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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Practicing Qigong in Public

Qigong and Practice: by Glenn Gossling
Qigong Magazine - Issue 18 (1995)

Any skill worth having takes time and effort to acquire. Qigong is no different. You need fresh air and space to practice, but often people are put off by curious passers by and neighbors who pretend they have not seen you. So is it worth it?

To experience the full benefits of qigong, regular practice is essential. Very few of us have gardens big enough to practice qigong in, or have gardens at all. Doing qigong without enough room is no good. You constantly have to interrupt your flow to take a few steps back or to the side. Also, the average garden lawn is rapidly ruined by the regular repetitoin of movements. The best thing is to find a suitable park.

You should make a defeinte effort to find a good place to practice and not just use the nearest open space to your house. The park you choose should be attractive. It is important that you should want to go there and that you enjoy being thre. 

In the park find a suitable location. Most importantly - you should have enough room to do the forms uninterrupted. Tennis courts are good - you are less likely to be disturbed by curious people or dogs because they are enclosed. It should be sheltered to some degree; trees can give you shade in the summer and help break the wind in the winter.  You should try to avoid being close to roads or other sources of pollution. Much of this is common sense. You will find that with regular practice you naturally gravitate to places where the energy is the best even with no knowledge of feng shui.

For many people it may seem like a big step - moving from the privacy of your own garden or house to a public space. In the West we seem to get very embarrassed by doing 'strange' things in public, which is a little odd when you consider how many down right stupid things are accepted as normal (such as smoking or driving in city centers). However, this is a problem that has to be overcome if you want to practice regularly throughout the year. 

The Chinese kung fu master Pan Qing Fu (when interviewed recently) made the point that martial arts are like painting. If the painting is good you put it in a prominent place and show everyone, but if it is ugly you show no one. Fortunately, for us the majority of Chinese exercises are very beautiful and martial arts extremely exciting. Because of this, none of us needs to worry about practicing in public. Although, needless to say, you should be motivated to perform the forms as well as possible which means practice. No one wants other people to see their bad habits.

Practicing in public is very much a frame of mind. Once you start, you very rapidly find that the uninterrupted practice of forms enables you to improve and correct them, with a corresponding benefit to your health. Your confidence also increases not only because of the improved practice but because of the psychological commitment you are making. The sooner you take the plunge the sooner you will reap the rewards.