What is Qigong/Chi Kung?
In Chinese the word (氣功/炁功) Qi Gong /Chi Kung means energy cultivation. Through the breathing (調息) adjustment training, coordinate body posture movement (調身), regulate the mind (調心) in a clam and meditative way. Qigong allows access to higher realms of awareness, awakens one’s “true nature”, and helps develop human potential, develop a healthy life.
There are many kinds of Qigong, which is commonly classified into two foundational categories:
- Dong gong (動功) dynamic or active qigong, with slow flowing movement; which include moving and still meditation, massage, chanting, sound meditation, and non-contact treatments, performed in a broad array of body postures.
- Jing gong (靜功) meditative or passive qigong, with still positions and inner movement of the breath; which include sitting or standing meditation (Zhan zhuang 站桩), Neidan (internal alchemy內丹術),
In Daoism and Buddhism as part of meditative practice, and in Chinese martial arts to enhance fighting abilities. Contemporary qigong blends diverse and sometimes disparate traditions, in particular the Daoist meditative practice of “internal alchemy” (Neidan 內丹术), the ancient meditative practices of “circulating qi” (Xing qi 行氣) and “standing meditation” (Zhan zhuang 站桩), and the slow gymnastic breathing exercise of “guiding and inducing” (Dao yin 導引).
Stage of practice qi-gong (練氣化精，練精化炁，練炁化神，練神還虛)
- Through the slow gymnastic breathing, which transform to energy essence (regulate by the mind);
- Essence condensed as innate Qi (Incubate by the intention);
- Qi refined as spirit (by purify freely by the mind and intention);
- Spirit return to void (awareness out of the body, fall into oblivion).
Traditionally, knowledge about qigong was passed from adept master to student in elite unbroken lineages, typically with secretive and esoteric traditions of training and oral transmission, and with an emphasis on meditative practice by scholars and gymnastic or dynamic practice by the working masses.
Generally, qigong is exercise with gentle, slow fluid movement co-ordinate with breathing. Externally stretching the body, while internally calms down, keep awareness and sensitivity, so as to filter the mind, which will result alert and sharp.
Qi gong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.
The word Qi gong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.
The second word, Gong, pronounced gung, means accomplishment, or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qi gong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy, it is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
Qi gong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions.
Qi gong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu. However, the slow gentle movements of most Qi gong forms can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age groups.
Like any other system of health care, Qi gong is not a panacea, but it is certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many health care professionals recommend Qi gong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.
Qi gong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs. Most exercises do not involve the meridian system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the importance of adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical movements. When these dimensions are added, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially.
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qi gong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.
Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qi gong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qi gong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qi gong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection.
People do Qi gong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.
When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment
There are a wide variety of Qi gong practices. They vary from the simple, internal forms to the more complex and challenging external styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Qi gong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qi gong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.
Qi gong’s great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qi gong to their daily routine. Children learning to channel their energy and develop increased concentration; office workers learning Qi gong to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability to help others; prisons instituting Qi gong programs to restore balance in inmates lives; midwives using Qi gong techniques to ease child birth.
When an individual or group assumes responsibility and takes action for their health and healing, we all benefit. It is best to get referrals from people whose judgment you have confidence in. Check the Yellow Pages for Tai Chi schools, acupuncturists, or martial art academies.
Keep in mind the following criteria for choosing a qualified instructor: what is their background and experience; are they of good character; do they treat everyone fairly and with respect; do they live what they teach; do they refrain from making wild, unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student’s highest potential? While keeping these points in mind, remember to trust your intuition in finding an instructor who is right for you.
Qi Gong exercices and references