Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that forms part of traditional Chinese medicine. It is a meditative movement practice that can be used to bring your entire body system –energetically and physically into harmony. In this article, we shall delve into a deeper understanding of some of the philosophy and practices within qigong as well as learning more about a specific form of qigong known as Zhineng qigong.
A deeper understanding of Qigong
What is Qi?
In order to more fully understand qigong, it is necessary to have an understanding of Qi. Qi also referred to as Chi or life-force is energy. The energy that makes up the entire universe; our planet, our bodies and all objects. Energy that is in the form of manifest physical matter and etheric substance, feelings and experiences. Qi is necessary for our existence, survival and thriving. It is our awareness as well as how we choose to care for ourselves on all levels (mind, body, spirit) that determines the quality of our vital life force (Qi). Qi can never be fully conceptualized but more accurately it can be experienced and felt. Many practices can be used to assist us with learning to become aware of and intentionally directing this energy. Qigong is a set of practices designed to allow us to harness and skillfully direct Qi.
The elements of Qigong
As we now know the first part of the word Qigong refers to the Qi/Chi/Life-force energy. The second part ‘gong’ translates to effort, skill, work or practice and this refers to the dedication and commitment to working with Qi.
Qigong practice includes a combination of elements which consists of coordinated movement of the physical body flowing through various postures and motions; this is combined with intentional deep breathing and meditation. These elements aim to synchronize body, mind and spirit to assist us with directing our energy in the most beneficial ways or the specific ways we need in order to heal any imbalances we may be experiencing.
Particular qigong movements are known to have different effects on the body; for example, some movement may be effective in dispelling unhealthy Qi from the body and inviting fresh aligned Qi from surroundings or source into the body. Variations of qigong are practiced formally as part of Chinese traditional medicine and as a daily spiritual and holistic practice of many people all over the world. Some forms of qigong also include the use of healing herbs, self-massage and sound healing mantras.
The benefits of Qigong
There are numerous benefits that come with a consistent and present qigong practice. Below are just a few of the core benefits:
As all the practices within qigong are essentially focused on cultivating, balancing and directing Qi (energy), this allows for harmony and improved health which has a naturally uplifting and energizing effect on the mind, body and spirit.
The flowing and intentional movements of qigong in connection with a still present mind and the synchronizing of the breath with movement can bring about an experience of balance both physically and energetically.
Mental clarity and function
A fundamental factor within an effective qigong practice is mindfulness. An intentionally still and present mind while embodying breath and motion. The focus on breath and movement synchronization also has an effect of stilling the mind. This state of mental stillness allows for the experience of mental clarity and therefore improved mental functioning (focus, creativity, memory, perception etc.)
The stilling of the mind and fully present engaging with the body and energy during focused qigong practiced allows for the release of stress, anxiety and stored tension. This can bring about an experience of deep peace and relaxation.
The various postures and movements practiced within qigong each correspond to the organs and substance of the physical body and energy meridians. Specific forms of qigong can be used to heal ailments and imbalances on both a physical and energetic level (as the physical and energetic are completely interlinked). The relaxing and energizing effects of qigong are highly conducive to effective deep self-healing.
The varieties of Qigong
There are so many varieties of qigong that have evolved over time through evolution and the influence of various cultures and intentions. Qigong may be used in varied forms with a specific focus on medicinal benefits; it is used as part of martial arts practice as well as for its spiritual and mental benefits.
There are forms of qigong that branched under the influence of philosophies such as Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. There are also other forms of qigong such Wu Qin Xi qigong (inspired by the movement of five animals usually a tiger, deer, bear, monkey and crane, each corresponding to particular natural elemental energy and organ ), Liu Zi Jue qigong (or qigong of the six healing sounds focuses on synchronizing movement and breathing with specific sounds such as yawns, deep sighs and hissing which stimulates chi within specific organs ), Baduanhjin qigong( or qi gong of 8 brocades which is a simple form of qigong that utilized 8 specific movements with a focus on maintaining physical and energetic health ) and Zhineng Qigong (we will focus in more detail more on this form of qigong in the section below)
Zhineng qigong is one of the more contemporary forms of qigong practice since its effects have been researched within the more modern clinical health system. The focus on this form of qigong is the self-healing of ailments of the body and mind through the movement of Qi through the meridian system. This Qi is directed to remove blockages and reorganizes the energy to the most beneficial state. In Zhineng Qigong this done by opening or preparing for your qigong practice with 8 verses or mantras that are designed to align your Qi. These 8 verses calm the mind, setting the tone and intentions for the qigong movement and meditation practices to follow.
The 8 verses
Head expands to the sky, feet to the earth
Body is relaxed, mind expands out
Be respectful, quiet inside
The mind is clear, the appearance is humble
The mind is still
The mind expands out to the vast void
Illuminate deep inside
The whole body is harmonized with Qi
Qigong is a truly empowering practice; we hope you have enjoyed learning more about this ancient energetic technology. If you feel called to, create the opportunity to experience the benefits of qigong for