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A sort of homecoming

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  • A sort of homecoming

    Dear Shaolin family,

    My story begins in the Canadian City of Calgary. It was here on the 22nd of July, 2000, that life took an unexpected and nasty turn as the result of a few hours spent drinking in ‘The Back Alley’ nightclub. Bad stuff can and does happen to people on nights out and typically involves drink-related violence being inflicted on them. What happened me however had nothing to do with physical violence. It was far more deadly than that: it was the noise.

    The music in the nightclub was played at such a loud volume that on leaving the club, both my ears had ringing noises in them. I had tinnitus. A lot of people experience this phenomenon and typically it is just fleeting, lasts a few hours, and is gone. Far from being temporary however, the ringing wasn’t gone in the morning, and it wasn’t gone in a week either. It was to stay for a long time, over ten years in fact, leaving me with a decade of being unable to achieve silence.

    I try not to be too hard on myself when I think back to the days and months following on from ‘The Back Alley’. There was much about the condition that I didn’t know then, but learned gradually - and very painfully - in the year, and subsequent years, that followed.

    I was twenty-two and in college the year after Canada and in living the student life, my tinnitus got progressively worse. For I didn’t “just” have tinnitus, I had hyperacusis as well, something which took months to realise. Hyperacusis can be thought of as having very weak ears and, consequently, they are far more susceptible to loud noises. It was a vicious circle: loud noises, which prior to ‘The Back Alley’ posed no problem, succeeded in damaging my ears further, making my tinnitus worse and my ears weaker. As my ears got weaker I was more and more susceptible to loud noises. By the autumn of 2001 an appalling vista had unfolded: my tinnitus/hyperacusis had become severe.

    So why have I been hard on myself when reflecting on this period? I should have taken greater care of my ears and minded them. I didn’t.

    Life with severe tinnitus/hyperacusis is problematic in many ways. First there is the noise: day after day, night after night, year after year, of permanent, non-stop, 24/7, loud ringing and hissing noises coming from inside your head. Pick the most beautiful lake in the world and sit beside it on a perfect moonlight night: your ears are ringing. It never leaves you because it is in you.

    The second problem is not constant, but sporadic in nature: when loud noises further damage the ears. Think of those old torture racks we see in history documentaries on which someone is being physically stretched to inflict pain. Then think of when they get stretched further. Loud noises hitting ears with severe hyperacusis is like having your tinnitus stretched further. It is difficult to describe. Perhaps one way to think of it is like having your nervous system electrocuted.

    And so it follows that the third big problem is the absolute necessity to avoid loud noises, regardless of the social consequences. All nightclubs, loud bars, cinemas, firework displays, live concerts, football stadiums and anything else that involved a lot of noise (such as using a lawnmower) were strictly off-limits to me. No exceptions. Needless to say, my social life became bleak under such constraints.

    Earplugs were of no use in such situations as they only succeed in blocking a fraction of the sound. They weren’t enough (this was one of the painful lessons I learnt in the months after Canada). I did use earplugs however, everyday in fact. Earplugs were the only way I could cope with ordinary, but loud to me, everyday sounds: walking next to traffic, watching TV, barking dogs, clearing the dinner table with clanging plates, airports etc. When I was outdoors I used full earplugs, when I was indoors I used half earplugs. Sometimes I used full earplugs indoors too! If earplugs were a monarchy I would have been King.

    But even with the elimination of loud environments from my social calendar, and the everyday use of earplugs, there were always times I got caught out: a fire engine passing on the street (too loud even with earplugs), a smoke alarm going off (too loud even with half-earplugs), walking past a building site when an angle-grinder goes off (ha ha) or, most memorably, being half-way into a haircut and a hairdryer starts up right next to me. And so my tinnitus/hyperacusis never eased, but always got worse.

    My life was a war against noise, everyday a battle. Evading noise was my all-day, everyday, full-time occupation. It was relentless.

    Living a life under such conditions is demoralising, depressing and very difficult. And it is terrible for a love life too.


