Dr Lee, the resident doctor, herbalist and Tao teacher, gave us an overview of Tao philosophy and how the Yin and Yang energies can be explained in the context of modern scientific understanding of conception and early reproduction, and its wider application in life and in the universe. I will elaborate in a future article.
At the Cosmic Pyramid, Healing Tao Master Dr Jannie Chew ( who is also possibly the first local Reiki Master ) taught us the Healing Sounds. This set of exercises involves movements, postures, meditation and making various sounds corresponding to the different organs of the body, the 5 elements of Chinese philosophy, the seasons, our emotions, actions, senses, spiritual values, and also to colours. We hissed and hooed ourselves to better health, and also sent our caring thoughts and healing energy to the Tsunami victims. I will describe the exercises in detail in future.
Reiki Master Dr Terry Ng, who has practised Kundalini meditation for over 17 years, guided us on a short Kundalini meditation whereby we were to try to bring our energies from the basal chakra (Kundalini) at the bottom of the spine upwards over the crown charka ( top of the head ) and then down to the “Third Eye” in between the eye-brows. In the short introductory practice, most participants were probably just wondering where their Kundalinis were, never mind about raising the energy to the top! However, any form of meditative exercise in the Cosmic Pyramid is very much enhanced due to its high concentration of energy.
Master Douglas Leong demonstrated the slow, mesmerizing flow of “Crane Village Qigong” exercises while Master Albert Shoon, who teaches “Mi Tzong Qigong” which he described as “breathing, clearing blocked meridians, and natural detoxification”, taught us several simple Qigong exercises (perineal muscle exercise, abdominal breathing exercise and rapid squats) that anyone can learn within a few minutes. Master Yeoh displayed elegance in his Tai Chi demo that captivated us all. So we learned the stillness of Yoga, the flow of Qigong, and the elegance of Tai Chi.
I taught them the 5-element Qigong exercises, and also a simple Sudarshan Kriya breathing exercise which is forceful nasal breathing as you raise your arms ( fists clenched ) up and down during inspiration and expiration, respectively. This exercise has been clinically proven to have health benefits, and is as effective as drugs in overcoming depression. This is one of the breathing exercises taught by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ( the “Smiling Yogi” and founder of the Art of Living Foundation ). He was once a disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru famous for teaching Transcendental Meditation.
Incidentally, on 29th November last year, there was a suicidal beaching of whales on the coast of Tasmania. My Kundalini Yoga Master ( of Coimbatore, South India ) informed his disciples that a massive earthquake would occur in our region within one month of that event. On 26th December, the earth shuddered beneath the sea off the coast of Aceh. The rest is history…
At the Pakua Pagoda, while waiting for the sunrise, Master Douglas led us with the Chakra Sounds that helped open up the different energy centres on the body. The parabolic dome of the Pagoda resonated the sounds to such intensities that anyone standing under the dome will never forget the unique feeling of being immersed in the reverberations.
Watching the sunrise from the Pagoda is another much-anticipated event. Every sunrise is different. This time the sun was blindingly bright when it crept above the clouds. How different it was from the fiery red ball the last time around! We did the Sunrise Qigong while absorbing the healing energy of the sun’s rays, followed by a set of Qigong exercises that I teach.
Apart from the Amazing Qigong Walk and its many variants which are famous for reversing cancers, I teach a set of exercises which are aimed at preventing and reversing the most common diseases we are likely to get as we age – cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, arthritis, spinal problems, etc. These exercises are a combination taken from various Qigong styles. I have modified many of them to improve their effectiveness, taking advantage of my medical knowledge, and my learning from many masters, and from many different healing arts.
I led them through a set of my “SuperQigong” exercises. Master Albert acknowledged that my exercises were indeed “comprehensive”. It is important to me that another Qigong master confirms the usefulness of what I teach, as it takes another master to evaluate a master.
The visit to the lakeside bungalow had special significance this time as the Tsunami disaster was still much in everyone’s mind. We made peace with the water element, meditated, and gave thanks to God for giving us this beautiful Earth. After Dr Jannie explained to us the aspirations of “The Earth Charter”, we listened intently to the lyrics of the beautiful song “Together we will make a difference” ( recorded by the Bahai Community of Australia ) and everyone made a solemn commitment to actively contribute towards preserving Mother Nature. Dr Jannie, who has spent many years working for the betterment of the environment, was in tears.
Like always, the highlight of the retreat was the 7km jungle hike. The path was dry and much easier than the previous time. But the jungle hike never fails to provide surprises. Somewhere past the 5th km, there was a stinky, muddy pool made worse by a big tree that fell right across the mess. We had to carefully negotiate our steps on the logs that had been laid down, then climb over or under the trunk of the fallen tree to get across. One missed step and it would mean a smelly journey ahead. Although everyone got across, one lady sprained her ankle in the process.
The hike is not only a good 7km of aerobic exercise, with steep slopes and slippery paths. It also provides ample opportunities to appreciate and savour nature. It increases and balances Qi, as all the 5 elements that affect the body are represented through its undulating course. Every hike is different, not only because the ground, the wind, the bushes, the trees, the flowers and the fruits change with each season, but also the people doing the hike with you also make the difference. Those who took the time to connect with the surroundings would have found the hike truly fulfilling.
Some of the participants were amply tested on their patience, selflessness and camaraderie when one lady had problems coping with the hike, and also sprained her ankle. Several men and women sacrificed much to help her through. Thus the hike also brought out the best in human character and spirit. You just never know what a jungle hike can teach you! It is an aerobic, Qi-balancing, obstacle, and spiritual journey all in one.
I must pay tribute to the courage, resilience, patience and helpfulness of some of the participants. Puan Thuraiya was the lady who had the courage to go on the 7km hike against all odds, who was determined not to succumb to her physical weakness, even when she sprained her ankle. Master Dr Terry, Master Douglas, Dr Mustapha and others showed abundant patience, empathy and charity in helping her complete the journey.
Master Tan, an expert on Tu Na healing massage, was not with our group but happened to be visiting LV at the same time. After Thuraya sprained her ankle during the jungle hike, his skills were put to good use, and he helped eased much of her pain and swelling.
Tu Na ( or Tu’i Na/Tuina ) is the traditional Chinese massage and manipulation therapy ( now popularized in the West as “Oriental Bodywork Therapy” ) that has been used in China for over 2,000 years. It induces a more balanced, harmonious flow of Qi through the meridians, allowing the body to naturally heal itself.
Tu Na methods include the use of hand techniques to massage the muscles and tendons of the body, acupressure techniques to directly affect the flow of Qi , and manipulation techniques to realign the muscles, bones and ligaments. Herbs, compresses, liniments, and balms are also used to enhance the healing.
At 87, Dr Lim Phaik Lin was the oldest in the group. She graduated as a doctor even before I was born! With failing eyesight and a walking stick, it is a wonder how she came all the way alone from Penang. She is the best example for lifelong learning. Although she could not join the jungle hike, she participated in most of our activities, and her quest to learn is not yet abated. She has indicated that she wants to join my next Qigong course!
There were people from different places that added variety to the group. There were two Japanese mother-son pairs. The fifth Japanese ( the boys’ teacher who convinced them to come ) was there on her third trip to LV in 4 months. There was a Singaporean, an Indian Canadian, a naturalized Australian and a naturalized Englishwoman. So it was also a gathering of many nations!