Simplified Qigong for BeginnersBy Koujiryuu © 2006 Not to be reposted without permission.1. Introduction
2. Void Meditation
3. Dantian Meditation
4. Wuji Stance
5. Lifting the Sky
6. Pushing Water
7. Microcosmic Orbit
8. Training Pattern by Weeks
9. Conclusion1. Introduction
The object of this article is to present a very basic series of qigong forms, starting with meditation and moving to standing meditation, and finally concluding with the practice of the microcosmic orbit.
This article eschews a lot of the basic terminology presented in my other, more complete guide to qigong, called Beginning Daoist Qigong
, for the sake of accessibility and simplicity. It also eschews conceptualization, such as meridian systems, for the sake of brevity and simplicity. The fact of the matter is that qigong can still be practiced by anyone regardless of their capacity to learn and memorize Chinese terminology in an effort to more fully understand what is going on energetically as taught by Daoist qigong masters. Therefore, a lot of terms used in my other writing are not present here.
If you seek a complete holistic paradigm and advanced Daoist alchemal techniques, please refer to my other writing. If you are busy, pressed for time, and yet still have an interest in learning qigong, this guide is for you. If you are a complete beginner who has never meditated and has no idea what qigong even is, this guide is for you. With that said, let's move on. 2. Void Meditation
The first thing we want to do is try and get in touch with our energy. In Chinese, the word for energy is "qi" (pronounced "chee"). Sometimes, it is translated as breath; and it is very true that breath controls subtle energy flow in the body. Henceforth, when talking about energy I will simply use the term "qi" to refer to it. Additionally, in Chinese, "gong" means "work", so therefore "qigong" translates to "breath work" or "energy work". That is it for beginning terminology.
The best way to actually feel our qi is through meditation. Meditation is simple, yet can be deceptively complex. Like many things in life, it is paradoxical in nature.
Begin by finding a cool, dry, quiet place. Make sure you are free from outside distractions such as TVs, other people who aren't meditating, and loud sounds/music. You want a quiet, peaceful environment. Some meditators say that going and finding a place in a park, outside by a tree or stream, has helped them greatly. Regardless, meditation can be practiced indoors, or anywhere you feel comfortable. The key is to feel comfortable while you meditate.
Sit down crosslegged and rest your hands on top of your knees. Make sure your back is straight and you don't slouch as you sit in place. Now, slowly breath in deep through the nose, and allow your lungs to fill completely with air. Do not hold your breath. Exhale, and allow your lungs to slowly completely release the breath you just took in. Repeat this cycle. If a thought arises in your head, let it go. If you feel your mind wandering, let it wander, but focus on your breathing most of all. Allow yourself to percieve any ideas or thoughts that come to you; acknowledge the thought and move on, as you focus on deep abdominal breathing.
Feel the tension in your body melt away with each breath, and see the tension leaving your body as you exhale. Perhaps the tension appears as a murky cloud; perhaps there isn't any cloud, and you see nothing at all. Regardless, continue to breath deeply and focus on your breath, until it becomes natural to just breath deeply and sit.
Eventually, you may notice flashing patterns of light on your inner eyelids. These are called neural discharges, and they are the result of the increased oxygen flow to the brain causing the nerve synapses in your visual cortex to be overstimulated. Disregard the colorful lights and continue to breath, just existing in Void. Thoughts will come to you less and less often as you deepen your state of mind through meditation and focusing on breathing.
At this point, you should feel very relaxed, and you might feel an electric buzz all around you. It may move around or stay in one spot. It can feel like a very strong heat all over, or it can feel like a very strong chill. Some people feel it most strongly around the head and spine areas. This feeling is your personal qi, or energy flow. If you cannot feel it, don't worry. It can be very subtle, and it takes different people different amounts of time meditating before they can truly feel their qi. It was once said about meditation- "A moment to learn, a lifetime to master.""What's that Kouji? I just felt my qi, by simply sitting here and breathing?"
Yes, it is that simple. ^_^ Just sitting and breathing deeply takes you to a state of mind where you can percieve many things you otherwise couldn't. Continue to meditate until you feel satisfied. To conclude the meditation, say to yourself:"I am going to count to five, and return to reality."
Starting from one, count to five in your head. Try and time each count on breaths. Breath in, breath out, one. Breath in, breath out, two. When you reach five, open your eyes and say internally, "I am finished meditating for now." Stand up and stretch. This concludes Void Meditation. Before moving on to Dantian meditation, practice Void meditation until you are comfortable, and until you can feel your qi in a relaxed state of meditation. 3. Dantian Meditation
Next, we are going to meditate again, but this time our meditation is different. Some people call this exercise "Dantian breathing". First, I must define what the Dantian is. Dantian is a Chinese word (pronounced don-dee-on) that means "elixir field". Sorry, I know I said there'd be no more Chinese terms to learn, but this one is very important. The Dantian is a point in your body that is the center for all of your energy, your qi. It is located about three inches below the navel and one inch inward. If you have studied yoga at all, you'll recognize this point as being the location of svadhisthana chakra
, as well. Anyway, familiarize yourself with this point on your body. Take your index finger and poke yourself rather hard at that point, then close your eyes and focus on the residual sensation of pain there. This is the kind of focus we are going to need in meditation.
