Qigong is the heart of who I am

Clara Apollo

Clara Apollo is the host for Chi Time TV, interviewing some of the world’s leading metaphysical and spiritual teachers of our time. She describes herself as a life-long curious scholar, who has been searching for answers since experiencing a profound awakening as a child. During her search for her own truth, she has been a ballet dancer, nurse, nanny, singer and performer, textile and wedding dress designer, costume designer for stage and screen, art and biology teacher, now Qigong teacher, Reiki Master and radio/TV presenter. Clara has been sharing the teachings of Elemental Qigong since the early 2000’s, returning to her own practice time and again, as a deep inner resource. As she says, Qigong has become the heart and soul of who she is.

To contact Clara, please go to: https://linktr.ee/ClaraApollo. And click on the link for information on Clara’s next 7 week Qigong Breathwork course

Sue: Welcome Clara and I am delighted to have this opportunity to talk with you. As Qigong is so important for you, I would like to start with how you got into it? 

Clara:  After I left art college, I became a costume designer working for the music, film and advertising industries. I wound up making bespoke magical wedding dresses, but this intense work gave me a punishing repetitive strain injury in my wrists and shoulders. I was also a young mum. Basically, I was burnt out and was looking for a way to truly heal. 

Doctors suggested cortisone [injections] but I didn’t want that. I ended up going to a physio who gave me acupuncture, which really helped. I started to investigate traditional Chinese medical and then a friend of my son’s gave me a cranial-sacral treatment. That really helped to de-stress my nervous system, but I wanted to find something that I could do for myself. 

He suggested Qigong and I started going to his classes. I just loved it. It was being in this flow that made me think, ‘Wow, this is really interesting.’ It took me three years to actually feel the chi/qi [energy] moving in my body because I had so much congestion in my arms and neck. But it made sense to me mentally as well as physiologically, and that opened the door for me. I knew I couldn’t go on like I was before, and my body was showing me this. 

Sue: You say that Qigong is the heart of you who are now. What does that mean to you? 

Clara: Yes, it consistently engages me, because it makes me come into the present moment.  It teaches me to ‘empty my cup’, so I wake up into a new day with a sense of real curiosity. I stand and breathe into the flow of what it is like to be part of nature in this moment. It’s about building self-respect and connecting with this to what I describe as an internal/external synergy play, and that nourishes me. 

Sue: What do you mean by internal/external synergy play? 

Clara: For me, it’s learning to trust the energy and the flow of The Tao coming through me. To become an empty vessel for the truth of spirit to flow through us, connecting us to the Earth and the elements that support us. This is when we become a vessel for the deep expression of love, and this happens when I come into synergy play. It’s about understanding and listening to my body. For example, when my shoulders need some attention, I take a breath into them and go with the movements in the moment to help open them up.

I ask my shoulders, ‘What do you need?’ I then let them express this through movement; for the joy of simply moving and returning to stillness. The chi/qi shows me through subtle internal responses and I can’t control these internal responses because the whole of me is working as a wholistic team, following the wisdom of my synergistic flow.  

Sue: How long have you been practicing Qigong in this way? 

Clara: For about the last 15 years personally, 10 years with students. Spontaneous Qigong has always played its part in my self-expressive dance moves. What I love about it is that as soon as you let this energy play through you, it moves and flows naturally in all sorts of ways. For instance, it can also be inspired through drumming or making melodic musical sounds that feed the synergy. You become part of something bigger – you are a key part of the dance of creation. 

Sue: Did Qigong inspire you to set up Chi Time TV? 

Clara: Yes. The seeds got planted in 2010 when I was living in the New Forest and I was asked to run a Qigong demonstration during the Chinese New Year celebrations at Gun Wharf Quays in Portsmouth. Qigong is by tradition a very private, internal practice, so I wasn’t sure at first. Then I talked to my Qigong group and they were up for it. So, I agreed.  

The guy who was running the festival wanted some promotion for it and invited me to come onto Express FM, the local radio station, to speak about Qigong. As soon as I walked into that studio, I recognised the vibe and had a great interview. I ended up being a guest on Terry Powell’s afternoon show once a month, talking about Qigong and how it can be used as both primary and preventative healthcare.

I would deliver my section of the show to link in with the seasons and colours of the year. I had recently completed my Colour Mirrors training so I had learnt about colour healing and colour therapy, which for me, was all part of my Qigong practice. This also looped back to printing textiles. Eventually, following a reshuffle in the radio station I was offered my own show. And, I knew it had to be called Chi Time. ‘Y’know, Chi Time – teatime, me time!’

Sue: What an amazing opportunity for you! 

Clara: Yes, indeed. Stephen Russell, the Barefoot Doctor was my first celebrity guest on the third show, then I linked up with other Positive Living Groups and Conscious Living Events to find other speakers. That’s how I got to interview people like Jamie CattoTim Freke and Rebecca Campbell.  I have learnt so much from these people after reading their books and interviewing them. It’s been such an honour and blessing.

Sue: What would you say has been the most important thing you have learnt from talking to your guests? 

