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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.

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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.

 

 

J at GC GC colors GC with trees

Wow!  The Grand Canyon is a great place to touch the Energy of the Universe!  So powerful in majestic beauty, and in geological, historical, social energy.  I was able to absorb the beauty of these colors, breathe the air, look as far as the eye can see on our Women’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona.  Fourteen women gathered for a week absorbing the energy of the vortexes, meditating, practicing Qi Gong and yoga, resting and sharing deeply from our hearts about blocks we want to transform to receive energy into our bodies, minds and lives.  Then nine of us were able to travel to the Grand Canyon for our final day in Arizona.

Thank you, Ruth and other sisters on this journey.  Thank you, Mother Earth, for these magnificent mountains, rocks, and fire at your core.  Thank you, Father Sun for blessing us with life every day, whether we see you or not.  Thank you, amazing Universe, for holding us, connecting us in your Energy and Love.

Spring budsWhat a glorious spring day!  The first birthday of our great niece Hannah Grace (https-//www.facebook.com/photo), the spring full moon, cherry blossoms trying to burst into bloom on the Tidal Basin, and so many great activities coming up.

Please join us in celebrating SPRING and new life within yourself at these events.  Our world needs every gesture of peace, every celebration of life possible:
1) “Twelve Posture Qi Gong”class.   My husband Patrick and I will be teaching this 8-week class in simple, gentle movements that will greatly reduce pain, improve agility and open energy channels in your body. Join us on Tuesdays from 7:00-8:00pm from April 5-May 24 at the Takoma Park Community Center. Sign up for drop-in or the full class at (https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-12-posture/4440).

2) There are still some private rooms available for our Women’s Spiritual Retreat at Claymont Court, WV (near Harper’s Ferry) the weekend of April 29-May1. (See http://www.ruthfishel.com or email Joann to register ASAP).   REST, RELAX!

3) AND join Ruth and me in a special women’s retreat in SEDONA, ARIZONA May 30-June 2 “Awakening to the Power of the Vortexes!” (with a trip to the Grand Canyon on June 3 optional). To sign up, see http://www.ruthfishel.com.

Enjoy every moment of new life, every precious, beautiful moment, my friends.

Love and Peace,

Joann

My affirmation for the month of March, as I heal from a bad cold:

“The spring sun is warming, healing and inspiring me.”Joann:Qi:Beach.JPG

car snowed inThese last four days of being buried under two feet of snow has been a challenge for many of us. It is especially difficult if we don’t have a strong meditation practice, are not used to being alone and miss distractions and activities (work, shopping, driving, even phone calls, television and internet if power is lost).  At last my copy of the Washington Post arrived today!

This morning my husband read a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Art of Communication before our sitting meditation (after journaling and Qi Gong, our usual morning routine). Thay said “The way in is the way out.” I breathed with this phrase, letting it sink into my consciousness, the truth of it connecting to my heart.

Even though my outer world has been still, covered in snow, preventing usual outward activities, we have been happy to have this little four-day retreat together. Fortunately we also have power, so we’ve checked on friends and family, FaceTimed with those half-way around the world, held an on-line meeting, faced some tasks that we might have shunned without this intense period of time alone at home.

But the most precious gift was extra time to meditate together. To touch our hearts, to feel fears of isolation, “cabin fever,” being ‘trapped’ should there be a medical emergency. Our logic tells us that we have great neighbors (our next door neighbor held a brunch for all the children who made her lawn into a giant snow slide), a four-wheel jeep across the street, many friends. But sometimes our hearts beat with irrational fear. We need time to calm our heart, clear our mind, find our breath and know that we are truly at home, here and now.

From the safety and joy of going inward, we find the strength and clarity to reach out to others, dig out our cars, wait patiently until it is safe to venture further and reach out to the rest of the world, with all its suffering and joy.

“The path home begins with your breath. If you know how to breathe, you can learn how to walk, how to sit, how to eat your meal, and how to work in mindfulness so that you can begin to know yourself. When you breathe in, you come back to yourself. When you breathe out, you release any tension. Once you can communicate with yourself, you’ll be able to communicate outwardly with more clarity. The way in is the way out.” (p. 17/18).

Claymont dawn

What a joy to step out into the early morning, see Venus still bright in the Eastern sky, breathing, with the bird on the highest branch, waiting for the first light of dawn.

Our Women’s Retreat at Claymont Court gave us clear night stars, a glorious moon and two precious dawns. Some of us enjoyed a night venture into the meadow and also an early rising to greet the sunrise with Qi Gong in the ballroom.

Now that a hurricane is bringing us clouds and rain, can we summon up the beauty of those clear skies in our minds? Stay inspired, stop occasionally to breathe mindfully, eat more slowly, walk carefully, listen deeply, speak kindly?

Clouds come, clouds go….my mind is a clear blue sky.