The why of what we do is critical. Over the years, I’ve met with thousands of people who practice yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. These are people who are dedicated to their personal growth in some capacity and are doing a mind-body practice to fulfill their goals. Some do quite well, and others…well, frankly, others are lost and bored.
Lots of people get into the esoteric arts for good reasons but, sadly, they fail to learn the essence of the teachings and fall into rote practice. This can be the fault of many teachers out there. There’s tremendous downward-bearing force out there as yoga classes tend to fill up with people who keep it “fun” or play great music. In general, there’s usually a stampede of unaware people coming into the arts who are only comfortable with a certain degree of transformation and teachers who make a living at this end up playing to the masses.
The essence of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong is the practice of transformation. These systems require us to face ourselves and wake up to our aberrant behavior and mindless tendencies. This, by definition is difficult- often agonizing. However, this is the only real game in town and personal transformation is predicated on facing one’s self.
The nature of Alchemy is the transmutation of lead to gold. Facing ourselves and waking up to our unhealthy behavior isn’t comfortable but this is the lead that needs to be transmuted. Going to yoga because it makes you “feel good” is how we in the West can take a yoga pill instead of a Xanax and feel like we’re into wellness. If you use tai chi as a band aid, you’re taking an ancient spiritual technology and limiting it to the broken Western pharmacological model of thinking. If you’re doing qi gong for a quick energy boost, stick to your coffee.
The point is- it is critical to wake up from delusion. These systems are designed for us to attain ultimate enlightenment. Anything less is harmful, in my opinion because I routinely meet narcissistic people who go about being selfish in their daily encounters but somehow feel vindicated because they “do yoga“. Let’s not delude ourselves.
These esoteric systems are designed to lessen the ego’s grasp on us and make us more tolerant and awakened people. Unless you are seing these results in your life, maybe you need to delve deeper into the tradition you’re involved in. There are plenty of excellent teachers and books out there- seek out the real deal; not the silly sizzle.