If the door you usually enter is blocked one day, you use a different door. You don’t spend time trying to get into the door that is blocked. Think of things from different angles. - Yuan Tze
If I had an autobiography the web search tags would include: precision, process orientation, intuition, loyalty, experimentation. BUT. It would also include tags like: control, overthinking, reactivity, attachment, attention deficit…
So which one of the above tags describes who I am? All of them. They all are patterns of the consciousness and patterns of behavior I have learned to navigate my life. These are only some of my patterns, I have more. Many more. Many, many more.
Of course, I am not just the sum of my patterns. Yet, for all practical purposes, my patterns dictate how I experience myself and the world around me. I could say my patterns have played the biggest role in who I am today. My patterns have characteristics that make me endearing and infuriating (sometimes to the exact same people). My patterns have enabled me to survive, to simplify, to maximize self-interest, and to make my existence comfortable. Therefore, it makes sense that any thoughts or attempts to change patterns would elicit all kinds of responses including discomfort, panic, reactivity, even denial.
If you are interested in reading this, then you have taken the first and probably one of the hardest steps in changing unhealthy patterns: accepting not only that you have patterns but also that you need to do something about them to uplift life from a deep level. In other words, you are seeking Great Healing.
Here are some things to consider as you travel this road.
Preparation is not optional. Unhealthy patterns that have tricked us into feeling comfortable are not easy to detect, nor are they amenable to poking and prodding. Does it ever help to berate a child who is distressed or doesn’t want to listen to what you have to say? The parts of ourselves that are in need of transformation are anxious and distressed. In most cases, these parts want to remain hidden and the prospect of exposure can be threatening. It is imperative to prepare.
Preparation can be likened to preparing a garden for planting. If you don’t have all the tools organized and in easy access, and the soil is too cold - it will require extra effort for the seeds to germinate and sprout. Unifying the mind, body, and Qi through moving Yuan Qigong practice is a great way to prepare because it brings you closer to a relaxed, calm, and natural state. You can deepen the preparation by working on the heart and invoking the qualities you’ll need most: Trust, Openness, Love, and Gratitude, True Respect (GongJing) for yourself and everything that exists in the universe. Taking care of the preparation step well is in itself a process of transforming unhealthy patterns!
Shortcuts are ultimately the longest route to your desired destination. I would be a huge fan of shortcuts (and I have tried) if I didn’t find myself frequently in the position of undoing the fallout from a previous, well-intentioned shortcut. For example, suddenly doing a lot of Qigong practice or an intense focus on pattern work won’t necessarily lead to a healthier life faster. In fact, it might create conditions for disharmony or resistance to reality. Problems like impatience, self-centeredness, attachment, and a desire for maximal certainty could be lurking underneath and out of our reach. And these might be the very problems we need to transform to get to a better place. Although it may be hard to transform the habit of taking shortcuts, we can do the next best thing: taking longer short-cuts. For example, before we dive into action, making a Qifield and/or using the three unifications: Unification with the mind, Unification with the body, Unification with Shen (your True Self). In other words, continually de-emphasizing the fast, twitchy and myopic shortcut muscles in favor of going inside and approaching life from a clearer and a more sincere point of view.
The incremental approach
Take an incremental approach. Integrating a practice into your life such as it is right now means it is more likely to stick. In REN XUE and Yuan Qigong, we change unhealthy patterns through internal investigation, a practice that focuses us inward. But, in daily life, we spend most of our time oriented externally. The farther out we are, the longer the distance we have to travel to come inward. A good strategy is to continually take small steps toward the core. Cultivating heart qualities through the practice of Tong Yuan - a very special and unique Yuan Qigong heart meditation method - keeps the heart well nourished. Cultivating the witness mind through the practice of Jue Cha (constant pure awareness) with the 9th method of Yuan Qigong requires perseverance, but slowly developing your practice in your daily life will enable you to stay closer to home. In this state when the patterns get triggered, you can see them. And what you can see, you can change!
Fall in love
Fall in love with asking questions. It is pretty hard to find a good solution when we don’t understand what problem we are trying to solve. Of course, answers and solutions are the reason we do anything. But in order to find the right answer or solution, we have to understand the problem well enough. In order to understand the problem well, we have to ask questions. How you ask the question is important. What questions you ask is also important. Interviewing/Inquiry is a great way to get to know someone or something. A good state and an open heart can lead to amazing discoveries. The practice of Ling Yuan (Changing Patterns) - the 8th method of Yuan Qigong - teaches how to interview yourself in a very special and guided way. This lays down and deepens the pathways that lead you back to you. It is one of the direct ways to change unhealthy patterns. Again, any effort you put into cultivating the 5 essential heart qualities will be a huge support for the Ling Yuan practice as well.
Don’t underestimate incubation. Changing unhealthy patterns is deep work. The work we do needs time to take root. Under-examined rituals will be painful as would the expectation for quick results. Any Yuan Qigong practice you do today not only changes the present but also your future. But, a transactional practice (if I do X, I will get the reward Z) or a fixed-destination mindset can create conditions for ignoring the improvements. You can’t take advantage of what you don’t notice. Again, the Yuan Qigong heart meditations and Jue Cha (constant awareness) along with Qi work will keep you not only afloat but well-nourished. New insights and realizations will start to make their appearances more and more consistently.
Gratitude generates momentum. There is a large body of evidence that points to gratitude practices as a source of well-being. A less directly discussed outcome of gratitude practice is how it generates momentum. Gratitude is a form of celebration. It is like enjoying the fruits from a well-tended tree. When we celebrate we have the opportunity to reflect on what has gone well. We can see that our good effort is leading us in a beneficial direction. It boosts confidence and helps us keep up with the work because we can trust ourselves.
So where does this leave us? Changing unhealthy patterns requires crafting a process that works for your life. It is not only okay but recommended to start from wherever you are. Building this process is in itself a process of changing patterns. Ren Xue and Yuan Qigong provide powerful and effective tools for deep transformation and the most effective way to use these tools is to apply them to our lives.
Would you like to try?
Join us for our Yuan Qigong Changing Patterns course, learn from experienced teachers and meet a global supportive Qigong community.