Marcus Walton is my true spiritual brother. We met several years ago during a retreat for the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement Grantees. It was my first time presenting the foundations of Radiant Health Strategies to this amazing group of people, and I was thrilled to be a part of the retreat. Qi was definitely in the mix because my first conversation with Marcus was profound. I immediately knew that somehow and in some way we would be working together, but because I couldn’t figure out the “how,” I simply choose to bounce ideas around with him that periodically came to mind.
If you’ll notice the amazing graphic above of the blue energy tornado, you see this connection between the earth and the sky, the colors representing clarity, communication, change, transformation, purity … This circular swirling of Qi is the type of energy that often fuels our conversations, and in the last year it became clear that we were to co-create a series of tools/methodologies that would open/clear/direct pathways back to the SELF. The funniest part of my journey with Marcus is that when we finally shared with each other what we had been creating separately, we realized that we had been separately creating the same types of pathways! From that time on, we’ve been in constant contact, and I started calling Marcus my “Wondertwin.”
Marcus is the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), an Ontological Coach, and impassioned writer and more. If you are looking for inspiration and guidance, you need look no further than his facebook postings from which sage-like wisdom endlessly flows. Read his responses below, and you’ll see what I mean. I’m so thrilled that he is apart of our Black Qi Activation Family. Clarity, Mastery, Transformation and beyond …
When did you first start practicing Qigong?
Qigong was first introduced to me in 2011 when I practiced it during a retreat led by Dr. Phyllis Hubbard. Prior to that experience, I practiced Aikido and karate on and off beginning in my youth. From my earliest days, I was intrigued by the philosophy of martial arts. Bruce Lee and karate movies came first – I loved the techniques and movements, as well as the stories that illustrated how regular people used discipline, hard work and wit to become masters. And the masters seemed powerful and poised, almost like superheroes. Somehow, I was able to grasp that we can maximize human potential through focused, disciplined practice.
As a result, I studied Eastern philosophy and culture, which quickly connected me to African and Native American spiritual practices. I learned early that each contained an underlying message that human beings are influenced by and directly connected to the universe. This led me to wonder: who am I, what is my purpose and what is my connection to the universe? Studying world history in this way grounded me by helping me understand that the world has been and continues to be connected through people exchanging ideas and information. When I came across the Kemetic African people (Egyptians), I felt like I had a new sense of identity. In addition to developing advanced systems of technology, agriculture, cosmology and spiritual development and social governance, they had developed several martial arts and body movement systems, which predate what we know as yoga. I was proud to learn this, and I became an eager practitioner. Over time, my practice has grown into a lifestyle centered on the question of how do I increase my consciousness, impact and vitality in the world.
How do you incorporate Qigong into your everyday life and work?
A cornerstone philosophy that guides my living is to “start where you are with what you have.” It is the belief that we are each endowed with traits and have encountered experiences throughout life that make us uniquely prepared to lead certain endeavors. Similarly, I believe each situation contains the resources I need to progress toward my vision for life, but since it may exist as unrealized potential, the energy of my presence may be necessary to materialize opportunity or clarify the unknown. Qi activation is my practice for grounding (awareness and acceptance) and moving into action, as described below.
Awareness – I use the deep breathing to increase awareness and create space for what is happening in each moment.
Acceptance – By sitting in silence and breathing into thoughts of openness/vastness/expansion, I make myself a welcome environment for revelation and change.
Action – Once I am centered, I notice whatever comes into my awareness. Then, I use warrior’s breath to internalize a choice, garner courage, energize my body and move into experience.
What inspired you to become a writer?
My personal journey – so many things were changing! There was nothing subtle about what I experienced. Additionally, I wanted to shake things up by reinventing myself and transforming my experience of life. So I dove in, but the only way I could keep up with all of my new thoughts and experiences was to write them down. Through coaching, I was introduced to the concept of journaling: capturing thoughts and ideas in writing, over time. At first I wasn’t consistent, but I became more consistent with practice. Eventually, I noticed my thoughts would go deeper as I began to document them; before I completed a sentence, more would come up. It became a new discipline for me, to allow revelation to occur, then to name what I noticed or experienced as a result of what was revealed. I continue to experience this process as generative and joyous. Plus, it seems pretty cool to me to be able to do this. As a writer, I am not interested in simply capturing information to get to an end – but also to be in the creative experience.
