We are absolutely thrilled to invite you along to the next MFML retreat, You Harvest What You Sow, this coming September 17th – 19th.
Who’s the teacher?
We’ve chosen Matthew Cohen, the newest teacher on MFML (classes coming soon!) and teacher of our very own Mimi Kuo-Deemer, to lead his Sacred Energy Arts programme.
What’s it all about?
The retreat will be a fusion of yoga, qigong, tai chi, meditation and healing massage leaving you nourished and rejuvenated in body and mind. Not only that, but your wellness toolkit will be packed with new ideas, skills and techniques to take forward with you – because everyone wants to maintain a clear, focused mind and a strong, integrated and receptive body.
Team MFML will be there – including Kat and Edith and the filming crew, and we’ll be filming the classes for the site.
Where is it?
West Lexham is set in the idyllic Norfolk countryside. There is a stunning barn and garden to practice in, beautiful ensuite accommodation plus treehouses, all within 21 acres of private woodland and garden.
Prices start from £550 per person in a sharing room. The cost includes all tuition, accommodation and six delicious vegan meals plus snacks from chef, Sophie Gordon.
Bookings and payments will be handled by Tom Holmes, who is Matthew’s assistant.
How Do I book?
What is Sacred Energy Arts?
Great question! We got together with Matthew to find out more…
MFML: Hi Matthew, could you tell us a little about the journey that led you to developing Sacred Energy Arts?
Matthew: Even as a kid I figured out that movement, in whatever form, was what made me feel most alive and comfortable in my own skin. I started gymnastics and dance when I was young, after being inspired by the movies of Fred Astair, Gene Kelly and John Travolta, and in the ’60s, I found a book on yoga by Richard Hittleman, and started trying to put myself into the postures. Soon I was watching my favourite TV shows (mainly The Munsters and I Dream of Jeanie) sat in a lotus or hanging in a headstand.
It was my brother, Scott, who got me interested in Martial Arts. He was learning Kung Fu (from Kam Yuan, the technical advisor for the TV show Kung Fu) and started teaching me some moves. He was my first teacher until eventually I was allowed to learn Shaolin Kung Fu at the Academy.
Qigong and healing arts came a little later. After continuing to study dance, yoga and Martial Arts throughout my youth, in 1988 I was in a car accident that left me with whiplash, and in serious need of healing. I tried out various methods, but found myself most drawn to Qigong, a Chinese system of energy cultivation and mindfulness, along with various forms of bodywork, from Ida Rolf’s system of structural integration through Gestalt therapy to the breathing work of Wilhelm Reich. The effects of Qigong and this bodywork not only helped me heal, but intrigued me enough to spur a serious study of various systems of energetic healing and massage for many years.
With all this study alongside teaching yoga, Martial Arts and Qigong, I started to look for a through-line in everything I had learned and was so passionate about. The through-line was ‘Qi’ – life energy, the animating force – and practices that cultivate its awareness. I started to look for the similarities between the practices, to celebrate the differences, and strip away what was unnecessary. This was the beginning of Sacred Energy Arts.
MFML: Do you feel that the fusion of these practices is more beneficial than each individually?
Matthew: I feel that Qigong, Yoga, Marital Arts and hands-on healing are more interesting and stronger together than they are individually.
All of them have benefits on their own. I love Martial Arts because it’s axiomatic – you either block or get hit – so it’s honest, there’s no pretence, and it is a great problem-solving method. Yoga, similarly has many mental and physical health benefits, and provides a multifaceted approach to health and self-development. The physical practices of yoga however differ from Chinese arts in that they are more masculine in their approach. Yoga tends to be primarily ascending in its energetic expression and quite linear – largely because it was developed by men for men. Qigong, in contrast, is more feminine and round in shape. It is largely descending in its energetic expression, and focussed on how to harmonise and balance your energy, emotion and mental state.
Together these arts offer something truly unique, engaging and new; a well rounded and effective method of health and self-development.
MFML: Do you see wider applications than the personal health benefits?
Matthew: Absolutely. I believe we are facing possible species extinction, and that if we don’t change our relationship to the environment, each other and ourselves we will be in dire straights.
Practices such as yoga, Qigong and Martial Arts all point inward, and through them, we can start to see the similarities rather than differences between us. If, by looking into ourselves we can start to treat our bodies, homes, friends and families with respect, then we are going some way towards treating our planet the way it deserves. With this shift maybe we can change things for the better.
I believe mind-body disciplines are the way to start this process, as this is the essential message of Buddhist, Taoism and the Yogic teachings: start with yourself, then you can learn to help others. I am not a politician, and don’t know how to change policy, but I’m committed to helping people find their way through the arts I teach. If we work from the inside out, we can heal ourselves and the planet.
MFML: We will be working together this coming September on a three day retreat. What are the themes you are offering and how will they help people’s lives?
Matthew: The weekend will focus on the work I have developed through Sacred Energy Arts. We will open with my expression of flowing yoga and Qigong in order to build the foundations for the weekend – a deep connection to the earth, each other, and an introduction to my work.
Our next practice will be Qigong, and a look at how to cultivate more energy, to manage and balance emotions, detoxify and create a sacred internal environment.
Lastly, there will be lessons on massage and therapeutic touch; how we can help our friends and family feel better through touch. You will learn techniques drawn from my 30 years as a manual therapist, techniques that come from Qigong healing, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and cranial sacral bodywork systems. These techniques are simple to learn, develop a greater sense of awareness and touch for the practitioner, and a greater sense of self for the recipient.
Wuji is one of the central pillars of Matthew’s teaching. It can help you feel stronger, more focused, build denser bones and develop your connection with life.
- What is Wuji?
- How can it help me?
- How do I do it?