Internal or Silent Qigong


About QiGong

Qigong is a unique Chinese exercise system, the “Ancient Art of Energy Renewal and Life Extension”. Through individual effort, practitioners build up their health and prevent illness by combining discipline of mind, body and the body’s “Qi” (vital force). Qigong is a combination of meditation, movement, and breathing exercises, with profound physical, mental and spiritual side effects.

The different categories including “Moving, Hard or External and Silent, Soft or Internal”

Western practitioners have divided and categorized qigong into various segments. Within China, qigong is generally practiced in two major categories, “still” and “moving”.

The term “Soft or Internal qigong” usually refers to exercises which enhance spiritual, mental, and physical health with meditation and gentle exercises. “Hard or External qigong” refers to exercises done in martial arts to strengthen and protect the body from vicious blows. Some divide qigong into “Medical”, “Martial”, or “Spiritual” categories depending on the purpose of the practice.

The History

Chinese Qigong has been practiced with a recorded history of over 2,000 years but it wasn’t until 1953, when Liu Gui-zheng published a paper entitled “Practice On Qigong Therapy”, that the term Qigong  (Chi Kung) was adopted as the popular name for this type of exercise system.

The meaning of QiGong

Qigong (Chi Kung) comes from the Chinese words “Qi” meaning “Energy” plus “Gong”, meaning “work” or “practice”. It is a term that describes a Chinese Exercise system that focuses on cultivating and attracting “Qi” or “lifeforce” energies. Pronounced like “Chee Gung”.

Internal, (also known as Soft, Still or Silent) Qigong

The practice of breath; “internal” qigong, which stresses meditation and relaxation also can teach you to relax and focus, and is a way to harmonize the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. In addition, it helps to develop concentration and coordination. “Still or Internal” qigong lays emphasis on quiet, motionless meditation, generally employing methods of internal concentration and regulation of breathing. It is usually practiced in outwardly motionless postures such as the lying, sitting or standing positions, and since it emphasizes exercise of the internal aspect of the body,

It draws on many elements and includes “regulating the body” through posture, “regulating the mind” through quiet, relaxation and concentration of one’s mental activity,” regulating the breath”, self-massage and movement of the limbs.  It is an internal martial art in which one learns to sense the Qi moving in ones own body.

Wu Chi or Emptiness is the most fundamental Qigong posture. Many Qigong movements begin and end with Wu Chi.

The Standard Rules

These rules or guidelines are generally observed unless specified overwise.

  • Breath through the nose.
  • Tongue touching the roof of the mouth (palate).
  • Calm the mind.
  • Hollowing the chest and rounding the back.
  • Sense the body, breath and Qi.
  • Listen to the silence, see, taste, touch and smell the silence.
  • Body relaxed, no physical tension.

Beneficial Results of Practise

When practicing sitting or lying qigong it has been shown that the body’s consumption of oxygen decreases by about thirty percent, the level of the metabolic rate also dropping by about twenty percent, This condition of lowered metabolism is an aid to reducing the patient’s physical consumption of energy, allowing the gradual accumulation of energy, fostering the body’s strength, and providing the basis for the body to combat and defeat illness.

Qigong’s main therapeutic properties lie in its regulation of the activity of the cerebral cortex, the central nervous system and the cardio-vascular system, its effect in correcting abnormal reactions of the organism, massaging effect on the organs of the abdominal cavity, and its effect as a means of self-control over the physical functions of one’s body.

The rate of respiration decreases while the duration of each breath increases. Such an increase in the period of inhalation and exhalation will enlarge the scope of the diaphragm’s activity, causing a greater flow in the volume of air, increasing the practitioner’s lung capacity.

Kundalini yoga

It is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline for developing strength, awareness, character, and consciousness. According to yogic philosophy, kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine. It is conceptualized as a coiled up serpent. Considered an advanced form of yoga and meditation its purpose is to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others. Practitioners call Kundalini yoga, the yoga of awareness because it focuses primarily on the practices which expand sensory awareness and intuition in order to raise individual consciousness and merge it with the Infinite consciousness of God.  At its highest form, is practiced for the purpose of attaining bliss, opening the heart center, developing power, serving others, attaining self-realization and ultimately merging into God consciousness.

