2016 Events Interview Series - Part 4 - Surfing the Waves of Life with Anita Ilicic
This season we are excited to welcome yet another new addition to our gifted and diverse teaching team at Suncokret, Anita Ilicic, a yogini-turned-Zhening-Qigong-teacher.
Tell us a little about yourself; what else do you do besides teach Qigong / Yoga ?
Besides the weekly classes I teach, I work in a small Cafe where I take care of the breakfast service part. I love fresh, organic food and love to experiment with green smoothies and jammy fruit mueslis. For me, a colorful, healthy breakfast spreads a sunny mood into each cell of my body and mind - perfect to start the day - so I enjoy this work where I can use my creativity for preparing decorative, tasty, and healthy food for others.
Hum... I'm getting excited about your influence on our breakfast menu already, Anita!
Another important element for me is nature; even right now I live in a smaller city in Germany and I take advantage of every green or nature spot, to dive-in with bare feet and feel mother earth melting with my soles.
Going for hikes or walks in the woods, driving around on a bicycle, just sitting beside a tree listening to the vivid sounds of nature, or enjoying all the color and form facets of the sky, always helps me feel deeply connected and alive.
I love playing the never boring game of just lying on my back gazing into the deep vast blue sky...
Also, for many years now, every winter for 6 weeks I work at a Christmas market. This job is fast, very active, vivid, stressful, challenging, but also fun and just an interesting contrast for me. I use these few weeks every year to practice staying centered and aware while working and while everyone and everything around me is rushing and focused outwards. During my Qigong study time in China we went often to public places for practice. I experienced that practicing in a loud, public place trains your mind to focus and be stable; it can relay enhance and deepen the practice tremendously. I enjoy living, experiencing and embracing all different facets of myself.
Wow, what contrasting things you get up to, indeed! Tell us, Anita, was your life very different before you took up Yoga and Qigong?
Actually my life itself was not much different before. I always felt drawn to exploring, was interested in trying out different jobs, traveling a lot, spending a lot of time outside in nature...
My life always felt as if it was continuously changing up and down like waves of an ocean, sometimes smoothly rolling, sometimes turbulently moving...
What really changed over the past few years is my viewpoint or core feeling about life and how I react to it. Life is dynamic and forever changing, it´s just a universal law, it´s meant to be like this, nothing is static, constant. I was aware of this concept before but in real life often my mood would change easily, was very dependent on outside circumstances.
Now I think it´s all about learning to surf the waves. I am grateful for life itself, in every shape it presents itself to me, I experience that my inside is reflecting and influencing my outside. All this has brought more inner harmony into my life.
What would you say is the one best thing about Zhineng Qigong ?
As I said I really love the practice because it teaches you how to surf the waves of live. It helped me to feel more at home in my body, to relax on a deep cellular level.
Also there is a difference between feeling inside the body -what I learned through yoga - and to experience the body really from the inside, to experience it as an energy body and feel this energy move, flow or stagnate. You really become more present, more aware about what´s going on inside the body, the mind, your emotions. You start to experience how everything is connected and influences everything else like your thoughts, your feelings, your posture, so naturally you start to release attachments, start changing your viewpoints about life. It brings out gratefulness and leads to wellbeing and more lightness.
I've learned to accept myself as I am in the present moment, learned that there is an inner source of joy, health, abundance, my heart space. I feel more connected with myself and, through this, also more connected with others.
Zhineng Qigong is about experiencing entirety, about connecting and expanding, outwards and inwards. It´s enhancing and enriching other practices like Yoga, Taiji, and others. That´s what I love about it. Also Zhineng Qigong practice really enhances the immune system and just restores one's life energy. During my Yoga-focused years, I would still catch a cold mostly in wintertime or had lower back pain and other symptoms, but since I started practicing Qigong on a daily basis, I haven´t experienced these things anymore.
Wow, that's quite amazing. I bet a lot of people would be keen on having a similar result from taking up the Qigong practice!
Speaking of which, what do you hope the participants will gain by attending your event at Suncokret?
What one gains by attending a retreat depends on their personal mindset. If you come with an open mind you can gain something for yourself from any experience. The change from disease to ease, stiffness to lightness, unhappiness to happiness, all are a natural flow which one experiences throughout life and also during practice.
During healing awareness meditations, the mind can calm down, become empty, quiet. Students can experience grounding during these meditations and create new space inside.
Every class I offer will start by going inward, relaxing, just observing. During the event, I will invite participants to practice slow flowing movements which work on opening the whole body structure from deep within. When the inside structure opens more, becomes softer and more flexible, the energy flow increases and you naturally feel more energized and strong.
We'll enjoy performing movements with an awake, observant mind. Some exercises like the crane's walk will help increase inner and outer stability and balance. We'll also feel how different movements influence the mind and emotions.
I hope during this week participants will gain some tools to feel more relaxed, connected inward and outward, focused, aware and energized, all of which are precious, transformational keys for life.
I welcome everyone to practice meditation, Zhineng Qigong movements and Yin style yoga asanas. It will be a week full of Ying and Yang.
Another aim is to share and create a space for feeling well, expanding, co-creating and exploring, of opening our hearts, of experiencing the lifting effect of a group energy practice, feeling our inner smile expanding, our inner light re-sparkling, spending a nice time together and recharging ourselves during this time at this beautiful place.
A new experience can open new doors, so I hope everyone will be open to giving it a try!
Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for the Let Your Sun Shine with Yin Yoga and Zhineng Qigong Event Week with you?
Just come as you are is the best way to start this week; try to relax and to meet yourself with an inner smile.
At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling?
I hope they leave feeling more energized by an enhanced body awareness, a calm mind and relaxed body that are connected with the inner source which connects us all and flows through everything, so they can be more at ease with themselves.
Thank you, Anita, for taking the time to help us understand you, your passions and mission better. We're really looking forward to experiencing the benefits of Zhineng Qigong and Yin Yoga under your guidance this August!