When I first started acupuncture school at AOMA, qigong was just another required class on the academic docket. It was a mysterious movement therapy and meditative spiritual practice that I had heard about but had never tried myself and wasn’t particularly excited to learn, to be honest. Sure -- I was open-minded and amped up about anything that was a part of my beloved, brand spanking new venture into a healing arts education. I can’t, however, say that I came to AOMA knowing enough about qigong to be thrilled about beginning a regular practice of it. Sure, it was reputed to be incredibly stress-relieving and relaxing...but it was also more credits to be earned in an excruciatingly long four year long program. Little did I then realize how crucial qigong would eventually become to support- my well-being in grad school, and more notably, my sanity.
As aspiring professionals in the field of the healing arts, we as students sometimes forget how the medicine we are engaging with requires us to become caretakers, to consistently be placing our time, energy and resources into helping others feel stronger, healthier, better, more joyful and balanced. This makes it extra important for us to be on top of our own self-care and ensure we are, ourselves, exceptionally healthy, strong, balanced and joyful. Because if we don’t embody these qualities, how can we model them to others?
Unfortunately, massively busy schedules and expected graduate school stressors, including hours and hours of memorizing foreign material such as tedious locations of tiny, specific acupuncture points and long lists of unpronounceable herb names certainly are not conducive to keeping us calm, stress-free and balanced. In fact, I can say in full disclosure that I have seen many a student panic under pressure and nearly run in the opposite direction from the stressors of this graduate program (myself included, ahem).
However, all breakdowns aside, the end rewards of completing the program are without a doubt, worth every ounce of personal challenge. Despite the multi-dimensional benefits of the profound personal growth that seems to be a necessary side-dish of enrollment at AOMA, it’s true that we as students need to continually be seeking outlets that ground us, help us nourish ourselves, release stress and calm our minds enough that we can continually revisit the magic of studying this medicine thoroughly despite the chaotic challenges that may surface along the journey.
One of these outlets that I accidentally stumbled upon was qigong -- and to this day it has become one of my primary anchors through this program. Initially I experienced resistance to it, I’ll admit...mostly because at the beginning of the program, I was so exhausted from the intense mental workouts that left me feeling like I would rather skip this “mandatory” class and just sleep more. The self-sabotaging aspects of laziness and burnout crept up on me more than once, but then something happened one day in my qigong class: I relaxed into what I was doing, pushed past the resistance and allowed for moving of the energy in my body in ways which felt incredibly healing and not the least bit tiring. I left the class feeling massively energized and WAY loosened up. Liver qi stagnation, be gone! I had renewed vigor and excitement for being in my academic classes and learning (aka, memorizing away until my brain exploded), my body felt stronger and healthier, and I felt noticeably more FULL: full of vibrant life force energy and more capable of caring for my clients from that place instead of from the droopy place of total burnout.
So that’s what truly sold me -- it wasn’t the proclaimed or advertised benefits of the practice, it was the undeniable personal experience with this ancient art that led to me being able to maximize and master my own energy in a myriad of ways, subsequently allowing me to be a better, more grounded, embodied (and mentally stable!) practitioner for my patients (and, simply put, a better person in general). Qigong helps me calm my nerves and emotions, it helps break apart any stagnation that accumulates from hours of sitting in cold classrooms, it allows me to tap into the qi from nature and the Universe in powerful ways which feed me and refill the places that get drained consistently from being a student and a busy, active woman with many a ball to juggle. It helps me come back into and connect to MYSELF: and this is a crucial task for anyone that is holding space for others on a daily basis, or learning to step into that role in their lives.
Not convinced or feeling the magic yet? Maybe you just need to find the right qigong form that is a good match for YOUR body and your needs, and there are so many of them that you won’t find a shortage of options to choose from. We learn a limited selection here at AOMA, but I have gone on to find some incredibly potent forms outside of what we are taught in the dojo that have become absolute necessities in my daily self-care regimens. And sure -- there are still some days where I am too tired to do much of anything, and that’s okay too. However, when I push past the hesitation and the excuses my mind feeds me and spend even 10 to 15 minutes in moving meditation, I absolutely never regret doing so.
One helpful resource to check out is the Qigong Institute:
Here is the list of AOMA’s qigong community classes in Austin,TX, for students interested in juicing up their practices outside of class requirements: https://aoma.edu/continuing-education/community-classes/qigong-classes/
To learn more about our Master's program here at AOMA, download the overview below: