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On Being With What Is

Buddha hands against the sky Shaolin Wahnam Twin Cities Blog
The higher level function of our training is seen not in what happens, but how we deal with what happens.

Earlier this year, you may have noticed that Qigong for Health and Vitality disappeared off of the website like a little blip on a radar blinking out. Happily, it’s back now, albeit pushed to the latter half of the year. There’s very little in the world that I hate more than not rising to meet my commitments. But, turns out I had a little date with my humanity that I couldn’t miss.

In early February, I had a surgery which, while not entirely unplanned, was certainly not the choice I would’ve made had I any viable alternatives. Y’all, I’ve never broken a bone, never had a single stitch until now, never experienced the druggy magic that is general anesthesia-I even stayed awake for my wisdom teeth extraction when I was 18. Surgery was not something that I really wanted to add to my life experiences. But there you have it, sometimes the offerings at the buffet of life are a selection of things you don’t want, one of which you have to select anyway. I do feel lucky to be a healthcare provider in addition to a Qigong teacher. At the very least, if anyone was capable of making an informed decision in that situation, it was me. So, I postponed class, had the surgery, and woke up to an “unremarkable” pathology report.

I’ve never been so happy to not be special.

And yet, with all of this, there’s a feeling as if this shouldn’t have happened. After all, I’m supposed to be perfect, right?


We persevere in correct practice, we deepen our training, we get healthy, we find peace and clarity, and yet, we still have our moments of imperfection, of being human. We snap at a loved one, we get annoyed when we know better, we have a cavity, a poor night’s sleep. Every so often, though hopefully rarely, a bone is broken, we fall and scrape ourselves, or something that doesn’t belong in our bodies or isn’t behaving needs to be removed. This is part of being human.

It's easy when you’ve become accustomed to functioning at a higher level to take these moments of humanity as some sort of character flaw, or a sign that you’re not doing something right rather than take them for what they are- just moments of humanity. If truth be told, the higher-level functioning of our training is seen not in what happens, but how we deal with what happens. This is an example of mental clarity.

We’re taught in our training to simply brush the thoughts away as they come rather than to try to avoid having them or get discouraged when they do come. Notice, brush away, move on, repeat if necessary. This is the real work of training a strong and resilient mind. Do this again and again, just like your repetitions of Lifting the Sky. Can you imagine how poor your progress would be if you beat yourself up every time you had a thought? Heavens to Betsy.

So, I acknowledged all those thoughts I had, then set myself to ensuring I went into surgery in the best physical and mental shape possible. I couldn’t change that it had to happen, I could only affect my thoughts and attitude towards it. See the thoughts, brush them away, carry on with practice.

Getting to the other side has allowed me to see, yet again, just how much our practice benefits us. I bounced back really quickly and I feel great. So great in fact, that I’m constantly reminding myself to take it easy. I’ll share the photo below of the gauntlet that I had to traverse when I came home from the hospital, which I managed without falling. I know this road to recovery would’ve been much longer without the Shaolin arts, both physically and emotionally. I remain unspeakably grateful for my training and for this community. I can’t wait to get back in the classroom.

Icy walkway
This was what waited for me at home a few hours after getting off the operating table- AFTER salting, sanding, and chipping at it the day before.

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