Tell me about 1 or 2 projects that you are passionate about.
As a leadership and learning coach, I established Marcus Walton Coaching Studios – a space where I work with others to examine their highest aspirations to identify goals, obstacles, passions and preferences, supporting them to create the lifestyle they want to live. The distinction here is that we start with ourselves, including identifying self-defeating beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, replacing them with new ways that empower rather than hold them back. This is a practice of engaging the full self to operate at optimal capacity as an individual or group, tapping into the unlimited resources of one’s enthusiasm to ground oneself, develop action plans and get engaged. I am especially passionate about the African American Coaching initiative and my philanthropic leadership development work, which I describe briefly below.
African American Coaching: Promoting the coaching arts to support change and empowerment within Black communities.
The African American Coaching Initiative (AACI) trains Black leaders in effective strategies and practices that address the effects of long-term institutional racism and discriminatory policy implementation; especially, those which undergird structural inequities within Black communities. The initiative uses Ontological learning (in addition to other forms of coaching) and leadership training to:
Design and deliver culturally-significant professional and personal development experiences for African American and other Black leaders that equip individuals to: a) identify barriers to progress within ecosystems (systems analysis), b) observe and address any behavioral responses to real or perceived obstacles to progress (emotional intelligence), and c) choose a recourse that maximizes the production of desired personal and professional results (decision-making); Develop and connect distinct networks of Black Leaders throughout industry sectors; and Cultivate a network of highly-skilled networks of Black Coaches as a resource pipeline for African American leaders within the public, private, not-for-profit and coaching sectors.
Specifically, the AACI engages a broad audience of people of African descent in coaching activities and other customized leadership development programming to equip leaders with the competency (to employ frameworks and conduct analysis) and awareness (to identify and apply resources and tools) to address the complex issues that face Black communities.
Leadership Development – Working with philanthropic professionals, individual donors and others who want to serve humanity but may benefit from guidance. I’ve found lots of fulfillment in my work around philanthropy – How do you give? How do you receive? More than anything, I support others who are interested in making change to via philanthropy.
What do you hope will emerge from the expression of your work?
Essentially, I endeavor to help people connect with the vitality within themselves to achieve ultimate freedom. I dare others to interact from the most authentic, unadulterated aspect of who they are as a human being and make choices/decision making.
As a coach, I am trained to observe and be present – to inhabit a space with a person without boundaries. Essentially, our heightened awareness also allows us to identify and name what we notice. Using techniques such as mirroring, I interact with others from a intimate confidential place to confront resistance and affect change.
I feel fulfilled when I connect with a person without holding back and I elicit the best out of them helping them open up and explore new territory of growth. It’s like turning on lights, shinning light on the dark places (emotional baggage, trauma) getting free and moving forward!
Why focus on African Americans?
Why not? Historically, Black people have held a unique place in human, history, populating the globe and positioning the United States as a world leader through generations of free and cheap labor. Despite overt and sometimes inhumane treatment by our own countrymen, we have managed to inspire and move others emotionally with our talents and expressions. Yet, we have not been on the receiving end of our own gifts in the same way. As a result, I invite us all to dare to be an inspiration to ourselves and each other – in all the ways that we have contributed to American Culture.
How? I believe soul is the key to being inspirational – a concept with deep roots and strong association with African Americans, in particular. However, I have observed that as we have assimilated into the mainstream of American culture, African Americans, at large, have seemed to have distance ourselves from the close connection with soulfulness that we have enjoyed in the past. Where we once claimed soulfulness as an inherent gift that made us special, we now seem to barely consider its relevance. My assessment is that generations do not understand how ‘soul power’ has enabled us to create and spread culture, restore our own dignity and humanity, overcome significant adversity, and transcend the most dire of circumstances. My aim is reclamation of the soulfulness of African culture, making it cool again to ‘be soulful’ and to use it practically in our personal and professional lives to help us meet and surpass our goals and expectations.
What’s the best way to contact you to learn more about your work?
MW Coaching Studios
Clarity, Mastery & Transformation
“Unleash Your Personal Power!”
COACHING STUDIO SERIES
The African American Coaching Studio (Special Initiative)
The Self-Mastery Studio Series:
*The Aspirational Living Studio – Taking Life To The Next Level *The Audacious Living Studio Series – “Breakthrough Bootcamp” *The Authentic Living Studio Series – Living Each Day w/ Impact
Email : email@example.com