A couple of weeks ago I headed to Memorial Park here in Nyack to do some qi gong for a while. I needed to move and get some grounding.
I would usually go in the morning and almost never in the afternoon.
I set up in my usual area on the grass in front of the basketball court. Facing the river, I began in my bare feet, feeling good to be on the earth.
As I descended deeper into my practice, I soon became aware of a voice calling out from some ways behind me—a voice I didn’t at first notice. The voice called out several times.
“Hey, what are you doing—are you praying?”
When it finally registered that this person might be addressing me, I slowly wheeled around to my left with my left arm outstretched, finger pointing—like a scepter, and my aim landed on one of three young boys who were playing basketball. I guess they were all about eight, maybe nine years of age at the most.
They all stood transfixed by my gesture and gaze and after a few seconds they looked as if they were thinking “what-the-heck is thisguy about?” I slowly lowered the scepter and walked over to them, and they approached me in a very open way right up at the fence.
I explained to them I was practicing qi gong —an ancient Chinese system of exercise for developing one’s energy—in a different way than working out at a gym. I asked them if they knew about it—-which they did not.
“Do you know what karate or kung fu is?”
I asked. That they recognized. “Qi gong follows the same principles.”
The one fellow who had called out to me before, once again said he thought I was praying.
I paused for a moment and thought to myself that I had never before thought of qi gong as prayer. I said then that actually I was praying—praying that the grounding, supportive energies of the earth and the inspirational energy of the heavens would come in to me and move through me. That is what qi gong is all about.
These fellows seemed riveted by this answer as though it was some completely new idea to them—something that maybe they needed to hear about.
I wondered what impact this may eventually have for them. I sensed that I was sent there at that time to encounter them. I’ll likely never know, but sharing this with these interested boys was a great satisfying pleasure. The experience felt like a gift—to be able to connect with young people in such depth—a rarity for me.
As one of my important teachers in Chinese medicine once said, there are three ways to work with people—you can work on them, work with them, or work through them.
The last way—the greatest, he seemed to imply, would usually end up where the teacher or practitioner never sees the outcome directly but holds the potential for the greatest impact on the world.
Neil R. Borodkin M.S., L.Ac. is a NY State Licensed Acupuncture and Manual Therapist. He resides in Nyack.