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Lesson VIII - Qi Gong
The study and practice of Qi Gong requires considerable time, commitment, study and practice. Despite the depth and sophistication of this discipline, significant beneficial results can be obtained quickly with the application of a few basic concepts and practices. This is not intended to substitute for an in depth study. It is rather intended to encourage the practitioner to find good courses, teachers and study materials and engage in a more in depth study. With that said, this simplified practice is very efficient at accumulating and storing energy. That energy, in turn can be used for healing and other constructive purposes. As powerful as this is, it is rudimentary compared to the variety of techniques and applications that are found in deeper study.
Qigong, Qi Gong, Chi Kung or Ch'i Kung refers to a class of traditional energy cultivation practices that involve accumulating, circulating, and working with Qi or energy within the body. Qigong often includes movement and regulated breathing. It also includes the use of special methods of mental focus on particular energy centers in and around the body. Qigong is practiced for health maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical profession, a Spiritual path and a component of Chinese internal martial arts. In Chinese, the Qi in Qigong means breath or air and life force, dynamic energy or even cosmic breath. Gong means work applied to a discipline or the resultant level of skill, so Qigong is thus breath work or energy work.
In some styles of Qigong, it is taught that humanity and nature are inseparable. According to this philosophy, access to higher energy states and the subsequent health benefits can be achieved by a process by which one comes to realize that one was never separated from the primal (source), undifferentiated state of being that is free of judgment and artificial discrimination. Progress toward this goal, practitioners believe, can be made with the aid of meditation that is facilitated by the practice of Qigong.
China's scientific establishment accepts the existence of Qi. Controlled experiments by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the late 1970s and early 1980s concluded that Qi, when emitted by a Qigong expert, is observed as measurable infrared electromagnetic waves and causes chemical changes in static water through mental concentration. Other emission studies have reported measurable influence on the ultraviolet absorption of nucleic acids, liposome phase behavior and radioactive decay rates.
Every culture contains an analogous concept to Qi. The Hindu culture refers to Qi as Prana, the Japanese culture uses the character Ki, the Hawaiian Huna culture calls it Mana and some western traditions use the term Vital Force or Elan Vital.
The Microcosmic Orbit, also known as the circulation of light, is a Taoist energy cultivation technique. It involves deep breathing exercises in conjunction with physical movement and concentration techniques. Its intent is to develop the flow of Chi along certain energy meridians in the human body. The history of the Microcosmic orbit practices date back to prehistoric times in China, and the underlying principles can be found in the I Ching which is believed to have been written approximately five thousand years ago.
the macrocosmic orbit is a technique that involves moving Qi around the body in patterns to strengthen the Spirit. The energy from the Heaven and Earth Qi reservoirs is drawn into one's own energy system, or the microcosmic orbit. It is believed that this energy from the Heaven and Earth Qi reservoirs is limitless and that by using it, one is not depleted of their own vital energy when engaged in the practice of healing or other energy work applications.
There are many different techniques, practices and versions of Qigong. Most traditional training takes many years of practice under the supervision of someone who has also learned over years. The orthodox practitioners warn that improperly supervised practice can cause unbalanced circulation of inner energies that can eventually lead to unbalanced effects on the various systems of the body, both mental and physical. Stories of unguided practitioners or inexpertly guided students developing chronic mental and physical health problems as a result of such training are not uncommon. The term "Qi Gong-Induced Psychosis" was adopted by the American Psychiatric Association in the late 1990s.
There are likely two major contributing factors to this type of outcome:
The Chinese word Dantian, dan t'ian, dan tien or tan t'ien translates to "elixir field". Similar words and concepts are da-ntian (Japanese), tanden (Korean), and danjeon (Thai) for example. According to Chinese alchemy, there are three dantiens associated with the individual. These dantiens are storage places for energy like batteries that can be charged with energy to be drawn on when needed for healing or other important needs.
The dantiens are also referred to as "gates" or "doorways". This implies the use of these centers as the entry and exit points to other realms.
The dantiens are located as follows:
The Conception Vessel, the Governing Vessel and the Microcosmic Orbit
The Microcosmic Orbit also known as the 'Self Winding Wheel of the Law' and the circulation of light is a Taoist energy cultivation technique. It involves deep breathing exercises in conjunction with meditation and concentration techniques which develop the flow of qi along the circuit formed by the conception and governing vessel meridians.
Breath is used as a means of accumulating and moving energy in a focused manner. There are many breathing patterns practiced in Qi Gong, Yoga and Huna. The most common form of breathing in Qi Gong, which is used in perhaps 90% of Qi Gong exercises is called abdominal breathing.
It has this name because of the movement of the lower abdomen during the breath cycle. When you are learning this it is useful to hold one of your hands over your abdomen, just below the navel, so that you can feel the movement. As you inhale the lower abdomen should expand first, and you should concentrate on drawing air right down to the bottom of your lungs. Imagine that you are drawing air right down to the bottom of your abdomen; although the diaphragm does not come down this far it is a useful visualisation to aid you in getting the correct movement. As you draw more air in the expansion rises up your torso like a wave, to encompass the chest. Remember that you are drawing air into the centre of your body, so there should be some expansion noticable in the lower back as well as the abdomen, although this is less pronounced. The breath should be as deep and full as possible without straining. As you inhale the abdomen contracts first, followed by the chest, as you gently push the air out of your lungs from the bottom upwards.
A common addition to this abdominal breathing is to also practice a subtle control of the sphincter muslce of the anus. To do this the sphincter is relaxed and pushed slightly outwards during the inhilation, and drawn slightly inwards for the exhilation. The movement should be very slight. This kind of breathing deepens relaxations and increases chi flow.
