Britta Stalling, Maarten van Opstal, Debra Weisenburger Lipetz, Lew Whitney, Karin Cooke, Anne Hering, Nynke Roukema and Mauro Lugano share their experiences.
As a community, we have been given many lessons as a result of the pandemic. By harnessing our own energy and intention we can start to see these challenges as gifts. They will enable us to grow and move forward with greater appreciation and wisdom. Teachers from around the world share what they have learnt during the pandemic. They answering the question: does connecting online actually work and how can we benefit from it?
In This Together – The Power of Community
Initially lockdown and the need for social distancing lead to a global feeling of isolation unbeknownst to us before. Masters and teachers found it difficult or impossible to travel. Gatherings were restricted or impossible and events and retreats, eventually, had to be cancelled. However, teachers and students found new ways to rise out of isolation and create a strong community -virtually.
Online video and teaching platforms, such as Zoom, have become a vital tool for teachers and students to communicate. Teachers, who had never considered taking their practice online, quickly learnt how to reach others through social media and online platforms. They adapted their training to be taught through live video calls or even phone calls. Some teachers, like Britta Stalling (South Africa), hosted programs online instead, enabling students to connect with Masters from China. According to Britta, everyone was surprised when, during a ZNQG workshop with Masters Zhen and Yuantong Liu, everyone deeply connected with Master Zhen “despite the great geographical distance”.
After realising Master Yuantong Liu would not be able to join them,Zhineng Qigong teachers Anne Hering, Nynke Roukema (Netherlands) and Mauro Lugano (Slovenia) had similar success. They combined their experiences and hosted their first ‘Health Gong 2020’ online. The results were astounding as they reached “350 – 400 people from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Sweden, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and the US.”
Some teachers continued with in person training in more remote and safe environments, with social distancing protocols taken into account. Maarten van Opstal (Netherlands & Belgium) accounts how he continued training students in his garden initially, but later decided to “[switch] back to online because some students did not feel safe being together physically”.
Luckily, teachers have found that connecting online opens up a whole new perspective for learning and working with Qi. Debra Weisenburger Lipetz (US) shared her delighted surprise in discovering “that remote healing seemed to work as efficiently or even more efficiently for [her] student/clients than hands-on.” Our ability to transition between form and formless during our practise is not dependant on external factors, but rather on the individual. Debra shares that, in her experience, online teaching allows us to “release all barriers within our minds that may stop the natural flow of Qi transformation.” When the student is not physically present and without external distractions, the information substance can easily join our formless state. This leads to a seamless awakened and aware experience within the self.
Many teachers have been able to reach more people than they previously thought possible. Online learning has created a greater sense of community and a larger reach for the power of Qi. Lew Whitney and Karin Cooke (Hawaii) have adapted their training to fit into the Qigong online community. They believe that “virtual teaching/learning is here to stay!” They have found that virtual teaching has taught them new skills and deepened their practice. Virtual learning “has allowed ZQ teachers everywhere to spread healing Qi worldwide.”
And so our computer and mobile devices have connected our community in new and exciting ways. This community continues to expand in reach, making Qi wisdom more accessible and impactful on a global scale. We never have to feel alone. We will always have our online community to turn to for guidance, learning and support.
Harvesting the positive – The Power of Qi
The most powerful and abundant source we can draw strength from during trying times is of course Qi. Britta Stalling shares that, it is helpful to create a supportive and positive home Qi field as the energy we surround ourselves with has a direct impact on our lives. Britta sustained a strong home qi field “by sending powerful, positive information and increasing the amount of time [she] practiced”, including all her loved ones (even those in Germany), within the Qi field. According to Britta “the results were tangible such as improved job and business opportunities, relationships, and health and well-being.” It was the beginning to fantastic growth and expansion within her work and practice.
Maarten van Opstal shares the necessity of releasing the need for control and expectations. This is especially important during the pandemic in order to allow the power of Qi to guide and heal us. Maarten avoids the topic of Covid during his teachings as he believes focusing on negative thoughts and worries gives power to disease and disturbs a harmonious relationship with positive Qi. He says:
“Thinking about Covid leads to worry, and worry leads to agitation. We sometimes think our ways deeper into problems by focusing on them. Most problems will pass naturally through Qigong if you start from a place of acceptance. Relax first, and acceptance follows.”
We have an abundance of positive Qi to harness and when we release ourselves from the desires of the ego – to control – letting go of expectations and simply accepting that we are exactly where we need to be and life is exactly as it should be, then we can truly benefit and heal through the power of Qi.
Self-Cultivation – The power of the Self
Although the power of Qi is overflowing and never ending, we still need to be able to harness its power -and this begins with the self. Working towards sustaining a strong relationship with Qi is essential when practising Qigong, but it is even more important when teaching or learning online. We have been gifted the opportunity to go deeper within ourselves and strengthen our practice. Here are some of the ways in which the teachers recommend sustaining and improving the self:
Maarten van Opstal believes that “expanding our Zhineng Qigong practice in times of change is vital to our well-being and progress.” All Qigong teachers would agree that consistent practise is crucial. It is practicing that allows us to expand and grow as individuals, diving deeper into our practice and gaining optimal benefits from harvesting Qi. Practicing enables us to sustain a positive Qi field at home within ourselves. It is the catalyst of changing and adapting to any challenge and it is the key to creating a healthy connection between our self and our future leading to ease and acceptance moving forward. There is no better time to learn new methods or to increase our practice than now!
Within our practice we create positive intention which is the backbone of leading a happy and fulfilling life. When we meet opportunity or challenge with an open heart and compassion we allow ourselves to be free; free to fully receiving and absorbing the positive opportunities that come our way and free to overcome and grow from any challenge with ease. In this way, we can cultivate an intention of wellbeing and abundance for ourselves, and for the world on a journey of recovery.
Difficult situations definitely call for new and innovative solutions. We can use this to our advantage -as inspiration to try something completely new or to try doing something differently. Anne, Nynke and Mauro’s Health Gong (2020) exemplifies for us the power of creativity.
The Zhigong Institute team partnered with Master Yuantong Liu for an online workshop called the Health Gong (pictured right). They creatively solved the issue of travel restrictions in the form of this online worksop, inspiring others to become more creative within their practice. One of their students said that this fresh approach challenged them to find their own form and foresees that they are creating a new, Western, variant of the Chinese method.
Our teachers have all been an inspiration to us, adapting to teaching virtually, finding creative ways in which to motivate us and reaching out and sustaining a Qi field as a global community. At home, we can, not only, use creativity to find solutions, but we can also bring creativity into all aspects of our lives. Is there something you have been meaning to try? A skill or method you want to learn? Now is the time to do it!
Lastly, but very importantly, gratitude and appreciation is the key to realizing how blessed and bountiful our lives already are. Expecting that things will go a certain way or resolutely planning long term can lead to blocked Qi and unhappiness. If instead, we consciously chose to enter a state of appreciation every day. Choosing to see and revel in all the blessings surrounding us. It is then that worry falls away and we move towards a life supported by happiness and positive Qi.
According to Britta, “life is about embracing experiences that invite us to live, enjoy, learn, progress, grow, and evolve.” Starting by working within ourselves, we can harvest the power of Qi and join our community, opening our hearts and supporting the path of growth and healing that we are on.