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Thread: My journey

  1. #1
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    My journey

    I hope whoever reads my story will benefit.

    I was 9 years old when I lost my beloved brother Shai (Stephen) Wittert who was killed in battle, when he was 19 years old. I was left shattered and heartbroken. I felt betrayed and deceived, insignificant and worthless, torn and separated from the world. I thought if the world could take away my wonderful, loving and happy brother, then there is no certainty in anything. My situation was severe, my inner world was locked up in trauma, and I had no trust in the outside world.
    I was seeking for answers, hoping to find something that will make me feel better. I read literary and philosophy books. Still, I felt inside like a locked safe, with no opening code. During my teen years, I aspired to become an artist, hoping that painting and writing will help me discover “myself”. Apparently, Art was not the answer; it just made me run in circles without knowing how to reconnect to my emotions.
    Have you ever stopped to think what emotions are? Where do they come from and why are they so important?
    I will make a short pause with my life story and look into the Chinese philosophy on emotions.
    According to Chinese medical philosophy our emotions are energy that travels in channels throughout our body. The Chinese call this energy of life – Chi. Chi is the energy that circulates in the body, through a network of channels (meridians) and enables us to perform all the actions that are necessary for our existence. Therefore there is no difference between the chi (energy) that moves in our head to energy that moves in our stomach. Let us use a metaphor to help understand this concept. Let us imagine a watering system in our garden. The water travels in different directions. The water may go through the watering pipes to the fig tree or to the lemon tree; however, the water is the same water. Our emotions, like the water, flow in our body. There is no static location of “anger” or “happiness”. The feelings will arise as the chi travels vigorously in a specific route. If it travels through the Liver channel, we will call that energy – anger, and if it travels in the Kidney channel we will call it – fear.
    Please see the circular diagram in “The Art of Chi Kung” – by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit p. 50. This diagram shows the interrelations and correspondence between the organs and emotions. We see that there is a continuous flow of energy between all major “organs” and “emotions”. Please keep in mind that when we talk about “organs” or “emotions” we are actually talking about the energy process of that whole system. We are discussing a flow of energy and not a specific point or area in the body. The energy path that is called the Heart channel – travels from the arm pit, down the arm and ends at the little finger. Likewise, the Liver channel travels from the toes up through the legs and to the chest area. Though the chi has different paths, they all are connected and interrelated.
    Chinese medicine sees no separation between the physical and the emotional aspects of the human being. Therefore a problem in the Spleen (and Stomach) channel will, eventually, according to this paradigm, make the person tend to worry and also vice versa – a person who tends to be over-worried will have problems in his digestion system. As a simplified example, we can say that a Chinese physician will diagnose a problem in the Liver energy system for both a person who suffers from uncontrolled outbursts of anger and a person who suffers from high cholesterol. The doctor will treat both patients with special herbs, acupuncture and give them specific Chi Kung exercises to clear the blockage on the Liver channel.
    So, if we follow the Chinese medical philosophy and accept the idea that emotions are a flow of energy, we may ask where their “home” in the body is.
    Going back to our metaphor, we can ask the same question about the water we use in our watering system. Does the water belong to the pipe? Maybe it belongs to the tree? Maybe it lives in the faucet? Or maybe it lives in the ocean or in the rain cloud? We know that all the above are options, it all depends on the way we see at the situation and the time we choose to look. The truth is that emotions are energy traveling in our body, as the ancient masters said. The truth is that we are the home in which the emotions are being manifested.
    One day, while I was taking the bus to work, I noticed a cat running across the road. A taxi was speeding on the opposite direction and almost hit the cat. The cat jumped to the sidewalk, all in one piece. A long sigh of relief escaped my lips. I heard other passengers sighing as well. My heart was beating heavily, but when I looked back at the cat, a moment after his miraculous escape; I couldn’t believe my eyes. The cat was sitting in the sunniest spot of the sidewalk, grooming its black and white fur, totally relaxed. I thought that cat was a very good teacher…
    A healthy man, according to Chinese philosophy, will feel all main emotions throughout one day. A healthy man will be happy and sad, angry, worried and scared all in one day. The question and answer regarding normality or abnormality will be related to the level and intense of these emotions. As with the waves of the sea, if the emotions are mild, go up and down – we feel a bit sad then a bit angry etc, we are normal. If the waves are high – we feel strong feelings of worry, fear etc. we are not healthy and if the waves are gone – we are at risk. What is written above speaks about everyday life. In times of real stress or trauma, the feelings will, of course, be more powerful. However, even after severe trauma, the post-traumatic syndromes will start to disappear after 3-4 months. In my case it took almost 20 years…
    In chapter 5 of “The Neijing” - the foundational text of Chinese medicine, (Maoshing Ni’s translation), it says: “Overindulgence in the five emotions – happiness, anger, sadness, worry or fear and fright – can create imbalances”…“Failing to regulate one’s emotions can be likened to summer and winter failing to regulate each other, threatening life itself.”