Clara: That they all have a personal practice that ensures they give to themselves first. Most of them, interestingly, do a form of Qigong but don’t talk about it much. It’s their personal practice which builds their internal mettle and discipline to be able to work at the level they do in order to bring their gifts through to us.

Sue: Do you believe they have a sense of destiny around what they do?

Clara: Well, it’s difficult to know what they’re feeling, but there is a resonance of, ‘this is what I’m here to do, so I’ll get on with it.’  Of course, we all have choice. However, when you are living your destiny, there actually isn’t much of a choice. But there ichoice in how you express your destiny.

For instance, I didn’t know I was going to be making videos or setting up Chi Time TV. But when I went from Express FM to the global Soul Traveller Radio, I learned how Zoom is a much better way of recording audio interviews. I then realised that as I was recording these interviews on videos anyway, I might as well put these videos out; hence Chi Time TV was born. One thing led to another – and that’s the story of anybody’s life. When you look back at the breadcrumb trail in reverse you can see all the dots joining that have got you to where you are right now. We do lead magical lives.

Sue:  What’s happening with Chi Time TV at the moment? 

Clara: It’s grown to become more heart and chi focused. My interviewing technique is more conversational, and resonance based. The show is about helping people to dare to take care of themselves. This is the fundamental key-gift of why I’m here. To support people to find their own inner power, clarity and sovereignty through the awareness of their qi/chi.

 Sue: People are describing this time in human history as the Great Awakening.  As I see it, it’s about finding positive ways to use the knowledge and wisdom we have gained over decades of challenges. I call those doing this work Energy Stabilisers. We are here to hold the energy for people who are beginning to realise, ‘there’s a lot more than just me going on here,’ but haven’t got a clue where to look for help. How do you view it? 

Clara: We have certainly got our job cut out. You use the words, ‘Energy Stabilisers.’ I use the words, ‘Steady as she goes’, pretty similar. How do you steady yourself and what tools and techniques can you use to steady and stabilise yourself? When you find a way to do this you get a visceral experience of what steadiness feels like in your body, and in connection with the Earth. That becomes an inner resource. Qigong mindful movement and stillness really helps with this. 

Sue: When people haven’t done anything like Qigong, how do you encourage them to steady themselves?

Clara: It’s about giving them a tangible experience that feels very real and useful to them, such as introducing them to the principles of Qigong which runs on the Taoist philosophy about the truth of nature and the principle elements of truth. For example, when you are feeling frazzled and you don’t know where to turn, it’s about looking at what is supporting you in the here and now, then trusting it. This is what attuning to your qi/chi is about. This could be as simple as becoming aware of the chair you’re sitting on or the floor you’re standing on. It’s then becoming conscious of the fact that ‘Great Grandmother Earth’ is always supporting us and animating us. She has transformative qualities and a balancing Yin-like nature. Qigong is essentially a shamanic practice, bringing the earthy elements together with cosmic and personal spirituality. 

Therefore, it’s not just about going out into nature. It’s about connecting with nature within us and how this aspect of ourselves can show respect and appreciation for our Great, Great, Great Grandmother, as I am beginning to call Mother Earth these days. Something happens to our body when we recognise this support. However, as it’s always been there, it is easy to overlook.  So, we need to take notice of everything around us. The Earth is taking care of us right now. She’s our home. We need to take this feeling inside us. Nature has so many gifts for us as we do for her.

Sue: Yes, it’s about learning to stop and take a breath, and to understand that there’s more out there for us than we realise. 

Clara: Stopping is really key. It’s about letting ourselves land in the present moment and entering into the ‘slow’. That’s what helps to build inner resources. 

Sue: What does landing in the present moment mean to you? 

Clara: We come out of our busy linear time of thinking what we are going to do next, or what we have been doing, and we expand into what’s called Kairos time. It’s more like another dimension of time. For example, a Qigong class can feel like fifteen minutes, when it has actually been three hours of practice. You become absorbed in the Now Moment. It’s so nourishing for you. You can lean into it and just let yourself be.  Any spiritual practice draws you into this. This is why mindfulness, movement and Qigong meditation are so important – as is being talked through a visualization, which takes you out of yourself. 

You can’t always do these practices for yourself. You often need to be helped by someone who is sensitive to you, so you can drop in, feel that support and be held. It’s all about surrendering to Great Grandmother Earth and breathing she into your being. This is one of the greatest healings we can do for ourselves – but it’s also frigging freaky, because that’s where we also meet ourselves!

Sue: It’s all about trust, isn’t it?  I guess we are so used to looking outside ourselves for someone else to fix us, we don’t know how to look inside and trust ourselves. 

Clara: Yeah! When you understand what you can trust – really trust – and are able to soak up that trust, it’s about noticing what you feel.  For instance, I trust the Earth to hold me. I trust the air to breathe me. I trust the water to flow through me. I trust the fire to warm me. These are all elemental truths that you don’t need to discuss. They are just there to appreciate and be thankful for. 

Sue: Do you feel you’ve had a choice in the way your life has unfolded? 

