Qigong (Chi kung)
Origin & Meaning:
Qigong (chi kung or chi gung) is a Chinese word that means “life energy cultivation”. This is a mind-body exercise that promotes health, meditative stats and martial arts training. It typically uses slow body movements, coupled with inner focus and regulated breathing. It was originally a secretive exercise taught by Chinese Buddhist, Taoist and Confucianist traditions. In the 20th century Qigong has invigorated the Daoist movement and mainly employs concentrative exercises, it also favours circulation of energy in an inner-alchemical way.
For a deep study on Qigong history, theory, and philosophy, I recommend The Root of Chinese Qigong.
How To Do It:
There are thousands of different Qigong exercises available around the world. Over 80 of these exercises involve just breathing. Some are more directed toward martial arts (to energize and strengthen the body). Other Qigong exercises are used to for health benefits (to nourish bodily functions and cure diseases), some even focus on meditation and spiritual cultivation. The variance of the exercises allows the practitioner to have a wide variety of choices to cultivate qi. Exercises can be done seated, standing or can be done with dynamic set of movements. Exercises that require meditation are typically done in a seated position with the back erect.
But here goes an introductory overview of the practice of seated Qigong meditation:
- Sit in a comfortable position. Make sure your body is balanced and centered.
- Relax your whole body – muscles, nerves, and internal organs
- Regulate your breathing, making it deep, long, and soft.
- Calm your mind
- Place all your attention in the “lower dantien”, which is the center of gravity of the body, two inches below the navel. This will help accumulate and root the qi (vital energy).Where your mind and intention is, there will be your qi. So, by focusing on the dantien, you are gathering energy in this natural reservoir.
- Feel the qi circulating freely through your body.
Other famous Qigong exercises are:
- Small Circulation (also called “microcosmic circulation”)
- Embryonic Breathing
- Eight Pieces of Brocade
- Muscle Tendon Changing (or “Yi Jin Jing”, taught by Bodhidharma)
The first two are seated meditation, while the latter two are dynamic Qigong, integrating body stretches.
Is It For Me? :
Qigong meditation may be more attractive to people that like to work kinaesthetically. If seated meditation is too boring, Qigong exercises might be the best answer to address these problems. There are many different styles to test out and information is readily available for those who look.