"The ordinary is the extraordinary" [Wang Xiang-Zhai, Qigong Master, 1885 - 1963]
These 5 words teach a powerful principle.
The principle applies to all areas of life not just the practice of Qigong, Yang Sheng / Nourishing Life (養生) or the Martial Arts. Let me expand a little: extra-ordinary levels of skill or success are achieved through consistent, deliberate practice of ordinary actions.
Fei Bo-Xiong, a Chinese Doctor writing in 1863, helps us to grasp this principle further: "There exist no miraculous methods in the world, only plain ones, and the perfection of the plain is miraculous."
The modern-day Self Development guru Jim Rohn shared a similar belief: "Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals."
But what are these ordinary actions? What are the fundamentals that we are to perfect?
Within the Wild Goose Qigong system, our fundamentals are...
Happy New Year!
We’re now 7 days into 2019. Actually, I’m more of a Chinese New Year kind person [February 5th - Year of the Pig]. Somehow it just feels more auspicious. I especially adore the Lantern Festival. Between now and then is that short window of time when we seek self-renewal and reset our inner compass - better health, relationships, productivity etc. All ‘resolutions’ and goals come down to a simple yet complex truth: stop doing what you know is bad for you and do more of what’s good. Change comes from within and requires us to take new action. Otherwise, we keep doing what we've been doing, with the same results. Simple is rarely easy, however. We, humans, are complex beings. Common sense is not always common practice. But what if there was just ONE thing, one new habit, that if followed, could make manifold changes?
Here’s what I’ve noticed over my 19 years of Wild Goose Qigong practice - especially these...
“A moving hinge never rusts”
This ancient Chinese adage appears in the biography of the Daoist physician Hua Tuo c. 200. It also appears in this interpretation: “A [wooden] hinge is not eaten by woodworm” and often coupled with the phrase, "Flowing water does not stagnate [go mouldy].”
The Daoists have a wonderful way of observing natural processes and applying them, either directly or metaphorically, to the human condition. And this quote is probably one of my favourites.
Movement, like regular Qigong practice, lubricates the joints, moves the blood and Qi, strengthens the bones and soft tissues. Gentle physical exercise can reduce oxidative stress in the brain and body. Physical overexertion, on the other hand, can increase oxidation (‘rusting’).
The simple advice is: move.
But we can take the image of the hinge a step further: after movement (or transition) there is rest. But rest is not inactive. Rest...
What do you give a 106-year-old Qigong Grandmaster?
That was the question I was asking myself in May of 2002, before my journey to visit Yang Mei June, 27th Generation Grandmaster of the Kunlun Da Yan Qigong System. I wanted to carry with me something from Scotland. But what do you gift to such a woman?
A week later in Beijing I unpacked my rucksack. They had made it through:
A blooming root of purple mountain heather, picked from the summit of a Scottish munroe. Its root wrapped in moist tissue and then again in foil. And a stone. Gneiss. Washed and tumbled by the sea, off the coast of Arbroath, for ages, into a perfect egg shape. Mountain & Sea.
“It’s heavy!” commented Yang Mei June, taking it in her hand. The stone filled her palm. The gneiss - 3 billion years old - predating all life on earth. Her skin so thin, paper-like, transparent, without age spots.
The purple blooming heather made its way into an oversized plant pot. Filled with soil from a nearby...
Meeting the Grandmaster...
At 106 years of age, Yang Mei June had to be carried to the dinner table. I sat opposite her. Her body was frail. But her voice and spirit were strong. This diminutive lady – under 5 foot tall - had the most incredible story...
Yang Mei June was born at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644 -1912). She only narrowly survived the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) by pretending she was dead, being consequently buried alive and later digging her way out. She later survived persecution during the Cultural Revolution (1966 –1976). What made her survival more crucial, was that Yang Mei June was the 27th Grandmaster of the Da Yan (Wild Goose) Qigong system. She was highly respected in the Qigong and Internal Martial Arts circles.
After the violence of the Cultural Revolution, Yang Mei June decided to go against tradition and open this skill to the public for the well-being of everyone. Students came to her from far and wide, for she, and...