Moving to a new and foreign country is both exhilarating and scary. On one hand it seems like everything is possible; you are no longer defined by your past, by your context nor friends or family.
On the other hand it can feel like you have lost a part of yourself; who are you really when nothing in the outer world defines you? In times of transition there is a big chance to grow and develop but we need to create space and awareness for that first.
We live in a time where our culture is defined by constant developments in science and technology, leading to an increasing sense of pressure, complexity and information overload. It is easy to live in a disembodied state, making our thoughts and stories the center of experience – and not being very grounded. The more we disconnect from the body, the more space we give to worries, fears and anxiety.
There are two main steps we can take to bridge this gap: The first step is to become aware of the disembodied state. The second step is to find a practice that helps you stay centered, so that you can lead your life from a calm and conscious place.
In the eastern traditions there are great treasures to find; most people in the west are primarily familiar with yoga, but other mindfulness practices have become more and more widespread as well, especially meditation. The foundation of these practices – and likely why they have gained in popularity in the west – is to direct your awareness to become present in the body and mind. You allow the mind to be still and space to open up.
When I moved to Thailand some years ago, I was determined to reduce the stress and pressure I had experienced so far in life. That’s how I found Qi Gong, which I have been practicing and studying at Thai Qi Holistics in Chiang Mai.
In general, there are three kinds of Qi Gong: Medical Qi Gong, Martial Qi Gong and Spiritual Qi Gong. I have been studying Medical Qi Gong, which like in martial arts emphasizes the building up of inner strength. However, we do this to help the body to heal instead of fight.
The specific style developed at Thai Qi Holistics combines the understanding of the mind from a Buddhist perspective with the ancient Chinese healing system. The practice consists of a series of exercises combining movement, breath and awareness. The movements are slow and forceful and the intention is to connect the motion with the awareness of the mind and thereby become fully present in the moment.
You can ground yourself by coming back to your body and your breath. By grounding yourself you are less likely to feel anxious, stressed, overwhelmed or depressed in times of change. Anxiety, stress and depression are closely connected to over thinking, disconnection between mind and body, overload of emotions and lack of ways to release these. When we shift our focus to the body, and by moving it we can release emotions, pressure and thoughts.
The style of Qi Gong I practice is based on the law of nature; meaning everything is in steady development. If you look at nature it is constantly changing; buds form, grow, wither, fall of, decay and become earth – from where new plants can emerge.
Change and transformation is the most innate part of nature. As modern human beings, we can easily forget this, and instead try to hold on to established concepts. The resistance to change is what often leads us to experience the most pain. When we willfully try to hang on to an idea of who we are and how things should be we create immense dissatisfaction for ourselves.
Having a practice where we tune into the body and mind we can take part in the natural process of life. We work with change, not against it. The beauty of the body is that its healing properties come from exactly this ability to transform and change itself.
Qi Gong is an empowering practice that enables you to proactively take care of your own health and wellbeing. For me it has been an incredible journey of healing, reconnecting with my body, understanding myself and building strength.