Week 1: What is Qi?
Welcome to my study group.
This week's reading will be more comprehensive than subsequent weeks do to the amount of theory and basic material needed to adequately educate on the basics of Qigong.
Taken from my article, Beginning Daoist Qigong EX.
The basic theory surrounding energies in this qigong is as follows, written by an old friend (Mad Daoist).
...."Qi: I have decided to start my discourse on the topic of Qi. Qi, a concept originally formulated by the Daoists, makes everything in the universe, well, tick. It spins the galaxies, energizes the creatures of the universe, and makes plants grow. It is the very essence of life itself. To have Neiqi is to have life itself."
"How does one get their Neiqi, originally? There are many theories. Most think the Original Qi is received while still in the womb as a fetus. While theoretically not known how, it is thought that fetuses have an amazing ability to act as a cosmic battery, absorbing the very Qi of the universe into itself. Naturally, the Mother provides quite a bit herself."
"Neiqi runs along the human body in a series of meridians. There are twelve medical meridians, largely considered a Confucian, perhaps acupuncturist concept. Then there are the Eight special or Psychic meridians. They are mostly a Daoist concept. Of course, these two systems of lines cross with each other, borrow from each other, etc. [editor's note: Discussed in depth later.]"
"Neiqi is stored in the Dantien. Now there are three Dantien, Original Qi resides in the lower Dantian, post-birth Neiqi (qi gathered through water, qigong, and food) resides in the middle Dantian."
"Your level and amount of neiqi determines your general health. You accumulate neiqi through exercise, eating, sleep, herbs, etc. One method of exercise geared for neiqi cultivation is something known as Qigong, here in the west. There are many qigong forms, types, and lineages. Taiji has qigong properties, for instance. However, there is a raging debate going on for exactly what qigong is. What Chinese critics say is mostly true, many forms and exercises brought from China to here are immediately called qigong, when in fact they have about as many qigong-like properties as Richard Simmons' "sweat you butt off to the oldies", for example. One should always check before you call something qigong, for it is fast becoming dangerous waters."....
...."Jing: Neiqi is free-flowing and nice. It's good for health, meditation, etc. However, when put to use for martial applications, it falls short. However, neiqi can be converted into neijing, for the sharp demands of the Nei-jia. (Internal Martial Arts) Neijing will hence forth be called jing. Jing is at a higher frequency than qi- it's a lot more powerful. In the words of Waysun Liao, "Your opponent can feel your jing, but not your qi. You can feel your qi, but not your jing."
...."But I digress. Neiqi leads jing, it controls it. Once you can learn how to convert neiqi into jing, [discussed later] you can use it effectively against an opponent. Jing is far beyond the reaches of normal time and space. It's a power called down from the universe itself for use by human beings. Jing's only limit is your own yi. I'll get to that pretty soon."
"I think it was quite wise when a famous Ba-gua master compared jing to a Dragon. If you treat the dragon right, you can unleash it on your opponent, and the dragon will lend you his strength. Treat the dragon wrong, and it'll take a bite out of you. This illustrates the point that jing is not something to be played with, it's a real weapon, and should be treated as you would a knife or even a handgun. However, be careful with it, and it'll be your most powerful weapon."
"Furthermore, there are many synonyms for qi that you will encounter, from many different languages and traditions. Almost every human culture has had a word describing an all-pervading, universal life force. Some of them are: Ki, Prana (sanskrit), Orgone, rLung (tibetan), orenda (Native American, Iroquois), energy, life force, magickal current, ruach (hebrew), the Light, Holy Spirit (christian), spiritus (roman), Pnuema (Greek) and psi."
"The ultimate goal of this art and this guide is to develop a universal link with energy, and a feeling of strength in body, mind and spirit. The practitioner, through the presented exercises, goes from being just a person controlled by forces to a person in tune with and above these forces- at peace with his environment, where ever he happens to be."
So, what have we learned from the proceeding writing?
- Qi means "breath" and refers to universal spiritual energy. It can also be written C'hi and is pronounced "chee".
- Neiqi (naychee) is the original Qi from conception and controls and regulates Qi in the body
- Jing (pronounced 'jean') means "force" or "power", is separate from Qi yet born from it, and is developed through the neijia (internal arts like Taiji or Qigong).
