Movement and Meditation Practice and Theory

The modalities we use at Open Ground

artwork © Dyana Wells 2020

Qigong is an energy system developed in China between 4000 and 8000 years ago for strengthening and directing life force energy through the body.

Ancient Chinese sages and healers observed the natural world, its cycles and seasons, the movements and habits of animals, and the elemental forces of sun, moon, stars, water, mountains, sky, earth and trees. They developed a system for moving energy in a synergistic flow with the rhythms of nature that proved to be an effective method of self-healing.

In Chinese, Qigong is represented by an ideagram that combines two ideas – the concept of energy or breath, and the concept of skill or work. So, Qigong refers to skilful means of working with life-force energy, the energy in all living things.

Working with our body’s meridians or energy lines, Qigong increases the healthy flow and distribution of life-force energy, thereby strengthening our vitality, boosting our immune system, calming our mind, and healing difficult states that arise from imbalances of energy.

Practising Qigong regularly helps us to feel alive, calm, alert, focused, relaxed and grounded. Through Qigong practice we cultivate and balance our life force energy for enhanced health, vitality and wellbeing.

Qigong uses flowing gentle movements to nourish and support the flow of energy through our body. Combining body, breath and mind within each movement, Qigong can be considered a form of moving meditation, combining all the benefits of a physical workout, cardiovascular exercise and meditation in one practice.

As a result, Qigong may relieve or reduce stress, tension and pain. As the greater flow of qi balances our emotions we may feel a deep inner peace and relaxation. Integrating mind, breath and body in Qigong nourishes all our cells with vital life energies, clearing blockages or stagnation, strengthening weaknesses and reducing overstimulation or excess of energy. This has the effect of balancing our internal states naturally over time.

… See the full introduction to Qigong and Five Element theory by Dr Violet Sherwood here.

Tsa Lung refers to the channels of wind or energy in the body. Tsa Lung practices help to clear and open these channels and centres.

The activity of the mind rides on the energy channels so when they become clear the mind also clears. In these practices we consciously identify habitual patterns of tension, distress and thought. Once an emotion is identified it can be released and dissolved using movement and breath.

Instead of working with the psychology of difficult states, Tsa Lung addresses the direct sensory experience as it presents itself in the body and mind.

As we progress in these exercises we come to understand the suffering of attachment and the power and freedom of detachment. We discover new ways to move from clinging to letting go. The Buddha said that when we let go of all clinging, truth reveals itself.

Somatic exercises are disarmingly simple, extremely effective and very enjoyable. There is no requirement to be flexible or fit.

The only requirement is to be curious and attentive. Everyone can benefit from the exercises. I have found them immensely valuable, even after a lifetime of yoga. I couldn’t believe how they freed up my body. Results happen very quickly and can bring a greater freedom to whatever activities we enjoy, eg: gardening, walking, cycling, surfing, yoga, dancing, swimming. – Dyana Wells

Somatics grew out of Feldenkrais, and developed alongside new research into neuromuscular reprogramming. Many yoga studios in Australia now offer classes in Somatics as a complement to yoga.  

Our sensory motor systems  continually respond to daily stresses and traumas with specific muscular reflexes. These reflexes create habitual muscular contractions, which we cannot voluntarily relax. The result is stiffness, soreness and a restricted range of movement … Somatic exercises are a direct way to reprogram the sensory-motor system … and reverse this process. Bodily (limitation) presumed under the myth of aging is not inevitable.  It is, by and large, both avoidable and reversible.  – Thomas Hanna. 

Somatics is different from and similar to Yoga. It has its roots in Feldenkrais, which was developed  in response to the realisation that the body can’t be bullied into alignment and flexibility. Change comes about naturally through awareness. 

Simple movements, done slowly and with awareness, allow the body to become naturally integrated, so all movement is whole body movement. This direct experience of functional alignment and movement will transform your yoga practice. 

Kum Nye means ‘inner massage’. These practices start with slow movements followed by a period of stillness either sitting or lying down.

The focus is on the sensations of breathing and movement, as well as the experience of inner and outer space. As the mind settles on sensation it is able to refine itself and connect with more subtle feeling tones. These feeling tones can move through the body to promote relaxation and healing. As the mind settles even further it is able to discover the presence of awareness in the dimension of sensation. Being able to rest in the open luminosity of awareness is the goal of meditation.

In the practices we will be exploring, we bring together tension and discomfort with ease and relaxation, at the same time. This training gives us direct experience of the freedom and power we have when part of the mind remains equanimous even when life gets sticky.

The qualities of stillness, spaciousness and silence are an intrinsic part of all our experience, accessible at all times. The deepest healing arises when we are able to embody these qualities in difficult times. The gentle Kum Nye movements we will be practising have the potential to heal us at all three levels:

  • the body through sensation
    the emotions through feeling
    the mind through awareness.

Loving Kindness meditation is the ability to meet ourselves and others with a friendly presence. Such an easy thing to say and yet often so difficult to achieve.

This practice demands honesty, courage and humility.

It is a beautiful practice, and is at the core of all Buddhist teachings.

There will be time for some discussion before the guided meditation, and for reflection afterwards.

Art Play can provide a fleeting moment of clarity, the feeling of coming home, the confidence of connectedness.

The practices you will be exploring this weekend have huge transformational potential.

Taking time to reconnect with our process and insights using pastels, crayons and pens enables us to dig even deeper so we can clarify and stabilise what it is we are discovering.

There are many ways in which can come to know our lives, Playing with line, shape and colour gives the the unconscious another vehicle.

Revelation, transformation and integration arise from places outside of the conscious mind. Art Play helps us connect with these places.

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