We are evolving consciousness…
Interview with Francesco Garri Garripoli
by Magda Ratajczyk, April 2016, Warsaw Poland
Welcome Francesco. We are very pleased that once again you come to Poland and lead the workshops Qigong.
It is my joy and honor to return to Poland. I truly love it in Poland and each time I come I feel I discover more that I enjoy and appreciate about your country and her people. Being Italian, we actually have a lot in common!
What is Qigong for you?
On the surface, Qigong is a practice of movement, breathing, and positive thinking that has its roots in ancient China… but the more that I practice this simple system, the more that I realize it is the essential framework that each of us needs to stay healthy, manage the stress of life, and explore our potential.
What was the reason that you started to practice Qigong?
As a medical student in university, I was always asking professors fundamental questions about “why” people get sick and “how” we can learn to heal ourselves. Obviously, university medical training in the 1970’s didn’t do more than teach mechanical repair techniques for broken bodies and offer ways to reduce symptoms of illness. I intuitively knew there were other systems and that humans were more than just their bodies and emotions. Fortunately, I met an 81 year-old Master at that time who opened my young mind and helped me learn ancient techniques that are so applicable today.
You meant about Master Duan Zhiliang…
Actually, I am fortunate to have studied under many senior Masters. This 81 year-old teacher in the mid-1970s was an amazing teacher that was my first real “bridge” between Western medicine and Eastern healing. He was a physician trained in the West and was also a psychiatrist who studied with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in Europe. His understanding of Western medicine and psychology helped to put his Zen Buddhist training into a perspective that showed me how it was the melding of all these concepts that helped to formulate a how healing and personal transformation seems to work.
Where have you been learning Qigong and healing?
It was with this teacher in the ‘70s – which was actually in Hawaii on the island of Oahu – where I learned the art of energy healing. This doctor had a clinic in an old villa which was Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani’s summer home in the 19th The energy there was amazing, right on the beach. Patients came from all over the world and I had the opportunity to see how the healing of diseases ranging from cancer to emotional disorders could all be positively shifted only with energy and the patient’s DIRECT engagement in the process. This was key. After studying for years with this healer, I studied with many others who all had a Medical Qigong focus (rather than martial or competitive performance styles). My years in China with Masters such as Duan Zhiliang and Wan Sujian helped refine my focus on the medical/healing aspects of energy healing and how our own Yi or “mental ability and visualization” play such a role in personal empowerment and transformation.
What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong?
This is a good question because people do get confused. Tai Chi is actually a particular type of Qigong. There are thousands and thousands of different styles of Qigong that have evolved over thousands of years since ancient times. Sometimes powerful families wanted their own “private” style of healing exercise, and Tai Chi came out of that maybe 300 – 800 years ago. There are many different structured styles of movement all called Tai Chi with 5 main traditional schools, some can even like martial arts and quite competitive. They are good movement exercises, but I find that they are focused more on precision of physical movement and less on working with our Qi energy for healing. Qigong’s ancient roots point to a time when words like Xu Lian and Dao Yin were used to describe these gentle mind/body exercises, and all involved using the mind and breath to tap into our inner power.
For many years conducted research confirming the health effects of Qigong. How does Qigong assist health, prevention and active aging?
As the Chairman of the non-profit Qigong Institute, I am pleased to say that we have over 10,000 references in our free database that point to the health benefits of Qigong and energy exercises (which is what Qigong translates to – “energy exercise”). What we see mostly in the data is that Qigong addresses the mind-body component to healing. This is very important. When we understand how our minds and emotions contribute to our health, we learn one of the most powerful tools in healing. It is not always easy to personally face this, but with a practice like Qigong, we can gently bring our body, mind, and emotions into harmony. We find that it is not as difficult as we thought! Usually we just have a lot of “bad habits” that have accumulated in our lives. Qigong is a “good habit” that we can add, even a few minutes each day, and start to see benefits. Just the simple practice of a few movements seems to trigger the body’s nature immune response and natural cellular repair mechanisms. We are all born with this, we just forget how to tap into this potential. This September I will be leading a study group to China and we will learn Qigong from my senior Chinese teacher who is now 114 years old… and he is Catholic!
So regardless of what ails us, Qigong may be an effective way to health?
Yes, this appears to be very true. In nearly 40 years of studying on this path, I have seen such a wide range of symptoms and diseases transforming through Qigong. I use the word “transform” because Qigong isn’t about “fixing” something “broke.” We learn to see ourselves in a new way through these studies and realize that we are quite “perfect” yet at various times in our journey of life, our “energy” gets out of harmony. This could show up as blockages or stagnation… and we all know intuitively when our own energy is not in harmony. If we are “out of harmony” long enough, symptoms start showing up… and the longer we are “out of harmony” the more intense those symptoms get until some “disease state” unfolds. Qigong is about teaching us to be sensitive so that we can observe the disharmony while it is easy to shift. This is the core of preventative medicine. Yet even when things have gone on beyond our ability to make this shift – and we have some obvious level of disease – Qigong is still extremely useful. I have seen many, many people who were diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis or chronic issues and were dedicated with their Qigong practice and either removed the disease state or lived a healthy life even though the physicians still found blood markers showing the disease was still there.
In your life has Qigong proven to be an effective form of therapy?