- Qi and Neiqi are centered in the middle Dantien (dan-dyin) whereas Jing and Neijing are centered in the Lower Dantien
- A Dantien, or 'elixir field', is a spiritual center in the body. In most Qigong there are three- one in the 3rd Eye, one in the heart, and one 3 inches below the naval (respectively the Upper or Higher Dantien, Middle and Lower Dantien).
- Qi moves through the body in a series of pathways called meridians.
This knowledge will come into play more intensely later. For the time being, you should at least have a general idea of these concepts as well as proper pronunciation of them in speech.
Moving on to the beginning exercises, there are two for this week.
The first is a series of basic Qigong routines used to introduce moving Qigong to the aspirant. First, though, we need to discuss the proper breathing technique used for these exercises. It is said that breath leads Qi and using specific breathing for a specific purpose is a large part of what differentiates Qigong from things like Psionics or Magick. Every energy movement and exercise you will do throughout this course is regulated by breath.
Buddhist breathingExercise 1: Basic Qigong Forms
Right now, you want to train your qi to follow the mind. However, one of the translations of "qi" is breath. Therefore, it could be said that qi following breath is a mechanism developed to draw in and promote qi flow. This way of breathing is a way of training the mind to be more in tune with the body and it's surroundings, and to allow qi to flow through the body fully.
Buddhist breathing draws qi down into the dantian. It is done as follows: As you breathe in deeply for 5 seconds, push your stomach out at the end of the inhalation [to allow more air to fill the bottom of the lungs]. Hold for a second or two. On exhalation, simply exhale for about 5 seconds. Breathing should be clear and slow, with no noise heard in the nostrils.
Breathing should always be smooth, consistent, and natural. No hissing or noise should be heard; the breath should be totally silent.
This meditation should always be the one you do before any of the more advanced meditations. It helps to figuratively "warm up the body" to the energy flow.
We are going to start right off with some basic Qigong forms.
As you practice these forms, try to keep a quiet mind. Do not let thoughts distract you. Try and pay attention to how you feel and any physical sensations you receive while doing the forms. I have my own, and I know the common ones most people feel and experience but I will not elaborate further for risk of suggestion.
The forms are Lifting the Sky, Pushing Water and Shaolin Archer, some of the most basic Qigong forms everyone knows. These are what I first started with.
5. Lifting the Sky
The next exercise is the first exercise to involve movement while meditating. It is called Lifting the Sky.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward. 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. (You may also just keep your hands at your sides as if standing normally). 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.
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 with feet a little more than shoulder width apart with your feet diagonally opposite (toes pointing outward, think of it like a horse stance with the legs straight at the knees - ed). 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 Dantien 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.
Sadly, for Shaolin Archer I cannot provide an adequate writeup as the arm and hand movements are much more complex and beyond me to put in writing.
However, I have made a short video instructing and demonstrating all three forms which is unlisted on youtube. I would prefer this not be passed around publically on Veritas and kept solely for the use of my study groups and classes, so please respect that.
If you have any difficulties or questions concerning these forms, please ask.
Practice these three forms for a half hour a day for the next week, if possible, and report your observations and results. If you are unfit or injured and have pain doing them, or difficulty doing the full motions, then simply do them for as long as is comfortable to the best of your ability. You should aim to practice each form for 10 minutes.
On to the next exercise, which is Zen meditation.
This is a preparatory meditation which isn't in any of my writing that I know of, although it is useful to teach beginners.
Sit down on the floor, with your back against a wall, crosslegged. Rest your palms on your kneecaps, fingers and hand relaxed. Push your shoulders back against the wall, and let your head be natural (don't push the back of your head against the wall). The point is to sit up straight and not slouch. Lower your head slightly so your chin is parallel to the ground. This will henceforth be referred to as the basic meditation position, regardless of whether or not you have a wall to lean on. It will be used in future lessons. Anyway, pick a spot in front of you to focus on- this could be a marking on a wall, a point on the floor, a feature of something hanging on the wall like a photo. The only requirement is that this spot be rather small yet still visible from your current position. It needs to be a speck.
Now, begin to breath deeply and normally. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, with your stomach moving normally (NOT Daoist breathing). You don't want your breath to distract you, it should be natural, but deep. Try not to get distracted and look away from the spot, and try not to think about anything else but that spot.
Do this exercise for 30 minutes daily for the next week and post your experiences with it in the experiences thread.
That concludes this week's material.
Good Health and Training.