Mary Zelmer, Qigong Instructor
One of the Co-op’s principles is to offer the community education on various life-enriching topics. This past spring there was interest in a Spring Forest Qigong offering. So many people wanted to continue after the introductory session that we are now offering a Level One intensive as well as a six-week practice group. Our instructor will be Mary Zelmer of Lonsdale who is well-versed in the ways of SFQ. Outreach and Education Coordinator Mary Upham had the pleasure of interviewing Zelmer about her thoughts on Qigong. Zelmer will be offering a Level One Spring Forest Qigong class at the Co-op on August 6 and 7. See our class listings for details. Just Food Co-op encourages exploration of a variety of approaches to healthy choices, responsible consumption, and sustainable living. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the instructor and not necessarily those of Just Food Co-op or its members.
Just Food: What is Spring Forest Qigong?
Mary: There are thousands of Qigong practices all over the world today. This ancient practice is over four thousand years old and originated from China. Qi means energy or life force and qong means to work or transform. We are all energy beings and have energy channels running through our bodies, and this energy is constantly changing. Qigong is a practice that keeps these channels open so we can keep our bodies in balance and live a healthy and joyful life, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Spring Forest Qigong (SFQ) was created by Master Chunyi Lin. SFQ is a medical qigong, and uses breath, gentle movement, sound and visualization to heal the body and/or keep it healthy. These movements are easy to do yet powerful enough to help with symptoms like colds, arthritis, depression, strokes and even cancer. In fact any disease is just a blockage in the body’s energy system and once the blockage is removed the body heals. The focus of SFQ is ‘A Healer in every family and a world without pain.”
SFQ focuses on you, helping you to discover your natural ability to heal yourself and others too. There are four levels of classes that you can take; you can also become a certified instructor.
JF: How did you come to find Spring Forest Qigong?
M: Two things were going on in my life at that time that pointed the way. The first was that I was very sick. My digestive system was very painful and I had lost twenty five pounds; I could hardly eat anything. I was depressed, experiencing severe fatigue, pain, panic attacks (PTSD) and could not sleep. I had lost trust in people, life, and myself, but I was not ready to throw in the towel yet. Somehow deep in my heart, I knew this could help me. The second thing that was happening was that my hands started to get sensitive and I would feel sensations in them as I would walk past people. So I decided to explore different energy healing professions. I had heard about how powerful SFQ was and how it had helped some friends, so I decided to try the first class. It has been almost ten years and I am so grateful for all I have learned. It has become more than a practice but a way of being.
JF: How has it changed your life path/view of the world/ideas on health?
M: SFQ changed my whole perception on life. At the time I did not realize how I was letting fear run my life. When fear goes away and is replaced with unconditional love, forgiveness and kindness, something very powerful and profound happens. For me, I started living, for the first time in my life I felt that I was home. I started to trust again, and was able to learn how to listen to my heart and not my head, and that has been a wonderful and exciting gift. Living by your heart is such a natural and loving way to live. Since starting SFQ, I have done things for myself and others that I would have never dreamed possible. I do not have a life path anymore; it feels like at this time I have a direct connection to this wonderful universal energy that connects us all.
It is more like a life freeway. Because we are taught that illness is a teacher in SFQ, there is no fighting any more. I am not trying to destroy or defeat anything in my body or outside of it; this concept applies to our communities and our world. As we heal, so will our planet heal, I have no doubt about how we are all connected and the power of even one positive thought.
JF: What are the principles of Spring Forest Qigong that you find most meaningful?
M: We teach three principles in level one that I follow in my life. The first is “Keep it simple”. The most powerful things in life are simple. The second principle is “Use your consciousness”. Because our minds are so busy and noisy at times, we miss important messages that would make our lives more meaningful. I have learned to quiet my mind so that I can listen to that quiet, all-knowing voice in my heart. This also reminds me to think positively, because we have a saying ”where the mind goes, the energy flows.” The last principle I use is ”Go into the emptiness”, which is where our bodies naturally want to go to renew themselves. This is where you learn to let your body merge together with this universal love that is here for all of us and wants to help us. It is a place of perfect peace and pure energy. So in a nut shell, I live a simple, quiet, yet powerful and loving life. My life has more meaning and more joy than it used to.
JF: Where do you think it will lead? What is the future of SFQ?
M: It is growing. Over one hundred thousand people have taken the courses through classes or home study. We have people visiting the Spring Forest Center in Eden Prairie from all over the world. Practice groups are sprouting up all over. People want to help themselves be healthy as well as help others they love. We started a SFQ Reach Out program in the cities two years ago and currently have eighty volunteers who have helped well over a thousand people. It grows because it focuses on the most powerful healing tool we have, and that is unconditional love.
Here is a story. Yesterday a friend from Mankato called me. She had a twenty year old leg fracture that would not unite, but has been practicing SFQ. She has been through many surgeries and a lot of pain. Her doctors had told her it would never heal. She had told me if her leg could heal, she would believe anything was possible. Well, she had just come from the doctor’s office, her leg had healed completely. I hear these stories every day. SFQ will lead us to the realization that anything is possible. We all hold the keys to a healthy, joyful life.