    If you look again at the organ-emotion diagram, you will notice that it’s a cycle with specific direction of flow. This means that if one emotion takes over, the whole cycle will be out of balance. Furthermore, if you block one emotion, you will eventually stop the flow of the whole cycle.
    In his book “Children and Grief” Dr. William Warden writes:
    “Feelings must be acknowledged and respected as valid. It is very easy to tell a child how he or she should feel, and the temptation increases as adults try to protect themselves against feeling helpless”.
    Dr. Warden helped me understand the reason my pain was pushed aside. I was told that my parents suffered a greater loss then me and so, I locked my pain inside. The adults around me tried to protect both them and me, by not allowing my pain to be expressed. This emotional blockage grew deeper and turned into a severe case of pathological grief. I had no idea my problems were related to my loss. I did not speak about my loss, I hardly cried, but I didn’t think it’s wrong or unhealthy. My "outer" life was fine; I was doing well at University, learnt script writing had a loving boyfriend and a dog. All these wonderful things couldn't stop the feeling that I didn’t belong, I felt as a “misfit”.
    What started my healing process was the decision to get married. The minute we started sharing the good news, I felt as if a clock started to tick inside of me, and I panicked. Getting married was involved with too many emotions that were locked inside for so many years, I was afraid I would collapse. Eventually, I asked for help, and started therapy. The first session was the most significant. In that session I sat down at the clinic of my compassionate psychologist Moti Shilo, and just cried for 45 minutes. The sorrow just poured out of me. After that, slowly, week by week, I started untying the messy knot of emotions inside of me. I started feeling things that were new to me and discovered how I still miss my brother. After two months of therapy I canceled my wedding date. It was not easy for my parents and I am so grateful to Amir that had the patience to wait for me. It took two more years, to get my past sorted out, and to go through the whole process of mourning that was denied of me as a child. Only then, Amir and I got married and it was a beautiful wedding…
    One mystery was solved; I could feel as strongly as others and learned to recognize the many feelings inside me. Thanks to psychotherapy, my inner world was working well. I went on to produce, together with my sister Ruthi Zarhi, the documentary "Pain has no tomorrow", in memory of my brother Shai, directed by Sharon Herman. The film portrays the cycles of grief and the different ways of mourning. The making of this movie was a blessing to us and helped all members of the family and friends.
    Nonetheless, although I cleared my biggest emotional blockage and got “in touch” with my inner world, I still felt a terrible pain inside. What I felt was not a physical or emotional pain. It felt as if a big stone was stuck deep in my Heart. In his book – “Without Freud or Prozac” David Servan-Schreiber, a professor of Psychiatry claims that Western therapies including medication fail to heal depression. That was my problem, as my pain wasn’t removed by therapy, I was confident I’ll carry this stone with me to the grave.
    “When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water.” - Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki. I was what Zen Master Suzuki would have called - a drop of water that lost its link with the river.
    After my second child was born, I experienced a spontaneous and overwhelming spiritual experience. This experience made me feel, as an integral part of the universe, for the first time in twenty three (!) years. The most wonderful thing for me was that during that experience I had no 'self' and therefore no pain. Wow, I found a place without pain, what a revelation. I wanted to go back to that amazing place, but where was the gate combining me to this divine place?
    I started reading books looking for answers. I had no religious fixation; I was ready to check whatever gave me the best explanation and the best way. I became passionate about Zen philosophy and studies Medical Chi Kung, the Chinese Art of developing energy.
    Then, I read “The Art of Chi Kung”, by Shaolin Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.
    And it was this, mind blowing sentence that made me start packing my suitcase: “As chi is a universal medium that connects all things, a Chi Kung master can use it to transmit his Chi-impulses to another person a great distance away.” (p.127). I knew I must find Grandmaster Wong and see for myself if what he writes about is for real. I wanted to see of “Distant chi transmission is a reality” (p.125). This idea of the connection to the world and to others through this medium of energy was a thrilling idea for me.
    My father was a Karate expert. He used to train my two brothers in Karate every afternoon. My late brother’s dream was to travel to Japan and study Karate from the Masters. Now, I was following my father's and my late brother's footsteps, continuing this legacy.
    I traveled to Scotland to attend a Chi Kung course with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit that came all the way from Malaysia, especially to teach this course. Grandmaster Wong entered the training hall, with his big smile and shining red Kung Fu suit, and said in a loud and roaring voice – "Good morning! Please spread around, stand still and relax, relax!… now smile, smile from your heart!". That first few minutes changed my life as one tear dropped down my right cheek and I knew that I was healed. I felt so good and happy as if I was a child again. My heart opened up in an instance and my soul was released of the last blockage my grief engraved in me. During lunch break, I rushed outside, found the nearest phone booth (there were no cell phones back then), called my husband and said– “It’s for real!” I had no idea how powerful chi healing is, but in the years to come I saw this “miracle” happen to other people as Grandmaster Wong’s immense energy cleared away the blockages inside of them.