History

Until modern times, Kundalini Yoga was on the whole a secretive and misunderstood technology – it was not widely taught by any master teachers outside of India until Yogi Bhajan, a renowned spiritual teacher from India.  He re-incarnated the previously restricted yoga form and introduced it to the West as comprehensive spiritual system for personal growth and transformational technology for self development  and to counter the drug abuse of the 60’s. Throughout 35 years teaching until his death in 2004, Yogi Bhajan built up a legacy of information and teachings around the yogic lifestyle practice of Kundalini yoga, including the publications of over 100 related books on the applications of the yogic technology.

Kundalini energy

Technically understood as being sparked during yogic breathing when prana and apana blends at the 3rd chakra (naval center) at which point it initially drops down to the 1st and 2nd chakras before traveling up to the spine to the higher centers of the brain to activate the golden cord – the connection between the pituitary and pineal glands – and penetrate the 7 chakras. Yogi Bhajan has also described the aura as a supporting 8th chakra which he claimed is essential for integrating and containing the energy.

In practice

The practice of Kundalini yoga is designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on naval activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work and the application of bhandas (3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers. Along with the many meditations and practices of Kundalini Yoga, a simple breathing technique of alternate nostril breathing, left nostril, right nostril.

Methodology

Literally, kundalini or kundala is that which is coiled (Sanskrit kund, to burn; kunda, to coil or to spiral). It is believed that Kundalini yoga is that which arouses the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along the ida (left), pingala (right) and central, or sushumna nadi.  This process can be seen even today in modern medical grahic, as two snakes spiraling a central staff, and although the origin of this image is more directly derived from the Caduceus of the Greek god Hermes, it may express the same or a similar principle.

Benefits to health

Some studies have shown that the physical and physiological benefits cover a wide spectrum of ailments, including healing treatments for memory problems, asthma, diabetes, pain, stress-related diseases, rehabilitating addictive behavior, and treating mental disorders.

Observations

According to some traditions Kundalini techniques are only communicated from master to disciple once the disciple is deemed ready.  In these cases, yogic masters believe that in ascetic settings ignorance or refusal to follow instructions of a master can lead to harmful effects.  Some of the psychological difficulties associated with intensive spiritual practice are claimed to be “kundalini awakening”, “a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition”. the concept of kundalini, known as kundalini syndrome. Believers say that the negative experiences might occur only when acting without appropriate guidance or ignoring advice, as this is a system designed for personal spiritual growth.

Pilates

Like AT, Pilates is a system that does not have an ancient history. In fact, it was put together by a German national of Greek parentage called Joseph Pilates who had been interned by the British during World War One. He had studied Yoga forms and Zen Buddhism and was inspired by Greek Philosophy, especially the Platonic principles and ideals. Hesaw the possibility of helping the sick and wounded around him, and during the war built up his system utilising whatever aides and props he could to help the disabled soldiers. His system is based on resistance training, and unlike Yoga, flexibility is not the issue – our muscular strength is, plus other factors he re-cognised as important to develop true health.

So, he believed by isolating muscle groups and working on them, by working on breath control and increasing someone blood circulation, the whole body became stronger. He believed that the mind controlled the body and was determined to develop a system that anyone could use, whatever their condition, age or situation.

This determination all stemmed from his childhood, which was plagued by ill health and weakness. So, as a youngster, first he had built himself up and then he was in the position through hardship to help build up the sick soldiers around him, and when the war was over, it was discovered that those soldiers that he had worked with didn’t catch the influenza that had swept through the country and the whole camp, indicating that what he was doing was indeed a phenomena worth investigating. So clearly, by improving the bodily strength, and circulation, and posture, he had proven that the immunity and health of someone could also be improved. After he returned to Germany, he was elevated into a position of importance, but left to find his fortune in the US, where his system became well known by actors, dancers and many celebrities. He published books and lived to be old enough to see the success for himself.

