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On Quieting the Mind and Doing the Work

hands in meditation posture shaolin wahnam twin cities
Here's a little heartfelt advice for the days where you feel like you've got it all wrong.

There’s a Buddhist saying, framed on my wall, given to me by my aunt and uncle, of which I frequently remind myself when I’m flustered that I’m thinking too much during Qigong practice (yes, even I can still do this). It reads, “Every step of the journey is the journey”.

It’s a useful little phrase when we get down on ourselves because our monkey mind is a little too active, or because we got a little too distracted while training. In my classes, I give the instruction to let go of thoughts and to do this simply.

As we all know, simple and easy are not the same thing.

I shudder to think of all the beautiful things that were never invented, all the paintings never painted, and the stories never written simply because someone got down on themselves for a less than perfect brushstroke or a poor turn of phrase and gave up before their idea ever had a chance to come to fruition. It can be easy to give up on a life-changing mindfulness practice just because it might seem like you’re not “doing it right” from time to time. The truth is, if you follow the instructions to the best of your ability and just keep doing it, you’re doing it right.

Life is what it is and some days the psychic drag is heavier than others. Some days, your mind is clear and pristine like a bell. Others, it feels like you’re playing Whack-a-mole with your thoughts. No matter. Whether you have three thoughts during your Qigong practice or 300, if you notice it and brush it away, you’re doing the work that needs to be done. Little by little, it will get easier. Your level of practice will increase until you get to a deeper layer of the onion, requiring you to yet again, show up and do the work to once again raise your level.

This is the beauty of the Qigong journey. It never stops. It’s life-long learning and improvement. So long as you follow the instructions and continue to train, you will benefit. If you lift a weight 100 times, you can’t help but build some muscle. So don’t let harder days discourage you. Every step of the journey is the journey.

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