To enhance self-practice on the road, between homes, on my travels across the South of the UK, I have set myself a quest of finding a Chi Kung, Yoga and Mediation practice space – a Dojo of the Day, preferably for the morning but early afternoon is serving as good back-up. Yes I am dancing about different homes in the New Forest, as I wait to locate a more permanently place to call home on planet Earth. I am having both a truly wonderful, and sometimes challenging, time house sitting or staying in friends spare rooms, with my essential living articles being transported in the car that I have use of at the mo. I know that self-practise is a mainstay in my life, whilst all around moves; I can be ‘present’ anywhere, radical approach maybe, essential for sanity, definitely.
This a picture from day 1 of this quest where I found a delightful elfin forestry glade just off the Cadnam roundabout at the end of the M27, marvellous!
I’ve often struggled to give me my time to practice, aside from the prep I do before classes I teach. An ever ranging list of excuses would often creep in to interrupt my intent to get some chi for me.. “oh I’ll just do this first, oh I don’t want anyone watching, oh I’ll do it after I’ve been and gone, oh I’ll distract myself’ the latter a classic to deter from the depth of self-care these practices offer me as a potent internal bolster, buoying me up to be able to do what I want to next, with resource, good humour and discernment. However, my own health has been challenged by the underlying stress of not having a home to call my own and being ‘of a certain age’ along with the barrage of toxins we, as 21st century earth inhabitants are subject to processing daily. I see all these as excuses for not prioritising self-practice, the very discipline that offers respite, how dare I let external conditions determine my wished regime? But I do sometimes, as do we all.
Feeling hardcore and needing more, time for chi!
It is invitingly easy to swing a car off road and spill into the forest or other similarly nature filled places, a way of ensuring a possibility of self -practice, just for today. I was beckoned in here, via horse and cattle collectives gracefully munching at fresh young shoots, looked so appealing to a nature spirit like me. I found this gorgeous glade, enhanced by the sunlight glinting down, bathing me.
In this foresty realm, I removed footwear and let my toes scrunch into the true forest floor of leafy twig magic and mulch, it was so dry & crunchy. I easily found the delicious chi of the earth brimming beneath my feet as I sunk down into the true planet surface of the forest floor, letting my weight drop through my evenly balanced soles, rocking verso slightly backwards and forwards,finding that place of perfect balance for just now. The green leafy light balm de-light shining through the young beech leaves felt like a divine glow, reminding me that green is the colour that promotes balance within, and her it is all around, heartening my natural energy and encouraging a sublime sense of self ease and softness, entrancing as I tune in to listening within, the chi surrounding and rippling its course in me – ahhh…
I let the chi flow guide me without a care about translating any of it into a communicable language for teaching form, aside from accessing the inner coach who keeps encouraging the let go in the mo for a fuller flow & flow & gather, share and be. Time? It expanded and I let me be free to express my chi, through ease of unwinding movement and back to stillness.
This is too easy! When I lived in London, 15 yrs ago, I would visit the New Forest regularly and plug into the chi of the forest, as opposed to trying to root down through several layers of building and concrete surrounded by a range of disastrous energy waves, not at all beneficial to a balanced state of health!
Dojo of the Day quest gave me chi-credit for a seek and you will find experience. Here I could let go of the old toxic crap and remember to follow it through with choosing who I hang out with too. Like you, be attractive and attracted to like-hearteds who will love as naturally as you, the beautiful breathing being you are. Shine on beaming beauty!
I’ll post more as I travel along the best summer – I have festivals lining up and more Chi Time interviews on the way, trainings to explore and gorgeous friends to hang out with in all areas of my life 🙂
Daisies in the Dojo
On my travels up country, I stopped off for a weeks to house sit for beautiful friends, and their gorgeous kittens, who were not allowed outside as were too excitable and young. I was lucky to venture outlays, as the weather permitted, my practice calls me into nature whenever nature is able to offer me space for Chi Kung, Yoga and Meditation of a morning. With the bounty beneath beckoning me into stillness, standing, I can settle me into the moment, no matter what is happening in a few hours, the me in the now is all that I need to explore.
