Qigong: Infusing Healthy Confusion

It’s been an incredibly interesting week at the Qigong course where confusion is at times replaced with clarity and understanding, only to be smothered later with yet more confusion.

I don’t mean confusion as in what’s being taught is by any means nonsensical or, that I ‘m not getting it. Not at all. It’s just that there’s so much to learn and that even when I try hard, I still get confused as to what to prioritize and how to store the knowledge I’m exposed to in a sequence that helps me lower the inevitable steep learning curve and perennially improve my training.

Our teacher, Arjan, works through his system in an organic, non-linear way. Which, when coming from Sweden, where everything is organized and structured in absurdum, was initially a little perplexing. But within a day or two, I had let go of that excessively orderly approach and decided to go with the flow. Instead of forcing my projected expectations (based on how things are done elsewhere), I decided to just listen, replicate what I saw and had heard and merely accept that time will eventually come when I’m ready to understand the answers to my many queries. That answering them now in the inception phase would only add to my incertitude and probably make even learning incrementally more difficult.

I am curious by nature and conditioned by the society I live in. This new perspective on implementing something before actually understanding what it is, based at least initially only on faith and trust, certainly makes for an interesting, intellectual challenge. My gut feeling tells me this could be a healthy way for me to learn new things going forward.

At 56, taking on something so wide and deep as learning (even the basics) about Qigong is invigorating. For even if I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode from the constant stream of new things we go through during each session, I am already conscious of the tangible, positive physical effects the training is having on my arthritis.

One may think Qigong would not be anywhere near as exerting as, say, a long run or a spinning class can be. But let me tell you, after a five hour day filled with various full-body stances and movements as well as arm blocks and kicks – all done repetitively in slow, controlled sequences, I’m as exhausted as if I’d run 15k, but without any lasting muscular fatigue that I usually associated with jogging. One of the key upshots I noticed today (when we spent most of the afternoon doing slow motion kicking) was that it took only minutes to recover – and that afterwards, I was super energized, albeit still very, very sweaty.

It’s interesting – and possibly a cultural issue – how much exercise has come to be defined by a level of almost debilitating exertion. The immense popularity of crossfit training being just one of many examples of ways for folks to get a few hours of hard, physical activity integrated into their often stressful, jam-packed lives.

From what I understand so far about Qigong, especially medical Qigong, is that what one can learn will have positive physical, mental and possibly spiritual implications on a timeline that extends far beyond what just goes on whilst practicing. And it is exactly that prospect – the width and breadth of benefits brought forth from Qigong, as a means to both heal and to stay healthy in the long-term, that got me here in the first place.

The umbrellas above are totally unrelated to this post. Well, as they’re probably made in China, the origin country of Qigong, I guess one could argue that there is after all, though far-fetched, a connection.