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  • What: An ancient healing system which focuses on the restoration of holistic balance through gentle breathing techniques and slow movements

  • Origins: Qigong can be traced back some two thousand years in ancient China.

  • Benefits:Qigong can harmonise, strengthen and have a healing effect on the functioning of all the internal organs and bodily systems. It increases the supply and flow of energy throughout the body, can have a variety of rejuvenating effects and is believed to increase longevity as it induces calm mental and emotional states.

  • Journal:Click here

Day 5, 19/09/11: Discovering Qigong - China

The weather was glorious today so we headed out to the Summer Palace crossing the still lake waters in an elaborately decorated boat. The palace grounds were amassed with people, a cascading wave that continuously drove us forward.

I was delighted when the group disbanded; the clump of sticky rice had crumbled revealing the autonomy of each grain. It was like someone had opened the cage; for a split second each bird was momentarily frozen. With a few tentative steps each soon discovered the use of their wings, the ability to fly.

There was only one place this little bird wanted to fly and that was 'up'. A small group of us headed skyward to the Palace itself. The views as we climbed were expansive and far reaching; with so many people below I really felt the need to escape, to get up high; to get above it all.

For me crowds are oppressive, they suffocate me. In them I lose the ability to connect with my surroundings; I feel shackled, caged. By getting up high I can take stock, appreciate where I am, explore my breath; admire my surroundings.

Back at the Institute six needles were again fired into my lower neck and upper back, electrifying the central line. Electrodes were attached to each needle and as my body surrendered the relaxation became so great that I actually found it difficult to arouse myself.

Outside in the courtyard Francesco led a qigong practice. The atmosphere in the group felt quite emotive; evidently peoples' blocks were beginning to shift. I felt in awe, amazed at how emotional blocks can be uncovered and released through such work.

It reminded me of my own experience during Path of Love and one day in particular where I cried relentlessly for about 5/6hrs. Without warning that process had worked its way beneath my consciousness; it steamrolled my barriers and left me with no choice but to surrender.

That process along with so many others has touched me deeply; the effects were and still are transformational. Because of such blessed experiences I now bow in amazement at my fellow travellers; their individual courage, their resolve, their desire to explore and experiment are qualities that transcend time, age, space; they transcend all borders.

As the qigong practice began I became very conscious of a dear friend. A friend who many moons ago taught me how to explore; how to hold and how to play with my energy ball; flow with the chi.

The whole practice was so synchronistic of conversations we'd shared; looking around me I felt a surge of emotion. I am so privileged to be standing here, to be doing this and to be sharing it with such an amazing group of people.

As I watched and listened to Francesco I was captivated by his natural teaching ability; entranced by his capacity to bring together the threads of aggression, power and stillness; his ability to weave and dance with each one of them.

What's also resonating deeply right now is the philosophy behind the Wuji (boundless, without form) style of practice. Through various psychosynthesis workshops I am now familiar with the notion that growth and development actually stem from disequilibrium as opposed to balance. So instead of fighting or trying to push away disorder we instead welcome it, invite it into our practice and in doing so we begin to 'let go of all that does not serve us'. (F. Garripoli)

I love this free form of exploration; movement without constraint or restraint, as Francesco would say, 'where the mind goes chi goes'.