My feet nestle into the grassy dew and daisies around herald the new, another day another play, on words and on the ground. Daisies alway remind me of childhood, symbolising the ease of petal opening to the sun and plucking a few to make into daisy chains. How we loe to adorn ourselves with flowers and how I will love to have a garden to grow them in, along with some choice veggies. Not this year, hence why the garden here was my Dojo for the Day.
In stillness and in movement, I watch as the moves slowly undulate though to unwind tiredness or seized up joints, usually my neck and lower back. From that almost sensual expression a stillness calls me back into the flow of no movement and I peruse – we are all moving through space and time all the time, even when we think we are being still. Still, thankfully is there and where the resource is touched, from the nothing comes all potential. Love it all and the daisies too.
It’s fun to search somewhere new out and about, in known gardens or on unknown territory, possibly even in a concrete block…
Part of my travels this summer was over to Brighton to visit my son in an old office block, where, 5 floors up, he and a bunch of creatives are ‘Guardians’. It is in my eyes a legal squat as there are scanty kitchen facilities, dodgy cubicle toilets, a pretty good shower in a mildewed box, one washing machine and washing up sink for a whole floor of MASSIVE live/work studios. From festival interior designers to market stall creations, filmmakers, and loads more I don’t get to see. In my lads portion, shared with other band members, they have built a analogue recording studio, where their first album – called Dojo, funnily enough, was made. See Jouis – Dojo album
In this place are various pieces of my old home. The table, couch, office chair, desk, vinyl LP’s, book, various kitchen utensils and swathes of recognised fabrics adorn the ceiling particularly in the control room, which is where I sleep, on one of my mattresses.. I feel weirdly at home here and am made to feel most welcome. Of a late morning, when all are sleeping, I trundle into what they noticed was already labelled as a Dojo – used to house a Martial Arts school – and find space for my practice, overlooking the sloping crescent of houses across the way through the HUGE windows, channelling sounds of children playing at school on break.
Here I find space for Chi-yoga, preparation for the day the stretchy/joint opening way. The rooting down is not so available, and reminds me of when, during my Chi Kung training we would have evening classes sometimes at the College of Shiatsu on the Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, similarly several floors up, in a concrete block, EMF’s all around and still the chi would flow, somehow. Imagination is incredibly important in these situations as we can tune into a memory of a real episode of being in true nature, summoning it’s intensity wherever we find ourselves to be in local physicality.
Radical practice produces possibility of centring ANYWHERE. Here in Jouis’ Dojo I notice the sky and connect up to cosmic nature, expansion and stillness, whilst feeling the solidity of the concrete beneath my feet and its weight supported by Mother Earth – always their, beneath us all, holding the weight which is really only ‘felt’ because of gravity. This force being an exceptional tool in most body work practices, as it encourages a let go down, releasing tense muscles and realigning with our bony architecture and powerful energy channels.
Outside class Dojo 1
As a Chi kung teacher – for over 15 yrs, I used to find myself indoors in village halls and leisure centres with little natural light or air, unless we went outside, which in the UK was few & far between. This summer, however, offered us glorious opportunities like this one here, outside of the Lymington Health & Leisure Centre, a place where I taught for many years and met a wonderful array of people, with varying interest in Chi Kung & meditation, and as many body part considerations. I love how this exercise form finds space and place for all, accommodating, no matter what. Inclusive.
Here, out back from our usual training studio, our combined crew stepped outside for the morning’s class. Some preferring the shade, others basking in the summer sun. Yes the car park was in view one way, and a few folk stopped for a moment to check us out. All together we felt united in our shaking out and standing still, lifting arms to hold the sky, turning from the waist and figure if 8 undulations..
