"Jing Qi" and Many Reasons for Daily Practice

picture of Geoff WhiteI was in my twenties when the "Human Potential" movement was at its peak during the 1980’s. Many of those things had an effect on my outlook on life and ultimately who I became. But as life goes on, we forget, and taking care of our energy and ourselves takes a back seat. 

When we’re young we seem invincible and we spend our precious capital on things that, as we get older seem frivolous. It is a blessing when one can encounter grandmasters such as Shifu Chiang and Master Hui Liu. They are selfless in their dedication to share the teachings of their teachers, to train and cultivate a new generation of teachers in those traditions and values, and to create opportunities for personal growth, health and wellness for students everywhere through WWS’s bi-annual retreats. 

picture: Wen Wu School (WWS) building in El Cerrito, CAI just found Wen Wu School in March of this year. My health was slowly spiraling downhill, and I was looking for ways to “pull up” and re-establish some personal equilibrium. I was eating sorta okay, and I was getting acupuncture once, maybe twice a week. I removed a very stressful commute from my life and successfully cultivated a job that I enjoy, but I was not getting enough exercise. I wasn’t feeling well and I was determined to reverse that downward spiral.

Picture: Sunlit path in the redwoods.In one of several conversations with my acupuncturist, we were talking about energy and the concept of jing qi. Each of us is born with a specific amount of jing qi, inherited from our parents, and as we move through life we deplete it. I learned that qigong is a good way to start rebuilding that foundation of the jing qi in my body before it is completely gone. I already knew a little something about qigong, because I had read about it in my travels and I had taken an introductory course. So I started to look for a teacher and a school, and discovered Wen Wu School, which I had been driving past for years. I like to feel that I have a good sense of people and teachers. I have to say that in my life I've almost never been “let down” by a teacher that I've chosen or who has chosen me. Oddly enough, the thing that helped me decide on Wen Wu, was a review that someone placed on Yelp, It said...  

“... forget self defense, the real fight isn't on the streets.. it's in the heart.
the real enemy is cancer, heart disease, and diabetes..
this system will save your life!”

I showed up one Sunday morning and fortunately it was just the second class of a new semester. Auspiciousness has always guided my life. So I  signed up and paid for my 5-week installment. Three weeks later, I could crouch down on the ground, which may not seem like much to many, but I had not been able to do this for the last 3 or 4 years.  So I knew I was in the right place. I went every week, on Sunday, but did not practice every day. Then I started to at least do the warm-up exercises as much as I could. During August there were free practice sessions in the park, at 7:00 AM on Saturday mornings. I got up and started my weekends with them and noticed a difference in my energy level and mobility throughout the day. 

picture: Peggy Dey teaching in the redwoodsOne Saturday I came down the hill a little late, and I could feel something was different . . .there was a strong yet subtle difference in the energy in the little dell where we practiced in the Berkeley hills. I looked, and saw that Wen Wu School’s Grandmaster Hui Liu was there. I had never met her, but even from afar, I knew it had to be her. I could tell by the way she moved and by the qi around her. I felt so embarrassed to be coming late to practice. I came down the hill, took my place in the circle, and continued with the warm-ups. Here before me was a woman, so small compared to me, yet so vibrant, old enough for me to be her son, yet my body is so stiff and struggling compared to her movements. I was touched by the fact that she comes out in the morning cold to practice with her students. Then I heard about the bi-annual Wen Wu School Retreat coming up in early September. Once again I felt blessed with an auspicious life. So I sign up, not knowing what to expect.

picture: David Zurun "Wave Hands Like Clouds" in the redwoodsOn the Thursday that I drive down to The Quaker Center in the Santa Cruz mountains, it was hot. It was nice to be there with fellow practitioners and nice to really have qigong practice on the agenda as my primary focus for the next four days. The grounds were quiet and beautiful, the redwood grove where we practiced early every morning, was majestic and filled with qi.

It was nice to see Grandmaster Hui Liu with us. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her, and I'm not one to go out of the way to be noticed. For a tall person of my size, being noticed is not a problem, so more than anything I try to blend in. But a couple of things that Grandmaster Liu said to me I've taken away, and have been using in my daily life ever since.  During one practice that was particularly tedious for me, I picture: Paul Taylor teaching taiji in the redwoodsstopped to rest, sat down, and started to drink some water,  Shimu came over to me and said with firm, tough love, “Get up. Don't sit. You can stop, but don't sit.” Later in the retreat she came up to me and said, “You practice... everyday.”  I think to myself, "...this woman who has trained hundreds of students, maybe thousands over the last more than thirty odd years, still has enough love and dedication in her heart that she can instruct this new person whom she does not know to practice everyday, motivated only by the knowledge that consistent practice could add years to his life." What better way to honor the Grandmaster's attention to me than to make every effort to do what she says, especially when the effects are clear and proven. In fact, I have to ask myself,"Why would I not practice?"

picture: Dr. Erlene Chiang with WWS Grandmaster Hui Liu & Shifu Y.C. ChiangThere are potentially many answers to that riddle, but one thing is certain. Shifu and Shimu have dedicated their lives to our wellbeing, and we can best honor their gift through our own dedication to practice, which then enables us to share their wisdom and gifts with others through the wholeness and strength of our own presence. . . with gratitude and many thanks for the influence of Shifu Chaing and Master Hui Liu.


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