    Tinnitus and hyperacusis are so-called incurable diseases and visits to various doctors confirmed this. So I turned to Alternative Medicine. I visited many different therapists over the years, everything from acupuncturists to pranic healers, and all of them had two things in common: they never did anything for my tinnitus or hyperacusis, and they cost a small fortune. Which of course is not a statement on the efficacy on these therapies, or the therapists. Far from it. It’s just that they never did anything for me.

    If reading a book can be considered an introduction, then my introduction to Chi Kung came when a friend recommended Daniel Reid’s “A Complete Guide to Chi-gung”. Regarding Reid’s main thesis – that health and healing are possible through the daily practice of Chi Kung – I never needed any convincing. I believed every word.

    So, naturally, when an ad about Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung appeared in the newspaper in August 2003, I was very interested and about a week later I found myself learning ‘Lifting the Sky’ from a very friendly lady from Kerry whose name you all know: Joan Browne. Amazed by her own incredible journey of healing, and even more amazed the class itself, I was sure of only one thing walking home that evening: it was not like anything I had expected!

    And so my journey in the Shaolin Arts began. I had, in my hands, the means to effect real and positive change to my health and perhaps, just perhaps, lessen the burden of tinnitus and hyperacusis. All I had to do was follow the instructions. It was that simple!

    I have never figured out why exactly what happened afterwards happened, but it did: I stopped practicing. It made no sense. I was very unwell and a solution was presented to me. But I stopped. (I should add that I took Sigung’s “Generating Energy Flow” course in Galway soon after my first class with Sifu. But it made no difference to my mindset. I still stopped.)

    A few months later however, still very much inspired by Joan’s own personal journey, and being nagged by the feeling that I really really should be practicing, I spoke with her again and was delighted to find myself back in her class. My practice had returned and it felt great! Which makes it all the more inexplicable that it collapsed all over again.

    This pattern was to repeat itself over the next five and a half years. I would practice Chi Kung for a while and then I would stop…over and over again. Needless to say intermittent practice did nothing for my tinnitus/hyperacusis. All it left me with was deep frustration. It may sound bizarre but I never stopped being very annoyed with myself for not regularly practicing Chi Kung, when all I had to do to end that annoyance was just practice.

    I have much to say about my years of infrequent practice but now is not the time. I would however just like to state, completely free of hyperbole, that it is the single biggest regret I have in my life.


    I wasn’t practicing Chi Kung in the early summer of 2009 but that awful nagging feeling was still very much alive in me: you really really should be practicing. So I emailed Joan inquiring about classes. Again.

    Looking back on it now, there was nothing auspicious about the 11th of July that summer. It was a Saturday and again I found myself attending a day of Chi Kung with the lady who I am now very honoured to address as Sifu. I had no heavenly visions proclaiming that my time had come. I didn’t journey up some sacred mountain and make a heartfelt declaration that I had seen the light. No, nothing like that. It was just history repeating itself.

    I enjoyed a good day of Chi Kung that Saturday in Macroom. And then, with no great fanfare, or any great announcement, the most amazing thing happened: my practice came together. It just did. I practiced the day after the class. And the day after that. And the day after that too! Sitting here, over a year and a half later, I am very happy to say that I haven’t missed a single day of practice since…and my life has been completely transformed!

    Within two weeks of practicing everyday a whole new paradigm of Chi Kung presented itself. It was no longer something I felt I should be doing, it was something I really wanted to do. It came as natural as brushing my teeth. The struggle had ended and I embraced it. It embraced me. And so I practiced, twice a day, every day. For the very first time I enjoyed my practice.

    Two months later I was in Killarney for an intensive weekend of Chi Kung with Sifu. The weekend was amazing. Sifu’s instructions took on a whole new meaning and I found myself understanding them on a deeper level. And so I had my first deep chi flow: a wonderful and lovely warmth filling my inner left ear, much like the sensation one experiences with a hopi ear candle. It was the first glimpse of the miracle that had, unknown to me then, started to unfold.

