I am in constant movement. I arise in the morning, make breakfast, brush my teeth, put on my coat, walk down the street, gesture to the cafe owner while ordering coffee, stand waiting for the bus or subway etc, etc, etc. Even when sitting or standing, I continue to move. My heart beats, I breath and my blood pumps incessantly through me. My cells, my organs, my mind are constantly shifting and in continuous flux; they too make their own specific movements and sounds. There are larger movements and smaller movements, automatic movements, habitual movements, autonomic movements (not the same as automatic) and sometimes, in fact very rarely, am I aware of "how I move", or perhaps, more succinctly said, "how I am moved". What is it that moves me? The most simple questions are often the most unfathomable, leading us to unforeseen discoveries if I am willing to suspend the notion that I already know.
Qigong can guide us towards investigating this question. It not only incorporates movements of the musculoskeletal system, but can also bring us in touch with our organs, the fluids—the blood and endocrine system—and, of course, the breath. Chinese medicine connects the organs to emotional states, colors, sounds, tastes, direction, animals and the channels that are the pathways for Qi. Within this traditional medical system, each organ carries a specific quality and, like western medicine, plays a role within the whole, like a community of living creatures that makes up the organism that I call "my body". With this view our bodies become connected as opposed to dissected. Through the movements, sounds and our awareness, we begin to experience our physical bodies as less foreign and perhaps even part of the larger living system of nature. One could say that Chinese medicine was one of the first wholistic approaches to healing and it still remains effective for many of today's ailments.
I recall my first introduction to this aspect of qi gong, and at first I was very skeptical, wondering how all this related to the movements we made, but I continued on, really not knowing what I would find. The sounds are not just sounds, but vibrations or micro movements; the directions we face or move towards are not just arbitrary, as each direction has a quality to incorporate. How often in our lives do we know which direction we are facing? I think of sea turtles or birds being able to navigate vast distances by the capacity to sense magnetic fields to find their way. They know direction in a way that I do not, but perhaps that capacity is within our reach?
So returning to the question: What is it that moves me? If I am honest, I must admit that I do not know. But, by asking the question, I begin to face a gigantic field of study encompassing all of me and more. The awareness: my ability to perceive— sense, taste, see—is still very limited. I might think I am aware, but there is more to take in that at present might seem unimaginable, but I can open to more.
I am reminded of a quote from The Secret of the Golden Flower:
“One moves and forgets the movement;
If action arises from stimulation
Then it is but reflexive.
Ah, but when one moves without will
nor impulse, then truly is this
moving heaven & earth.”
--The Secret of the Golden Flower,
Excerpt, Translated by Sat Chuen Hon
has studied qigong and taiji with Sat Chuen Hon, a Taoist and native of China for several years. Mr. Hon has asked her to carry on this Taoist healing tradition to help benefit others. Ms. Fox received her MFA in painting from Yale University in 1997. Her studio practice, writing as well as her study of dance and movement have been woven together over many years into a rich exploration and inner search. She is a published poet and has recently helped prepare and edit Sat Hon's writings on Qigong and Taoist stories for publication.