    In Chi Kung therapy, as in Chinese medicine, the seat of the Mind is in the heart, therefore when the heart opens up the person is connected to the Universal Mind or to God, or Heaven. Grandmaster Wong opened my heart and showed me the gateway between Heaven and Earth – the practice of Shaolin Chi Kung and Zen.
    I went home and started practicing Shaolin Chi Kung. This practice is combined of 3 parts. The first part includes dynamic patterns (similar to the chi kung I practiced before), then you go into Chi-Flow, letting the chi flow freely in the body, and in the last part of the session you enjoy the stillness. This part trains the mind (standing meditation). Being in a “Chi Kung state of Mind” was so peaceful; I was feeling happy, with no pain, no scars and no stones in my Heart. This ancient Shaolin practice was the safe entrance to what I experienced 3 years earlier.
    Now I was interested to know how a whole and healthy person deals with his feelings.
    Shaolin Chi Kung is a Zen practice. As a Zen practice, we train ourselves to be fully aware of the moment, to appreciate each minute and to let go of our thoughts. Following this logic, I decided to handle my emotions the same way I was taught to do with my thoughts.
    It was evening and I was in the kitchen preparing dinner. There was a song playing on the radio and it made me sad. Ok, what do I do now? My automatic reaction would have been – being sad over a song is nonsense, what a foolish thing to feel. But then I changed my mind and said to myself – “this time, I will let the sadness go through me. It’s only energy traveling inside me, that’s all; I have nothing to be afraid of”.”I am sad” I told myself. A miracle happened immediately after that - I stopped feeling sad.
    The minute I acknowledged my sadness it was released, and so fast I couldn’t believe.
    This is Zen – now I am sad, now I am happy, now I am worried and so on. Each moment of our life can be filled with another flavor of emotions. We are not supposed to do anything with our emotions. We don’t have to fight, discuss, explain or dig into them. We simply have to cherish them and accept them as they arrive. Sometimes they will be of no importance and only carry our reactions to a song on the radio, but sometimes they will reveal some hidden truth about ourselves or the world and maybe will make us go into action. When we simply recognize the feeling and accept it in sincerity, we actually let it pass safely through us. An insignificant feeling can pass in a split of a second and then vanish.
    A powerful feeling can move more vigorously and it may reappear even a million times in one day, but during all these million times – that emotion will travel in, be accepted and travel out. Powerful emotions that are accepted and recognized can lead to actions in the outside world. For example – if I realized that, for several days and many times a day, I am worried about a friend's health, maybe it means that I should go and visit her. This is when our Mind will go into action and find the right way to react. Though sometimes even strong emotions, which are acknowledged, will gradually diminish and even disappear, without leaving a trace and without any action needed.
    A healthy person will experience many feelings and emotions during one day, as the harmonious flow of energy is manifested in his body. When we are emotionally stable, we realize there are no good or bad emotions, though, they can be more pleasant or less pleasant to us. Good and bad can be related to our intentions and actions in the world, not to the inner flow of our emotions. The only bad thing regarding emotions is when their flow is interrupted or blocked.
    The unhealthy way to handle our emotions is to create a blockage in their way. We can create a blockage in the flow of emotions in three main ways:
    The first one is when we decide that certain emotions cannot come in – therefore we build a blockage at the entrance of our energy body. For example someone can say – “I am never scared” or “I will never be sorry for him” this kind of attitude, will create a blockage, in order to push away “unwanted” feelings. The second way is holding on to an emotion and not letting it move out. For example: “I will always be afraid of that person" or "I’ll never forgive her”. The third way is not accepting the emotion as it is. For example –I know I am afraid, but I dismiss it as silly or not important or, on the other hand, I can become scared of the intensity of the fear and “lock it” inside.
    All these ways to block our natural flow of emotions can cause blockages on specific channels which can lead to a physical illness or an emotional pathology. Gradually they can block all energy flow and make us depressed and severely ill. The blockage will cloud our Mind, by not sending the right emotional information and therefore wrong decisions will be made.
    In order to clear the blockage we can turn to the help of different kinds of therapies. I was fortunate to have a wonderful psychologist, but as a Chi Kung teacher I have seen students release their blockages without having to talk about them. As my Sifu, Grandmaster Wong told me: “The story doesn’t matter, if the Chi is strong enough, it will clear any blockage on its way”.
    After the blockage is removed we have to start letting our emotions move in and out in a normal and healthy way. When we maintain a harmonious flow of energy and emotions, we gain emotional stability. When we accept our inner world completely we are at peace with our selves.
    But there is an even a higher level we should reach. This level is the spiritual aspect of our being. The spiritual level brings peace to our world. This level is realized when we are reconnected to the “river” - the harmonious flow of the universe, then we become truly happy and experience spiritual joy. This happens when our Heart opens. Actually, whenever we practice kindness or simply smile, we open up our hearts. If this is difficult for us, if we are too traumatized, we can practice Shao;im Chi Kung, seek the help of a spiritual teacher or Chi healer who will reconnect us to the flow of life.