Later on in the session, the space beckoned mindful Chi Kung walking; a deliberate slowing down of a broad walk, taking the wider than normal standing posture into a graceful waddle, purposefully enjoying each aspect of placing feet down, heel first, rolling forwards and peeling off, transferring weight and peeling of the foot from the empty leg. Letting the belly centre lead not the chin, easy breath and arms lightly expressing supportive movement. Such easy joy, and such delight to share true outside inner space with like-minded chi players.
Outside class Dojo 2
Here is the garden outside the dear village hall that most of the New Forest Elemental Chi Kung Teacher Training took place. More often than not we were blessed with good weather – and a very lovely chap who made sure the grass was manageable. Here we could explore a range of moves and mediations in the privacy of this adequately sized space, with full sky above and trees to shade, birds, bees, blossoms and leaves delighting our chi-full natures.
Often after a set of moves and standing meditation, the natural way to integrate would be to gently lower ourselves onto the true planet surface and sit until someone got up to make the tea. Here we could journal and later exchange feedback, finding a wealth of combined experience and support growing from our chi, in nature. Special times.
The once a month Saturday sessions run from here. See events page for more details.
Ah how the sky was so blue here between the cross-referenced trees. We held our retreat at the Inner Guidance Centre in Suffolk in early July 2015 and I must say it was supreme in so many ways. On retreat we started early morning warm-ups before breakfast at one of the several outside spaces on offer. One of which was a grass tennis court!
On back up was an extensive studio, sitting right in the grounds it felt, so we were always surrounded nature. ‘Clean Food’ was served on the terrace too, it felt like true holiday.
This photo was taken from beneath the trees, obviously, there is a picture of one of the participants actually hugging a tree, such was our easy connection with nature.
Sitting with my back to a tree for mediation has got to be one of my all time favourite positions; deeply rooted with a such sense of wise support from behind, and looking up, a reaching to the heavens. Gently breathing exchanging carbon dioxide with oxygen, the opposite of what trees do in the daytime, loving the synergy and empathy, loving the tree, so still at its roots, allowing the breeze to touch the leaves, branching out to touch one another occasionally, with the centre directing the way back home when stillness re-occurs.
Wonderful metaphor, excellent experience.
Dog turd Dojo
Oh dear, there had to be one!
As in all things the Yin & Yang are in perpetual dance, so what started out as a great idea, offering to exchange teaching Chi Kung for business advice, turned into a host of mis-understandings and here one morning I found this. Turds amongst the daisies. Classic..
I had headed off to the West Country as one of the attendees from the retreat was keen to continue training and wished to join the current TT programme, needed to get up to speed and I too was grateful for pertinent how-to-run-your-biz-better advise. Except it didn’t quite go as planned. After sharing a whole seminars worth of material the dawning of the extent of work required, i.e. home study and essays, became untenable with the other workload this student was already under.
After one short business session in exchange, I too realised that this was not the sort of business advise that I needed, topped with a rather unsupportive partner resulting in the unavailability of the student to even attend the rest of the course.
I left on my way to the Healing Weekend Festival, in their tent, which has yet to be returned…
So, sometimes, turds in the Dojo remind us of the other side of the chi coin, the crap that need to be dislodged so it can be flushed out. In fact this is a key part of the training. Letting go. Thankfully Chi Kung has a whole compendium of moves & meds to assist with this.
We store so much tension & worn out patterns in our over clogged systems, let along the residues from unhealthy eating & drinking habits, that somehow we need to find proper ways to tune in to the natural clearing mechanism innate within us all. Clearing forms, sweeping the outside layers of the body, tapping the body, shaking, sounding – all help to great a vibration that tension etc cannot stick with.
All my personal practice sessions, which is how this blog started, include shaking and tapping, turning and circling.
There were many more Dojo’s of the Day, some pictures have gone astray and my notes too, but now as I reflect a year on, I have a much nurtured morning practice and occasional evening one, all helped by my decision to apply myself to my needs as a Chi-full player of life in these changing times.