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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 7, 21/09/11: Discovering Qigong - China

Halfway through our drive to the sitting Buddha we stopped off at a tea shop. Here we sampled the delights of green tea ice cream and various other weird and wonderful tea related treats.

Back on the bus Charmaine passed around some delicately wrapped sweets; without an ounce of mindfulness I tossed one in my mouth. As my saliva made contact I discovered that it wasn't the sweet I had anticipated but instead some random type of jerky... Err the taste of which stayed with me for the duration of the day.

A last minute change of plan meant that rather than trekking up to the sitting Buddha we would instead take a boat, stopping at the Buddha's feet to play qigong.

On our way back we visited a Buddhist monastery. Here a strange sensation passed over me. It was a struggle to stay connected enough to even enter the temple. The energy felt amiss, contrived. On entering we were seated on meditation cushions, facing the boxed scriptures. The flood waters of emotion swirled about me, sadness, detachment, conflict.

Since entering the temple the Bon chant 'Om Na Ma Red Na U Dang Ditsi Ar Miri Ta Ka He' was very present, undeniably so. After the meditation practice had finished Master Wan rose and began circumambulating the statue.

Amazement coursed through my body, for unwittingly he was circumambulating in accordance with the Bon not Buddhist tradition. Suddenly I felt at ease, this made sense and I felt a lot more comfortable to let Chongtul Rinpoche's chant rise and flood through each cell of my body. So whilst Om Mani Padme Hum played in the background, today in this environment I was far happier to recite the Bon chant.

After we left the building I was conscious of a lot of emotions swirling, I needed some quiet time, some time to reflect; some time to explore my emotions and to be with them in their raw sense.

During this quiet time I found myself entranced by the candles. Each flame danced, cavorted; twisted and recoiled at the slightest shift in energy. Like little wax characters the flames grew tall and short; their ability to change, to transform was what made them so very captivating, so very alluring.

For me a lack of authenticity coursed through my body, this temple was different to so many other temples I've visited; here I just wasn't resonating. As I stood watching the flames snap back and forth Francesco joined me.

I spoke to him about what I was noticing; what feelings, sensations' being here was bringing up. He nodded and proceeded to speak of his time in Tibet and asked me to visualise the greater cycle of things, to visualise the nature of how things come and go.

He talked of a rise; resurgence of Christianity within mainland China. As I looked around me it was with curiosity that I wondered upon the authenticity of what had brought people here. Was it convenience... because it's here; was it the result of having more disposable income; was it because they wanted something or was it really because they were devoted to a greater purpose? Francesco suggested I sit with all of it and visualise myself as a mere observer, a sightseer watching everything unfold as if in a dream.

As I did the most amazing thing occurred; the focus had shifted, the question reframed. My concern had been with what brings these local people here when in actual fact I needed to explore what brought me here.