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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 6, 20/09/11: Discovering Qigong - China

Today we flew to Chengdu; a city located on the Eastern edge of Tibet with a population of approx 14 million.

As we landed the sky's canvass appeared to be plastered with an emulsion of Beijing grey. According to locals one rarely sees the sky here due to this inert layer of pollution. The reason this layer sits dormant is due, in part to Chengdu lying in a basin which is surrounded by high mountain peaks.

As we left the airport car shops lined the streets, bicycles scurried up and down in their dedicated lanes.

In making our way into the panda sanctuary I realised how much I needed to ground myself.

The seated meditation practice amongst the trees was great. I was amazed to close my eyes in what seemed like apparent silence only to be flooded by song; the persistent sound of the birds, the click of the crickets; the gentle rustle as the trees with open palms gently caressed each other. In closing my eyes and quietening my mind it was like the world around me suddenly came to life.

The energy of this group combined with the energy of the trees produced the most precious of containers, a place of nurturance; a place of acceptance. Each cell danced in the silence.

The baby pandas were gorgeous, lying vulnerable in their incubators each one looked so small, so perfect. Seeing a panda aged 1 month and then aged 1 year was astounding, they certainly have a rapid growth rate; apparently the young adults eat between 25-40kg of bamboo per day.

To be sat next to a one year old infant was breath-taking; it was like watching a giant stuffed teddy bear come to life. The warmth of Pokey's smile radiated within me, this felt so very nurturing; a special gift that I know my inner child has/will deeply benefit from. As I sat looking at the bear's slow, controlled movements, it was like I was a child again, brimming with fascination and curiosity. I so wanted to touch...

Before I could elicit any control over my desire I reached forward losing my fingertips into his stomach; his fur was so soft, so comforting; warmth radiated.

As I made contact his arm rose; the caregivers moved into position, perhaps in anticipation of an attack or maybe to prevent the bear from becoming distressed. With the same gentleness witnessed previously he lowered his paw; lower, lower still until eventually it settled upon my thigh. Without a second thought I met his paw placing my hand on top, connecting the circuit, bridging the evolutionary gap.

As I did so the bear seemed to relax a little; snuggling his back into my side. As his body slouched his legs stretched out before him. It was so familiar, it reminded me of how my beloved Dalmatian, Levi used to sit; an expression of trust, an expression I so often fail to recognise.

How amazing, I'm on a healing trip in China with a panda bear snuggled at my side. How, when and where did all this come about?

There is simply so much to be learnt from these creatures; for one how they harmonise the yin and yang, balance power with softness.

To all intents and purposes I could be sat next the greatest, wisest of masters. To see this young master at the age of one blows my mind and I wonder if he too is influenced and shaped by social norms, scripts; influenced by the endless list of 'should(s) and shouldn't(s)'.

Back at the hotel I was thrilled to sprawl out on a deliciously soft bed. Over dinner the work of Daniel Siegel, neurobiology and PTSD came into the conversation. It's astounding the level of synchronicity as through Avyn, Daniel Siegel has become a buoyancy aid; like a candle in the dark I have found his perspectives enlightening; freeing.