Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

So what is qigong?

Put simply, “qi” (sounds like "chee") basically means energy and “gong” refers to the exercises you do to cultivate it. It is an ancient practice, with its roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy, taking many forms that vary widely. It is not a religious practice but you can bring your personal spiritual beliefs to it if you like. Some of the postures involve a lot of movement, while others (like the exercises in my book) are done seated with gentle movements or by being still, in either a standing, sitting or lying-down position.  

With the Six Healing Sounds, you use your breath combined with smiling, visualization, gentle movements and sound vibrations to get rid of stale energy (excess of negative emotions) and bring new energy (positivity) into the body. It is a gentle process that is done with “relaxed intention” because when you are calm the body’s healing mechanisms are supported.  Being calm also helps you to think more clearly and creatively, opening you up to gaining new insights about yourself. The Six Healing Sounds helps you to foster loving and compassionate attitudes towards yourself by putting some distance between you and your negative feelings. You do not attempt to aggressively force negative feelings out of your body because in doing so you will only make them grow stronger. Instead you see them as having a function. Feelings arise to communicate something and once you recognize that, you can be grateful for them and then send them on their way.

The Six Healing Sounds finishes off with the lying-down position which brings you to the Wuji state, the deepest level of energy cultivation. This is a time when you become still, and like mindfulness meditation, you let your thoughts float past without making any judgements. There is no intention to do anything in this state, you simply relax and allow your awareness to deepen.  

Qigong is something that can be done throughout the day. Every moment you are deciding whether to be positive or negative. Walking, cycling, cooking and cleaning are all examples of things that can be done using the principles of qigong to help you to stay positive, energetic and lovingly connected to yourself and to the world around you.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Breathe Your Worries Away

The exercise that generates the most feedback from my book is the one that helps children to stop worrying. Recently a grandmother told me:

"My grandson and I love this book.... Wednesday night is 'Grandma Night' and when he got up this morning he told me he 'needed' to read the one to help his stomach calm down because he was worried about his spelling test tomorrow!!! How wonderful to be able to help a seven year-old calm HIMSELF down with this method..."

Wonderful indeed! I know only too well how it feels to be a child who is prone to worrying so I'm particularly touched when I hear that my book is helping little ones to let go of their anxieties. Reading this comment from a mother really moved me:

"Lisa, my daughter is five years old and she has, unfortunately, through 'nature and nurture', picked up a tendency toward anxiety. As her mother, I wanted to find a way to teach her ways to protect herself from the damage of letting worry, anxiety and negativity into her little 'being'. Your book was RIGHT on time and the perfect choice for bedtime reading. Isn't it amazing how sometimes if we need something badly enough, and we open our minds to it.... we can find exactly what we are looking for in life. Thank you so much for this wonderful book, it means more than words can say."

It's also great to hear from adults who tell me that the techniques are working for them too. Doe Zantamata (who reviewed my book for her Facebook page Happiness in Your Life) said:

"Oh how I would have loved this book when I was little... and my mum would probably have loved for me to have it too. I highly recommend it, not only for children but for adults too. For me, I wanted to learn the basics, without studying a lot. This was perfect. The exercises and sounds felt a little silly at first but they really work."

Anxiety is what keeps most of us awake at night. A little bit of time spent doing the Six Healing Sounds helps to send children (and adults) off to sleep because it helps them to release their worries and feel calm.  These exercises are also great to use throughout the day whenever you need to help yourself to calm down and feel more positive.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What the Sounds Should Sound Like

Because the Six Healing Sounds have been around for thousands of years there are many versions of them. My book demonstrates the exercises as I learned them from Grandmaster Mantak Chia. I've tried others but these are the ones I prefer. Having said that, I have changed a few elements to make them more suitable for young children.

