Skip navigation

J -QG Bethany.jpeg

The sun emerged from clouds just after sunrise.  Was it responding to our Sunlight Qi Gong movements, summoning it?  As a child, I thought I could summon sunshine, if I just concentrated hard enough, prayed, wished for it to manifest.

Though many of life’s events have tried to show me that I do not possess that much power, somehow these little coincidences still bring a smile to my lips, a stronger beat in my heart.  Is the energy we generate in Qi Gong much more powerful that we think?  Even if it just reminds us that we are part of vast sources of energy in the universe – the sun, the moon, the stars, the oceans, mountains, all the people working for peace on planet Earth?

Join us in learning Sunlight Qi Gong on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00pm beginning April 4 for 8 weeks.  At the Takoma Park Recreation Center.  More information on our new website:  www.qicircles.com or register at https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-sunlight/5096.   If you are not available all 8 weeks, drop-ins are welcome.

Beach FL '17

Unable to walk

on the beach – I become

the ocean instead.

A haiku by John Snyder (RIP March 5, 2017)

Just returned from this beautiful beach on Anna Maria Island, FL after a fabulous Women’s Retreat with Ruth Fishel (www.ruthfishel.com).  It was too cold and windy for swimming, but I did have a short walk there.  Now back home, I envision the sky, clouds, waves and sand and become the whole Gulf.  I can also enjoy the blue sky and strong sun that is sure to melt the ice and snow here in Maryland.

I love meditation visualizations that help me calm my body, mind and spirit, becoming the sand, the waves, the whole ocean in my mind.  Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that it is true that we are the ocean, the sky, the clouds, the sun, the moon.  We are all made up of these elements that sustain our lives.  The ocean is in me and I am in the ocean.  Whenever I am unable to walk on the beach and feel the waves on my body, I can call up these images that help me remember my true self.

Did you have an enjoyable meditation this morning?  Let me know.

Peace, joy and love to every wave within you today.

Eurythmie by Lyn

Today my task is to accept this bronchitis as my path for the day.  I woke many times during the night, still coughing, lungs rattling, difficult to breathe or really rest.  This will be my fifth day of illness, feeling unable to do much of anything.

About 5:30am, I tried Ruth’s meditation, thinking about all the people in this neighborhood, in the city, county, the state, the world suffering from the same illness. I am not alone, never am alone, in joy or suffering. There are so many people suffering much more greatly right now from war, poverty and oppression…and many suffering the way I am today. As I breathe in, I know I am breathing in; as I breathe out, I hear the “wheez” of my lungs rattling. A reminder that I am alive. I am here…in the here and now. I am grateful to be alive, to be slowly healing, to embrace impermanence. I think of my teacher, Thay, recovering from a serious stroke over two years ago, able to travel to Thailand, re-learning speech and movement, one muscle at a time. He inspires me to relax, to rest, to be where I am, with all those around the world who are sick in this moment. I am not alone.  I have my precious husband caring for me. I am breathing in, breathing out.

march-with-banner

Together we are ONE” was the theme of our gatherings Friday and Saturday, January 20/21 for a mindful presence at the Women’s March.  Washington Mindfulness Community, MPCF, Stillwater, ARISE, Wake UP, sanghas from Baltimore and many others, local and national, organized and led us in silent walking to the mall.  There we formed a circle of about 140 meditators, then did mindful walking, sitting, singing and eating together amidst half a million other sisters and brothers.  We rejoiced when we learned that we were part of over 670 marches around the world, in every US state, on every continent, standing up for justice, peace and love.

thays-photo-at-march

Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh was present in the form of a large photo, reminding us to keep coming back to the home of our breath, here and now, in the present moment.