    And so I continued practicing. I enjoyed some wonderful Chi flows during the months that followed with some incredible and vigorous shaking of my body. Sometime before Christmas I could feel the faint ripple of something very big: my tinnitus and hyperacusis begun to shift.

    And then Grandmaster Wong came to town.

    I still can’t quite find the words to describe last year’s Valentine’s festival of Chi Kung in Killarney. I can say one thing with certainty however: the height to which my mind soared under Sigung’s presence and guidance changed me fundamentally as a person. The final Chi flow on the Saturday was the most profound spiritual experience of my life. It cleansed my soul. Deeply. A hundred million thoughts streamed through my mind, as I stood there in ‘flowing breeze swaying willow’, crying my eyes out. Thoughts about myself, my life and my journey in life up to that precise moment. It was just so beautiful. It was as if the Universe had enveloped my spirit in a warm loving embrace.

    The clearing of blockages in the weeks and months after Killarney was savage, as it was for everyone else. Violent mood swings and deep frustrations in my body and mind consumed me. But the times, they were a-Changin’: my tinnitus and hyperacusis began to crumble under the sustained practice of Chi Kung. Slowly, the life I once knew started to return: I could walk into town without needing earplugs anymore; I could call to a friend’s house and not worry about the noise. My perception of life itself began to change. My confidence began to return. A weight made heavy by ten years of hardship began to lift: my fear of noise began to diminish. My journey home had begun.

    My first shout in Chi flow came in June in Sifu’s class. Her guidance was, yet again, taking me to a deeper level and rooting out blockages in my mind about my way of thinking about tinnitus. Having spent so long evading noise, to find myself intentionally making a lot of noise was nothing short of remarkable. It must be said however that I was using half earplugs that day, as I had in every single Chi Kung class ever taken up to that point (required for severe hyperacusis unfortunately).

    Now generally basketball courts are for playing basketball. Or maybe gymnastics, if so inclined. In July however, like many others before me, I found a different use: rolling along the floor of them in deep Chi flows under Sigung’s once again very profound presence and guidance. Oh what fun we had at the UK Summer Camp!

    The four days of Chi Kung that I was very privileged to attend were amazing, astonishing and mesmerising. On the third day, the Sunday, exactly one year to the day that I started practicing every day, I had my Lazarus moment: I ripped the earplugs out of my ears and gave it welly in Chi flow. I started to scream. It was the first time since 2002 that I was in a public place with no earplugs. And I was screaming. That was the moment when I knew, really really knew, where Chi Kung was taking was taking me home.

    Since those wonderful days in Brighton my tinnitus and hyperacusis have continued to diminish with each and every day. I have many other stories to share but I think I’ve said enough. Sitting here, over a year and a half since I started practicing every day, my hyperacusis is 90% healed. Still a bit to go, but I know by summer it will be but a memory, a story of my life confined to the past. I cannot express to you dear family how much this means to me. My never-ending, deeply wearisome war with noise is over. I have won.

    The improvements in my tinnitus have always lagged behind that of my hyperacusis. I still have ringing in my ears but it is slight compared to what it once was. This will be the next great phase of my journey in the Shaolin Arts: the achievement of silence. I don’t know when or where but it is coming.


    I have wanted to share my story for some time but found myself waiting for something. I didn’t know what that ‘something’ was, but I knew I would know it when came. And it did, just before Christmas: I started listening to music again.

    Of all the things I lost after tinnitus/hyperacusis came into my life, one of the hardest to swallow was the severing of music from my life. I needed silence in the evening, not The Stone Roses. So to find myself, before Christmas, listening to loud music, without a care in the world, was my homecoming. For I don’t see the war I have won to be a reinvention of myself, or the becoming of a ‘new man’, I see it as a return to the person I was before fate intervened on that dark night in 2000. I was at peace with life back then, happy and content, and full of the joy and wonder which life on this planet can bring. And I listened to a lot of great music. Chi Kung has taken me back to that, a journey back home, a journey back to myself.

