13 Aug
Posted in: Practice
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Five Animal Sangha

When I first got to Chapel Hill, I tried to find a meditation group to practice with while I was here for the summer, but I never quite found what I was looking for. So I thought: well, that’s OK, I’ll be home in a few months, and anyway, I still have my KM group that Skypes me every-other week.

But now that it’s about time for me to leave, I realize that I HAVE found a sangha here. Not just the kind I thought I was looking for.

It’s a lovely little qigong class I stumbled upon, led by exactly the kind of light-hearted, but also deeply trained teacher I had hoped to find. And the group itself is full of interesting people — one is an acupuncturist, another a puppeteer — who are friendly and kind and who are serious about enjoying their practice. (The teacher is Jay Dunbar and his school is called Magic Tortoise.)

The teacher and the people are great…and the qigong practice is pretty cool too! It’s called Five Animal Frolic (medical qigong) and it’s a series of movements based on the Crane, the Bear, the Monkey, the Deer and the Tiger.

The Bear is my favorite.

According to the classic texts: The bear appears ponderous and solid on the outside, but is alert and spirited within. Its powerful waist and legs shake, its paws are awesomely strong. Its energy is concentrated in its center.

Jay Dunbar adds: The spirit of the bear is mighty, indomitable, energetic. It is brave, without rival. The bear’s tireless power comes from the relaxed and easy use of its strength, from a balance of rest and activity, and from curving, twisting motion. 

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