In Together We are One  (Parallax Press, 2010, p. 79),  he says “Sometimes we believe, ‘Until this person or that institution changes, I can’t be happy.’   We may make a particular person or group of people into our enemy, we think they are the obstacle to our happiness.  But our suffering comes from our own ignorance and lack of understanding, not from other people.  When we understand this, we can open our arms to embrace all peoples, all species, and we have no enemies.  To have no enemies is such a wonderful thing.  When we have no enemies, no reproach, and no blaming, our mind is light as a cloud, and our happiness is vast, immense.  We do not look at those who hurt us as our enemies, but as people who need understanding and compassion.  When we are able to look in this way, we can call ourselves the children of the Buddha, disciples of the Buddha, and no one is our enemy….If we use the eyes of compassion to look at the world, we can see that even those who oppress and exploit others, those who instill terror, or those who cause harm, can be our beloved ones.  None are our enemies.”

Those of you who remember me as the “mini-skirted nun” of 1969 protests and actions will smile.  Have you truly embraced this teaching, you might ask?  I am transforming, trying, stumbling sometimes, gaining tremendous strength, joy and hope from the millions who walk with me, one day at a time, one step at a time, never alone now, always “Together as ONE.”

Photos by Bao Tich Nguyen

 

 

bell-outdoors

“May the sound of this bell reach suffering ones in the whole cosmos, sending healing, comfort and peace.”  These words from my meditation teacher, Anh Huong Nguyen (www.mpcf.com) last Saturday morning, brought tears of joy and relief to my soul.

I had just traveled half way around the world from a wonderful visit to family living in Malaysia.  I had suffered the night before from lack of sleep and justified anger directed at me from a loved one.  I ate cereal in the car on the ride to this beautiful annual ceremony to transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings to a member of WMC and many others from MCPF, Stillwater and other sanghas on the east coast.  I had been filled with remorse for my mindless actions that had hurt and angered someone I love dearly.  My body was still adjusting to crossing 12 time zones and being greeted by bitter 16 degree weather.  My spirit needed the silence, the beautiful church with huge windows revealing gently falling snow, a fox trotting by in the woods, the warmth of dozens of beloved sisters and brothers surrounding me.  I took a deep breath, relaxed and let myself cry.

I often find in meditation that the first person who needs the healing sound of the bell is me.  My suffering is so small compared to that of families dying daily in Aleppo, women raped and beaten in many countries, children starved and abused, all people suffering from war, poverty, oppression and fear of their political leaders.

Yet this body is the one I feel most closely, can breathe in most easily, can feed, rest, comfort and nourish.  I hope it is true – as Thich Nhat Hanh and his niece Anh Huong teach me – that in taking care of myself, I am taking care of the whole cosmos.  All suffering beings are present in me and me in them.  We “inter-are.”  I am the child in Aleppo.  I am the woman in Nigeria bearing a child of rape.  I am the coal miner in West Virginia worried about feeding his children.  I am determined to take care of all of me, all of the suffering in the world in my breathing, in the sound of this bell going out to the whole cosmos.

img_2337

Reaching to bring the morning light into his heart with the “Monkey Picking Fruit,”my beloved inspires me every day to live a healthy life.  Our health routine begins long before our first bite of breakfast.   We journal our dreams, feelings, insights, read a paragraph from an inspiring teacher, meditate and practice Qi Gong.  For several weeks this winter, we have had the opportunity to practice at dawn near the seashore, with fresh breezes filling our lungs.

A family member has reminded me that I need to lose weight, so I have been enjoying the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables here, forgoing my yen for cheese and ice cream.  I can also swim, bike and walk here each day, in a warmer climate than I would have back home.

We are all responsible for our own health and well-being.  No one else feels the air coming into our lungs, the beating of our own heart.  No one else can walk for us, exercise, make us eat healthier food.  We are in charge of our own health every day.  Qi Gong is a holistic system of nutrition, rest, movement and mental attitude that nourishes my desire to become a slimmer, healthier woman.

One of my spiritual principles is “Compassionate, Healthy Living”:  “We will practice looking deeply into how we nourish our body and mind with edible foods, sense impressions and consciousness….We will consume in a way that preserves compassion, well-being and joy in our bodies and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of our families, our society and the earth.”  Please help me practice these principles in all aspects of my life.

