I'm sitting in a hotel room sensing the results of 11 days of this Qigong Healing Intensive. This was not a 'practice' intensive, though we certainly put in many hours of practice. This was a 'healing' intensive. Most of the participants were working with serious health issues ranging from cancer to advanced Lymes, to neurological disorders, to Parkinsons to adrenal exhaustion.
Buddhism speaks of the Heavenly Messengers and how they can profoundly help us wake and and reframe our lives. Sickness, Old Age and Death, when we truly 'let them in,' open up new worlds.
I certainly felt the poignancy of life and death in this intensive. Participants were deeply, sincerely and perhaps even urgently engaged into every aspect of the practices. One woman came just for an afternoon on her birthday. We found out she'd died the next day. Apparently about a year and a half earlier she was told death was just a few days away. She came to an intensive, experienced a profound resurgence of energy and gave herself fully to the practices. In the next year and a half, she enjoyed a deep healing with her family, an abundance of love and gratitude and died in peace.
Beyond just learning the flow, we did intensive practices to stimulate the movement of chi (energy), including using sound healing techniques.
At first, the idea of chanting specific sounds while visualizing organ systems seemed a bit esoteric, but I found myself getting deeply absorbed into the vibrations and inner felt-sense shifting. I had done chanting for years in the ashram, but never in this fashion, directing the sound currents inwardly with intense concentration.
Visualization is key to these practices. "Where the attention goes, the energy flows," is a standard saying in mind-body traditions, and our visualizations were both inner focusing and quite literally 'out there.' We visualized the spiraling Milky Way both outside and inside. We visualized the body as a column of light surrounded by oceans of light. We visualized our spinal bone marrow alive and pulsing and moving through every part of the body. We visualized energy flowing from the pads of our index fingers pouring into the center of the brain.
It was fun. It was absorbing. And it works. At least in the sense that it opens the frame of awareness. When I feel the aliveness of my body and connect it with the aliveness of the spinning galaxies, my sense of 'what's wrong' definitely shifts.
How will this affect my daily practice? I'm confident I'll do many of the exercises daily. I came to really appreciate the dreaded 'wall squats' - a full squat facing a wall, creating a 'spinal wave' as one stands. A few of these opens up this very long spine of mine in a way that both restores my energy and balances the vertebrae. The form, which takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes, is a choreography of movement that absolutely helps settle my mind. Particularly for times when I'm feeling scattered, I know this will be a great tool.
I appreciate more than ever the 'form' of a practice, particularly when the guiding instructions are to 'merge the form and the formless.'
For more on Mington's work, click here.