I was already tired when I attended Tuesday’s Qi Gong class. I was in more pain than usual, too. I’d toyed with the idea of not going, but then I would still have to do my daily 25-minute exercise routine. The final decision to attend was made easier by the knowledge that I always benefit from the classes (very often in multiple ways). This time was no different. But it wasn’t easy.
Towards the end, the teacher took us through a particularly long (for me, at least) exercise. Focusing first on the crown of the head, we meticulously worked our way downwards, allowing each body part in turn to sink into the feet and into the floor. The combination of gravity and the Earth is such a powerful one: gravity pulls everything towards the ground, and the Earth holds everything it is offered. In this way we are grounded, held and supported without ever having to do anything (except, maybe, allow it).
It reminded me of the last workshop with Torsten. I didn’t record it at the time in the two posts I wrote back then, but there was one thing he said right at the end, which I have not forgotten. He urged us that if we do nothing else, we should make sure we connect with the Earth. Feel the whole planet through your feet. Here I was again, being urged to allow everything to relax downwards into my feet and connect to the vast solidity of the planet beneath me.
It sounds blissful when I write it down, and indeed there are sweet spots of balance and relaxation when the whole world is quiet. Peaceful. But then a slight imbalance or tension somewhere pulls me back into my reality. That reality was a constant during this exercise. Pain in my lower back and right knee. Anguish too, in the form of frustration at the pain I am in and the disappointment that after 30 years of what feels like constant discomfort, my body still hurts.
So when she instructed us to start moving back up the body, I felt an intensification of those physical and mental restrictions. I made it to the end, but not without bending and stretching a little to ease the impatience of a static body held motionless in its own irritation. In my feedback I explained that beyond the emotional content, I knew the exercise was doing me good. At the same time it was not one I would do at home because I would be too inclined to give up. Her recommendation was obvious: I should do it at home. So the next morning I did.
Paradoxically, because I knew I could stop at any time, it turned out to be slightly easier. But still my mind wandered. Fortunately, Qi Gong is also a meditation, so all I needed each time was to bring my focus back to my body. Most interestingly, once I had finished, I looked at the clock expecting (hoping) that at least ten minutes had passed. It read 21 minutes. Time had flown. And throughout, even though I struggled, gravity had made sure I stayed grounded, constantly coaxing me to relax, while the whole planet held me; effortlessly and, one suspects, with love.