Imagine this: The scene is on the edge of the Costa Rican Jungle. An abandoned cow pasture lovingly resurrected with thousands of indigenous trees and plants. Native animals returning, expanding the growing biodiversity of the land, jaguar included! An exquisite and magical setting for an initial dive into the practice of Shamanic Qigong led by Sifu Francisco Mena.
After an initial and clear lecture on the nature of reality we are led, (we are not sure where until we arrive), to a short, rustic red dirt pathway that moves like an old, slow river through the jungle. Once we’ve all arrived, Francisco gives us each a pot of red clay soil and instructs us to spread out over the pathway to provide ample space for everyone.
We each find our spot along the path and are invited to remove our shoes. In the mid-day heat of the jungle, the Earth feels refreshingly cool under my bare feet. As I enjoy the connection with the Earth, Francisco instructs us to dump the pot of cool, soil over our feet. One by one our feet disappear into the Earth, and there is no visible separation between the Earth and us.
Francisco invites us to observe. And this is when the magic begins to unfold. Quiet descends over the group and the sounds of the jungle at mid-day come to life. My mind, ever ready to be active, imagines energetic tree roots emerging from the soles of my feet and going deep, deep down into the Earth. My body becomes the trunk of a tree, my crown its leaves.
I begin to imagine myself a part of this forest and notice how all of the trees and plants are content to just be. Eventually, for a few moments, I surrender and just be. I begin to merge with the essence of this sacred place. A dragonfly perches on a branch in the stillness. Sunlight weaves its way through the leaves. Into every red blood cell in my body I breathe in the most precious gift of this jungle forest – oxygen. As I breathe out, the plants breathe into every green cell, carbon dioxide, transforming sunlight into food.
In this moment, there is harmony, rhythm and balance. In this moment, a peaceful, beautiful, seamless exchange between plants and humans.
Just as I sense Francisco is about to call us back to our “other” reality, a warm breeze moves through the jungle. It carries a message of gratitude ~ a thank you to us humans for pausing, for observing, for just being.
As I listen to the message in the breeze, I see a glimmering, iridescent shade of blue, as a Blue Morpho butterfly graces us with its meandering flight. It seems to embody the words of the 4th century Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu: “Do not struggle. Go with the flow of things. And you will find yourself at one with the mysterious unity of the Universe.”
Francisco gently shifts us from our Shamanic Qigong experience by inviting us to turn, face each other, and silently acknowledge the divinity in each one of us. With bare feet, we then slowly and quietly leave this rustic, red path, having tasted -perhaps even embodied if just for a moment - the mysterious unity of the Universe.