Per Van Spall doesn’t believe in healers—despite the fact that many people refer to him as such. Rather, he sees himself as a spiritual guide. “I believe that people heal themselves,” says Master Van Spall, who joined La DoubleJ for the launch of the Goddess collection at MatchesFashion’s London townhouse. His tool of choice to help them do that is qi gong, a 5,000-year-old practice that is one of the oldest branches of Chinese medicine and the basis of all martial arts.
Qi translates as “life force” or “energy” while gong means “by movement.” It’s literally the practice of moving energy around. When your health is optimal, your qi is flowing freely through the body, but that’s often not the case. The stress of work, relationships and, let’s face it, life in general can create blocks, which manifest as pain or stiffness, and if left untreated, can turn into chronic disease. Qi gong can help by removing those blocks and allowing the body to heal itself. You can develop your own daily qi gong practice with breathwork and exercises like tapping or do a session with someone like Master Van Spall who can intuitively sense blocks and move your qi with their own.
At the MatchesFashion’s townhouse, Master Van Spall and his niece Lotte conducted both individual and small-group sessions. In one group session, Lotte hovered her hands over each woman at close range, scanning for any indication of stuck energy, while Per paced at the front of the room, gesticulating with his hands, appearing to lift up and cast out those bothersome blocks. They worked until satisfied that the entire room’s qi was flowing unimpeded. The reactions were uniformly positive. Wallpaper* editor Isabelle Kountoure had raced across town in a frenzy to arrive at the session on time. “I came super stressed and tense,” she said. “Now I feel like all my knots are gone and I am really relaxed!”
With his unique background, Van Spall understands both the rational western mindset and the spiritual eastern perspective. He’s of Chinese-Indonesian and Dutch descent, raised in the Netherlands, partly by a Chinese grandmother with a background in qi gong. He built a successful career in the corporate world before realizing that qi gong was his calling. He now treats clients from around the world, both at his compound in Bali set in the midst of a lush jungle where he hosts retreats and through residencies at Como Hotels.
What effect does qi gong have beyond the physical body — on the emotions, the mind and the spirit?
The true advantage of qi gong is that the emotional, mental and spiritual effects can be consciously chosen by the patient. Before a session, I have a conversation with the client about what is going on with them and what they want to get out of it. The client can decide the outcome; I am there to facilitate these effects. Often, people want to deal with trauma, which might be physical, emotional or psychological. We can address these wounds as well as other intentions such as having peace of mind or feeling energized.
What do you see as being the primary benefit each client receives following a session?
Qi gong is like a car wash for your insides; it scrubs you clean and leaves you light and receptive to the joy and opportunities around you. It removes the blocks that keep your natural life force from flowing freely and opens you up to your truest nature. It’s amazing what your non-verbal effect will be on your environment and the people you meet you after the session. Clients always tell me that their friends and family say how wonderful and free they look and feel.
Many of your clients work in the fashion industry, how do you advise them in terms of dealing with stress resulting from fashion week and other events?
A lot of creative people live in the future rather than staying present. This blocks their creativity. It’s the worst thing for it, actually. There is a tendency to always move on to the next thing, the next event, the next piece of news. My advice almost always centers around taking a pause. This can be in your in your tone of voice, in your actions or in your thoughts. It sounds so basic, but it is a very tricky thing to master. My energy sessions aid in making clients more receptive to this softer, powerful energy. In the end, you will be much more effective if you are present and act with more consciousness.
Are there any small changes that you would advise making to our daily routine in order to help combat the day-to-day stresses of life?
Qi gong tapping is a daily technique that I teach patients to practice every morning before they do anything else. It stimulates the nervous system and gets your energy flowing in a very condensed and effective way. It’s almost like going for a jog but not putting any stress at all on your muscles. It just takes 7 minutes and you do this after drinking a large glass of lukewarm water which aids in the flow of your qi throughout the body.
What do you typically offer guests who come to see you for single sessions?
In an individual consultation, we scan the body, check for imbalances and discuss a person’s challenges and intentions. The session is customized for each client based on their short-term needs and long-term goals. It will involve stimulating the body’s natural energy flow and removing blocks I find. Results are immediate and visible. Some people feel like they get an instant face lift and twinkling eyes.
How often would you advise clients see you in order to receive the full benefit of qi gong therapy?
It’s important to note that a person’s results with qi gong are a direct consequence of their own receptivity. If they are open to the healing, then things can happen and unfold quite quickly. But often people hang on to their wounds and blocks, which means the issue is deeper and can require more than a single session. I always suggest that clients come in for an initial consultation and see how they feel. If it is something that resonates with them and they are open to, we can build a program quite quickly—both locally in their city as well as remotely when I return to my base in Bali. I have several clients that I work with on a year-round basis in life coaching where the principles of qi gong are implemented into their personal and professional lives, not just in their physical body.
What happens if my improvement is not permanent or not complete?
During most sessions, if the person is open and willing, the benefits can be felt immediately. The physical and emotional blocks are removed right away. The depth and longevity of these results, however, rest in the hands, head and heart of the patient. If the person returns to negative patterns of thinking, feeling and acting, the block will return. When this happens, it is a helpful signal that something deeper needs to be confronted. Everything is resolvable, but not everything can be cleared with one session. And it truly requires the openness and dedication of the client. The more they are open, the more they receive.