    On the second day of that memorable Shaolin Chi Kung course in Scotland, I felt my Bai Hui point (at the crown of the head) open, and energy was flowing through that point, down my whole body. When I returned home I fell pregnant with my third child. He was born with a bunch of long hair from his Bai Hui point. My chi baby will be 13 years old this November 2017.

    I am grateful to all the people who helped me on my journey - to my husband Amir and my three treasures – Odem, Yoel and Yair, to my parents Fay and Barney, to my whole wonderful family and friends and to my Shaolin Wahnam family across the World, to my dear Shaolin big sister Joan Browne that took me into the Irish Shaolin family and to all my sisters and brothers that make our school so great. I wish to thank my psychologist Motti Shilo that showed me the way back to my inner home.
    My deepest gratitude to my dear Sifu - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit that opened up my Heart and freed my spirit.
    Sifu, I am honored to be your student and to follow your legacy.
    Shaolin Salute dear Sifu, Sigung Ho Fat Nam, Sigung Lai Chin Wah and to all past masters.

    Racheli Wittert-Ashur

    Bibliography:
    Maoshing Ni, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary, The Neijing”
    Servan-Schreiber David, Without Freud or Prozac
    Suzuki Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind
    Wong Kiew Kit, The Art of Chi Kung
    Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine
    Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Zen
    Worden J. William. Children and Grief, Guilford Press.
    Enjoy your journeys,
    Racheli Wittert-Ashur


    "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

  2. #2
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    Congratulations, Racheli. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Warm Wishes,
    Andrew
    Love, and do what you will.

    - St. Augustine

  3. #3
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    Thank you

    Thanks Andrew!
    It took me a few years and a ton of courage to share this😊. Sorry it is so long...
    Enjoy your journeys,
    Racheli Wittert-Ashur


    "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

  4. #4
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    Joan is offline Sifu Joan Browne - Chief Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Ireland
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    My dearest sister,

    Wow!

    What a fantastic story so far. Thank you for sharing it here on the forum with all of us. It is so full of hope and inspiration.

    We are so blessed to be Sifu's students.

    It is always a joy and a blessing to spend time with you and your family as well as your wonderful students.

    A big HUG,
    Joan
    Books don't mean a lot unless you open them, Hearts are the same.......


    Valentine's Smile from the Heart 2018 IRELAND - world renowned Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.

    A magic week of Chi Kung, Internal Force and Shaolin Kungfu
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    The Shaolin Pakua set- transmitted to Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit by his Sifu -Ho Fatt Nam .

    Sifujoan@gmail.com

  5. #5
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    Thank you my dear big sister.
    Indeed we are all very blessed.
    Enjoy your journeys,
    Racheli Wittert-Ashur


    "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

  6. #6
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    Kevin_B is offline Sifu Kevin Barry - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Ireland
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    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story Racheli!!

    I look forward to seeing you again next year!

    All the best,

    Kevin
    Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Chi Kung classes in Dublin

    http://www.taijiquan.ie/

  7. #7
    Nessa is offline Sifu Nessa Kahila - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Finland
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    Thank you for sharing your story Racheli. It is very heartwarming and inspiring.

    May you experience even more happiness on your Shaolin path!


    Best wishes,

    Nessa
    Nessa Kahila
    Shaolin Nordic Finland

    www.shaolin-nordic.com


  8. #8
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    Thank you

    Dear Racheli Simui,

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring and beautiful testimony with all of us. It was wonderful to read. :-)

    With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,

    Santi

  9. #9
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    Omar is offline Sifu Omar Iversen - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Norway
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    Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    Does your child still wear the bai hui ponytail, or succumbed to the nurturing of more common hairstyles?
    When one door closes, another one opens.

  10. #10
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    Thank you dear Kevin, Nessa, Santi and Omar. It was written from the heart...
    Hope to see you all soon.
    Dear Omar - Yair's hairstyle is a BIG issue. For now he has a footballer style half shaved with light blonde on top 😎
    Enjoy your journeys,
    Racheli Wittert-Ashur


    "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

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