    So now let me say this: There is a cure for tinnitus and there is a cure for hyperacusis and it is Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, the Chi Kung spread far and wide by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, Fourth Generation Successor of the Venerable Jiang Nan of the Southern Shaolin Monastery.

    Sigung, my life was forever changed by your profound teachings in Killarney and Brighton last year. In offering them, you were spending time away from your wonderful and beautiful family and had to undergo the ordeal of plane journeys to take you halfway across the planet. This story is the fruit of your labour: the return to health and happiness of an Irishman who was lost in a maelstrom of noise and confusion. Incredibly, it is but a grape in the vineyard of health, healing and spiritual joy you have cultivated in the lives of many people right across the globe through your life’s work.

    Thank you, Sigung. Thank you.


    And so back to autumn 2003.

    Sifu Joan was in the process of organising a weekly class in Cork at the time and when we arranged to meet I didn’t realise that the weekly class had yet to start. Nor did I realise that on the night in question there would only be one student in the class: me.

    So Sifu drove from her home in Kerry to Cork City on a week night in the autumn of 2003 to teach a single person ‘Lifting the Sky’ after only a short phonecall of an arrangement. Afterwards she completely refused to accept any money as her regular class hadn’t yet begun. She wouldn’t even take money for petrol, despite her making a round trip of over 200km. She asked only one thing in return: that I practice.

    Sifu, it took over five and a half years but finally I did as you asked: I practiced. You were absolutely correct when you said that night that Chi Kung would clear my tinnitus. I heard the words but I wasn’t ready to listen…and the rest of my 20’s drifted by in a frenzy of noise as a result.

    In my many years of inconsistent practice I never forgot the kindness and compassion you showed to me that evening and neither did I forget your own incredible story of healing. It is why I kept coming back. It is a credit to your integrity as a person and as a Sifu that you always welcomed me back with a smile and helped me in every way possible, every single time.

    Since I have embraced the Shaolin Arts and brought this great change to my life, you continue to inspire and guide, correct and encourage, in many different ways and on many different levels.

    It was your courage, conviction and belief that brought the Shaolin Arts to Ireland and for this I, and many others, are eternally grateful and forever in your debt.

    This story is the fruit of your labour as well Sifu. In writing it I hope that I can in some small way contribute to the promotion of the Shaolin Arts here in Ireland, and abroad, something which I know is dear to your heart.

    Thank you, Sifu. Thank you.

    Best wishes to all the Shaolin family,


  • #2
    WOW a very inspiring story Si Jat,
    Thank you for sharing your incredible journey.

    See you at the weekend for some training

    Best wishe's,



    • #3
      Simply beautiful.

      Many thanks for sharing, Kevin

      'There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...'
      -John Lennon


      • #4
        Beautiful indeed Kevin...

        it's funny... and there I was in Killarney Singing and screaming my head off..

        Lovely to have met you though and to read yet another testament to the wonders of our art when it is practised regularly, with love and respect.

        Best wishes to all


        • #5
          Dear Kevin,

          There is absolutely no doubt but that your story will be a huge inspiration for others. I am quite emotional after reading it so I hope the rest of this post reads ok.

          Even I had no idea of the extent of the trauma that you have been through and I am so so glad to have been a part of your healing, you have always been a wonderful and respectful student.

          I know how difficult it was for you to speak about all of this before and am so happy for you, that you did so here on the forum. That took a lot of courage.

          Your story is why I adore Shaolin Chi Kung with all of my heart. It is an unique art of limitlessness and profundity which cuts to our very core. We just have to persevere when the going gets tough and no matter how long it takes, we come out the other side.

          May your journey be easier from now on.

          With deepest respect to Sifu for his tremendous contribution for the betterment of mankind. I think he is truly unique.

          Smile from the Heart,
          Books don't mean a lot unless you open them, Hearts are the same.......

