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Meeting with Mamerto Lagitan Tindongan, Qigong Master, Philippines
By Jacinthe Roy Rioux, world and culture collaborator
« Qigong is a practice derived from Tai Chi that combines body and mind. The movements are inspired by mother earth and her richness. Some are poetic, others metaphorical and most are embodying animals. The interpretations of these movements lead to a thought that plays an important role in the spiritual understanding of the exercise. »
Is Qigong a legacy from your ancestors?
My ancestors were craftsmen. They did not actually practice Tai Chi, but the work they did was certainly a mastery of movement and balance.
I was born in the Philippines. Here, Tai Chi is not recorded in our books and traditions as it is in China, but simply comes from a lifestyle that requires movement and precision.
I was looking for a Tai Chi master for several years without success. Previously secret and reserved for one family exclusively, Tai Chi possesses truly shamanistic origins: private society, privileged training, exclusivity to a minority of families. It was only at the time of the communist revolution that this martial art found its way to America: disciples, taking exile in the west, shared their know-how with the Americans.
In 1994, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease in my inner ear. Chronic symptoms consist of acute headaches, loss of energy, buzzing in the ear and permanent dizziness. After seeing a specialist in ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat), I learned that an operation with guaranteed success doesn’t exist: I could have had an operation, but there was a 40% chance of failure. I did not believe them. There had to be a cure. So I studied my diagnosis in depth and started looking with great interest into alternative medicines. Meanwhile, Tai Chi had gradually made its way to America. I then had the opportunity to meet a master that was practicing Qigong, more specifically Tiger Meditation – Tiger Mountain. I learned that Qigong is used as a healing method, like acupuncture, for example. All these principles that touch the “chi”, in other words the energy, flow through energy channels called meridians. A disease is a consequence of a blockage in those energy channels. By performing certain Tai Chi postures and movements, you allow the energy to flow more freely through your body.
And were you able to heal your illness?
I am here now. I was diagnosed with the incurable disease in 1994. I had been suffering from it since 1992. I tried all the painkillers. They worked, but the side effects of the medication bothered me. That was not how I wanted to live my life.
So I experimented with several energy healing techniques: essential oils, chromo therapy (color therapy), sound therapy and herbal therapy to finally realize that the best remedy for me was movement. The other healing techniques work, but they are not optimal: they create a sort of dependency, since the person trying to get better, needs the help of oil, sound, herbs etc. to feel better. Movement is me, is you and is life. Movement is my body in full motion, in full release. I healed myself by practicing Qigong; I cured myself by experiencing the art of breathing and movement. Today I teach Qigong because this approach allows people who need help to become the master of their movements and therefore the master of their own healing process.
Do you consider Qigong to be a spiritual practice?
The movements are inspired by mother earth and her richness. Some are poetic, others metaphorical and most are embodying animals. The interpretations of these movements lead to a thought that plays an important role in the spiritual understanding of the exercise.
Here a few movements to discover…
While reading these words did you experience a willingness to act, a willingness to live? This is free verse poetry, a hymn to creativity. When you take the tiger and carry it back up the mountain, what do you feel? While you are reading these words, I am sure that each of you is feeling something different. Are you in the process of conquering a dangerous situation? Are you conquering your fears? Or maybe you’re playing with fire?
“Your postures are like an eagle ready to pounce on a rabbit.
Your mind is like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse.
(…) A cat, ready to catch a mouse, crouches while waiting, completely concentrated on the mouse hole. As soon as the cat sees its prey, it attacks. – Alex Dong
SPIRITUAL DIMENSION AND SYNCHRONICITY
I am connected to the energy of the tiger since it is my strongest spiritual inspiration. For you, it may be the eagle or the dragon. “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage,” wrote Rilke, in “Letters to a Young Poet”. If you feel more connected to a specific energy, you should explore this dimension and eventually find the form of Tai Chi that will best connect your mind and your spirituality. Find your strongest element and focus on it.
POWER OF INFINITY
In my shaman lineage, I am part of the 8th generation of shamans.
In my Tai Chi lineage, I am part of the 8th generation from Yan Lu Chan.
I was born on April 8, 1958
8 is my symbol of strength.
When I communicate with the spiritual force, by visualization, I visualize the number 8, the symbol of infinity that serves me as medium to convey the flow of information.
We are all an amalgam of energy. Our body is physical, astral, emotional, and spiritual, in soul and in spirit. Each one of us is a microscopic representation of the universe. We have the same energizing anatomy. By connecting with the frequencies of the universal spirit, it is possible to share the same field of knowledge as another person. Today I am in the Philippines, you are in Montreal and we can communicate by spiritual force. And if it works, it’s because we share the same frequencies and vibrations. The sensibility we are developing with our entourage or when we accompany certain people in the healing process, is a reflection of the universal vibrations we share in full synchronicity, in full consciousness.
After going through your illness, learning about Qigong, your healing and spiritual development, what did you learn from your journey?
I come from a small community surrounded by a larger community. I grew up learning and knowing that I would have to defend myself all my life. Small communities are often brutalized by the largest communities in the periphery. For most of my life, I had the feeling that I had to fight to survive. I went to primary school, secondary school and then university in the United States where I still experienced this feeling of survival. Until the day when I realized that the battle was within me, it was time to conquer my fears.
For 17 years, I practiced Qigong focusing on my goal of conquering my fears and connecting with my inner power. Today, this objective is still valid. When I received the diagnosis of my incurable disease, I let go. I accepted death. I let things go. If it is my time, I am ready to die. And by letting go, I opened myself to the extraordinary possibilities of existence.
Do you practice the traditions of your community?
I respect my traditions, but I don’t stick to them. I proudly share my culture because I know that we have a big knowledge to offer to the next generations and to the world. On the other hand, I am trying to break down the walls we have built. It’s important to recognize cultural differences, but I focus primarily on unity. Why do I have to wear my traditional gown? This creates a conflict within me. By wearing my traditional gown, I project a form of separation. My gown separates me from the others. And any form of separation takes me away from the unity. I don’t want to encourage this kind of separation.
It’s being said that depression is a badly wrapped present of life. How do you feel about that after the hardships you have been through with the disease?
After going through all these difficulties, I don’t see suffering as something absolutely negative. I believe it is an opportunity to learn and grow. This does not mean that I support struggle or violence, but when everything seems to become dark, the light is never too far away. We are beings of light.
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