As an exercise system, Pilates is not in competition with Yoga at all. In fact, if anything, it is in competition with the gym, because its sole aim is to strengthen the body, not the mind as such, and he dint develop any way of life or lifestyle philosophy, unlike the yogis. However, he did envision that a strong body necessitated a string mind, and his various techniques and ideas for improving the body also mean t certain amount of mind control and discipline ad to be developed in order to be successful. Another factor in his system is the need for much one-to-one work between the trainer and practitioner.

Whilst some of his props look like instruments of torture, they are in fact all based on original parts of materials he found around him in the camp, so they are very simple in design and the simpler something is, often the more effective.

Today, almost everyone has heard of Pilates, and many,  many millions of people use it across the world, to re-habilitate themselves and generally keep in good shape and develop their muscular and a deeper strength.

I found that it had certain benefits, but if you don’t develop your flexibility as well, mere muscular and body strength is limiting. Also, as there is no guiding philosophy, it can be seen as a somewhat shallow practice and I believe people want and need more guidance in their lifestyles and life choices, not just body work.

Autogenic Training (AT)

I started to do Autogenic training way back in 1988. Then it was a little known system devised in the 1930’s by psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Johannes Schultz. It was mainly used by athletes and sports people to help them relax and steady their nerves so they could compete in disciplines that required concentration and steadiness.

Today it has found its way into the mainstream health system (it’s available on the UK National Health Service) and is one many techniques you can use to induce a kind of self relaxation through auto-suggestion, helping to relieve stress and boost the immune system and vital functions, as relaxation generally does.

In essence, it required the practitioner to use their mind to tell different parts of their body to relax by imagining their limbs to be warm and heavy, their heart rate to be slow and steady, and their forehead to be cool etc – all in all, it leads to a relaxed state by suggesting to the body all the feelings that are elicited by being relaxed, so it’s quite a clever system. First of all, you listen to your AT trainer, and then learn what they say and repeat it to yourself  whilst alone, either sitting (preferably) or lying down.

I had to find a quiet place and the right time to do it, every day. I did it twice a day, at first, morning and night. Day by day I managed to relax more and more and then I was able to put in my own auto-suggestions too, that were a kind of self hypnosis to try and help me change my life for the better. So, I put in suggestions like “I am always healthy”, and “I am very successful”.

I have to say that it helped, I felt physically and emotionally better, but in the end, I couldn’t use it in my everyday life, because it was too inflexible… it was often hard to find quiet time at home. I also found other techniques to be more effective in the long run, because I could use them anywhere and everywhere, but at the time it was an invaluable tool to helping me along the way to a more relaxed life.

So, it can definitely take you into a deeper stage of relaxation; there have been studies that show it works to help deal with stress and help you re-programme your mind to a certain extent. Furthermore, there have been several controlled trials conducted which show the positive effects of AT, for example,

“A controlled trial with 50 nursing students found that the number of certified days off sick was reduced … and a second trial with only 18 students reported greater improvement in Trait Anxiety”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553681?ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum .

However, it is also limited in its knowledgebase and the teachers don’t have a deeper grasp of sickness and how it develops, but just pass on the techniques to you and you ‘run’ with it, so to speak. My teacher developed arthritis after many years of practicing it, and didn’t seem to think that AT could help her, so I think that’s says quite a lot! Never-the-less, for those who need to relax and can find the time and a quiet place to do it, it can help them calm down and find some peace and also help make them stronger.

The British Autogenic Society has a great site: http://www.autogenic-therapy.org.uk/index.htm

Reiki

Reiki is a term for the well known (Japanese in origin) channelling therapy practiced by, it seems, everyone’s sister or friends’ friend. Everyone has heard of it, even those who seem to live their entire lives in either the office or coffee bar or club.

Reiki means Universal Life (Rei) Energy (Ki). It has its roots in ancient Buddhist teachings. As such, it is a spiritual healing system whose founder, Dr Mikao Usui, found information about it in 1922 whilst meditating on a mountain – and also by reading Sanskrit texts.

