What Dayan Qigong Has Given Me Despite Myself

When I got hurt in a traffic accident I had been studying Aikido. I was learning to merge with qi coming my way and to redirect it before it could hurt me. Before that, I had seven years of Shuri Ryu karate training, up to brown belt level. The disciplines had introduced me to mind, body, and spirit harmony, balance, and interconnectedness, and to Buddhism and meditation. After the accident and resulting brain injury, I couldn't practice martial arts, not even Tai Chi Chuan. I was so angry at the universe for delivering such an unfair and undeserved blow, that I wanted to kick and punch. I was distinctly aware of what I had lost, and was trying to find a replacement for my martial arts studies.

I was fresh out of a wheelchair, couldn't walk without stumbling, and my moves were pretty jerky. Since my balance was highly compromised, the only local martial arts teacher put me in touch with a qigong teacher named, Judy Shields.  Judy's approach is very gentle and she introduced me to Dayan Qigong, which has became instrumental in my healing and growth in surprising ways.

Dayan Qigong found me at a time in my life when I didn't know how to get unstuck and move forward. Despite my interest in qi practices, and seeking balance between my mind, body, and spirit, I now understand how my relationship to life had been pretty unbalanced. I had always been more comfortable with the Yang aspect of who I am, both in my professional life and my social life. Because I loved to live with the illusion of control, life was never an adventure to relax into. It was full of jobs to be completed and conquests to be made.

While learning 1st Set through private instruction, I was also going to the Acquired Brain Injury Program at Coastline Community College, a daily cognitive and psycho-social retraining program for people like me with brain injuries. Early each morning before leaving home, I practiced the whole form with Master Hui Liu leading on the VHS. And every morning for almost a year, I finished my practice by bowing back to Shimu and smiling back to her in gratitude.

While I was doing all that, I had high expectations that the study of Dayan Qigong would give me what Western Medicine could not. I wanted my brain to function like before, I wanted my professional life back, to be able to drive again, and to be seizure free. So I practiced Dayan Qigong with a vengence. I demanded that my brain remember the postures it was refusing to remember, instead of relaxing into the practice and just being with it. The book did not exist back then, and with my memory gone, I was taking lots of notes with sketches, so I could practice the form from week to week.

But I wasn't getting the results I wanted. It was no wonder that qigong wasn't helping me heal—I wasn't practicing with compassion for myself. Finally, after just a few 2nd Set sessions with Cynthia Eaton, and maybe due to my own personal growth, I finally heard the instructor's gentle encouragement to be non-judgmental with ourselves, to explore our range of motion and abilities with a sense of curiositiy and compassion, to appreciate what we "can" do, rather than to obsess about what we cannot. I decided to practice with this new awareness and see where it might take me.

The brain injury cracked my protective Yang shell, so I could see the I-denties living inside. It was the practice of Dayan Qigong that enabled me to meet the gentler Yin aspect of myself. I began to make peace between my Yin and Yang energies. Now my balance and strength has improved enough that I am able to start practicing Tai Chi Chuan again, along with Dayan Qigong.

It was only after I started learning the 2nd Set, and started practicing meditative postures very slowly, that I was able to feel joy and able to allow my heart to be pierced by the exquisite beauty, especially when we practice in the park surrounded by gorgeous trees. I allow my imagination to connect me to the earth and feel the energy traveling up my legs, keeping me grounded. As I breathe in my surroundings, I am overcome by the feeling of joy and gratitude, as I stand amid and part of such a beautiful cross section of life. As I breathe out, I become one with all that I see. How was I to know Dayan Qigong could open the door to such momentary bliss for such an ordinary, imperfect person like myself. How do I cary this awareness into my daily life?

Click Here to See Meltem Narter's Standing Meditation Experience

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