“Qigong is simple, yet profound.” I’ve heard this phrase many times from Chris Shelton in the Qigong he classes he teaches. What he means by this is that the actual practice of Qigong is very simple to do, but the results from doing the work are extremely profound.
Having taken Chris’ level one teacher training class (and working on level 2), I’ve enjoyed getting to know Chris a little better, and learning from him and his wife Parisa. His story, his passion for what he does, and his sense of humor, is inspirational. Because of all of the different experiences that he has had over the years, I asked Chris questions, not only about the practice of Qigong, but also about running a business.
I’m always interested to hear what inspired others to do what they do, and what has helped them along the way.
(This interview was originally posted in October 2019)
1) For those that don’t know you, tell us a little about your story and how you got started doing Qigong.
My belief in the healing powers of Qigong is rooted in first-hand experience. As a teenager, I grew up in an abusive and neglectful household. I suffered from a heart attack at age 17 from a meth overdose and then a devastating back injury that left me in constant pain and partially paralyzed. I attribute my full recovery of not only the back injury but severe sinus and digestive issues to Qigong and the philosophies of Chinese medicine.
2) What made you want to start the Morning Crane Healing Arts Center?
I started the Morning Crane Healing Arts Center in a small office in Los Gatos, California, in 2001. Originally, my business name was the Morning Crane School of Qigong, but that name was too limiting for all I had to offer. At the time, I was a full-time butcher, single father of two children, and a competitive martial artist. I had finished the four-year Medical Qigong program in 1998 and did nothing with it until one evening after helping my teacher with his class; I got offered an opportunity to join the clinic in Los Gatos. I still didn’t know at the time whether or not I was meant to do this, and my ego had thought of all the reasons why not to do it. Two days later, I had made up my mind that I couldn’t do this and when I went to pick up the phone to call Janet (the massage therapist who offered me the position) to tell her no, I heard a voice say that this is your last chance this lifetime. So, I took a chance, and I am so glad that I did! My wife and forever true love, Parisa Shelton, joined Morning Crane in 2010.
Our business objectives are that: when people leave The Morning Crane Healing Arts Center, we want them to feel better than when they first walked in. To increase their awareness of how diet, lifestyle habits, and emotional status affects their health. And to give them tools to have an amazing life that everyone deserves to have.
3) As far as the business side of things, what were some of the hardest things that you encountered in the startup process?
The hardest thing was getting over financial fears and questioning if this is the “right” path I’m supposed to take.
4) What was one of the most surprising things that you learned when you started the business?
Sometimes your closest mentor and friends turn out to be your biggest adversaries and would like nothing more than to see you fail.
5) I heard you say one time that “Running a business is like trying to herd cats”. What do you mean by this? Is it in reference to feeling like everyone and everything is going in different directions sometimes?
I meant that, with a staff of people, no matter their education or skill level, there is still a level of organization and guidance needed to get everyone moving in the same direction towards a common goal.
6) At what point did you know it was the right time to start your second center in Los Angeles?
The business in LA built gradually. I gained significant confidence when Eric the Trainer, Hollywood Physique Expert, said “I know the who’s who in Hollywood and no one is doing what you’re doing in LA.” When we received the opportunity to purchase a condo there and all the stars aligned to make this happen, I knew we were destined expand our business to LA.
7) How do you keep the business side of things from taking over the teaching/healing side of things?
Proper compartmentalizing of tasks and things helps to prevent the business side of things from interfering with the teaching/healing side of things. It’s like an analogy of life – avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Also, maintaining a personal health regime and meditation practice is very helpful to stay grounded and helps to maintain clarity of purpose.
8) Why do you choose to do classes for free in local parks?
We offer free classes to give back to our community. Once you think you’re big and lose sight of where you came from, this can cause a decline. We offer free services to expand awareness and let people know about the work we are doing. This is a common mistake I’ve seen throughout the years with practitioners who thought that they were established; they refused to do anything for free because they felt that they didn’t need to do so. I believe it’s important to dedicate a certain amount of time to offer your services, especially to those who could not afford to take part otherwise.
9) I’ve heard you say that one of your goals is to bring Qigong to as many people in the world as you possibly can, what other ways are you going about doing this?
With our Online Teacher Training Program, YouTube videos, social media, books, and a TV show (for which we are pitching).
10) You have a different approach to teaching Qigong and Tai Chi. It’s not always so serious and you don’t always wear traditional clothing. Why do you choose to teach this way?
I choose to teach this way because I feel that I can reach more people by being light-hearted and by dressing in my normal clothes. Making it into a “Chinese” thing separates people and wearing silk-pajamas puts the teacher on a pedestal, and if you feed into this, then it feeds the students ego of seeking a guru-type mentor.
11) You and Parisa complement each other so well, how do you inspire each other each day?
Because at the end of the day we both have the same common goal and mission. We inspire each other with encouraging words, helpful gestures, and regularly acknowledging our wins. Even though it’s my name and face on the brand, I don’t mind sharing the stage with P.
(Picture of Chris and Parisa here.)
12) You are also a published author with another book on the way, what made you want to write your own books?
I have my way of describing these ancient practices and techniques that I feel that I can reach an audience who otherwise might not be able to be reached. Plus, I love Chinese philosophy, and I have all this knowledge and experience that I must not keep for myself and need to share with other people.
13) Do you do other creative things?
Pottery, all mediums of art/drawing/painting, I like to dance – salsa, cha-cha, Rumba, and social dancing. Just last week we made arrangements for singing lessons!
14) If someone wants to get in touch with you, what is the best way to do so?
OR for more information about the Qigong Teacher Training Program https://qigongteachertraining.com/
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Phone: (408) 391-2846
If you want to try Qigong for yourself, click here to see all of Shelton Qigong’s YouTube Videos and HERE to follow Chris’ Instagram.
A huge thank you to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions!!!!
*If you are thinking about taking the Qigong Teacher Training, I highly recommend it. I’ve taken both Levels 1 and 2, and it is truly a beginner course. Chris teaches you everything from the ground up. He and Parisa are tremendously supportive of their students and so much fun to work with.