Go to your meditation spot of choice and sit down crosslegged. Rest your hands on your knees, again. Keep your back straight and don't slouch, if you have trouble with this try resting your back against a wall or if outdoors, a tree. Begin to breath deep, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Allow yourself to meditate just like in Void Meditation, but when you get to that point (called gnosis) where you have few thoughts and neural discharges, you want to change your focus.
Focus on the Dantian. All of your focus and attention becomes that spot. Touch your tongue to the roof of the mouth. Now, as you breath in, focus and percieve the breath filling your body with qi. As you exhale, percieve all of the negative energy, emotion, and pain leaving your body with the breath outward. Continue this for about five minutes. After five minutes, the focus on the belly remains the same. Now, begin to visualize each breath coming in through the nostrils as a golden light: as you breath in, see and feel the qi coming into you from the air around you as a golden-white light that reaches the Dantian, then expands throughout the body. When you exhale, see the stress leaving your body as a red fog. If you find it difficult to visualize in such a manner, instead feel the qi moving into the Dantian as that electric, hot sensation moving through your body. Feel the negative qi leave your body as you exhale in the same manner. Repeat this until you feel energized all over, with the feeling centered in the Dantian.
When you are finished, count from one to five in your head with each breath, and say to yourself after five: "I am finished meditating for now." Stand up and stretch a bit. You may notice strong feelings of heat or warmth throughout the body. The fine hairs on the arms and legs may stand on end. These are normal side effects of Dantian meditation and a good indicator of progression in meditation. This concludes Dantian meditation.
It is recommended to practice Void meditation before practicing Dantian meditation. Traditionally, Dantian meditation is practiced for 100 days before beginning any kind of other qigong practice. You should practice Dantian meditation enough to become familiar with the sensation of qi moving in the body: it should feel like an electric tingle moving throughout the body, guided by your mind, and centered in the Dantian. When you finish Dantian meditation, you should feel very energized and alert. For the purposes of the busy individual, I would recommend doing nothing but Dantian meditation for a week before progressing further with this guide. The coming exercises are similar to Dantian meditation, but they include static and dynamic standing postures. Regardless, it is up to the individual to decide when they are ready to move on.4. Wuji Stance
This exercise is the first exercise we'll do standing up. It is part of what is called "silk reeling postures", or baduanjin in Chinese, and we are going to practice the first form called Wuji (woo*chee), or "Great Ultimate". Sometimes people call this practice "zhan zhuang" (jan-jew-wong) as well. The stance itself is easy to learn, and difficult to master, but learning it and practicing it has great health benefits. It strengthens the leg muscles in the body very well, and is a form of standing meditation.
Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Now, bend at the knees slightly and keep your feet flat on the floor. Lower the buttocks, and keep your back perpindicular to the ground. Keep your hands at your sides, open loosely and naturally. Have your weight evenly distributed on both legs. Put your tongue on the roof of the mouth, as in Dantian meditation. Picture yourself as a tree mentally, with roots sinking deep into the earth. Relax, and adjust to this new stance for meditation while you breath deeply.
Begin to focus on the Dantian. Take deep breaths in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Begin to feel the qi energizing you as you pull it in and down to the Dantian as a golden-white light with your inhalation. However, this time as you focus on the dantian, also focus on the qi coming up into you from the ground through those roots I told you to picture earlier. So, as you relax and meditate in Wuji, you have light coming into your body through your nostrils and circling, filling the dantian; as well as light coming into your dantian from below, flowing up the legs. Both of these flows meet at that one point in your center, the Dantian. Continue breathing this way for as long as possible; a good time to stop would be when your legs are very sore or shaky from standing in one position for longer than you're used to.Figure A: Wuji Stance
Eventually, with practice, you should be able to stand that way for a half hour to 45 minutes at a time, breathing and pulling in qi. At first, you may only be able to practice this method for 5-10 minutes before becoming too sore to continue. That is okay, what is important is that you are practicing, and you are using intention to pull qi into your body with breathwork. That is what qigong is about. ^_^ You don't want to overdo it either; practice this form as much as it is comfortable to practice. 5. Lifting the Sky
The next exercise is the first exercise to involve movement while meditating. It is called Lifting the Sky.
Stand in Wuji for about five minutes and practice Void meditation. Breath deeply and calmly, and feel the tension in your body sink away into the ground. Now, move your hands from your sides to be directly in front of you, palms up, with the middle fingers on each hand touching. Your hands should be loose and relaxed, and they should be in front of you at about the same level as the dantian is (in front of your waist). Now, take a deep inhalation, and move both your arms upwards and over your head until the palms are facing towards the sky. Your neck should be craned back and looking upwards. Exhale, and bring your hands down in front of you again to the starting position. As you do this, meditate in a fashion similar to Void meditation; there is no focus on qi, as the form itself causes qi movement in the body, and any focus on qi on your behalf will only impede the purpose of the form. Repeat this qigong form as much as you want to.Figure B: Lifting the Sky 6. Pushing Water
This exercise is another one involving movement, and practiced within a mindset of Void meditation. It is called Pushing Water.
