Imagination is often misunderstood, defined as a fanciful flight away from reality – and sometimes it is. But there is another kind of imagination, one that is based on deep inner listening with a quality of calm presence, and a curious, open-minded focus. When images arise into that kind of spacious awareness, imagination is tapping into a source of wisdom, a type of intuition, that puts us in touch with more of reality, not less.
With deep listening, we bring our ourselves into relationship with the unknown. This is similar to the creative process, whether we are facing a blank canvas with a handful of paints, jotting notes for a speech on a napkin at the café, or in the scientific crowd, pondering how quantum gravity helps explain the origin of the universe. We step outside what we already know, send our inner critic on vacation, and make room for messy, confusing bits and pieces of insight to swirl and shift before connecting in new and meaningful ways.
Cultivating creative imagination has a powerful role to play at this pivotal time in human history as scientists around the world are reporting that the impacts of climate change on civilization and the natural world are accelerating. We need to cultivate a pragmatic form of hope by discovering clarity followed by empowering actions, resilient individual and systemic support with effective methods that support eco-harmonious change.
Qi Gong is an ancient form of exercise and healing that focuses on breathing concentration and energy flow. The Chinese word Qi is formally defined as “breathing/air”, but can also be used in the context of describing the relationship between matter, energy and spirit. The dictionary definition for the word “Gong” is that of achievement or results. The two words are combined to describe a method of energy cultivation.
There are many forms and styles of Qi Gong originating from different segments within Chinese society.
Dr. Steven K.H. Aung is a pioneer in the integration of western, traditional Chinese and complementary medicine. His efforts have helped to make Alberta and Canada an active centre in the field of integrated and complementary medicine. His unique approach to medicine, combined with the remarkable compassion he brings to all that he does, has made him a highly respected teacher, researcher and physician. He been a geriatric and family physician, and a traditional Chinese medical (TCM) practitioner and teacher for more than thirty years. He has taught medical Qi Gong to thousands of people around the world, and is a clinical professor in the departments of Medicine and Family Medicine at the University of Alberta. In 2006, he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
The idea of a concise, compelling description of ‘Somatics’ that can be communicated in the short span of an elevator ride makes good sense.
It makes good sense because, as a Somatics educator, I am often asked: “What exactly do you do?” or, “What is Somatics?” and “How does it work?”
So often, I am met by that bewildered gaze whenever I dare mention the “word”.
As a longtime yoga instructor, the elevator pitch has been much easier, if even necessary. Most people have at least some general understanding of what’s involved in the practice of yoga. Somatics, however, is different.
There are many different leadership styles and qualities that make a good leader, but people tend to be most attracted to and influenced by leaders who are empathetic.
A study by BI Norwegian Business School found that employees were more committed and efficient on the job when their employers displayed increased self-awareness and insight. As leaders, listening is one of the key skills we use to give people the experience of our empathic presence and make them feel heard. But to give others our full attention and become an empathetic leader, we first need to be empathetic with ourselves.
Let an image form in your mind’s eye ofa web, the delicate filaments intricately connected, each one vibrating in response to the smallest movement on any part of the net. We know this image from the wisdom traditions, like the Buddhist sutra that describes Indra’s Net as a vast, jeweled web suspended in the heavenly abode, the essential structure that supports all of life. Quantum physics mirrors this ancient teaching in scientific terms, revealing that the universe is interconnected in much more subtle ways than previously realized. And perhaps when we wander deep into nature and see the roots of trees growing into a stream and the leaves tipping upward to be nurtured by the sun, it is easy to recognize the way that life self-organizes into a functional, interdependent whole. When we are quiet and open, some part of us, down in our bones, simply feels the truth of our connection with all of life.
While this web is an inspiring image and philosophically profound, it is essentially practical. Maintaining an awareness of our interdependence can guide our day-to-day choices in being part of something larger than ourselves. As we recognize the living connections between ourselves and all other life forms, we begin to discover our role within the potential of a larger reparative movement, a vitally needed shift toward an eco-harmonious way of living. This is becoming clearer as awareness grows regarding where our food and clothing comes from, and how to maintain, recycle or upcycle items to reduce waste. But our practical interdependence is an even more subtle and pervasive weaving of energetic filaments. It includes not only what we do, but how we express the gifts of who we are in the world. Continue reading Our Place in the Web of Life→
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