Meditating with Grandma
September 29, 2018
Gail Whang, guest contributor
I retired in 2007 from the Unified School District in Oakland, California. At age 61, my body was as stiff as a board. When I bent over, I could only touch my knees. I also suffered for years with a frozen shoulder. A longterm workoholic, my idea of de-stressing was to scream at the top of my lungs whenever the Warriors scored a basket. If not watching TV sports, I was also addicted to Korean dramas. My latest, “Mr. Sunshine” on Netflix.
But one day, I received a postcard in the mail. It was an ad for Qigong classes in a neighborhood yoga studio. Never having done any meditative practice before, I was intrigued and ready to try out a new activity. I had witnessed my parents, from ages 50 to 80, practice Tai-chi and extol its benefits.
I remember the first day of class. We were a small group of 10. Even though the movements were gentle, my hands could never reach beyond my kneecaps. I kept thinking to myself, “Oh god, I can’t do this!”
But I stuck with it. After several months of classes, my teacher, Kirstin Lindquist, introduced the idea of a 100-day challenge. Being goal oriented, I took on the challenge of practicing 100 days in a row in order for Qigong to become a habit. It didn’t matter where I was. My daily practice continued under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, during a safari in Tanzania, on the cliffs overlooking Iguazu Falls, Argentina, and under the reunification statue in Pyongyang, North Korea. I’ve even practiced in an airplane en route to Vietnam. As of September 2018, I’ve reached 3,800 days in a row—missing only a few days due to pneumonia and my mom’s recent passing.
Eight years into this practice, I went back to school to become a teacher of qigong. After completing a year long certification program, I now teach Qigong to students of all ages, including my grandchildren... ages 3 and 15. At age 72, I can now bend over and place my palms on the ground. Oh, I still scream when the Warriors beat their opponents. But my greatest satisfaction comes when my students tell me they’ve overcome their insomnia, anxiety, aches and pains.
Gail is a master of Wild Geese Dayan Qigong and teaches classes at Energy Matters Eastbay in Oakland, California.