This is the most important practice to use when you are feeling upset, angry, or overwhelmed. Avoid your normal qigong or meditation routine until you are reasonably settled and back to normal by following these recommendations. Join me on a walk through the gorgeous XuanXiuGong Daoist Monastery, and let your troubles melt away!
We've spent lots of time together exploring some finer points of the qigong and meditation basics:
The Snake & Turtle form
Developing a practice
and the possibility of softening your mind
For most people, most of the time, these methods will be sufficient to maintain calm & develop relaxation in your life. However, occasionally you will be too upset and not in the right state of mind for qigong. Use a different technique during the most difficult emotional moments as your primary healing method.
Think of the last time that you felt overwhelmed by your feelings. Your mind was in turmoil, your emotions out of control, and your nervous system had you by the throat. The promises of qigong may have been calling, but that was definitely not the time to practice. Trying to use finely-tuned techniques at this moment will only reinforce patterns of control and tension. Until you calm down a bit, it's better to find a more straightforward way to loosen up.
Go for a walk!
Some people ramble for a stronger heart, and others to maintain a healthy body weight. It can be an excellent way to loosen a sore back, build community, or even enhance creativity. Today, however, we will learn about strolling to ease the body-mind during times of distress.
It's become much more common in recent years to see people enjoying the benefits of this practice. A young mom gets frustrated with her kids and, rather than yelling at them, goes for a light walk to calm down. Somewhere an anxious grandfather is pacing in a hospital waiting room. He's going back and forth, shaking off some of his nervousness before hearing from the doctor. A college student strolls around the block before a test to clear their head and get grounded. These examples seem familiar and even obvious when you think of them, but don't be fooled by their simplicity. Use gentle movement as a healing tool whenever you experience intense feelings. You'll be astonished at how valuable it is to have such an uncomplicated method keeping you in a healthy mindset!
I had a close friend with a severe emotional imbalance when I was very young. She would quickly move between deep depressions and wild rages. We discovered she would feel much more stable when we walked around our elementary school together. So, we would tread the sidewalks of our Los Angeles suburb during times of overwhelm. Much later, she discovered meditation and medication as a way to lead a balanced life. But those simple walks were essential for many years to soothe a troubled heart.
The technique is wonderfully uncomplicated and perfectly safe for most bodies. Of course, if walking is uncomfortable or impossible for you at this time in your life, don't lose hope! Connect with me or another expert to design a gentle movement plan that works better for you.
Let's try an experiment. If you can, play this lesson on a mobile device, and take me for a walk with you. Otherwise, close your eyes and use your imagination as you listen.
As you step out for your first practice, avoid setting a destination. This is a different kind of walk—more of a meandering stroll. We aren't heading anywhere in particular. Just let the feet go where they go.
Too often, we ignore the journey and focus entirely on our goal. How does it feel to wander without any concerns about progress? To be where you are right now. And now.
Notice your speed. Try walking faster until you detect when you're going too quickly to feel comfortable.
After a moment, slow down your pace until it no longer feels natural and effortless.
Continue speeding up and slowing down until you find the sweet spot—the perfect pacing for you at this moment. Not to break a sweat or raise your heart rate but to help you settle into a relaxed, calm state.
As you wander, continually notice ways to make your time even more pleasant and effortless. What were you ignoring that you could be enjoying instead?
Feel your feet making contact with the ground. What's the quality of the connection? How can you further soften and develop a relationship with the Earth that is more friendly and easy on your legs?
Notice your surroundings. Can you take them in and appreciate them? Or are you lost in your thoughts and feelings as you move? Allow yourself to settle into the present moment for this practice. Your thoughts and feelings will still be there when you get back home. They can wait.
Are you breathing comfortably and enjoying the fresh air? Or are you freezing your abdomen and muttering under your breath? Let it flow naturally and easily—no need to control it.
As we've discussed, emotions are simply an experience of the movement and non-movement of qi, like the weather systems between Earth & Sky. Often, emotional overwhelm comes when the qi is somehow stagnating within the body-mind. This turbulent moment is the perfect time to go for a leisurely walk. Let your mind wander as freely as your steps, which will help calm your system while gently circulating your energy. Later, when practicing Snake & Turtle, you can allow your qi to expand & consolidate, store & flow. But until you feel centered enough to explore those possibilities, take a stroll and chill out.
Whenever you feel these waves of emotion getting started, go for a peaceful walk rather than fighting the feelings. Don't try to interact with the thoughts directly. It's better to take a break from the experience and let your feet find a path for 20 minutes or so. You can always come back to your emotional burden afterward. But I'm betting that each time you try this free and easy wandering, you'll feel lighter and more liberated from your internal storm.
The Next Step:
This practice's primary goal is to be easygoing, effortless, and comfortable as you wander. Stay light and gentle, smiling at the sky and shaking the dust from your feet.
In the States, doctors recommend at least 20 minutes of movement each day to maintain basic health standards. If you include this simple practice in your daily cultivation, you'll find it benefits every aspect of your life. And if you tend toward strong emotional expression, you'll want to include this in your life every single day!
Likewise, if you want company on your walks, check out my Patreon page.
I'll be posting chats there for you to enjoy while walking. Many will be regarding aspects of the practice, information about my life experiences, or other interesting tidbits that I won't include on this channel. Join the community there, and let me know what you're interested in hearing about as you roam.
From now on, a short while after every meal, try this free and easy wandering for at least a few minutes. Never eat and immediately lie down to sleep or sit at your computer. Go for a quick stroll and then continue with your typical day. This little bit of movement will aid your digestion and maintain healthy qi flow.
Take the time to find a good walking area to explore each day. Natural spaces like forests might be the best, but wandering downtown in a city or even a mall could be calming too. Find comfortable walking shoes and other clothing that make the practice much more effortless. Let the community know about your favorite place to walk when angry or overwhelmed in the comment section.
The more comfortable and effortless you make this for yourself, the less resistance you'll experience to the change. Take it one step at a time, and you'll find much greater freedom in your daily life!
Enjoy your practice!
Remember that this is only a tiny part of a more extensive system and sequence of teaching videos. Subscribe to my channel to learn more!
Make sure that you begin your practice at the beginning of the sequence
Ready to train? Follow along with traditional practice sessions
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