Tradition runs deep in Townsend, but not usually 5,000 years deep.
Residents of this New England town take pride in their community’s roots. Families can trace their their ancestors back for generations. Homes and buildings date from colonial times. The Squannacook River, once the financial lifeblood of early factories meanders past homes and buildings.
New blood comes in to the community constantly. New people move in, new homes and businesses spring up. New things start to happen.
One of those things is a Qigong class. It is new to Townsend, but images portraying the movements have been around for 5,000 years.
Jeff Cote, a novice Doaist priest leads a twice weekly class in exercises designed to calm, clear and focus mind-body awareness. Breathing, balance and movement help the mind to surrender to the body, he said.
Cote demonstrated each movement and explained the purpose. Good body alignment helps the qi, or energy, flow, he said. A relaxed, aligned posture allows deep, healthy breathing.
Ideally, the negative, positive and neutral energies should be in balance in the body, he said. Practicing Qigong allows the body to enter that state.
Cote brings a modern viewpoint to the ancient art. Originally he was an avionics equipment engineer.
“The truth is, when you get into quantum mechanics you realize everything is actually made of energy,” he said. Qigong is not para- or supernatural, it is “learning to work to change that state into balance,” he said.
As a teacher Cote said he is trying to gauge others’ experiences and help them experience life energy. The group provides a sense of selflessness that working alone cannot provide.
Qigong is a personal thing for everyone who does it. “Each of us has our own road and how you experience it. I don’t think you can ask any two Qigong masters what qi is and get the same response,” he said. Most students start Qigong for wellness.
“A good teacher and class is not just movement, but so you can continue to grow on your own,” he said.
In Townsend, wellness has increased for at least one member of the class. Lindsay Morand said her blood pressure has dropped and movement in an injured arm has dramatically increased since she began her studies. She started taking the classes when she learned she had to lower her blood pressure so she could donate a kidney to a friend’s granddaughter.