In the second story I refer to just the stomach, even though this exercise is also for the spleen and pancreas, because I didn't want to overwhelm little ones with too many new words. Also, I liked the idea of focusing on the stomach because there is so much temptation for children to comfort themselves by eating junk food. This shows them that there are other things they can do to feel better instead of trying to numb away feelings of worry by eating. And, I've taken a little liberty with the Triple Warmer exercise which features in the final story to help Ted get to sleep. This exercise doesn't relate to a specific organ but because it aims to even out the body temperature by bringing hot energy down from the head and cooler energy up from the feet, it seemed apt to describe the hot energy as the chattering, busy thoughts in the brain.

The Six Healing Sounds is as much about using your imagination as it is about making the sounds. Each organ has associated seasons, emotions, colors and elements. My book presents these to children through words and pictures in a way that makes them easy to learn and remember.

The video will let you hear what the sounds should sound like. Try experimenting with how loud or soft you do them. You can do them as soft as a whisper and they will still be effective. It's best to do all the organs in the order they are shown in the book, making the sound at least three times for each one, but you can concentrate on just one or as many as you like as long as you do them in the right order. The more you do it, the more you will make it your own. If you get caught up in trying to do it perfectly then you won't get the most out of it. Learning this practice should be seen as a continuous lifelong process that taps into your body's inherent ability to heal itself.

There are also postures and movements for the Six Healing Sounds but what's in my book is more than enough to make a very good start with - whether you're a child or an adult!

Singing Dragon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Living with ET

When you hear "ET" do you straight away think about that cute little extraterrestrial who wanted to phone home? If so, then it's my guess that you don't have, or may never even have heard of Essential Tremor, ET for short. People like me who have ET (the neurological disease, not the alien) suffer from a condition that makes them shake. In my case it's mainly my hands that are affected but often I feel a low level of tremor in my arms and legs as well. You can get it in your voice and head too (think Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond). Although it's not pretty and it can make life very difficult, if you had to have a neurological disease then I suppose ET would be high on the list of the ones you'd prefer. You might occasionally feel like dying from embarrassment (particularly when eating or drinking in public) but in reality the shaking won't kill you.

Considering how many people are affected by it (over 10 million in the United States alone) we hear very little about this condition. Most likely that's because people who have ET generally try to hide it. I certainly did and to a certain extent I still do. In my mid 20s I started to notice shaking in my hands and by my late 30s the tremors were making teaching very difficult. I trained as an art teacher and losing my ability to draw smoothly or write on a board (among many other things) eventually persuaded me to leave that career behind. Maybe if there had been more awareness for ET I would've had the confidence to continue teaching.

A few years ago I tried acupuncture and while it helped, unfortunately the benefits wore off after a short time. Because the acupuncturist recommended that I try meditation I decided to learn how to do the Six Healing Sounds Qigong exercises. This ancient Chinese form of meditation is both calming and energizing and one of the many tools that I've come to rely on to help me to cope. Anxiety doesn't cause this disease but because adrenaline makes tremors worse, learning how to stay calm is important for anyone with ET.

I'm 46 years old and although I once felt robbed of my career by this disease, that feeling changed when I wrote and illustrated a book showing children how to overcome stressful emotions with the Six Healing Sounds. Contrary to how I once felt, I now see that ET has led me to my heart's desire. This is the most fulfilling and interesting work I've ever done. And, knowing that I'm helping people, including children who have ET or other conditions that are made worse by stress, is incredibly gratifying.

Obviously illustrating with trembling hands is no picnic but like most things in life there are ways around it. ET, like many of the challenges we face, may bring an end to some things but it can also open doors to new and life-changing possibilities. Please help me to create awareness for ET by sharing this post. Greater understanding would make a big difference to millions of people like me who would love to feel less self-conscious about shaking in public. Thanks so much for reading this.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Six Healing Sounds with Lisa and Ted Qigong for Children

Hi, I'm Lisa Spillane, the author and illustrator of Six Healing Sounds with Lisa and Ted: Qigong for Children. This blog is all about how Qigong can help children (and adults) to overcome stressful emotions.  Check out the links below for more information on me and the book. I'd love to hear your questions and comments. Thanks for dropping by!