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Dream big, let your imagination fly … and then act on it

“Draw the Bow to Shoot the Arrow” – Qigong movement

Dream big, look far out at the horizon and don’t be afraid to let your imagination fly. Then follow it with actions. That is how I live.

Five years ago my husband Bill’s cousin, Sharon, who became my beloved “sister” and inspirational friend told me, "Nina, you should try Qigong!”

I had never heard of it, but I was curious.

“Chi” means energy and “gong” means work. In practice, it increases blood circulation in your body, stimulates your immune system, strengthens your internal organs, and gives you great physical vigour and mental calmness. It promotes self-healing, prevents disease, and increases longevity.

I went to the YouTube channel and typed “Qigong”.

A video popped up. On a high stone cliff above a shimmering blue ocean, a tall and slender Chinese man calmly stood. He was dressed in a long snow-white silk tunic and pants. They fluttered in the sea breeze, and his long black hair was wound in a top knot above his head, held in place with a green jade pin.

He made a series of smooth, flowing movements, more graceful than I had ever seen. Magnificent in their flawless execution, he was like a rare and elegant stork lost in a slow and timeless dance. His practice was called Ba Duan Jin, or Eight Pieces Of Broacade, and dates from 500BC.

This was Master Zhong Xuechao (Master Bing). He is the 15th generation in his lineage to devote his life to Kung Fu. He began practising when he was six years old and now leads his own school.

As I watched, I felt something deep inside me shift. But then I thought with bittersweet sadness that I would never be able to do it, that it would be impossible for me to learn. I let my dream bird fly away, never to return.

In my travels, I discovered a different form of Qigong in Thailand, and teachers there who guided me in practice. Yet, I often came back to that first video and watched it over and over again. I just couldn't forget it.

I returned to Bermuda. Autumn ended, and winter arrived with all its stormy gales, pouring tank rains, and short days. I wanted to do something special to lift my spirits. My dream bird returned to me and whispered.

On the spur of the moment, I e-mailed Master Zhong Xuechao and told him how I found him on the internet and about my wish to practice his form of Qigong. I begged him to teach me. To my astonishment, he simply agreed to give me lessons on Zoom.

It was 6am in Bermuda, dark and chilly outside. I was standing still in white loose clothes, looking at the computer screen and waiting for my first class. I was excited, focused and a bit breathless. It is an extraordinary feeling when a dream is about to come true. The black screen dissolved into colour and I gasped.

I stepped right into a more exotic reality.

Master was standing in perfect stillness in a stone temple court surrounded by the remote and magnificent Wudang mountains of northern China.

He was wearing blue silk, his shining black hair fell in a ponytail to his waist. Behind him, two men in white tunics were kung fu fighting with glinting silver swords. It was early evening there and the twilight fell in a purple mist, soft, surreal, authentic, an ancient watercolour brought to life.

He started his lesson in Chinese. He told me the name of the first movements and we started practising Two Hands Hold Up The Heaven. Slowly repeating the movements, he explained the healing aspects of each posture and breath work.

In the middle of our work, his ten-year-old daughter ran straight to him and threw her arms around his waist, all smiles and hugging him fiercely. She gave me a dazzling smile, waved, and in her charming accent piped, "Hello, how are you?" I laughed, both charmed and delighted.

Master never missed a beat, continuing his graceful movements embraced in this delightful girl’s love.

Since then, I practise every morning. I notice the difference in my body; I have become more flexible and calm, and my gestures more fluid.

I now have a new and more ambitious dream! I close my eyes and see myself in this temple court in the secluded Wudang mountains mastering Qigong under the direction of the great Master.

My husband, Bill, is already poring over several maps. “It will be a week of hard travel …” he says, and I can see he is smiling.

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com

Nina London practising Qigong (Photograph by Bill Rosser)

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Published January 21, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 19, 2021 at 9:06 pm)

Dream big, let your imagination fly … and then act on it

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