by Anna Stone
Inhale and imagine bright white light pouring into your lungs and flowing through the cells of your body. Exhale and envision a vast array of colorful butterflies and humming birds, flying out into nature. Let your body become at ease and witness the beauty that is Spring Forest Qigong.
The instructor, Muriel Plichta, retired assistant professor of education at Alverno College, discovered this Eastern practice of gentle movements, breathing, mental focus and sound, while seeking alternative ways to help her husband, Michael Plichta, after his diagnosis with cancer. That’s when a friend of Plichta’s encouraged her to contact a healer in Minneapolis to have her husband’s name placed into a ‘prayer basket,’ so she did and didn’t think much of it after.
Luckily, Plichta’s daughter, Christina, did. Christina, who is now a nutritional therapist based in Minneapolis, was flipping through a continuing education catalog when she recognized a friendly face inside. It was the face of the healer that Plichta’s friend sent them to. His name, Master Chunyi Lin, founder of Spring Forest Qigong and director of the Spring Forest Center in Minneapolis.
Qigong (pronounced ‘chee-gong’) is a form of energy medicine from China that has been practiced for centuries. It involves meditation, breathing and gentle movements that are said to cleanse, strengthen and circulate life energy and heal disease. Master Lin felt that qigong was so beneficial that it should be easily accessible to every person, and in order to make that possible, there needed to be a more simplified form. This need inspired Master Lin to develop Spring Forest Qigong, and since moving to America from China in June of 1992, he has taught thousands to heal themselves and heal others with this powerful practice.
Christina signed up for Master Lin’s classes in hopes that it would assist with healing her thyroid. “It’s been six years,” Christina said, “and I’ve never had another thyroid problem. I feel qigong was a contributing factor in getting over my thyroid disease, along with a combination of other things.” She continued, “It was the concept of relaxation, I just wasn’t getting that concept.”
As Christina’s thyroid problems started clearing up, she urged her mother to take classes from Master Lin as well, and the two of them have been practicing qigong ever since.
“Three years ago, it struck me, I had to teach qigong, but I always had excuses not to, until one day, Christina told me over the phone, ‘Mom, get over your ego,’ so I guess I did. I started with 10 people in my first class, and in the second one, 20 people showed. They all thought it was a yoga class, but stayed anyway,” Plichta said, recognizing some of those same faces in her classes today. She currently teaches at Wilson Park Senior Center in Milwaukee on Wednesdays and SolCare in Glendale on Sundays.
Plichta opens each class by asking if anyone wants to share an experience that relates to qigong. There’s always at least one story of healing shared. As a newcomer, this idea that we can heal ourselves with visualization and breath must seem crazy at first, but to those who have been attending class for some time, qigong is a bonafide way of keeping tabs on health and happiness; all one has to do is look at the countless testimonials in the back of Master Lin’s book, “Born A Healer.”
Plichta recognizes the initial doubt and said, “Believing and having confidence in qigong is the hardest part, the rest is simple. The idea of qigong is so foreign to our way of thinking, which is not thinking but feeling. People don’t like to hear that.”
Another obstacle that might detour people from practicing qigong is their religious beliefs. Helena Chan has been practicing Spring Forest Qigong for two years now and said, “When I was first introduced to qigong, I was afraid it would conflict with my faith, but I was wrong. It made me a more spiritual person.” She continued,”Meditation brings me a closeness with God I never had before. It’s my indulgence, my time to sit quietly with God.” Chan reports that she loved qigong so much she wanted to be a part of its mission and now works as a customer service representative with the Spring Forest Center.
Master Lin’s vision is “A healer in every family and a world without pain.” In class, participants are taught that everything is energy, including themselves. Every cell in our body is a form of energy as are our thoughts. Sickness, whether it manifests physically, mentally, or emotionally, is also a form of energy. Energy can’t be created or destroyed, but it can be transformed.
Spring Forest Qigong is the practice of transforming energy and assisting it to flow smoothly. Imagine a world where our energy can heal illness.
If you’d like more information on Spring Forest Qigong, go to SolCare’s website at www.solcarewisconsin.com or Master Lin’s at www.springforestqigong.com.