Awakening the Soul – Teaching Guidelines
Some of the points may seem obvious but they are worth listing in case you are not familiar with teaching and/or speaking in front of an audience.
These guidelines are meant to help you develop and refine a framework for teaching over time but if you want to be both an effective and happy teacher, who enjoys sharing Sheng Zhen with your students, then it is imperative that you become a practitioner yourself so you can share your experience with your students. In order to truly teach, you must first understand and you can only understand through experience and the experience will naturally be a result of the practitioner’s willingness to put in the time/effort and by opening up to the practice.
In addition, for the movements and instructions on how to teach each movement of Awakening the Soul, study the DVD! Master Li provides extensive explanation on the proper way to teach each movement of this form.
Assuming this is a new class with new students, here are some guidelines to follow:
- Introduce yourself, who you are, how you found Sheng Zhen, and if you are new to teaching, tell them you are (if you are authentic your students will pick up on that and automatically a connection is established)
- Asses the class- ask the studentsif they have ever done Sheng Zhen, qigong, meditation etc. so you know “who” you are talking to
- Describe what you will be teaching them today – what qigong is (perhaps a little background), what Sheng Zhen is, what it isn’t, what they should expect from the class. For example, you may tell them that Shen Zhen is a form of qigong (or a form of cultivation) that is designed specifically to open the Heart, that it isn’t exercise, and that the #1 rule is to relax.
- Share - If you have any stories to share about Sheng Zhen, Master Li or your personal experience with the practice then students love to hear about this.
For example, why did you start doing Sheng Zhen, who is Master Li, how does doing the practice help you on a daily basis?
- This is optional, but you might have the students twist torso’s while arms swing, rotate hips in a circle with hands on hips (“cleaning the barrel”), rotate wrists, rotate shoulders, rotate head/neck, which are all meant to loosen up the body, basically any gentle movement you can think of that will help the students loosen up and get them out of their heads is a good way to start the class. Maybe incorporate some of your acupuncture/acupressure - what can you teach your students here that would help them get into their body’s more or relax more?
- Gather Qi (also called “Nourishing the Heart” in Sheng Zhen) – have them perform this movement many times slowly. Tell them to visualize that they have very large hands, very long fingers, very long arms, stretching way beyond the practice room. Then have them focus on their 5 energy portals (center of the palms, souls of the feet and crown of the head) and feel that qi is flowing effortlessly throughout the body, circulating through their bodies.
- Zhongtian Movement –show them what the movement is, explain the meaning (connecting to Heaven and to Earth, cleansing the body, purifying the heart), thumbs touch, space in-between hands (listen to the descriptions on the Return to Oneness DVD), have them perform the movement (maybe more than once so they can feel the movement).
- Awakening the Soul
- Description –tell the students what you are about to teach them (a seated form that consists of 8 movements, has contemplations that accompany the movements, many of the movements you hold, not counting Opening the Heart, all movements designed to open the Heart, etc.).
- Movements 1-8 (refer to Master Li’s instructions on the DVD for how to teach), some suggestions below though:
- Demonstrate what it looks like, then follow Master Li’s instructions on how to teach or what to focus on.
- Teaching the entire form may take anywhere from 2-5 weeks in my opinion, depending on how long the classes are, use your judgment.
- never rush, spend a lot of time with each movement, be descriptive, make corrections, have them hold each movementa long time and embody the essence of the movement.
- recite contemplations after you feel that they have the movement down well enough to where they can close their eyes and just listen to the words
- ultimately, you want your students to be able to do movements 1-8 and feel relaxed doing the movements…then you can recite the contemplations while they sit there with their eyes closed and listen, try to recite the contemplations with meaning, as if you are talking to their hearts and truly helping each one of them.
- Don’t ever feel like you are trying to get your students through the movements so that you can say you completed or “taught” them the form, everything is done gently, gradually, with intention, try to get them to feel the qi or to allow the qi to do the work for them.
- Close out
- Zhongtian Movement –repeat movement, explain that it is done every time we start and end Sheng Zhen practice, explain that the meaning behind the movement when we finish is to show gratitude, to feel gratitude throughout our bodies and in our lives. You can suggest that they feel gratitude for their lives, for the practice, for themselves for taking the time to come out tonight and do the practice, etc. Sit for 30 seconds to a minute after preforming the movement, thumbs touching , space in-between hands.