Michelle Wood, 5

Interview with Michelle Wood

MP:

I am going to have to try these standing meditation techniques. They sound incredible. You mentioned at the beginning of this interview that you were called to do meditation in a form of projecting or sending healing energy. Is this the healing you speak about during standing meditation? Also, would you call standing meditation your central meditation practice now, and what other forms of meditation (if any) do you regularly engage in?

Michelle:

Sending the healing energy is something I do during seated meditations, but not necessarily every day. I do it upon request, or when inspired. Perhaps there are more healers at work these days sending a lot of energy where it's needed; I don't seem to be inspired to do it as a daily practice at this time. Once a week I attend a kirtan gathering. Kirtan is a form of yogic meditation that can be very transcendental; it's Hindu devotional singing, usually in Sanskrit, in a call and response format. This practice is the highlight of my week!

I currently engage in two daily practices, both qigong. In the morning I do Eight Healing Sounds, Eight Pieces of Brocade (baduanjin qigong), or a little of both. I like the practices in which one makes sounds; I believe they are beneficial in that they help to break up stagnant energy or move sluggish energy. In the evening, I do Standing Tree (zhan zhuang qigong).

I enjoy a transcendental sort of practice just before bed. I think it encourages dreams from which we can sometimes glean the answer to a problem or see the next step upon our chosen path. However, throughout the day, I will often take short breaks from whatever I'm doing and just do a breathing meditation for between five and fifteen minutes. I encourage everyone to take short, breathing breaks like that. It's incredibly valuable and powerful as a wellness practice, both mentally and physically.

MP:

I enjoyed hearing about your many meditation practices. I can absolutely relate to making sounds as a way to move and release energy. Something about releasing emotions on tone really allows for an opening up. We are programmed to keep our expressions of feelings appropriate and respectful, etc. and this often leads to suppression which is so unhealthy.

The only way to work against this social block is to give oneself permission to let it all hang out somewhere in some way. I am a firm believer in finding a place to scream, shout, groan, moan, and anything else one can manage. Listen to other creatures and all of the strange sounds they make. Do you also teach any of these meditation practices in a formal way, outside of "by example"?

Michelle:

I like your mention of other creatures and strange sounds. I think that we humans, also, make sounds intuitively, spontaneously, according to the vibration needed by the body. Yes, I do teach formally. After beating the drum about what a great wellness practice meditation can be, and invariably hearing the response, "But, I can't sit still and do nothing for 30 minutes!", I approached COCC, the local community college, with a proposal for an introductory class to meditation techniques. This is a six-week course that meets weekly, and participants get to practice and experience several different methods of meditation. (Offered each of the last four semesters, the class has been at full enrollment all but once.)

Usually, the participants find that one or two methods really help them reduce stress levels and facilitate wellness. We start with the most physically active meditation method, walking, and progress to the most passive method, seated meditation while following the breath. Of course, people are frequently amazed at how much "goes on" as far as attaining a state of peace and relaxation while quietly following the breath!

I also teach workshops and classes in qigong through the college, again for wellness. Participants learn some of the basics of Chinese Medicine as well as breathing techniques and qigong visualizations and movements. Not related to my college classes, I teach one open, walk-in qigong class at a local shop on Saturday mornings where we do breathing techniques and qigong movements.

In private practice, I teach both meditation and qigong in private sessions. These are usually with people who suffer from chronic health conditions, frequently people who feel they receive little or no benefit from Western medicine, people who have been told by their doctor, "Sorry, I can't do any more for you." As you can imagine, these sessions are very wellness intensive, and I tailor each program to the individual so that he or she receives the greatest benefit from the practice. One of my greatest joys is seeing the amazement these people show when these alternative methods work for them, and the hope they gain as they take responsibility for their wellness; they often attain a level of wellness they haven't had in a long time. It's so heartwarming, and I am honored that I am able to be of service in this way.

Meditation Practices

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