– interviewed by Instructor Lis
About fifteen years ago Beth watched a Tai Chi demonstration outside the supermarket in Queanbeyan’s Riverside Plaza. The Academy was promoting new term classes to the Thursday night shoppers, dodging trolleys of groceries and straggling families while doing the form. The demonstration inspired Beth to join a class. She already knew about Tai Chi and had participated in lessons some years before when living in Sydney.
After about a year, life became very hectic and she decided to discontinue classes to concentrate on work and family. She rejoined the Tai Chi Academy to study the form in early 2009. During this time, she was aware that she was losing a significant amount of strength and flexibility in her lower body.
By the end of the third term, her level of health had deteriorated and she discontinued classes. By December of 2009, she was unable to continue working and so took extended leave in the hope that her symptoms would diminish. Total bed rest was all she could manage and she experienced severe loss of muscle tone and strength in her lower body.
The cause is unknown but doctors suggested that it could be related to her diabetes and diagnosed it as a neuropathy.
Mainstream medicine offered no solution, although her GP was very supportive and referred her to numerous specialists. One of the specialists, a diagnostic physician, recommended a nutritionist and various strengthening exercises. The changed diet improved Beth’s metabolism considerably and assisted in making a small improvement in her body strength. Yet, with all of this support, she was still in constant pain with very inflexible joints and cramping limbs. To attempt to gain pain relief and rebuild strength and flexibility, Beth tried every allied and alternative health service to find a solution to her problems.
“Every provider I met was challenged by my condition and each attempted to help in any way they could. Some weren’t able to provide any relief and some were able to assist to a certain level but their skills and strong support couldn’t quite break through the pain and body restrictions that I was experiencing.”
Her body did begin to renew to a level where she was again independent and could manage work and life. However, she had no real reserves of energy and took great care to rest and renew at all times.
In 2012, Beth recommenced Tai Chi but her legs and feet weren’t flexible enough for the Tai Chi movements. Her condition was such that she required a walking stick. To build her energy, she attended the Qigong Dai course and the Self Healing Qigong workshop taught by Fontane. At first, she found it difficult to centre and focus, but from the first class, she experienced energy moving throughout her body and extreme heat in her feet.
“I was lathered in sweat and a little disorientated and I felt that red hot splinters were streaming out of my feet.”
“I began to practise the Self Healing Qigong daily and was aware after each practice there was a distinct development of core strength. After a few short weeks, I’d reduced the need to take the heavy level of pain killers, Lyrica, that I’d been prescribed. I went from reliance on the medication to none at all in less than two months.”
Beth does experience some difficulty in relaxing and emptying her mind during the practice. She decided to enrol in the Taoist 5 Elements Sitting Qigong which detoxes the body, nourishes the energy and balances the 5 major organs (liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidneys). She has found that when practised with the Self Healing Qigong, the Sitting Qigong has further increased her energy and enjoyment of life.
While Beth has experienced a return to relatively good health, she still suffers from stiff and restricted connective muscles and ligaments in her toes, feet, ankles, knees and hips. Some of these restrictions are also apparent in her neck, shoulders, arms and hands. To improve this condition, she enrolled in the Walking Qigong in the first term of 2014, which she testifies, had an immediate impact.
“Driving home from the first lesson, I experienced a releasing of the stiffness in the 4th toe – it sort of popped. When I arrived home, I checked the diagram in the course notes. During the Walking, we stimulate the Huan Tiao (Jumping Round) point which affects the Gall Bladder Meridian. Energy from the Gall Bladder Meridian flows through Huan Tiao near the hips, where I experience restrictions. It then continues down the leg to the same 4th toe. This toe remains free and unrestricted after the completion of the course.”
“I haven’t been able to practise the Walking Qigong as regularly as I’d like due to the wet weather. However, following classes, with Fontane’s guidance, there’s a great improvement in my ability to walk with pace and develop pace while walking. I also notice much stronger Dan Tian energy in the abdomen. As a diabetic, I often have a level of discomfort in my kidneys but as I practise the Walking Qigong, which strengthens the kidneys, the discomfort is far less evident.”
While Beth likes to practise at home, class energy is important to her and she benefits from the collective energy. When she trains, she finds some of the techniques difficult. She has realised that by practising regularly and concentrating on the intention and not worrying about getting it right, the results will just come.
Beth has returned to the workforce in her fulltime capacity. She tells colleagues how much Qigong has benefitted her and uses the Self Healing technique to help colleagues at work who have soft tissues injuries. This has led to some good-natured ribbing and the receiving of a Spiritual Healer Award at last year’s work Christmas party.