by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Trees are barely frosted with the brilliance of autumn colors, yet the clouds and rain had surprised everyone in Chi-Gong class. “It's more like winter than September one student said, ” shaking off the drenching received during the walk from her car, sans umbrella.
Chi, also spelled Qi is generally translated as life energy, life force, or energy flow. Qi is the central focus, the underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts, such as Tai Chi. Gong, also spelled kung, translates as cultivation or work. Together, the two words describe systems to cultivate and balance life energy, especially for health.
Students flow through the class in dribbles, some returning faithfully each Tuesday and Thursday.. Alice has been coming, she says, for years. Henry Story was the first teacher. Now, he is back in class moving slowly but with great focus and concentration.
The roots of the practice date back in ancient Chinese culture more than 4,000 years. Many varieties of Chi-Gong developed in different parts of Chinese society. Traditional Chinese medicine applied the practices for its preventative and curative power. Confucianism applied the same understandings to promote longevity and improve moral character. Practices also include meditation and well known forms of martial arts.
Catherine McKibbin is teaching there now.
In Santa Barbara, California a spontaneous classes also take place in local parks, where in the first dim hours of the morning you see figures moving in the mist, following the ancient forms. These classes take place without a word spoken. They began from the solitary practice of one man, who daily used the park himself, preferring to follow this form of active meditation with his bare feet touching the earth, in a place designed for beauty, and solitude. The last time I walked by, dawn just glazing the mountains in the east, eight figures were following his moves.
Yesterday afternoon a package arrived in my mailbox. Opening it, I found a DVD titled, “Five Element Tai Chi – Medicine for the Organs,” sent by Kathleen Boisen, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Kathleen asked me to review it.
Last Tuesday, Alice recommended Jade Garden, in Madison. When I walked in, three hours later, she was there.
We live in a world filled with threads of human action, connecting us in ways which may surprise and enrich us. These bring us closer despite considerations of time and distance.