Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teaching across cultures, by David

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche Blog Stories
David Chronowsky, USA
Walking around Taipei, I regularly see people practising qigong. A group of people in a park, a woman waiting for a bus tapping her fingers together, a security guard standing outside swinging his arms back and forth. These scenes remind me of what an important part of Chinese culture qigong is. The problem is, the only people I see practicing qigong are the older generation of Taiwanese.

At the center, Rinpoche’s foreign students gather and practice qigong (taught by Rinpoche, who is also a Daoist master) together on Sunday evenings. Its awesome and a lot of people have gained much benefit from the exercises.

We had the opportunity to teach qigong at various high schools in Taipei in order to promote relaxation and health. We went to a high school in Wenhua, an older part of Taipei, where we demonstrated the exercises on a raised stage in front of what must have been hundreds of students.

As we were going over the exercises, one of us commented on how interesting it was that a group of expats was teaching Taiwanese teenagers about their own culture. If you ask most teenagers in Taiwan about qigong they might laugh or comment that their grandparents practice it. The issue is that most don't know or don't want to learn about it. This is worrisome because when the older generation passes away there is a possibility that qigong will be largely lost with them.

The cool thing about this experience is that through learning qigong with Rinpoche, we were able to share qigong with Taiwanese who might not be familiar with it. In a way, it's a cross cultural exchange. If young Taiwanese see that  people from other countries find it cool and beneficial, they might take more interest in it and appreciate it more. It shows you that people learn to adapt cultural practices based on convenience and the environment they are in.

This experience, to learn authentic teachings from a master in traditional Eastern practices, in order to benefit myself and others, has been life-changing.

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