Begin by standing in Wuji for five minutes and focusing on your breath. When you are in a sufficient state of mind, we are ready to begin. As you breath in, bend at the knees and sink your weight downward while still keeping the back straight. Your knees should be facing outwards at about a 45 degree angle and you should be up on the balls of your feet as you sink your weight lower. Simultaneously raise the hands outward to the side until the palms and arms are parallel to the ground. Exhale, and return to the starting position, slowly lowering your arms back to their sides and raising the weight upward, completing the Wuji stance again. Repeat this form as many times as you feel comfortable doing, and once again, the exercise is to be done in a Void mindset. Don't focus on the Dantian at all, or try and move qi into your system, as the exercise itself does that for you. Instead, simply focus on your breath and the exercise itself.Figure C: Pushing Water 7. Microcosmic Orbit
This exercise is a sitting meditation that improves the quality of your qi by taking the qi you have cultivated and cycling it in a beneficial manner through two meridians, or qi channels in the body. PLEASE NOTE that this exercise is NOT to be taken lightly. It is a very powerful practice and can be dangerous if practiced improperly, too soon, or with an incorrect focus. Traditionally, this exercise was taught only to disciples who had practiced the former exercises, and many others, over a period of two years time. I would therefore recommend that you DO NOT
practice this exercise until you have been doing Dantian meditation for 100 days time. I myself did not practice the microcosmic orbit until I had been doing basic meditation and qigong exercises for about 8 months. Please do not take this warning lightly; dementia, qi stagnation and blockages in the energy body can develop if this exercise is practiced before the individual is ready for it.
That said, begin by sitting down with your legs crossed and the palms of the hands covering the knees. Remember to keep your back straight and maintain proper posture. Practice void meditation until you are in the state of gnosis (neural discharge, a feeling of connectedness with qi, etc). The steps below cover the entirety of one circulation of the microcosmic orbit meditation.
a. With your eyes open, cross them and stare at the tip of the nose.
b. Close the anus and squeeze tightly. Keep it this way for the entirety of the circulation. This is done to close the gap called huiyin at the perineum, and bring both energy channels used in the process together. It also helps maintain a straight back and enforce proper posture.
c. Touch the tip of the tongue to the upper pallette in the mouth.
d. Breath in deep, and as you do so, focus on the energy in the dantian. Feel it move backwards, rise up the back of the spine, and travel to the top of the head. If you want to, you can visualise the energy as you have been doing- a golden, white light. The qi should arrive at the top of the head as you fill your lungs to capacity with air; try and time the rising qi with your breath.
e. Exhale, and feel the qi come down the front of the face to the upper pallette, where it moves through the tongue and proceeds to "fall" down the front of the body into the dantian.
f. Relax, uncross the eyes, release the tensed anus, and take a deep, cleansing breath.
Repeat this method five times, and after that you should notice a great deal of saliva in your mouth. Daoists call this the Jade Nectar, it is seen as being a beneficial leftover result from the internal alchemic firing process. Swallow the saliva, and picture a golden, white light begin to envelop the stomach and spread throughout the whole body. After you have done this, you may repeat the method five more times, before pausing after the deep, cleansing breath to swallow the Jade Nectar.
It is generally recommended to only do ten repetitions of the microcosmic orbit for the first week, then twenty the next, and after that max out at 27 repetitions of the exercise. Of course, moderation is key. You don't want to overdo any of these exercises, let alone the microcosmic orbit. This concludes the exercise.8. Training Pattern by Weeks
Week 1: Void Meditation
Week 2: Void Meditation, followed by Dantian Meditation
Week 3: Dantian Meditation
Week 4: Dantian Meditation
Week 5: Dantian Meditation and Wuji Stance
Week 6: Dantian Meditation and Lifting the Sky
Week 7: Dantian Meditation and Pushing Water
Week 8-12: Dantian Meditation, Wuji, Lifting the Sky and Pushing Water. 10 breaths per exercise before switching to the next.
Week 13: Dantian Meditation and Microcosmic Orbit (10 circulations)
Week 14: Dantian Meditation and Microcosmic Orbit (20 circulations)
Weeks 15-x: Dantian Meditation and Microcosmic Orbit (27 circulations max)*
*After week 15, you can practice any of the exercises at your leisure; the key is to do the ones you enjoy most, while still having Dantian meditation as your basic practice. 9. Conclusion
This concludes my brief introduction to Qigong. I would like to take this space to thank anyone and everyone throughout the years who guided me towards Daoist meditation and qigong. You know who you are.
Please post any questions concerning any exercises in these guides in the Body Energy Arts forum and I will read and try to answer them as promptly as possible. Thank you.Ren Dao! (Good health)