Written By: Betti Bernabe
Prior to this pandemic we’re all in, I’ve always found solace and serenity in hiking. It was like active meditation for me and it was a hobby I kept coming back to whenever I could. I’m no extreme trekker, but I’ve hiked several mountains to say that I’m not much of a beginner. However, no matter how easy or difficult the level of the climb is, the mountains never fail to remind me of what it feels like to be a beginner –with all the mental, physical, and emotional preparation that I need to do in order to get ready for what I’m about to get myself into.
Going on my first climb in two years initially made me feel ill-equipped because I didn’t have the opportunity to train as much as I used to before each climb. I’d usually run or jog outdoors, but this time around I started getting into Qigong, as taught by Teacher Sky. To train for this climb, I mostly practiced what I learned in Zhan Zhuang Qigong which is a much gentler practice that focused more on stillness rather than bursts of movement, which I’m more used to. For some reason though, after weeks of being part of Qi Yoga Life’s Foundational Course, I felt stronger after every practice. I believed that was enough for me to cultivate the calmness and strength I needed to help me through the hike I was about to face up on the Sierra Madre mountains at Masungi Georeserve in Rizal.
A lot of things were going through my mind as I began the hike up. It’s as if I’ve been here before, but not exactly. The feeling of being a beginner again was surfacing and there’s a mix of fear and excitement, longing for what was and looking forward to what can be.
Being a beginner again meant letting go of what you’ve always known and making space for new lessons, new possibilities. In the same way that I’m learning how to navigate our shared reality as of the moment –living amidst a pandemic, keeping ourselves healthy, addressing my responsibilities at work and at home – I found a comforting sense of familiarity as a beginner on this new journey. I was beginning to learn how to navigate a new terrain that consists of different paths I needed to pass through: up on that mountain, life back in the city, and in this new healing art I’ve come to feel passionate about which is Qigong.
All these were going through my mind while the rain was starting to pour with every step, and I realized the hike has become a bit more challenging than I expected. Thankfully, I eventually reached the top safely. Everyone I was with basked in the view that we had in front of us and though it was still raining, I moved away from the group and took a moment to look out in the open, allowing myself to be vulnerable to the elements. The wind and rain was hitting my face, and I stood in Zhan Zhuang position or the tree pose, aiming to be one with the trees that were there at that time, and all those that have fallen through the years. I breathed in deep under my rain coat, and I could smell the moist soil, the wet grass, and the cool breeze as it danced with the trees around me. It was an imperfectly glorious moment and I loved every second of it.
I felt at home right where I was, out there in the open. I was reminded of what home is, and it was where I feel most comfortable, free, and calm. Home is in the safety of my small room up on the 7th floor of our condo, and it can also be up on a mountain that’s a little more than 600 feet above sea level. Either way, right at that very moment, I was reminded of how I can always make any moment or any place feel like home… steady and safe. Home is wherever peace resides. Home is where love grows. Home is where hope multiplies. Home is where our best memories are made and kept.
Home is where we can feel most comfortable to begin again.
Up on that mountain, a new home in my heart was being built and it was grand as ever.
Much like climbing mountains, practicing Qigong feels like coming back home, back to my center… and after each moment of practice, no matter how brief, it feels like I’m leaving home as a much better person than when I arrived and I’m ready to go back out into the world with more intentional vigor.
That day was better than a lot of other days these past two years. With the gift of this practice and opportunities to commune with nature, I look forward to having more of those in the days to come.
To know learn more about Qigong, visit https://qiyoga.life/qigong-training/