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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 1, Issue 8, 10/25/07

Smiling Patience

This week I'm practicing smiling patience patience, with a smile. It's been five days since I finished a 6-day qigong retreat. I'm smiling for two reasons: because I'm happy and because during the retreat I learned there are lots of energy meridians in the face and smiling is good for them, good for building my energy.

I'm practicing patience because it's challenging to be back in regular life after six days of almost non-stop stimulation. My introvert self would like to be on another retreat right now, absorbing all that input.

"Qigong" (pronounced "chee-gong'") is Chinese and translates as "energy work". It's an ancient study, considered the "great grandfather" of all the Eastern healing and martial arts.

These days I seem to be living my life as an introvert laboratory, so I arrived at the retreat with curiosity but also some uncertainty. In August I'd spent a week on retreat in a forest with essentially one other person it was quiet and peaceful and wonderful. Now I'd signed myself up to be on retreat with about 180 people in a conference center. Could it be a good experience for an introvert? Would it be wonderful?

The answer is yes it was good and it was wonderful.

My biggest concern was that I'd be over-stimulated. Too many people, too much information, not enough alone time to keep a good level of energy.

Energy is such an important subject for introverts, given our physical make-up, given our need for low-stimulation environments to recharge our energy. I realize - somewhat in hindsight :-) that it was maybe even a brilliant decision for me, as an introvert, to go on an "energy work" retreat! What I learned about working with my energy far exceeded my expectations.

And we were actively practicing qigong, so even in the company of 180 people I was surprisingly able to maintain good energy (with some ups and downs :-)).

I also took good care of myself: I had my own room, I brought my own pillows (introverts like familiarity), and I gave myself permission to be as quiet as I wanted to no trying to act like an extrovert this week for me!

All in all it was an extraordinary experience. (The Spring Forest Qigong Retreat is an annual collaboration between Spring Forest Qigong and Learning Strategies Corporation, two organizations I highly recommend for both introverts and extroverts.)

But now that I'm home, about that patience.

It was a very stimulating week! The days started at 7 AM and ended after 10 PM. I took 78 pages of notes (I counted them just for fun). I used my body in many new ways. I laughed a lot. I mingled with 180 fascinating people who came from all over the United States and around the world. By the time I got home I was ready for some serious down-time. But it wasn't to be had.

So I'm practicing patience. On Monday, instead of starting this article, I went shopping for long underwear, slowly. (Winter is coming to Minnesota.) On Tuesday, instead of starting this article, I went for a long walk in a marsh, slowly. Today I'm writing but I've decided this newsletter can come out a little late.

And I'm smiling.

End of food for thought on to a practical idea:

A Practical Idea for Introverts and Extroverts

Visit the websites of Spring Forest Qigong (www.springforestqigong.com) and Learning Strategies Corporation (www.learningstrategies.com).

Master Chunyi Lin, founder of Spring Forest Qigong, became a certified international qigong master after many years of study in China. He teaches four levels of qigong and has created a series of home learning materials which are available through Learning Strategies. He lives in Minnesota.

Besides publishing the Spring Forest Qigong programs, Learning Strategies Corporation, also located in Minnesota, is internationally known for its innovative self-growth programs; for instance, photoreading, which teaches you to read at 25,000 words per minute. (Yes, 25,000! I learned to photoread many years ago and highly recommend it.)

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