I think to be proficient in anything in life, you need to have first-hand experiences. If you don’t everything is just theory and words. I am old-fashioned and traditional in that way. Every one of the teachers I studied with had some personal experience where they had to apply what they learned on their own body, mind, and spirit. For me, it was after those first two years of studying with the Master in Hawaii. I was in a terrible automobile accident and the doctors told me that I’d never walk again with my crushed ankles, feet and knee. My head also broke the windshield. It was quite a great opportunity to put what I learned to the test! After six or seven weeks in the hospital I was allowed to leave in a wheelchair and plaster casts on both my legs. I know it was the energy work and the support of that teacher that kept me positive and “seeing” my body as “healed”. Of course I had many other experiences over the years with broken bones, food allergies, burns, etc. I guess I’m pretty stubborn and needed lots of “training” :)) Yet with each “challenge” came the opportunity to apply Qigong and observe personally that 1) We can shift ourselves back into harmony; and 2) There is always some level of mental, energetic, or emotional component to our challenge, whatever it may be.
Is the practice of Qigong affects the prevention and reduction of stress?
The National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. spends a fortune on research and their recent studies show over 70% of all disease is related to stress. This may seem obvious to us, but they prove the medical facts behind this. Qigong practice addresses both the mental and emotional stress issues we all face through its slow and focused movements, as they really help to calm our energy. Besides that, specific exercises active the nervous system in unique ways which in turn harmonizes the endocrine system – balancing our hormones, strengthens the heart and circulatory system, and helps to detox and cleanse the various organ systems in the body. Cellular stress is what happens on an unconscious level, slow and incrementally, and this is what shows up as illness and disease. Qigong addresses this cellular situation at an early level when it is relatively easy to manage, and in this way, it is a fantastic tool anyone can use for health prevention.
That is, the stress is trapped and locked in the body of the emotions that cause disturbances on the cell, the flow of Qi meridians… and as a consequence cause ailments and diseases?
Yes, that is one good way of understanding this “cellular stress” as blocked or stagnant energy is stored in tissues, muscles, and cells in the organs. Cellular stress on a medical and biochemical level is when the metabolic process of an individual or cluster of cells is disturbed for a variety of reason. This could be from a diet that is wrong for us. This could be from toxins in our body from our environment. It can also be from emotional and mental stress that affects the endocrine system and sends our hormones into disharmony. Another “cellular stress” level is the new area of science call epigenetics, where we see stress in the environment around the DNA in the nucleus of stressed cells. Here, protein emplacements disrupt gene expression and this can affect everything from hormones to neurotransmitters in the brain. All this science is factual, but we don’t need to dwell on it… just breathe into it, realize it is true, and do what we can do – which is use tools like Qigong to manage and transform this stress. We are all capable of this, I know it.
What should we realized about our fears, sadness, anger, and other emotions as they will not negatively affect our health? How to deal with them?
This is such a great question and can barely be touched on in a weekend workshop no less an interview J To me, the most important thing to learn is that we are the Dreamer of our own Dream. This means that even in the most extreme situations – the ones that seem hopeless and impossible – we have the opportunity to make choices to shift our energy flow. Sure, it can be very difficult. I have been in many personal situations that seemed hopeless and the “Sleeping State” survival-based emotions such as you mentioned were taking control of the flow. It is when we can “Wake up” and remember we are Awake in Dream on a certain level. In that moment, we learn to use the energy that expresses as “Sleeping State” emotions (when we are wide awake but in that survival-dominated “Sleeping” consciousness) and shift it to our “Awakened State.” This same energy in us that can play out as “Fear” can turn into “Intuition.” Each of the Sleeping State emotions has an Awakened State. This is so empowering and is the core of true and long-lasting healing.
Qigong unites our body, mind and spirit. Does Qigong may be the way to connect an primeval energy of heart?
This is a powerful question… In ancient China, Heart energy was called “Shen Qi” or “spirit energy.” It was believed that the “spirit” resided in the Heart. I use the Heart with the “capital H” because the Heart in Qigong theory is more than the pumping muscle in our chest. It is a “system” that includes that muscle, but also includes the Circulatory System, Small Intestine, and the “Wei Qi” energy field that moves around the body. Qigong practice helps us “wake up” our intuition… it happens naturally when we give ourselves a chance. When we do Qigong, we are simply allowing what is natural within us to become activated. It’s really common sense when you think about it. Our busy and stressful lives block our latent abilities as they trigger our raw, animal, survival instincts. Qigong allows us to remember we have much more potential than that… Qigong helps us sense that we are awake in a Dream and that we can positively influence the world around us a lot more than we imagined.
So Qigong may be a way back to yourself?
Yes! That’s a good way of saying it… Our true, authentic nature is amazing and empowered and beautiful. Each of us. This is a mirror of our true self, which is beyond body and mind. A good empowerment and healing system like Qigong – when it is taught beyond just some moving form – can help you return to your core, where your true power and joy resides. No one can do this for us… it is a personal journey and we are all capable of making this journey. Like all journeys, it is more fun and easier when we travel with like-minded souls… especially those that have been on the path longer than us and can simply provide supportive advice to help us along the way.
Can Qigong change our life?
I believe our life is “designed” to change on a regular basis. We were all blessed with this life, this body, this mind. By design, we are evolving consciousness. If we accept that, every day, every breath in this life is an opportunity to expand into our infinite nature. It might seem hard to think like this when we have so many concerns about money, relationships, family, and work, and the state of the world these days… but it is our choice to decide how we want our Dreaming, our life, to unfold. It is natural for us to accept things as they are, to complain and get frustrated… I know how this is in my life. When we are patient and do a practice like Qigong regularly – I suggest practicing a little every day so you can harmonize your energy and facilitate the “shift” you need – change will come… it has to. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only thing constant, is change.”
Francesco, thank you very much for this interview. It is a great honor and pleasure for me. We invite you for the next meetings and Qigong workshops in Poland.
Dziękuję bardzo and grazie mille… the honor is mine too!