We are all in the same boat. Allow me to repeat that. We are all in the same boat. We are inter-connected to each other, the planet and all living beings. Here we are living on planet earth witnessing crisis after crisis. We are in the third year of managing the complexity and fear that this global pandemic has created in our lives. Now, we are witnessing the heart-breaking destruction and suffering of war.
What do we do with all of the fear and anxiety that we are both witnessing and perhaps experiencing vicariously? For me, I watch the news and one part of me feels it is compassionate and useful to know what is going on. Another part of me doesn’t want to know because the more I know, the more fear and even despair I feel. How do we find the balance of being aware of what is occurring in the world while keeping our heart and mind balanced and at ease?
I don’t feel fully equipped to address this in a way that will offer respect and understanding to you who might be reading. Each of us has different needs and values around what feels right when injustices are being committed or when the larger society is in crisis.
My heart though feels pulled towards the beautiful and wise teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn who passed away in January of this year. He says….”Someone asked me, ‘aren’t you afraid about the state of the world? ‘ I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, ‘what is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.’ There are wars-big and small-in many places, and that can cause us to lose our peace. Anxiety is the illness of our age. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick. Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help, and we can have peace in our heart. Worrying does not accomplish anything. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. ” Thich Nhat Hahn
Take a moment now as you read this. Pause. Breathe in deeply and say to your self “I am tranquil. I am at peace. I am present”. Breathe out and say to your self “I release worry and anxiety from my body, mind and heart.” Repeat this as a mantra several times until you feel a deep well of relaxation and ease in your body. Remember to make your inhalation and exhalation long, deep and relaxed to anchor into the relaxation response in your body.
There are many practices that can help us in our life’s journey. For me, both Qigong and Yoga have been supportive allies in helping me to heal anxiety caused by trauma in my childhood and adolescence. I cannot imagine my life without these effective and calming mind/body practices in my life. Everyone knows of Yoga and it is amazing how quickly Yoga has expanded in the West. Less people know of Qigong but it is beginning to ride a momentous wave of recognition. Qigong and T’ai Chi are widely used in Veterans Hospitals to treat P.T.S.D. and Yoga is becoming a common somatic therapy within the context of therapy to help people heal from trauma.
I have a respectful affinity for Qigong. I’ve been teaching and practicing Qigong for twenty years and I have transformed the trauma I experienced as a young one into triumph. Sure, I still have hard days like us all but my nervous system has healed from embracing this tranquil, healing practice on a daily basis. Qigong involves gentle movement, breath, self-massage, meditation and walking meditation.
Thich Nhat Hahn frequently refers to walking meditation, mindful breathing and meditation as a pathway to peace. I would like to listen to this beautiful man who spent his life cultivating wisdom and sharing this wisdom with millions of people. To me, he represents the potential of humanity to heal, grow and cultivate a more peaceful society.
We have a long way to go.I know so many of us care deeply about the world. As much as we hear on the news all that feels heavy and even hopeless at times…never forget the people in this world, including yourself who truly care. Each of us plays a part in helping to create a less anxious environment for ourselves, our families and our larger community. Landing on two mind/body practices, Qigong and Yoga has changed me in profound ways. I continue to feel my body thriving. My mind is learning to surrender worry. My emotional well-being is always improving when I practice. The trauma I experienced is feeling like less of the story. Healing has genuinely taken place.
I am inspired by the testimonials from so many people who embrace Qigong in their lives. I hope it becomes as much of a “household name” as Yoga. Let’s pause again. Perhaps you are carrying burdens and fear that this pandemic and war are causing in many of us. We, alone are not meant nor equipped to hold these burdens. Take a moment to do “Shaking Like a Tree” from Qigong. Stand up and begin to bounce your knees, shrug your shoulders, let your arms move like loose moving spaghetti. In other words, allow your body to shake off all of the tension you are holding in your body and mind. As you are shaking, take deep, deep breaths and say to your self, “I am releasing anxiety.”, “I am releasing worry”, “I am releasing tension”. Feel that physical, mental and emotional tension release itself to the earth to be composted into something new.
If you had to choose that “NEW SOMETHING”, what would you choose? Let’s finish together in this reading with what we would all choose to embody in this moment and in our lives. For example, I choose calm. I choose compassion. I choose acceptance. What resonates for you? What immediately bubbles up in your heart and mind?You may want to say it aloud or write it down in this moment. “I CHOOSE __________.”
May you continue to let go of the anxiety and fear that isn’t yours to hold. May you know the peace, acceptance and grace that comes with practice and cultivation. I hope many of us will continue to come together in good will to help ourselves, each other, the larger world and planet to heal. That is the part of “the war” worth fighting for.
If you are interested in learning more about Qigong Infused Yoga™ and ways of integrating these practices into your life and/or sharing the benefits with others, please reach out to me any time.
-Lynne Nicole Smith
Facilitator of Qigong Infused Yoga™ Training Programs and Creator of the Qigong Infused Yoga™ DVD