Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finding Padma in North Georgia

In keeping with my focus for The Year of the Dragon, I have been working more on Qigong and meditation. To that end, I just participated in a Neigong workshop with the folks at The Rising Lotus in Atlanta, GA.  It was a great experience and I recommend them to anyone interested in learning more about Qigong, Medical Qigong, Neigong, and associated practices.

As anyone who knows me or reads my blog can attest to, I am and have been a big proponent of Qigong.  However, I have found that in-depth study in quality Qigong is not that easy to find.  Many Taiji and Kung Fu schools offer some Qigong practice, generally related to the martial arts.  And my experience with this has been good.  However, it is rare to find a school that focuses primarily on Qigong that offers real, deep, solid instruction.  Qigong practice in the West has unfortunately attracted many New-agers and the associated quirks that go along with that thought: Angels, levitation, aliens, tarot, etc...  There is obviously a market for this in our world, it's just not my thing.  I have a background in well-grounded, scientifically sound Taiji and Qigong practice.  Accordingly, when I go looking for further training, I expect a similar environment.  This is what I found at The Rising Lotus.

The Rising Lotus is operated by husband and wife team, Peyton and Christina Barea Young.  They offer Qigong classes, Medical Qigong Therapy, and Medical Qigong training and certification via The International Institute of Medical Qigong.  They offer spiritual Qigong practice, as Peyton is a Buddhist priest and Christina a Taoist priest, and they are both martial artists and offer martial training as well.  So in keeping with solid Taoist principles, they see no distinction between Qigong for health, spiritual growth, or martial skills.  For them it is, like all of life, all Qigong.

So, last weekend a Taiji brother and I made our way south to their studio north of Atlanta.  While many of the external Qigong movements were immediately familiar to me, the focus of the workshop was Neigong, or internal Qi development, which was not as familiar to me, but something I have been needing instruction in for some time.  The class was a mixture of folks with much Qigong experience and rank beginners.  Regardless, our teachers expertly guided us all through the movements and into the depth of Neigong practice.  On the second day of the workshop we worked on Qi emission and basic Qigong healing technique. This was all brand new to me.  But again, the level of instruction was superb.  I not only learned new skills, I left energized and satisfied, which is the benchmark of any good Qigong.

I don't really ever see myself being a full-fledged Medical Qigong practitioner.  However, I consider this practice to be a major part of the path, and something I have been needing and wanting to do for some time.   I not only benefited greatly, I look forward to further study in the future.  The Youngs have further plans for developing a Buddhist/Taoist monastery that will serve as a holistic space for spiritual, health, and martial growth.  There is definitely a need for something like that in the Southeast US.  I hope for them, and the rest of us, that it comes to fruition soon.  In the meantime, if you are interested in solid in-depth Qigong training, you will find The Rising Lotus hard to beat.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The True Transmission

I recently ran across someone interested in the true transmission of Taiji.  So, what is and how does one obtain this mystical "True Transmission"?  Is it only available to a select few?  Is it shared through touch, energetic presence, authentic family lineage?  I wonder.  I'm not even sure what "True Transmission" means.  I do know there is one sure way to take your Taiji to the highest level: hard work.  Practice, and lots of it.  But the ironic thing is, once one reaches a certain stage in his/her Taiji training, he/she can't help but practice a lot.  Taiji is addictive.  The more you do, the more you want to do.  Consequently, the more you do, the better you get.  Perhaps a sincere practice of Taiji is in itself the best transmission one could ever receive.  By following your chosen system you are taking advantage of honest transmission.  The transmission from teacher-to-student(who becomes a teacher)-to the next student, and on...  And even better, Taiji is a system that to some degree is self-evident.  Once we learn a form we can practice alone and learn from the form itself.  We still need corrections and exposure to teachers, but there is a lot that can be gained through solo practice.

And perhaps exposure to a good, well-trained, well-qualified teacher is the essence of this "True Transmission".  That I can understand.  As subjective as that could be, there are surely grades of Taiji practice and teachers.  And there are folks teaching something called Taiji, that is arguably a weak representation.  But typically, the transmission one speaks of is referring to or is synonymous with the concept of spiritual transmission, where the depth and breadth of knowledge, or even enlightenment itself is obtained immediately, transmitted directly from guru to follower.  I am in no position to doubt this practice or to call any such spiritual event into question. However, I don't see this with Taiji.  Not because I doubt the spiritual aspect of Taiji practice.  A quick survey of this blog will indicate otherwise.  However, Taiji in its totality is a mind body practice that delivers results through practice.  Solid teaching from a good teacher and lots of practice will over time reveal the true essence of the art.

There are lots of promises in the field of Internal Arts.  Everything from basically increasing your health and longevity to levitation and no-touch punches.  I'll take the improved health, you can keep the magic.  Honestly, the practice of Taiji has a lot to offer and the benefits are solid and backed by sound research.  I not only doubt the new age promises often attributed to Taiji practice, I see no need for them.  Rather than seeking a teacher who can pass knowledge along to you by touching you, or throw you without touching you, look for a teacher with solid knowledge and skill who will work your ass off and keep raising the bar.  That is as true a transmission as anyone will ever receive and a damn good one to boot.