I began meditating about 47 years ago at the behest of my mother when it was clear that I wanted to make a career out of sport and become a PE teacher. Her background in medicine gave her the awareness of a need for me to create a balance to the physical and mental vigour of sport; I found a single book on Raja Yoga at the County Library, it was a start!
I first taught meditation to others back in the mid 1980’s. My pupils in the primary schools where I taught took to it like a duck to water. We used it as a tool not just to help them relax, not only to cool down after a PE lesson but also to help stimulate their inquisitiveness and creativity in a whole range of subjects from writing and art to mathematics and science. It was then that I experienced how it helped promote and strengthen children’s attention span, their self-esteem, confidence to try new things, exploring their creativity and problem-solving, and how they related to each other.
One of the first studies to catch my attention was published in the USA in 1987. Carried out by David Orne-Johnson PhD, who was affiliated with the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy in Fairfield, Iowa, it looked at Blue Cross-Blue Shield Insurance data based on 2000 meditators. Overall this showed that people who meditate are much healthier than the American population as a whole and specifically in 17 major areas of serious disease, both mental and physical.
It established that the meditation group was hospitalised 87% less than non-meditators for heart disease and 50% less for all kinds of tumours. Equally impressive reductions in disorders of the respiratory system, the digestive tract, and clinical depression were also identified. It was at this point colleagues and friends were beginning to be interested.
Since those early days of guiding others to use meditation techniques to help themselves, our understanding of how the human body operates under various conditions has grown tremendously. Unfortunately, what is noticeable from my years of working with adults is that this understanding is not filtering into the awareness of people generally and how it can be used to help themselves.
Just how are people coping behind closed doors? One of my clients, a doctor of psychology, describes how when it comes to stress her patients broadly fit into 3 groups,
- Those who know that they are stressed and are trying to do something about it.
- Those who know they are stressed but aren’t doing anything about it.
- Those who are stressed but don’t realise it and so keep on pushing their boundaries.
As a result, Activated Qi Meditations employ practices that work not just on our consciousness or mind but also the physical body, the emotions, and energy (although the Chinese concept of qi should not be purely translated as energy).
In regard to the concept of qi this is still relatively new in the West, the vast majority of people here have little or no experience of it unlike the 120 million Chinese who practise Tai Chi daily. What I can say is that when you come up against a martial artist from the Far East you quickly gain an insight into just how great an impact qi can play in the functioning of the body. What I can also say with certainty is that the majority of those who have taken up practicing Activated Qi Meditations had no awareness of qi before they started, yet within a few months they have become aware of qi and how working with it can begin to benefit their health.
Since my days as a primary school teacher I’m a great believer in that understanding brings self-empowerment; when we understand how our body’s systems work we know what we can do to benefit them. When we don’t realise something is breaking down how do we know it needs fixing? Costly maybe when it’s a car, what cost when it’s our health?
When a car is fixed it runs as if nothing was ever wrong, unfortunately our body doesn’t work exactly like the car especially when it comes to chronic conditions. So, when asking, what price do our behaviours impact upon our health it isn’t just about the present. The cost of ignoring the consequences of our lifestyle will spread into our future 20, 30, 40, 50 years!