The following was sent to me by a student who has been practicing for one month. I thought you might enjoy it and it might give some inspiration.
I’m a new student of Long White Cloud Qigong and I’ve been learning for about a month. It’s extremely fun and relaxing, with a million new things to learn and put into practice. It also includes a lot of laughing at myself when I can’t recall my right from my left or attempt to do accentuated breathing in combination with the exercise – the old chewing gum and walking at the same time. At the moment I’m sure I’m an ungainly slob but I’m confident that improvement will indeed arrive !
One thing that strikes me about Qigong is that I’m learning an entirely new way of communicating with my body and the world around me. It’s sort of like visiting a country where you don’t speak the language. Communication is at a fundamental level an exchange of energy. If you want a sandwich, you tell the person at the shop counter what type of sandwich. But if you can’t use words, you have to find another way – you point, make funny faces to express “yes” or “no”, sometimes hop and down or engage in charades. Sometimes you find the easiest way is to draw a picture, a symbol that represents what you are trying to say.
Symbols and pictures are a very effective means of communication. In Ancient China, symbols with double or hidden meanings and visual puns were all the rage during especially the Ming Dynasty. Let’s look for example at the Long White Cloud Kung Fu logo. John can likely explain his desired symbolism best, but I’ll take a shot.
It’s a circle with a beautiful, lush mountain valley. There’s a river, the sun is just rising behind snow-capped peaks, and a lovely fluffy cloud. Different cultures assign different meanings to certain symbols, but mountains are earth element and usually thought of as being close to heaven. River valleys are typically the best spot for agriculture, so the representation here I would say is “a place of nourishment,” which is also a “solid base for activity”. River represents the water element and also represents “flow.” The sun peeking up could mean “enlightenment begins.” Clouds are a very auspicious sign – they represent heaven and also the Chinese word for cloud, “yun”, is pronounced the same as the Chinese word for Luck or fortune, which is also “yun.” The length and colour of the cloud is also auspicious. It’s white, not a dark, threatening cloud, so storms are not on the way. White of course is traditionally associated with purity. The cloud goes all the way across the logo. This means “continuous” or “never-ending.” Also, it represents a change – the sun evaporates the water from the river to make a cloud that can float to heaven. So, lots of symbolism and meaning in the logo, aside from words.
In Qigong, we’re learning to communicate in a similar non-verbal way. If you say something like “Good morning Qi, today we’re going to glow as warm energy in the lower Dantian and then travel in a ball down the left leg”, the qi is most likely not going to understand or cooperate with you. But if you visualize it (make a picture in your head), the Qi can understand (and hopefully also cooperate !). In the same way, as we stretch our left leg in Dragon Clears a Path, the Qi can understand what we’re asking it to do. In this case, we’ve used the body as the symbol rather than a visual symbol in the head. People sometimes like to try to tell the Qi what to do. The Qi knows what to do. You only have to communicate with it. Then the Qi can also communicate with you, also in a non-verbal way, like the logo.
To put it all together, “Long White Cloud Kung Fu and Qigong is a place of nourishment (valley), where enlightenment begins (sun rising), where you can find never-ending good fortune (long white cloud) and if you want, transform a little bit in a positive way (river changing to cloud), and get a little closer to heaven (mountain). “