Reiki practitioners believe that we can strengthen the Ki (or life energy) of others by using our own ability to connect to our own healing energy and use it for others. The body’s natural ability to heal itself is activated when the Reiki practitioner channels the Ki puts his or her hands on the client – or slightly above – and then channels the energy into the person, through their hands to the recipient. The body and mind are in a positive state of health when a person’s Ki is strong and flowing freely. However, symptoms on a physical or emotional level develop when the vital energy become weak or blocked.

To do Reiki, you need someone who is a Reiki master to attune you – open up your channels – and this can be taught in a short space of time, even over few weekends. The practitioner then can practice immediately.

The recipient often feelings tingling, warmth and a pleasant feeling afterwards, but no miracle cures are usually effected. If there is a chronic problem, up to 10 treatments are performed. The practitioner is using a non-diagnostic method here and the result is that the energy is seen as the intelligent part, whilst the practitioner is a mere channel.

It is also possible to do absent healings, where healing energy is sent to the recipient and the practitioner can use symbols they have learnt to do this.

A Reiki practitioner will have received ‘attunements’ to open their healing channels. The guidelines for the practice of Reiki are concerned with ethics and behavior and include living in harmony with others, taking responsibility for one’s own health and happiness, helping others, and being positive about all things.

My feeling about Reiki is that it’s based on very sound principles, but that I know of more than a few practitioners who have become seriously ill doing it, and one even died. I believe this is because they took the negative, bad energy from their clients and didn’t t clean it up properly. Whether that’s because they didn’t have the correct knowledge, skills, or teachings, I cannot say. It helped me understand some things about myself, and also made me feel better, but I cannot say I felt some huge healing shifts. Its beauty is that it is so simple and direct and surely helps people feel much better. If it gets to the roots of problems, I very much doubt, because that’s really due to life style choices and behaviour…and personally I would choose to do energy healing for this reason alone – because energy healing can help you get to the roots of your illnesses and problems. But, also, energy healers can more easily avoid the negative effects of healing.

Energy Exercises by Aiping Wang

After years of researching and practicing many Chinese tradition exercises and healing techniques, Aiping Wang Fulepp conceived her own unique exercise. The exercise complements her healing methods and allows the person doing them to completely empty their mind, releasing energy blockages and reenergizing themselves. With practice and a high level of understanding, a person can reap the full benefits of the exercise quickly. However, in the beginning, the exercise takes more time.

The key to successfully practicing the exercises is to learn to move without moving, which ends in a state of relaxation. in this state, the mind and body are able to function in an altered way, resulting in emptiness of all thoughts, a feeling of lightness, and a deep sense of relaxation and recharge.

The first position is to stand with your legs slightly parted. Once situated like this, jump, with the soles of the feet parallel to the ground, the body staying in one place. The movements are gentle and slow, and the whole body is left to hang down. It is important to keep the back straight and avoid slouching. Keep your head tilted slightly backward. In this exercise, the neck is free to move from side to side, but in a way so that the face remains pointing forward and the ears moving downwards from shoulder to shoulder with each up and down step. It looks almost as though you’re being controlled by an invisible puppeteer, pulling your up and down. Despite adding to the odd appearance, remember to smile while completing the exercises.

Aiping Wang Fulepp’s exercise is best done just before sunrise, pointing east, so that the face is pointing toward the sun. A final requirement is wear warm clothing, to induce sweating. This exercise actually encourages a deep sweating that is from the organs – not your normal type of sweating!  As the soles of the feet strike the ground, there is a massaging effect, which travels all the way up the body through the meridians, reaching all the organs. Your organs will start to open and relax, releasing blockages and expelling the negative energy from the pores of the body, hence the sweating.

All in all, it is a dynamic exercise that must be taught by masters. Attempts to learn from videos are useful, but as there are so many subtleties to this exercise, including the leg and neck positions, it is advisable to seek out the instruction of a registered expert.

 

 

 

Yoga

Yoga is often confused by many people with just stretching into all sorts of (sometimes) funny positions, ladies wearing skinny leotards and lots of people who eat brown rice, are vegan or macrobiotic and drink freshly squeezed organic juices.

