Saturday, August 5, 2017

I've been "f**king it" for the past month...

Begging your pardon for the title of this post.  I'm honestly not trying to be profane.  "F**k It" is the name of a book I read a few years ago.  Written by Qigong guru and Englishman John C. Parkin, the book is about learning how to let things go, relaxing, and just simply saying "fuck it" to a lot more things that you can't control.  I really need this training.

 John and his wife, Gaia, run retreats in Stromboli, Italy, as well as in Britain and Ireland.  At one time, they had a property where they hosted these retreats for paying customers, looking to learn what they could teach.  I've been following them on Facebook for awhile, plus I am on their mailing list.  Several weeks ago, John sent emails to people asking for reviewers of his online Qigong course.  Normally priced at 297 euros, this course was offered to me at a third of the price.  All I had to do was take the 28 lessons, which appeared in short videos every morning at 8:06am my time.  Afterwards, I would submit a review.  I will send John a review very soon.  I have favorable things to say about his course.  But first, I want to write about it here on my blog for the few readers I have left.

First thing's first.  Before I started this course on July 7, 2017, I had never done any kind of Qigong (pronounced chi-gong), which is a Chinese method of harnessing life energy within.  I had heard of Tai Chi, which is a form of martial arts that encompasses the concept of yin and yang.  Qigong was definitely a new thing for me.  It's pretty fitting that I did this e-course in July, since July tends to be the worst month of the year for me most of the time.

Anyway, this was a beginner's course, so John's videos were pretty simple.  He has a very soothing voice and a colorful way of describing the movements that are easy for English speakers to understand.  He stands on a peaceful beach in front of the gentle surf on Stromboli, an Island near Sicily where no cars are allowed.  On a few videos, you hear the voices of Italian families getting ready for dinner, since John did the audio track separately from the video.  On other videos, you can hear the surf.  On some videos, there are sailboats in anchored in the water behind John... and a lone person swimming.  On others, it's just the peaceful water.

The first video, which is freely available on YouTube...

John leads students through one new movement a day.  Most of them are easy to do, but if there are any that aren't, he encourages viewers to skip them.  I am not the fittest person around, but I had little trouble with the simple movements.  Some were very enjoyable and felt great.  A couple were less comfortable for me, but definitely doable.  

With each new skill learned every day, John offers "the story so far" at the end of the video, where he shows you what you've learned so far.  As the videos stack up, "the story so far" is shown with the speed cranked up.  I was doing all of the movements at the end of the videos until he sped them up.  Then it became impossible.  The idea, of course, is to try these moves after you've learned them... practice them for a few minutes a day with the hopes that eventually something will click and you'll feel "qi"... energy.

Although I probably haven't been as diligent about practicing as I should be, I will say that I genuinely enjoyed John's videos.  For a few minutes every morning, they gave me something to focus on and look forward to.  I spent those few minutes concentrating on relaxing, deep breathing, good technique, and proper form.  It was probably more attention than I've given my body in some time.  I like the fact that I can do these at home whenever I want to, without having to worry about others.  However, if I wanted to connect with others, I could comment in the special Facebook group John created for participants in the e-course.  I can't say the Facebook group was particularly well attended, but a few people posted throughout the month.  Some had even been to one or more of the retreats.

John and Gaia don't just teach Qigong.  They also teach other courses designed to help people relax, say "fuck it", and enjoy their lives.  They have a very appealing ad campaign, though.  I have to admit, I am now more interested than ever in coming to Stromboli to see the island where they live, learn more about "fucking it", and training myself to relax and take things less seriously.  For now, I have basic Qigong, that I probably never would have bothered to learn had John not offered me the chance to try his course at a reduced price.

Needless to say, if this is something that interests you, I recommend giving it a try... or at least reading one of the books.  Here's a link to the one I read.  And seriously... have a look at their Web site.  It's pretty cool.

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