Reflections of a Qigong Practice

submitted anonymously by a student of Embrace The Moon

I came to Embrace the Moon because I was in pain. I was diagnosed with severe shoulder impingement/adhesive capsulitis, or "frozen shoulder" as it is more commonly called. I couldn't raise my arm more than a few inches, the pain was intense and it radiated down my arm. It felt like the worst toothache I'd ever had; only it was in my shoulder. At 45 years old, my life had been reduced to a regimen of anti-inflammatories, ice packs, heating pads, intensive physical therapy and sleepless nights. I found plenty of information about frozen shoulder-- its causes, traditional treatments including corticosteroid injections and manipulation of the shoulder under anesthesia, the descriptions and potential risks of which I found rather disturbing. Even more disturbing to me, however, was a simple statement I read saying that frozen shoulder usually did not occur in persons under the age of 40. There it was, yet another reality of aging I didn't want to accept. I had lost the natural flexibility and freedom of movement I had taken for granted in my younger years. It had been replaced by chronic pain.

My physical therapist kept telling me to relax. I couldn't relax. I was in pain. When you're in pain, the focus of your attention is on the pain. You can't ignore it. During my first class of Jade Body, I described to my instructor, Karin, all of the exercises my physical therapist had given me to do for my shoulder, which totaled about 13. Karin looked at me rather puzzled and simply asked "What about your other shoulder?" Indeed, what about the rest of me? The traditional treatments I was receiving were helping my shoulder, but the rest of me had become neglected.

After my very first class, I felt like I was floating on air. I couldn't remember when I felt so relaxed. That night I slept soundly through the night, undisturbed by the pain in my shoulder and arm; my hand felt warm where it had previously felt numb. The very next day, I was able to move my arm further during my physical therapy exercises. There was no need to convince me to come to class after that. I looked forward to every class. You couldn't convince me not to come to class. I knew that no matter how bad I felt, I would always feel better afterwards; my pain was significantly reduced, I was deeply relaxed, and I knew I would sleep better. I also took great comfort and great interest in the fact that in qigong, I didn't have to be able to move my arm through all the movements in order to benefit. It didn't matter if I had a physical limitation because qigong, as I am learning, is not merely a physical exercise.

It is now a year later. My physical therapy ended after 3 months with my physical therapist telling me she had done as much as she could on that level, but my practice of Jade Body has continued. I have recently begun learning another form of qigong and I have no intentions of stopping now. The practice has had a profoundly positive effect on my health and well-being. Not only has it helped me regain my physical flexibility, strength and balance, it has improved my "inner" flexibility, strength and balance. I am calmer and my energy level has increased as well. In fact, when I practice qigong, I get the feeling that I am almost ageless.