Qi Gong is an ancient form of Chinese calisthenics which synchronizes the movement with the breath to create a harmonized state of body/mind coherence. Qi, also spelled chi, is generally described as life force energy and is exclusively associated with the breath. When the breath stops, so does the flow of chi. But chi is not oxygen and chi is not electricity, it is a subtler form of energy.
Chi can be felt as uneasiness in the stomach, a chill running up the neck, a flush moving through the body, the softening of relaxation, the tingle of static electricity, radiating heat, magnetic polarity, and many other sensations. There is no right way to feel chi, and each person will connect with the sensation in their own way. What is important is to understand that qi gong is not about the physical positions of the body, but about what you are feeling while doing the movements.
Stand up right now at your desk. Allow the spine to be long and straight, bend the knees slightly, and imagine a string from the top of the head holding the entire body up. Now visualize your ankles melting like butter and notice the sensation when your chest begins to float. Notice the feeling in your heart when you body sways gently like seaweed. What does your heart feel like? To cultivate this sensation is qi gong.
There are many forms of qi gong originating from different segments within Chinese society. The traditional Chinese Medical community uses qi gong for preventive and curative function. The Chinese martial arts community considered qi gong training an important component in enhancing martial abilities. The religious community, including both Taoist and Buddhist traditions, uses qi gong as part of their meditative practice. Confucian scholars practice qigong to improve their moral character. In the 1940s and the 1950s, the Chinese government tried to integrate those disparate approaches into one coherent system with the intention of establishing firmer scientific bases for those practices and as part of the political philosophy of the Cultural Revolution.
The practices of qi gong are differentiated by four types of training: dynamic, static, meditative and activities requiring external aids. Dynamic training involves special movement and applies to exercise such as Tai ji quan. Static training requires the practitioner to hold the body in a particular posture. Meditative training involves visualization or focus on specific ideas, sounds, images, concepts or breathing patterns. There are also training methods that involve an external agent such as the ingestion of herbs, massages, physical manipulation or interactions with other living organisms. A qi gong system can be composed of one or more types of training.
There are three principles to qi gong. #1. The softer the body, the more you feel. #2. The more synchronized the breath is with the movement, the more you feel. #3. The slower you move the more you’ll feel. Combine these three principles in any order and you have the foundation for an affordable and enjoyable fitness system.
Stand up again, and place the arms down by the sides but straight. Now raise the hands in front of you up to shoulder height with the arms rigid. Notice the sensation of this rigid, linear movement. Move the arms down and up five or six times. Next, let the arms melt and become as soft as water. Raise them fluidly like seaweed floating in a current. Then, begin inhaling as the hands move out and up and exhale as the hands float down. Finally, the slower you move on each cycle the more sensation you will feel in you hands and arms. Relax completely into this sensation.
In the comment section below, tell me if you were able to feel a tangible sensation with either of these two exercises. If so what did it feel like. Have you ever felt this sensation before?