Visiting China every day

My Qi Qong practice is taking over my consciousness. For a year I have been getting up every morning and doing about an hour of these extraordinary exercises. The tradition I‘m in is called Hua Shan and my teacher says that it’s over 2,500 years old. It does feel odd, ancient and simultaneously unfamiliar to my mind and very fitting for my body. I experience each morning visiting an ancient temple full of wisdom and symbols that are quite difficult to understand yet feel compelling and important.

For one thing, I’ve learned to remember a long sequence of moves—so far about 58—some of which are quite intricate and involve a complex synchronizing of breath, movement and directed awareness. Before I began I didn’t consider myself someone who could remember so much in the physical realm and consequently my self-image has been deeply shaken and in some ways is dissolving. A tantalizing and terrifying prospect.

The discipline of everyday practice, as many of you already know, opens up huge windows into self-understanding. Some mornings I feel like it, others I don’t, sometimes I feel concentrated, sometimes scattered. Sometimes too busy. Sometimes too lazy. And yet the exercises get done and I’m left wondering: what does it mean to have these experiences and still stay steady? Who is it that is continuing on in the face of obstacles that feel legitimate and appear daunting?

Then there’s the physical energy and flexibility that is accruing from the practice. I’m accomplishing much more and staying focused long after I would normally be ready to turn out. Fewer complaints and deeper experiences of love and connection are natural components of these new energetic realms.

Still the process is leaving me unsettled in the sense that my body always seems to be vividly alive and buzzing with readiness.

I’m in the hands of a process that is bigger than my egoic self —of course life is always that, but these exercises make that background reality much more tangibly present in my body/mind every moment.

Every day I am plunged into remembering the extraordinary power of practice and that who I am is always an open question.

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