When we begin a qigong session, we first find our supporting posture.  We breathe deeply.  Then we let go of all tension before we begin moving.  When we begin a movement, we first teach our body what to do.  We synchronize our movement to our breathing.  Then we relax so the movement becomes a natural part of our breath and our being — it flows.

This is exactly the path I took when I began my qigong practices on the beach next to the ocean this week.  But something unexpected happened.  The movement I know so well was different.  It felt different in my body.  It felt different with my breath.  And the flow was different.  

Being a naturally curious person, I wondered and began gently asking myself some questions.  What I discovered was that the environment around me was different.  

This seems obvious, but think about it for a minute.  When you do qigong in your home, does it feel different than when you do qigong in a different building?  How about if you do qigong outside?  How about if you’re alone versus with others?  How about in the morning versus afternoon versus evening?

I have always known I belong near or on the ocean.  The sound, the smell, the colors, the rhythm…everything about it makes me feel deeply calm, centered, alive.  So naturally, my qigong would reflect that.  

At the ocean, AUTOMATICALLY my breath slows and deepens to synchronize with the tide; my monkey-mind becomes a faint hum; my posture aligns itself without help from my mind; my muscles relax; and my body moves without needing conscious guidance.  I naturally, spontaneously and simply am qigong.  

“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” — Guardian of the Whills mantra

The quote from my favorite collection of stories (Star Wars) comes unbidden into my mind.  I smile.  I am one with Nature and Nature is with me. 

That’s when I realize the true difference between doing qigong at home in the forested areas and doing qigong by the ocean — the ocean is different than the forest.  Therefore, when I connect to the ocean, it feels different than when I connect with the forest.  The ocean tugs me side to side, rocking me gently, encouraging me to sway, loosening any muscles tight from the drive or sleeping or walking or sitting.  The forest pulls me vertically up and down, straightening my spine, lengthening and strengthening muscles that often sit and sit still.  

Perhaps if I stayed years by the ocean, I would find the forest soothing.  Or the desert.  Or a frozen tundra.  Or maybe, with this gift from the sea, I’ll be better able to attune to whatever nature I’m in and enjoy the presents of presence.  

This week, as you practice, see if you can notice differences between locations or times of day.  What do they tell you about your connection to nature?  About YOUR nature?  

“That which surrounds us, binds us. In our connection to one, all is connected.” – Guardian of the Whills