw on at specific moments when I really needed it, such as before an exam or during a stressful event. Unfortunately, just about everything that I came across required me to have either special equipment or a lot of time. I didn’t want to have to run to a studio juggling yoga mats or be tied to a gym! What I wanted was exercise on the spot that I could do in the 5 minutes or 10 minutes I had at a time.
Finally, a flash of insight! Why don’t I just Google “10 minutes of exercise for health”? A Qigong video came up on YouTube and I tried it out right then and there in front of my computer, in the clothes I happened to be wearing. No sports bra or stretchy pants, no weights or bands required. I didn’t even need a lot of space! And, best of all, I really enjoyed it! I started using this bit of Qigong regularly, at home and at school. I could find a little quiet corner of campus and I would do 5 minutes of Qigong.
To my delight, these short Qigong moments were having a profound effect. It felt like I’d done a complete workout but I hadn’t sweat. And not only was I more energized, I was focused and calm.
As I finished up my school year, I dove deeper into Qigong, downloading new videos and practicing more and more! It was just so enjoyable and effective. And because it only took 10 or 20 minutes at time, it was easy to fit into my life. I could enjoy a short routine two or three times in a day and still keep it under 30 minutes total, a winning combination in my quest for gentle movement and a calm state of mind!
Continued in Part Two: From Psychology Student to Qigong Teacher