FRIENDSHIPOLOGY THRU MOVEMENT – Qi Gong & Tree Gong – In Unison w/ Nature – by Neil Norton – March 2022

NEIL NORTON  is a Certified Arborist since 2002 and holds a Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Latin American Studies from Tulane University. Neil is passionate and active around issues of tree conservation and education, both locally and nationally. He teaches Qigong and Taichi since 2008. Neil loves inspecting trees, and thoroughly enjoys his encounters with clients and their trees in all the hidden neighborhoods of Atlanta.

We find friends in many quarters, proximity, common interests, school, neighbors, and even on the internet. I often encounter new friends in movement. My friend Billy Lee has asked me to share my perspective on friendship and movement after demonstrating to him some Qi Gong. 

In Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese series of movements, we often discuss different types of learning, whether auditory, visual, and/or kinetic. Perhaps there are different ways of being friends. I know that becoming friendly with someone often has to do with a “feeling”. Love at first sight would be an extreme example. Often there is just something that intrigues you about the other, which could fall into the categories of types of learning. You might like the sound of someone or how they look. Alternatively, you might be repelled by someone on the same grounds. I found that my movement when not paying attention, which can appear quick and intense upsets dogs. I know because they bark at me. What does it mean to be kinetically drawn or repelled by someone?

So much of our language comes through our body. When we move together in unison there is a power and reinforcement that is shared without words. I have always considered myself a kinetic learner, it is a language that comes natural to me. While I have learned to adapt, words have always been a struggle. I enjoy my Qi Gong practice as it allows me to share with others through movement. Often in movement, I find I can be truer to myself and relate more genuinely than through words.

Movement also allows me to align myself with nature that combines both elements of me and nature as reflected in my body. For me, moving in sync with nature means slowing your breathing pattern and coordinating it with my mind and body through gentle movements. When we move with nature, our movement takes on a deeper meaning. Combine that with another person and it becomes reciprocal. Sometimes I practice what I jokingly call Tree Gong, a type of Qigong with a tree, where I slow my breath and stand like a tree, envisioning your exhalation of carbon dioxide and inhalation of oxygen, exactly inverse to what the tree is doing.

While movement most always starts internally, it is always expressed in an external fashion. Some types of movements are more accepted than others, for example tennis on a tennis court, or frisbee on a field, or dancing in a club. The ancient arts, like Tai Chi and Qi Gong, not only connect us with those of past, but it is also an excellent way to connect with those in our present. There have been several occasions when I attracted unwanted attention practicing Tai Chi in public.  So, finding a safe place to practice is important, unless you are trying to make a statement, but do not be surprised if the statement is misinterpreted or worse is threating to someone.

Many feel constricted by their ability to move, whether it is emotional or physical. Each of us has our own ways to move through gravity on Earth. We are nature, each one of us, so embrace a method and do not judge yourself, just breath and move. The next time you see a movement practice, whether dance, tai chi, qi gong, throwing the frisbee or playing ping pong, consider partaking. There is power in moving together and in unison with nature.


Billy’s Comments :

Neil is one of my son, Gary’s very best friends. They grew up together in Ladera as neighbors and schoolmates when they were near ten years old.  I was an active participant in many of their sports activities. One year, Neil got injured and could not play baseball for quite a period. He and I got to know each other and became friends as we watched and cheered for his teammates and had many fun and interesting conversations.  Neil and family visited us earlier this year from Atlanta, Georgia.  I invited him to write for this Friendshipology Website.  Thanks, Neil, for adding “TREE GONG” in our vocabulary.