"Because the sage accepts difficulty, nothing is difficult for him"
Dao De Jing
The skill of Qi Gong
The character for Qi shows rice being cooked and turning to steam. This is representing a process of transformation or Hua. Qi Gong can translate as ‘energy work’ or ‘the skill of Qi’. It’s a pre-cursor for deeper practice such as Alchemy and is the other side of the coin of meditation. One develops the energy (Qi Gong) through moving bodywork, and the other develops the mind (Meditation) through sitting practice.
Today, there are many different Qi Gong styles and exercises practised in the world for healing and medical purposes. They relax the body and mind through co-ordinated breathing and moving exercises. It’s important to note that Qi Gong is not an exercise: to be more accurate it’s the use of exercises to develop the ‘skill of working with Qi’.
We work with the energy of our own bodies using the Hou Tian model (Acquired Qi or Post Qi), we don’t try and add it from the environment. This means that the principle of healthy living is very important for us as Qi Gong practitioners.
There are various ways we can deplete our Qi levels: by overthinking and using the mind too much (try studying for a long period of time), by our emotions, or by too much physical exercise. Qi is made from the air that we breathe, and the food we eat, but also from our essence or Jing that we are given at birth. The quality of the air we breathe (Kong Qi) and how well we breathe is important. It is then mixed with the Qi of food (Gu Qi) and finally with a small amount of Congenital Qi (Yuan Qi). Think of our Qi like a current bank account and our essence or Jing like a savings account. If we live an unhealthy lifestyle, (which you can get away with when you are young), the body won’t have enough Qi to run efficiently and will look to take it from the essence or our savings account. This is where we run into trouble: when the Jing is depleted too rapidly, we age quicker and are more prone to illness.
The Yi Jin Jing
The Yi Jin Jing or Sinew Changing Classic (a ‘Classic’ usually means a path or a Way) is an ancient classical text which describes how to transform the body in order to effect transformation. It has found its way into most authentic Qi Gong systems and internal arts such as Taijiquan. In the school this classic is an important instruction text that is used in Taijiquan and Qi Gong. In any authentic Qi Gong system it’s the foundations that are important and in particular the practice of a posture called Wuji. We have many sets of exercises, but standing in Wuji is the key to awakening the energy system.
If you have studied Qi Gong previously, you may find some aspects of our school different. One is the amount of time we take to build the foundations, and secondly that we do not use imagination to guide the Qi or use guided visualisation in any way. Imagination was never a thing in any authentic practice (a practice that has an unbroken lineage and has not been simplified). It’s a modern take on it and has been added. Visualisation is great for many practices but not for Qi Gong. If we try to lead the Qi with our imagination, we are using the ‘acquired mind’ and as such causing too much intent and mental activity. This will stop the Qi from sinking, which is vital for progression in any of the internal arts. If your mind is generating thoughts, how can we find stillness? Also we are not following the maxim of Wu Wei, or non-governing, we are using an action to force it.