Dangerous Compassions


This blog post is formed as a letter addressing my friend who teaches qigong.  I thought it might have a broader appeal, talking about health, therapeutic relationship, fatness, and grief.  I don’t go into how qigong helps me feel amazing–my body feels free and loose, almost magical, humming with goodness.  Another time I will explain that.


thank you

Dear friend,

Thank you for the qigong.  It feels good to care for myself with help from you.  This time I started crying much earlier than usual.  I was doing the movements with you, wasn’t thinking sad thoughts at all, but grief welled up in my body and spilled over.

Usually that doesn’t happen until the part where I rub my tummy in a circle.  The movements release something.  So I cried a lot, and part of me wanted to stop the qigong and flop on the floor.  It was the kitchen floor and is not super clean right now.  I wanted to give up and dwell in my grief for a while.  But I kept moving, and a few minutes later, the grief was done.

Later at the meditation part, I was crying again, not thinking sad thoughts, just feeling the well overflow.

It’s funny you could be my friend and my qigong teacher at the same time.  Switching between modes seems ok.  I like forming a new relationship that never existed before.  It’s worthwhile.


I noticed you don’t say “good” or give positive feedback like yoga teachers, dance teachers, coaches I’ve had.  The lack of positive feedback means I do that for myself, in my head.  Anything difficult or new especially, I have going in my head a stream of self-reassurance.

I noticed myself wishing for your verbal reassurance.  Then I wondered why I wanted that from you.  Could I be ok doing it for myself?

My first yoga teacher, who was great for me, gave verbal reassurance in her classes, and I loved that.  At the time I thought I was attending her classes as spiritual practice, for strength, and to reduce my stress.  But then while I was doing qigong with you, I realized I was going to her classes for the therapeutic relationship.  I could show up, trust her, and it would be ok to trust another person.  It was a way to practice trusting someone, and they wouldn’t hurt me.

You mention that tone of voice can be comforting or reassuring, and yes, you’re right.  If I had to choose, I think I would rather be your friend than your qigong student.  But I hope I won’t have to choose.


I weigh 150 pounds more than you do, at least.  In any body movement class, I’m the fattest one.  I’m hearing the teacher’s instructions and translating them into something that works for my body.  I totally believe in my body and love it as 100% valid and ok.  My body is good, right now, no questions asked.

But I think qigong was not created for my body, with its fatness and unique injuries and issues.  The translation process of customizing the instruction for myself can feel lonely.

I try to see the instruction as an invitation for movement.  Yes, there might be a long lineage, but everything started somehow.  I want to do what’s being taught, but I have to do my own version.   Like an essay prompt is an invitation to write, I try to see yoga and qigong instruction as an invitation to move.

My differences are not a problem, but can be a challenge.  I’ve taken All Bodies yoga classes and enjoyed that, with people in the class who are in wheelchairs, people who can’t get up and down from the floor.  That feels very respectful, that anyone can come to an All Bodies class, and we won’t be shamed or feel singled out for our needs.  Our needs are enthusiastically welcome.

chair yoga

I’ve taken chair yoga classes also, and it can bother me when I’m being told what I’m doing is less rigorous or real.  I wish to be respectfully taken seriously.  Whether I’m sitting in a chair or not, I’m showing up with my whole self, to do something important to me.

There’s nothing wrong with my body, but it’s hard to maintain that attitude when being fat is seen as bad by the vast majority of people, or an embarrassment, or a phase I will hopefully pass through on my way to thinville.  But I’ve been fat all my life, and I enjoy my body.  I have no problem with myself.

Chair yoga classes are usually me and all the rest seniors, and that also can be gently poked at in a way that hurts.  I’m not a senior yet, but it already hurts; I see seniors being treated as lesser than, and they’re not.  They are fully valid people, and we need all the kinds of people.

Feels important that all kinds of people can get access to healing movement, and that health isn’t owned by thin, white, youngish, abled people.  The world tells me to exercise so I won’t be fat, but if I exercise, I’m hated on for that, and the contradiction hurts.  I’m not exercising to try to be thin–I’m exercising because my body needs that, and I’m paying deep respect to my body.


I can see why all that might contribute to the grief that wells up, but it’s mostly family pain that comes up for me.  I’m crying about my mom–the mom grief is stuck in me, and the healing movement frees it.

I used to cry a lot when I first started riding trike also.  I’d feel the joy of childhood movement, but in a new way, as I’m an adult now.  When I was a kid, my rides were controlled by pushy, dominating boys.  As an adult, I control the pace of my ride, where I go, and what I do there.  Ming on his bike partners with me in a chill, friendly way.  There’s no competition or seeking of thrill-danger.  It’s just embodied bliss.

I used to cry because I was so sad that I spent most of my life being controlled by people who didn’t give a fuck about me, but I also cried out of joy that I don’t have to live that way anymore.  And I cried because I wished my mom could see me happy.

I’m glad you can see me happy.  And thank you for helping me get there.

love and so much gratitude,



By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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