Literally translated Qi means life energy. According to Chinese thinking, all living beings, nature as well as the entire cosmos are permeated by this life force.
In human terms, Qi is what distinguishes a living person from a corpse. It is the strength that we intend to recharge when we go to bed in the evening and that we miss so much when we are exhausted or ill.
If we are active, energetic and full of ideas, we are “full of Qi”. If we feel listless, tired or totally worn out, then there is a lack of Qi.
For more interesting facts about Qi read the article A crack in the worldview.
All Qigong practices are based on three principles:
1. The breath leads the movement or the movement changes the breath. Indirectly this leads to movement and harmonization of Qi.
2. The mind leads the Qi.
3. The mind dwells in silence and the Qi harmonizes and centers itself automatically.
Basically there are two types of Qigong:
a. Moving Qigong and
b. Silent Qigong.
Moving Qigong is usually easier because no strong mental power is required. Thusmost beginners start with moving Qigong: they learn a form of about 10-20 movements, which are repeated in a flowing and harmonious sequence.
In moving Qigong, the breath guides the movement or the movement causes a change in the breath. This causes the Qi to move:
It leads to the flow and harmonization of your life energy and thus to improved health.
Silent Qigong is generally considered to be both more beneficial and more difficult. There are no physical movements in silent Qigong. There are generally two levels of silent Qigong:
1. The Qi is guided directly by the imagination. So it follows only the second principle “The mind directs the Qi”. This allows the energy to penetrate deep into the body: into the inner energy centers, into the spinal cord, into the brain and even into the marrow of the bones. No physical exercise can achieve these effects!
2. The mind concentrates on one “point” – e.g. the lower abdomen or the center of the brain – and becomes quieter and quieter. The Qi increases, refines itself and calms down by itself. It flows to wherever it is needed. This second level of silent Qigong fosters the cultivation of the mind. Here, the practitioner gains insights into the make-up of the ego and into profound principles of life that are not recognizable at the level of the sensory world. Often special abilities like clairvoyance etc. unfold, especially if the practitioner does not strive for it!
Silent Qigong is considered to be one of the highest arts in China, as it helps to develop a great variety of mental abilities and inner powers when practiced over many years.
There are countless Qigong exercises and the number of different Qigong schools is immense. What exactly is the essence of Qigong?
What principles do all schools and exercises have in common?
2. Become one with the forces of nature.
3. Collect the life forces in your lower abdomen.
4. Open your heart, empty your mind and build up your inner strength.
Qigong works on different levels:
– physical level
– emotional level
– mental / intellectual level
– level of special gifts or abilities
– spiritual level (intuition, wisdom)
The practice of Taiji, also known as Chinese shadow boxing, consists mainly of learning a Taiji form: a longer sequence of various slow and animal-like movements originally intended for use in combat.
In the long run, the practice of this form leads, to the harmonization and strengthening of life energy and to improved health – just like Qigong.
In Qigong one works directly with the life energy Qi with the help of the mind and of breathing. Movements can occur in Qigong, but do not have to. If movements are used, they serve to regulate the flow of energy and strengthen the internal organs. They are usually much easier to learn than Taiji and are never intended for use in combat.
Since Qigong is not about learning a martial art, all exercises are designed to have a direct medical and psychological effect. In most Qigong exercises one shines Qi onto – or consciously activates – different acupuncture points.