Clara: I like to think that I’ve had choice. But it’s possible that I haven’t, because I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to trust what’s going on. You see, I believe destiny comes towards us, and all we need to do is be a clear vessel to receive its gifts, which support us as our life unfolds. This again, is a Taoist practice of having a backwards rolling motion, of not rushing forwards.

But within that I believe we have choice of what we actually do. I have the choice to pick up my teacup now, or whatever else I want to pick up, but there is a direction that you know is yours. It’s your pathway in life. It’s who you are all the way through, and this can be linked to your ancestral line and your North Node in your astrological chart.

There’s a sense that the ancestors are supporting you to be here doing what you are doing. How we play our path of destiny relies on the choice of whether we play it small, medium or large. I think that’s where the choice comes in. And, things change. For instance, I thought I was going to be a ballet dancer when I was young, which hasn’t happened. Even so, I always knew my life was going to be about sharing ‘cool stuff’ with others, as part of my destiny. 

Sue: Do you think other invisible realms influence our destiny or choices? 

Clara: Yeah. We need to open up our faculties and accept we don’t know. We live on this physical planet and yet we are antennas – we are receiving tremendous information from the Galaxy.  We’re also star beings.  We are made of stardust so we’re all extra-terrestrials really.  We think about the Earth being our home, but from a distance Earth looks like a star, so we are already star beings! This puts us in a multiverse context. That there are other star beings apart from us – of course, there are! Whether they are here to help or hinder is another question, but there’s always going to be a dance between the light and the dark. 

Sue: This dance between the dark and the light seems to be going on everywhere. To me it produces some kind of creative tension. 

Clara: I look at it more as a 3D Yin/Yang symbol. There are no separate sides because it actually becomes an entity in itself. That’s unity consciousness with the dance of the polarity of yin and yang within it. That’s where you find the harmony place, the place of magic.

SueYou’d have to be completely asleep not to understand that we’re facing huge changes in our world at the moment. What’s your view on this?

Clara: We need it. We knew that we needed a big change but none of us knew how it was going to happen. We could see the environmental degradation; we could see the greed; we could see cruelty in the world and our hearts were bleeding to know how we could help, apart from what to do on a local level. So, it doesn’t surprise me that we’ve got this situation going on. There’s a real call for us to find the truth inside ourselves so when we read things or we see information, we’ve got the resonance within us which can recognise whether it’s manipulation or it really is the truth. 

Sue: Yes, there’s a lot of mixed messages coming through the mainstream media and other social media sites. 

Clara: I think what really needs to happen is to see how we manage this as a species. Truth is an inside job. All we can do is our best, which is to inhabit the centre of our being and combine that with our heart resonance. Then our truth with ripple out into the world. Remember when we are in frequency with all the elements and the cosmos, we find this place of balance that radiates out into The Field. Each one of us can actively feed this quantum field just as much as we can feed ourselves in the physical realm. I think this is the way to work now because the mainstream can’t get in there. They don’t know how to access this alternate reality or multidimensional experience.

Sue: Everything is changing so fast. I often wonder what it must be like to be a politician these days, because what we’re contributing or feeding into The Field is influencing everybody.  I imagine many of them must be waking up to the fact that nothing is going to stay the same in this chaos. 

Clara: Good point. This great awakening is happening to all of us. Even Boris Johnston’s partner is an environmentalist, and they have a young child. Anyone who has a young child will be looking at these pressing topics. 

Sue: Yet the party-line seems to be focusing on programming us into fearWhat can we do about that?   

Clara: I think it’s about getting into preventative healthcare. It’s about knowing how to look after yourself so you can create a measured response to the messages we are receiving from the mainstream.

Sue: I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories because, personally, I don’t think that helps but there is stuff going on that does not make sense to me.  

Clara: I also think the words ‘conspiracy theory’ can stop people from actually looking at some presented truths. It’s a dismissive statement which stops all kinds of information from being sensibly considered. So, for me, it’s about taking a step backwards and calmly envisioning the next few years unravelling for the overall benefit of all humankind as the changes increase. 

Sue: What’s your vision of the future

Clara: I certainly feel that communities are being called together – communities of people who are wanting to live a more holistic life and be far more respectful to Grandmother Nature. It’s also really important to be mindful of people who think in different ways and provide a space where we can have healthy debate rather than arguments or telling people what they ‘should’ think.  So, I’ve got this feeling there will be breakout societies and communities who are living more on the land and supporting us all to live closer to nature and to one another.

Sue: Do you have a few words of wisdom for anyone who is just waking up to the fact that life is never going to back to what it was? 

Clara: I’d like to hold their hand and say, ‘You’re not on your own. You can lean in here. Don’t be afraid to ask.  Let us know how it is for you. Tell me how it is. Tell me stories. Tell me how you feel. Tell me your rage. Tell me your love and know that we’re doing this together. 

We’re not alone even though we’ve been put into isolation in our different homes. Humanity will always look to find ways to adapt and connect. So, ask for help and don’t be proud. Know your courage is the energy of your heart – and your heart is the centre point between Heaven and Earth. This is the place where your ancestors dwell. You are never alone.’ 

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