Pick something that you are grateful for. It sounds like an easy directive, coming from the Qi Gong instructor. Friends have talked me into joining them on this week-long retreat in beautiful Costa Rica to learn what is commonly called “Chinese Yoga”. We are entering into the meditation phase of the day’s session.
Okay. I do a little Americanized “Hindu Yoga” and I am familiar with the gratitude thing. Good stuff, this feeling of thankfulness. Perhaps it is the Chinese influence, but my first thought is of my parents. Raising me to be open minded, to try new things. Good, that’s settled. I am grateful for my parents.
My Sifu offers more clarification. Yes, I do now have a Sifu. This retreat instructor, by virtue of being my first teacher in this art, is now my “Sifu”, my tutor on this path. Oddly enough, independent western soul that I am, I am completely okay with this. “Make sure you choose something simple, with no complications,” he tells us.
Oh dear. Parents are complicated, aren’t they. Even basically good and loving ones. Perhaps, for the purposes of this exercise, I need to be grateful for something that carries a little less baggage. That quickly eliminates my spouse, children, sister, job and friends. Let’s try another approach.
“This gratitude should erase all worry, remove all the stress from your mind,” my Sifu says.
Oh dear. My eyes have been aging, my vision is not what it used to be. On some deep level I fear losing my sight in my old age. Maybe this isn’t such a good choice either.
He sees many of us struggling. “Just pick something that brings you joy,” he suggests to the class. “If you really like chocolate,” he says, “be grateful for chocolate.”
Okay, I am not the extreme chocolate lover that some people are, but I do have a similar illicit love affair. Mine is with ice cream. From the almost guilt free lemon sorbet that nursed me through the flu a few months ago to the cappuccino gelato that has no equal, I am grateful for ice cream.
“We are going to use what ever you pick as a focal point all week,” my Sifu adds.
Oh dear. I am always trying to drop a few pounds. Do I really want to spend the whole week focusing on my appreciation of ice cream? Probably not.
“Now concentrate on this gratitude,” he says. I start to panic. What to pick? Something. Quick. Of all the million things I am grateful for doesn’t one, qualify as simple and stress free?
I comes to me. Sunsets. I am grateful for sunsets.
My monkey mind (of which I am hearing a great deal about this week) has not one single objection. Sunsets it is. I imagine the beautiful colors of the sky at dusk as they burst into oranges and purples. I am grateful.
To learn more about Qi Gong and what I have spent this past week studying, please visit Sifu Anthony’s website called “Flowing Zen” here.