Stress Relief

Spring Forest Qigong is the most remarkable and profound experience of health and healing I have ever discovered. I have searched for many, many years both personally and professionally to find ways to help myself and others bring balance and holistic health to our lives. I found what I was looking for all those years in Spring Forest Qigong.

I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis in a family where there was a lot of abuse and alcoholism. After high school I joined the Marine corps and went to war in Vietnam. When I came out I spent five years working construction and living on the rougher sides of life. In those first twenty-five years of my life, I saw a lot of human tragedy.

Through all the turmoil in my life there was always a passion burning in me. I always cared about people and wanted very much to help them, but my life was such a mess and I needed so much help myself I couldn't imagine how I would ever be able to do anything to help others. It wasn't until I went through treatment for alcohol and drug addiction back in 1976 that a door opened for me to start doing something for other people.

In the late 70's I did some work in chemical dependency and then in 1981 I went over and lived in Northern Ireland for half a year working with a peace and reconciliation retreat center. That's where I formulated most of my thoughts for my master's degree. I came back and got my Master's in Psychology, in human development, got my psychology license and went into private practice.

I have always loved my work but have always been very frustrated by how long it takes for people to heal. People come with a myriad of problems, from marital discord to past trauma, to anxiety and depression, to feeling lost in their lives. Most of the time they want to talk about it, do the traditional psychotherapy approach. Quite often, it is their whole life that needs attention.

Clients come to me because of mental health problems but frequently they aren't doing enough to maintain their physical or spiritual health either. They are very out of balance in mind, body and spirit. They come hoping that talking about and understanding their problems, and maybe getting in touch with their feelings about their problems, will get them in touch with their vital health and spiritual path. Obviously, that usually doesn't happen. Psychotherapy ends up to be so often a very slow and often incomplete healing process for what the client is seeking.

So many of the problems people come to me for could be so much more quickly remedied if they were engaging their bodies energetically and working on their spiritual lives. The clients that have sought physical and spiritual balance as well as working on their mental health are the clients that usually progress the fastest and have the most profound healing. So I've encouraged people for years to do Tai Chi, Yoga, body work, meditation, anything, just do something besides talk about it.

I have tried many of these approaches and practiced some of them for years but have always known why so many of my clients were balking at my suggestions. They weren't prepared to do the years of practice most of these approaches would require to feel a significant benefit in their life. And I knew they were right, that is, until I found Spring Forest Qigong.

One December when I was especially tired and stressed out with work, two young kids, a marriage and all the complexities of life, I called up this friend of mine who was also wandering all over the place searching for a better life and we had lunch. I said, "Jim, I'm tired. I'm stressed out. My practice is feeling pretty boring. I'm tired all the time and feel like my life is a grind. I've just been reading about this stuff call Qigong. There's a class down at the community ed center. Some guy's offering two two-hour classes that he promises can change your life. You ever heard of that stuff?"

Jim said, "You know, if you're going to study Qigong, you might as well study with a Chinese Qigong master." I said, "Right, Jim, where am I going to find one of those up here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota." And he said, "Anoka Ramsey Junior College, about 20 minutes away." I didn't need a spiritual director to point out the clear message for me to follow this path.

So, he handed me Chunyi Lin's phone number and I called him up and he said, "Yes, I have a class starting Wednesday night." And I said, "Oh, I'm going to be out of town. Can I start the week after?" He said, "No. You can start next month." I said, "Oh, boy, I'm really supposed to start now. What can I do?" And he said, "I'm sorry." So that Wednesday as I drove out of town a snowstorm drove in right behind me and he canceled his first class. So I called him up when I got home and he said, "Yes, class will start this Wednesday. Come." I did and my life hasn't been the same since.

With that first class I knew immediately that Qigong had power that other modalities did not because I could feel something different. Then in just two or three weeks I could literally feel the energy. I could feel a lot of it. I first thought that there was some external breeze around my head. Master Lin told me it was energy. Then it would move around my head and then inside my head and then move down my spine. So I knew my Qigong practice was having an impact on me energetically, it was so reinforcing. It was working and I could feel it. So, I began to practice a lot.

Around my house, my family could feel it. My wife kept saying, "What's going on with you? You seem so much more relaxed?" I wasn't feeling stressed anymore.

Just about all of us know that stressed feeling. It's like your energy's sort of pushing out six different directions and you can't get enough sleep and you come home and you just want to sit in front of the tube and not think about anything. I didn't have that anymore. I just didn't have that stressed feeling anymore. It is humbling to look back and see the level of mental health I was accepting as normal. That is no way to live.

It was interesting being at a party, being out with friends when they got to talking, "Oh, I'm so stressed because I'm doing this and I'm doing that and my kids are involved with this event and you know what it's like." And everyone else is going, "Mmhmm, oh, yeah." And I'm going, "I'm sorry. Yeah, I'm doing all that stuff too but I just don't feel stressed anymore."

That happened very early in my practice. Like three months probably into the process of learning and practicing Spring Forest Qigong I could just feel everything was changing. Rather than going to bed earlier, I was going to bed later because I was staying up and practicing. I was getting up earlier and practicing. I couldn't practice enough. I was practicing every morning and every night. So that was very, very good and my sleep got a lot better.

I was always a light sleeper. I was part of the twenty percent of America that has some form of insomnia and now I sleep like a baby, and I need less sleep. It's very, very good for the sleep. It's all due to practicing Spring Forest Qigong.

I think the key to the whole thing is breathing. When you learn how to breathe and breathe with the right images in your mind, your breath can change and your life can change. If people just learned the breath work and if you gave people just three of the Qigong exercises that focused on the breath, that alone could significantly change their lives. It is that simple.

I teach classes to psychotherapists now, Spring Forest Qigong for psychotherapists, and that's what I teach them. They can give their clients so much help by just teaching them a little Qigong. They have to practice Qigong of course for them to be effective models. They have to get their own breath work right. But they learn like I did that getting your own self in balance, opens up the door for healing on all levels, body, mind and spirit. Then you can teach your clients one or two simple breathing exercises and some visualization techniques and it can so enhance their healing.

One of the things I've learned from Master Lin and Spring Forest Qigong is that it is very simple to change your life. In Level 1 he tells us everything we need to know is here in this course. It is so simple. I have taken all the levels he offers and have found that he told the truth back in Level 1. A focused, consistent and simple practice can have the most profound impact on your body, mind and spirit.

Denise Douglass-White St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin

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