If you've only known me for the past decade, you would extremely surprised to learn that I used to suffer from horrible depression. You couldn't pay me a billion dollars to re-live my 20s. I was stuck in a horrible situation, I hated my life, I was disgusted with myself, and I was no stranger to self-medication. In public spaces, I would hide out in corners, I didn't go to parties, and if I saw someone I knew when I was out and about, I would avoid them so I didn't have to find phony, awkward answers for friendly questions like, “how are you?” and “what have you been up to?” I became really good at being invisible.
I look back on that era as the darkest time in my life, and yet this was when the seeds were planted that would change my life to one of joy, gratitude, and of an open heart. I began my kungfu and qigong training in Shaolin Wahnam with Grandmaster Wong Kiew-Kit when I was 27. Before too long things went from very bad to bearable. That might not sound like much, but it was huge for me. As more time went by, I felt better and better, to the point that I've arrived where I'm at today. Sure, I still get annoyed from time to time, but I approach my days with happiness and excitement, I stop and chat with people I run into, I engage with the world in a way that is the polar opposite of 20-something Molly. And I love it. I love my life. All of this I owe to my kungfu and my qigong training.
Many people have asked me if qigong is helpful for depression and my answer is a resounding YES. I've seen many of my own Shaolin Wahnam brothers and sisters overcome their own crippling anxiety and depression, some of them within just a few months of starting their training. Me, I was more stubborn. I took longer. While some of my depression was situational, getting out of that situation didn't resolve it. I also struggled with my own negative thought patterns which chained me into a cage that seemed impossible to escape. If a universal truth is that you are who you tell yourself you are, I was all of those horrible things.
And yet, I persisted in my training because it was helping. As time went by, I developed more mental clarity and began to see that those negative things I was telling myself were not true. As my mind became stronger, I was able to replace those thoughts with positive ones and reinforce them regularly. Once I started doing that, the positive snowball effect was dramatic, and the improvement in my mood and outlook increased exponentially.
For me, I needed time to strengthen my mind. When you're depressed, developing a clear and powerful mind is the mental equivalent of core strengthening exercises for people with bad backs. You need that strength to pull yourself up, literally and figuratively.
In my weekly classes, students learn the exercises like Lifting the Sky, Dancing Butterfly, Separating Water, and others which are extremely effective for depression. They also learn the skills of qiflow, which helps break through energy blockages that stand in the way of health. Simple skills like learning how to stand upright, which I discuss in this post, set the foundation for an open heart. The mind becomes clearer and quieter. With a little time and persistence, you start to see the shackles of depression for what they are, just a few cobwebs to dust off.
Whew! Okay, that was a pretty long post, but for a very important reason. So many people today suffer from issues like anxiety and depression, which drastically affect the quality of their lives. Medication can either be undesirable, or in some cases, just not enough. There is another way, and it could change your life like it changed mine.