Our next Qi Gong Class begins in January 2017.  Please join us. Your health is in your hands!

Thay with candle

Many friends have been disturbed by the recent political election.  Thich Nhat Hanh gives me some perspective to see more clearly, to calm mind and feelings, to act with love and compassion.  He suggests that “Every time you have a presidential election, you think in terms of Democrats and Republicans, and you take a side.  You suffer or you are happy because one party wins or loses.  But, if we look more deeply we see that the two parties are made of each other and have a lot of things in common.  The success of one party is made of the lack of success of the other party.” (Mindfulness Bell, Autumn 2016)

He is telling us that we are all part of one whole, that we “inter-are.” Our thinking in opposites (right/left, bad/good, wrong/right) is not the whole picture of reality and brings us much suffering.  My suffering came in the form of disbelief, shock, fear and anger, a desire to change the great suffering that will come of this decision.  However, I cannot live in fear and anger for more than a few moments without increasing the suffering in myself and my world.  I remembered Thay’s teaching on Inter-being, that we are not separate from one another, my friends simply identified as “left, right, good” and the president-elect as “right, wrong and bad.”  We inter-are and all had something to do with the conditions that brought about the results of this election.

On a practical level I need to stay calm, to reach out to my neighbors, friends and strangers who are suffering.  I can assure them that I will continue to practice, to come back to the present moment where we are still alive, capable of compassion and love for one another.  I am sticking close to my spiritual communities, listening as deeply as possible, trying to respond with courage to do the things I can see and do, one day at a time.

img_2318

We greeted the rising sun together in the woods this morning with Sunlight Qi Gong, my favorite movement. As the first rays of the sun reached the tops of nearby trees, birds chirped, we smiled.  We are fortunate to live near woods, creeks, hilltops, many lovely outdoor spots to practice these healing movements daily after journaling and meditation.

After a very busy July, a restful August, a wonderful women’s retreat at Claymont, a lovely Qi Gong “Energize your Life” class and Pat’s speech at the ANFP conference in Ocean City, we are enjoying the changes in temperature and shorter days.  We will be announcing our new Qi Circles website soon with photos of some of these venues for our Qi Gong teaching.

We hope that you also find moments to enjoy the changes of autumn leaves, moving and dancing outdoors.  Qi is the “life force” energy inside us all, in the air, the earth, the trees, the full moon, the rising sun, the stars, so easy to bring into our minds and hearts with each breath.  Enjoy each precious moment of life!

This has been a busy month, traveling to a beautiful wedding on the Mississippi, then to the beach with our precious granddaughter.  Now we are back home to see the bridge near our home being torn down, and taking daily refuge in our Qi Gong spot on Sligo Creek.  We  miss family, but know that life has rhythms of intense activity and periods of calm, both necessary.

Many of us have spent special time with friends and family this summer, traveled, experienced changes in our routine and our emotional life.  How do you react to change – in routine, in surroundings, in people in your life?  Do you have some daily “non-negotiable” needs or routines?

For myself, I need journaling, sitting meditation and some QiGong each morning, preferably outdoors.  So, as we traveled, I continued to wake early, journal, find a different body of water for Qi Gong and meditation before I was ready for all the wonderful excitement and interactions with beloved family.  Time with family goes much better when I am my best self, remembering that I am never alone to meet any challenges – within myself or in my changing world.

J-QG on beach

My favorite place to practice Sunlight Qi Gong is the seashore at sunrise.  My husband and I had the surprise opportunity this week to stay at a friend’s home there for a couple of days to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary.  Touching sand, ocean and sky, breathing in fresh morning air, my heart opens with gratitude, a smile comes alive, greeting the rising sun.

When I die, please don’t see my passing as a tragedy.  It cannot be.  I have lived so many lives already, loved so deeply, been loved so beautifully and faithfully.  I am grateful for every extra moment of life, every sunrise, sunset, wave of the ocean, every breath, every moment with family and friends, every opportunity to tell my beloved how much I love him.