However, Yoga is practiced by many pop and silver screen stars, and even business people… along with millions of common folk around the world. Did you know that Sting, Madonna and Jennifer Anniston all practice Yoga?

Yoga, although it is often considered to be Asian in origin, has its place in many continents throughout the world, albeit under different names and systems. It consists of a hugely varied and historically ancient (around 5 000 years old) set of physical and mental techniques and a deep philosophy of living connected to different religions, and includes breathing, meditating  and body movement/ stretching techniques. In reality, only a few particular types are practiced on mass, largely coming under the title of Hatha Yoga (see Wikipedia Hatha Yoga). Other well known yogic names are the usual ones such as Iyengar Yoga (see Wikipedia Iyengar Yoga) whilst more recently – thanks to the likes of Madonna – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (see Wikipedia Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), is becoming increasingly popular.

Today there over 20 types of Yoga you can practice, depending on your personal tastes and requirements.
Whilst the main forms are the basic ‘still’ asanas (postures) types (Hatha and Iyengar) , the Ashtanga dynamic system is a non-stop flow of interconnecting positions, whilst the others ones incorporate different breathing techniques, as derived from the original Sanskrit texts.
Yoga is a great practice because it’s simple and a good way to make sure your body and mind are relaxed and relatively healthy. Its main draw backs are the time you need to reach a stage of relaxation and a special space to do it in.

In essence the point of yoga is to prepare the person for meditation, so as to keep the mind peaceful and calm and clear and keep the body clean, lean and healthy. However, its practice requires a lot of dedication and if you are sitting in a traffic jam it’s not so easy to get into an asana and relax.
Today many people are drawn to Yoga as a means to escape the stress and tension of their busy lives and also experience a heightened sense of well being and healthiness, and it’s also becoming a socially acceptable way to do something spiritual without having to be religious.

Qi Gong

Qi Gong is a favourite of mine for several reasons. It is an ancient practice to enhance longevity and rejuvenate mind body and spirit, using special physical and breathing techniques. It is also seen as part of Traditional Chinese medicine.

It helps the practitioner achieve a deep state of relaxation, strengthens their bodies and increases their Qi (energy), helping them to become or remain healthy. It also opens the person up to become more wise and aware. There are in fact at least 10,000 different types of Qi Gong (energy training/practice) registered by the Chinese Qi Gong governing body – and at least 200 million people practicing these methods in China alone… everything from Drunken to Dragon Sword to Dayan (Wild Goose; see  http://www.qimagazine.com ) to Hau Gong (see http://www.dao-hua-qigong.com/qg.html ) forms.

Originally, people saw the parallels between humans and the natural world, and by copying the nature of both animals – like birds, deer, tigers and bears – and natural forms like clouds, trees, mountains and the sun – they sought to catch the essence, in fact, the energy of each, thus helping the participant to liberate themselves through those various movements, positions, breathing techniques and visualisations, to connect to a greater nature… a greater energy… eventually leading to the following of Tao (the Way; see Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao ) by those who mastered such forms and flows. Such masters then had followers, or students, who practiced those forms and understandings until they reached a level of mastery that meant they would leave and find their own way… or stay to serve the master.

In its original forms, there are two type of Qi Gong – the formal forms mentioned above, and the ‘formless styles’, which are also part of recognised lineages, with masters.

They mainly come from China and were developed by a series of energy masters who practiced religiously day in day out to reach and go beyond most normal levels of health and abilities… such as to heal other people and use their abilities to advice and protect the Emperors.

The most powerful forms are however all formless and ‘spontaneous’ – that is they involve no particular form, but are allowed to unfold without any obvious effort from the practitioner. The highest level is the pre-natal form. What makes the pre-natal type different from all the rest is it involves no movement at all, and looks somehow like nothing is happening at all! That’s because the practitioner sits and allows either words or silence to occur, as an expression of the universal energy (Qi, or Chi) that is channelling through them.

All in all, Qi Gong has become a system that is used by many people across the world, mainly for health reasons. Sting is said to practice Qi Gong, along with some other celebrities.