In qigong and meditation practice, thoughts, feelings and physical sensations will come into our awareness. It is sometimes described as holding up a mirror and seeing ourselves more clearly.
Often simply becoming aware of something will allow it to change. What comes up can pass easily, like clouds on a windy day. But some things seem to stick around, and may appear to get in the way of our progress.
People are drawn to qigong practice because they want to clear old thought patterns, stuck emotions and physical tensions. When someone is new to the practice, the changes that happen may be obvious, like a sudden jump from one state to another. There can be moments of profound understanding and sometimes blissful feelings. Later it can be difficult to remember what has already changed, and deeper patterns might start to emerge that don’t clear as quickly. So what do we do when this happens?
First, we aren’t trying to get rid of any thoughts and feelings. It’s more about relating to them differently. By coming to a place of stability and stillness in every practice, and developing a felt sense of the physical body, thoughts and feelings automatically become less consuming. Over time the sense of stability grows. We start to see things more clearly and some things naturally stop bothering us as much. But some ‘stuff’ may keep coming back. And that’s ok, and not a sign you are doing anything wrong.
Relax, don't worry, enjoy!
As Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit would often say, it is important not to worry, to relax, and enjoy the practice. These are principles that are built in from your very first lesson. Sometimes it is easy to be relaxed and to enjoy what you are doing. Sometimes less so. Ideas can start to come in that we are getting it wrong, or maybe there is something wrong with the practice itself. There has to be an element of trust: if you do the practice and follow the instructions without adding anything extra, then things will change. Whatever is coming up will clear in time, like changes in the weather.
It may help to remember that the practice is time-tested, and people have been using the same principles for hundreds of years in the Shaolin and Zen traditions. And as things do shift and change, trust will start to develop in your own capability and in the practice itself.
Having a teacher and a community of other students is so valuable, because when you reach a difficult point in your training (which you will), then you get the support you need to go beyond it. If you only practice on your own, it is much, much harder to overcome the challenges that arise, and so you may stop making progress or give up altogether.
Why do we keep practicing?
The question might then come up, why would anyone choose to step out on this journey when it can be so challenging?
The answer is that it does make life more enjoyable. You feel better, more free, with more energy. You find yourself able to do things and deal with things that you couldn’t before. Maybe opportunities open up that previously you wouldn’t have seen.
Carl Jung said "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate". So we keep doing the practice and keep unfolding.