I decided to take up Qigong as I was going through a prolonged stressful period and thought that it would be a good way of relaxing. Having been interested in Eastern philosophies and relaxation methods for some time it had been my intention to learn more about them ‘one day’ but I had always delayed in this thinking that I didn’t have time …. I finally found a definite reason to start this study and physical and mental discomfort caused by stress.
I began by attending the seminar which Master Lau gave in the latter part of 1992 and was very interested by what was said, it seemed to me that the practice of Qigong would be therapeutic. During the first lessons my impressions were that the actual sets of movements were beautiful but that the standing (Ji Gong) at the end of the sets was extremely uncomfortable – a real test of endurance. However I was intrigued by the concept of Qi and its applications to health and by how completely different this study was to anything I had done before. Also I had the feeling that something as subtle as Qi could not be understood let alone experienced overnight and so I persevered.
During the early months my practice of Qigong was erratic in that I would practice every day for perhaps a week or two, then go through a period when I would be less conscientious. This went on until about the 4 – 5 months stage when something seemed to ‘click’. Suddenly at this stage practice ceased to be one of the tasks of the day but seemed instead something that it would be a shame to miss. A deep feeling of physical comfort and mental contentment was accompanying my training now; moreover this would last for 6 – 7 hours after the performance of the form in the morning. It was also at this stage that my ideas about Qi and Qigong because less academic and theoretical. I began to think of it now less as a study and more as an ongoing process, no longer a means to an end (that end being relaxation) but something very subtle, to be experienced and enjoyed.
After a training period of Qigong in the morning I feel refreshed, I notice I have an increased ability to concentrate on one task at a time and there is also a feeling of detachment. As Master Lau mentioned early on in the training things no longer have the ability to get to the centre of the Qigong practitioner. Be it a demanding work load, some ones back driving, an approaching exam whatever, the feeling remains (deep down) one of calmness. This is in no way a dulling of the senses, if anything they are tightened it is more a sense that the environment seems less demanding. However it is also true that Qigong does not work like a plaster that is put over a cut – by that I mean that it is no good going away and practicing Qigong after something causing pressure has happened, it is more like a general inoculation which increases feelings of composure and collectedness.
As well as these mental affects there have been physical affects such as a very noticeable increase in my energy levels, and although I regard myself as quite fit I used to suffer from periods of absolute exhaustion – these no longer occur.
As time goes on I can see that the benefits of Qigong are cumulative and that the feelings of wellbeing are gradually increasing. This is not a ‘high’ like that experienced by athletes, it is a far gentler and prolonged experience, and it is sustainable. My day to day practice of Qigong now feels different; I now find I can limit my field of attention more quickly and in doing so, slow down the minds racing. This is in contrast with my early attempts to calm my thoughts, all that happened was that I became aware of how much the mind busy itself with every concept. I would find myself thinking about relaxation instead of experiencing it.
This aspect, although not eliminated, has improved over the months and I find I can slow down and eventually focus my mind during training. Physically also the training is much more comfortable now and I find that when practicing the forms my limbs feel very light as if no muscle power needed to move or guide them.
Although I have only been training in Qigong for one year I have already noticed profound changes and I now intend the practice Qigong to be an on going pursuit for me wherever I find myself in the future.