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Gauging Progress and Staying Encouraged

Person standing on mountaintop qigong training
How do you know you're moving upwards?

I get this question a lot from my students: How do I assess whether or not I'm improving? Some people come to Shaolin Wahnam Cosmos Qigong with an urgent health issue, neck pain, a herniated disc, or something else that's a major problem. These are the people who see dramatic improvement right away. If your pain scale is always 9/10 and then it suddenly goes down to 5/10 within a week, that's an improvement which is pretty hard to ignore. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who are generally in decent health but want to be happier, more productive in life, and maybe move a little more freely? How do we assess progress?

I had a few issues when I came to Shaolin Wahnam: I was depressed, I had back pain that came and went, but generally speaking I was pretty healthy and strong. I practiced diligently and several years went by. I felt better, but I didn't necessarily feel amazing. It was only through looking backwards and through other people's observations that I realized that I was in fact making progress. Sometimes you're the last to know something about yourself.

I was surprised when I realized how many people were commenting that I seemed happier. But the kicker was when I had to go in to the doctor's office for a physical. I hadn't been in for so long I had to redo all of the intake paperwork. I sat there checking off 'no' to all of these things where I had previously said 'yes'. Huh. Insomnia? No, not anymore. Allergies? Oh yeah, I guess not. Get sick often? Actually I can't remember the last time... Then it dawned on me, hey this stuff really works!

Right now you might be thinking, great Molly, but I don't want to practice for five years and not see any results. Good! Don't. Start today. Make a list of your issues, big or small. Whether it's fatigue, mood, how fast you run a mile, whatever. Then rate all those issues on a scale of 1 to 10. Carry on with your practice for a reasonable amount of time, three months is usually a good period, then go back and rate yourself again at the end of three months. Chances are you'll rate yourself a little better, though your improvement is a small increment.

The thing is, as we feel better, we start to get used to feeling better. We quickly forget how we weren't feeling so hot before. Taking the time to write it down, rate it, and reassess makes you see your improvement in a way you can't ignore and encourages you to keep going, even if you can't fly or spit toothpicks through trees. We cover setting aims and learning to assess progress in our weekly qigong class, giving you not only the tools to take charge of your health, but also the tactics to constantly show you how you're improving so you can succeed in your practice.

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