An Extremely Lucky Opportunity

I had the privilege to be invited to study with Michael in a private intensive at his home as well as do the June Stillness movement seminar last month and just wanted to write a report on my experiences. This was an extremely lucky opportunity as Michael only accepts a limited number of students by invitation only for his private intensive.

I had found Stillness Movement through this website and had always been drawn to it, but never had the opportunity to study it as I’m from Australia and found it hard to commit to a seminar as a plane trip to the US was already 3-4x the seminar itself! In the meantime, I read Michael’s book, got his Gift of the Tao DVD’s and attended a distance class but always found it hard to commit to learning something properly without in person teaching as I find you pick up things you can’t learn from reading a book. How happy I was when I got the invitation to study privately with Michael!

So I arrived in Missouri where Michael kindly picked me up from the airport only to find a fellow Australian had also been invited over with the same intention I had. I was so glad to have a fellow Aussie training buddy. And so the training began…..

Even though this was an “intensive”, the days just flowed and was actually quite relaxed (in a good way). Just like how Michael runs his seminars, we didn’t have any set schedule or plans in terms of training, but just went with the flow of things (very wu wei). Even though it felt like we hadn’t done much at the end of each day, when I went over all the days activities , I realized we had done at least 5-6 hours of qigong plus learning the SM healing work.

The typical day consisted of waking up to go do qigong running at 7am where Michael slowly introduced the different aspects of qigong running such as stamina, pushing, swiftness and lightness over the 5 days we were there. This would be followed by breakfast, and then a few hours of Gift of the Tao 1-2-3 movements where we went through and refined the movements. After lunch and a quick siesta (we were probably still a bit jet lagged), we would then do some table work where we were introduced to Taoist Medicine and External energy projection(way qi liao fa). Then we would often finish the day with some sitting stillness movement before knocking off for “Miller time” and dinner.

The qigong running was an interesting experience and a good way to start the day. I have never been a distance runner myself, but found qigong running made it much more interesting and gave it a timeless quality. It was also interesting integrating and feeling the different aspects to it such as the pushing and lightness. Once the weather warms up here, I will definitely try to get into it more.

Even though I had learned the movements of GOT1+2 from the DVD prior to going, there were a lot of things I learnt from my experience going through the movements with Michael.   One of the things that definitely made it more interesting is practicing in an energetically charged area. Each morning we would walk over to an area where Michael normally practices and even an energetically insensitive person like myself could feel the shift in energy as we approached it. When practicing in these areas, energy is more palpable. When I came back home to Australia and started practicing, I was bummed out as I thought I had already lost the feeling of energy with the movements that I had felt over in the US. After a few days, I tried practicing somewhere else (only 10m away) and found that the energy was more palpable there as opposed to my normal practice area. Being able to feel the energy definitely helps with the practice (and your belief in the practice) especially with these set of movements which to the mind, look messy and “unconventional”. (well to my mind anyway haha). I have managed to find some areas at my work that also feel more energetically alive which helps me practice throughout the day. Michael also helped refined some of the movements and target things I may have overlooked and explained the intent behind the movements which has definitely brought the practice to a new level.   We also had some animals come to observe and bask in the energy while practicing.

The table work we did in the afternoon was one of the things I was really interested in as I’m an Acupuncturist and Remedial Massage Therapist. We were pretty much thrown straight into it and started practicing it on each other 10 minutes into learning it. What Michael says about the Taoist Medicine is true that you have to practice it to learn it, and learn it by practicing it. It’s one of those things that you just need hands on body time to pick up the technique, and just a lot more body time to pick up the subtleties of it.   I’m still a newbie at the technique and each time i lay my hands on a body to practice it, I learn something new and can pick up something a bit more subtler than I had before. So far I’ve been able to integrate the treatment with some of my patients with great success. People often feel very relaxed and floaty after. However, I’ve only been brave enough to do it mainly with my stress patients as it’s hard to try new techniques with paying customers unless they are my trusted regulars.   I know I’m only scratching the surface with this technique and it is a lot more than just a relaxation/back treatment. Just read the thread about people’s healing experiences with it to see the depth of this technique. Once I gain more confidence in it, I would love to transition more towards that technique like many of Michael’s students who utilize it full time.

The off body work has also been interesting. I’ve utilized it often with people’s secondary complaints with good success as well. One case was my receptionist, who I had been treating for tennis elbow with acupuncture for a month prior to going to the seminar. Although we could get the pain away with treatment, it would normally start coming back after a week.   I decided to let her be a guinea pig and did off body energy projection for her elbow for about 10 minutes and she hasn’t really had any discomfort since. This has lasted 3 weeks now. Once again, I’m just a newbie to it all, but I guess this shows how powerful the system/technique is. These kinds of stories are very commonplace for Michael’s students.

I won’t write too much about the seminar as this post is already getting out of hand, and others can touch on it, but it was a great experience to meet other practitioners of SM, experienced and newbies like myself all mixing together. I learned a lot just by observing and interacting with the other students and listening to their stories and experiences. Definitely gave me motivation to practice daily. It was also great to meet other taobums and lurkers of the forum and able to put a face to the names.

Downsides? I would have to say those damn chiggers and maybe Michael’s cooking! (just kidding Michael, it was a lot better than you give yourself credit for!) haha

I would like to thank Michael, his wife and Pippen for warmly welcoming us into their home and for the lovely hospitality provided. You won’t meet nicer people than the Lomax’s. Michael was very generous with his teaching, often overloading us with more material than was expected from him. He patiently and calmly answered any questions directed at him and often encouraged them. He’s also just a cool guy to hang out with, sharing common interests in music, guitars and all things geek. Spending 8 days with Michael allowed me to see the life of a qigong master, and how human it is.   It is not about being secluded in a cave meditating, but to integrate qigong into your life and allow qigong to enhance it. You don’t have to abstain from things, just use common sense and lead a middle path of moderation.   ou can still do everyday things while being in a qigong state, which Michael emphasized and epitomized through his living.

I would also like to thank my fellow Aussie training buddy, who was great to bounce ideas and experiences off, and for volunteering his body for practice haha. He also was good at asking questions to Michael as I would always seem to be blank when Michael asked “any questions?”. And thank you again to the other students, as you guys helped me more than you know during class.

I’ve really only touched the surface of my experiences and am sure I’ve missed plenty. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability.

For those thinking of studying Stillness movement, I would highly recommend it. Like others have said before, try to learn the moves from the DVD before going to class as this will help a lot. After attending a seminar try to “embrace the system” as much as you can. Even if you can’t feel anything, just continue to persist practicing as it is doing something even if you can’t feel it, and with time you will feel a bit more. I am VERY energetically insensitive, and have found by practicing every day, the movements are becoming more and more palpable. Michael has a seminar in September with limited places so you should try and book asap. If I was in the states, I would be there straight away

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