The Qi Gong exercises coordinate breathing and focused Intent with visualization and physical movement. Practice the breath pattern first and alone so that you can do it without thinking as you add the other components to the exercise.
The Microcosmic Orbit Exercise
The microcosmic energy circulation follows the conception vessel and the governing vessel. The conception vessel runs up the front of the body from a point between the legs to a point on the lower lip. The governing vessel runs from a point on the upper lip over the head and down the spine to the point between the legs.
The Qi energy runs around this circuit in a loop. The direction of energy flow varies according to gender and sometimes other factors. Generally, the energy runs up the spine (governing vessel) and down the conception vessel in males and the opposite direction in females. However, this direction must be confirmed by muscle testing on each individual because the pattern does not always hold true. The preferred direction may also change in the individual depending on a number of variables. The intent here is to move the energy in the direction that increases strength.
Determine the Direction of Energy Circulation
Do muscle testing to verify the correct direction for energy movement as follows:
(1) Select and isolate a muscle to use for the test. Test that muscle to assess strength and responsiveness. Use this as your baseline for comparison.
(2) Visualize energy running down the conception vessel. Test again.
(3) Visualize energy running up the conception vessel. Test again.
The direction of energy movement that yields the strongest muscle test response is the correct one.
Instructions for Facilitating Microcosmic Energy Circulation
(1) Determine the correct direction of energy movement for you.
(2) Connect your tongue to the roof of your mouth to connect the conception and governing vessels.
(3) Do the two phase abdominal and chest breathing while visualizing energy circulating around the microsmic orbit.
(4) After you have got the visualization and breathing coordinated, add movement with your hands and arms. Hold your hands in front of you and form an energy ball between your hands. With your hands move the energy ball around the microcosmic orbit, coordinating the movement, visualization and breathing.
Bringing in Heaven and Earth Energy
This technique draws on the existence of Heaven (Sky) energy and Earth energy. The earth contributes the material substance from which out bodies are composed and the energy which holds it together. The heavens, void, or infinite contributes the energy that is the substance of our Soul and Spirit. These two energies form energy reservoirs which can be accessed and blended into our own energy fields.
(1) Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your pelvis tipped forward, your back straight and your shoulders, hips and ankles aligned in a vertical straight line. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth and your hands together in the prayer position.
(2) Before drawing energy from the earth, it is important to create the proper attitude and clarity of purpose for doing so. Give thanks to mother earth for the material substance of our bodies, the physical energies that sustain out bodies and our deepening insight into the process of nature. Express gratitude and appreciation for this sharing of energy.
(3) To bring in earth energy, visualize energy flowing up from the earth along the outer part of your legs and entering into your microcosmic circuit.
(10) The optimum ratio of the number of energy injections from earth energy and heaven energy may vary from one individual to another and from time to time. If you want to increase your intuitive faculties, pull in more heaven energy. If you need to ground yourself, pull in more earth energy. Do muscle testing to determine your current best ratio. As an estimate, try 2 or 3 heaven energy injections to 1 earth energy injection.
Avoiding Chi Sickness, Qi Gong Psychosis, etc.
(1) Always do energy work with an established clear, positive, unselfish intent.
(2) Always test the results of your exercises and add, drop or change them as needed. You will develop a feel for the energy and a sense of it's effect. If it doesn't feel right, stop and do what does feel right. Also use muscle testing. A strong muscle test indicates beneficial effects.
Accumulating Energy in the Dantiens
After practicing the macrocosmic orbit circulation, stand with your hands in front of the lower dantien and draw energy into a ball at this location. After charging a ball of energy at the lower dantien, move up to the middle dantien and charge a ball of energy at that location. Then do the same for the upper dantien. This energy will then be available for healing and other work and service.
The descriptions of the Qi Gong principles and techniques have been greatly simplified. This is good in one sense. In Taoism, there is no specifically "correct" way for good reasons. Still, there is a great deal more to be learned from more in-depth sources. Test everything.
Note that this presentation is blending concepts from Chinese, Indian and Huna mystical systems into an integrated model.
(1) Do the muscle testing to determine the most appropriate direction for circulating Qi. Repeat the test periodically to see if the direction changes. Note the difference in overall muscle tone and response as you practice. You should get stronger, not weaker.
(2) Practice the microcosmic orbit energy circulation until it becomes easy to do automatically and until you can sense or feel the energy.
(3) Practice the macrocosmic orbit with earth energy for 1-3 days to get a sense of feel for what this energy is like.
(4) Practice bringing in heaven and earth energy 1-3 days to get a sense of feel for what this energy is like.
(5) Experiment to get a balanced blend of microcosmic circulations and heaven and earth energy injections that works for you.
(6) Practice accumulating energy into the three dantiens. Do this until you can clearly feel the presence and effects of these energies.
(7) Study the following text books and experiment with the concepts and exercises to refine your practice.
(8) Find a good class and instructor in Qi Gong and learn additional styles, forms, concepts and practices.
Qi Gong References
A good Qi Gong resource Here
Download this excellent free book on Qi Gong Here
The Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi by Roger Jahnke -- For further study, this book is required reading.
This book discusses the use of muscle testing as an adjunct to Qi Gong practice to determine the most effective direction for circulating energy Qi Healing: The Way to a New Mind and Body Written by Toshihiko Yayama, M.D.
This is a good broad reference for this topic Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong (Book & DVD) Written by Bill Douglas
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