          Valentine's Smile from the Heart 2019 IRELAND - world renowned Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.

          -A FEAST OF SHAOLIN transmitted by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit FEBRUARY 16TH -19TH 2019


          • #6
            Wow Kevin that is an amazing story.

            I had to laugh though when I read "And then Grandmaster Wong came to town."

            Thank you for sharing.


            I think I amenlightened ............


            • #7
              Dear Kevin,

              Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. You and your Sifu (my beloved Sijie) are a great credit to our School.

              Jeffrey Segal


              • #8
                Dear Kevin,

                You are a brave, brave man. And you benefit so many by sharing your experience. I can feel your open heart across the seas and mountains.

                We benefit so much, and become closer as a family when we share with each other.

                Homage to Sifu and all the Past Masters
                少林華南台灣 Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan


                "Then how could chi kung overcome diseases where the cause is unknown or when there is no cure? The question is actually incorrect. The expressions "the cause is unknown" and "there is no cure" are applicable only in the Western medical paradigm. The expressions no longer hold true in the chi kung paradigm. In the chi kung paradigm the cause is known, and there is a cure."

                -Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit


                • #9
                  A long post, Kevin, but one I sincerely hope many, many will take the time to read. There is much many can learn from in it.

                  Congratulations to you and your Sifu.
                  Sifu Andrew Barnett
                  Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland -

                  Flowing Health GmbH (Facebook:
                  Healing Sessions with Sifu Andrew Barnett - in Switzerland and internationally
                  Heilbehandlungen mit Sifu Andrew Barnett - in der Schweiz und International


                  • #10
                    Dear Kevin Sihing

                    I am deeply touched by your story. Very, very inspiring indeed.

                    I too have had a hearing problem ever since I was a very young girl, although nowhere near as life-consuming as yours.
                    As a result of countless inflammations of the middle ears when I was a small child, my eardrums are now very thick and covered with scars.
                    The only result is that my hearing is quite dulled, nothing more.

                    Since I feel unwavering trust towards Sifu and Sigung and undergo an amazing (to me) cleansing myself right at the moment, I cannot wait to practice more/again and experience even more mind-blowing results=D!
                    Getting rid of those glasses and hearing aids, yay^^!

                    I am very uplifted and motivated by your success. Thank you so much for sharing!

                    Warm greetings



                    • #11
                      Dear Kevin Siheng,

                      Thank you for that incredible story . I enjoyed every word of it. In particular, the following words were very touching for me:

                      Originally posted by Kevin_B View Post
                      On the third day, the Sunday, exactly one year to the day that I started practicing every day, I had my Lazarus moment: I ripped the earplugs out of my ears and gave it welly in Chi flow. I started to scream. It was the first time since 2002 that I was in a public place with no earplugs. And I was screaming. That was the moment when I knew, really really knew, where Chi Kung was taking was taking me home.
                      Originally posted by Kevin_B View Post
                      I have wanted to share my story for some time but found myself waiting for something. I didn’t know what that ‘something’ was, but I knew I would know it when came. And it did, just before Christmas: I started listening to music again.
                      Thank you

                      With my best wishes to you and the Wahnam family in Ireland .



                      • #12

                        Best wishes,
                        George / Юра
                        Shaolin Wahnam England

                        gate gate pāragate pārasaṁgate bodhi svāhā


                        • #13
                          Dear Kevin Sihing,

                          Thank you for taking the time and effort for writing such a beautiful post. May you continue to improve your health steadily, and may your words serve as an inspiration to all of us.


                          • #14
                            Very nice. Thank you for sharing.

                            The best part is that this kind of testimonial is not uncommon in our school.

                            Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung is exceptional, and brings exceptional results.

                            Those exceptional (for most people) results are the norm (for us).

                            Maxime Citerne, Chinese Medicine, Qigong Healing & Internal Arts

                            Frankfurt - Paris - Alsace




                            • #15
                              Wonderful post, congratulations!
                              When one door closes, another one opens.