Archive for the ‘Taijiquan’ Category
Dr. Lam with some of his students
Update January 2012:
I have just received my newest certification to teach the entire Tai Chi for Arthritis program fully sanctioned by the Arthritis Foundation of America
Millions of people have benefited from Taiji training and yet many have not been able or have not felt able to participate. Now almost anyone can participate in a Taiji program. For years, I have done classes at retirement homes like Roselani Place and Kalama Heights and I had found a way to bring Taiji to those that have a limited range of movement by simplifying the form. Many of my students cannot stand or walk and yet it has been possible for me to share these life-changing arts with them in this way.
Recently Dr. Paul Lam has designed a system specifically for students in this situation and I have received training from one his trainers. I feel this is an excellent program as it allows everyone to learn some Taiji and is fully accredited by the Arthritis Foundation and backed up with medical evidence as to its efficacy. Having this accreditation is important for application to people with “special needs”.
I am pleased to announce that I will be offering this program at Kaunoa in Sprecklesville starting immediately every Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 PM. For many new students this will be a boon, finally giving them an opportunity to benefit from Taiji. If you have been holding back because you have felt unable to join before, now is the time to check it out. In addition, for existing students, please tell your friends about this new program it is so simple they can even participate while sitting down.
This program uses a very simplified set of Qigong movements and Taiji form. Derived from the “Sun” (pronounced “soon”) Style it roughly follows the same structure as the Yang style and a beginner could easily learn this style and then segue into Yang Style later. Frankly, I enjoy doing this form as it is performed very slowly and with a minimal amount of stepping which gives it a feeling almost similar to zhan zhuang training. Proponents of zhan zhuang like Fong Ha and those of you that attended my workshop with him will understand what I am saying.
This program is not intended to replace any of my other training options. I feel Yang Style is still the best for most people and I would not recommend you give up on that practice. Still, my heart goes out to those that up until now have not been able to do my regular classes, and so, at last I have a sanctioned option for those people to discover the wonders of Taiji.
For more information about this program click: Tai Chi for Arthritis
Single Whip with Master Zhou
Here are the names for all the moves in the Wudang Style long form for your reference.
Wudang Taijiquan Long Form
1. Preparatory Posture (Primordial Chaos; Wuji)
2. Beginning (Birth of Yin and Yang)
3. Step Backwards with a Snapping Force
4. Grasp the Peacocks Tail
5. Single Straight Whip
6. Lift the Hands and Step Forward
7. The White Crane Spreads its Wings
8. Brush the Left Knee and Turn the Leg
9. Hands Strum the Lute
10. The White Crane Spreads its Wings
11. Brush the Left Knee and Turn the Leg
12. Brush the Right Knee and Turn the Leg
13. Brush the Left Knee and Turn the Leg
14. Hands Strum the Lute
15. Step, Parry and Punch
16. Closing Off
17. Cross Hands
18. Carry the Tiger Back to the Mountain
19. Step backward to drive away Monkey
20. Double Palm Thrust
21. Diagonal Palm Thrust
22. Grasp the Bird’s Tail
23. Diagonal Single Whip
24. Under Elbow Punch
25. Brush the Right knee, Bent Leg Step
26. Step Back and Whirl the Arms
27. Diagonal Flying
28. Empty Step, Pushing Palm
29. Lift Hands and Step Forward
30. White Crane Spreads its Wings
31. Brush the Left Knee, Bent Leg Step
32. Needle at the Bottom of the Sea
33. Dodge, Step, Parry and Punch
34. Open the Window and Watch the Moon
35. Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
36. Single Straight Whip
37. Cloud Hands
38. Single Straight Whip
39. Pat the Horse
40. Lion Kick with the Right Heel
41. Lion Kick with the Left Heel
42. Turn the Body, Brush the Left Knee, Bent Leg Step
43. Brush the Right Knee, Bent Leg Step
44. Step Forward to Tame the Tiger with a Punch
45. Dodge to Strike the Back
46. Step, Parry and Punch
47. Small Capturing Hold
48. Right Leg Kick
49. Beat the Tiger, Left Side
50. Beat the Tiger, Right Side
51. Right Leg Kick
52. Thrust Both Palms Downward
53. Strike the Ears with Both Fists
54. Cross Hand
55. Mount the Tiger
56. Stand on One Leg
57. Step, Parry and Punch
58. Closing Off
59. Cross Hands
60. Carry the Tiger Back to the Mountain
61. Step backward to drive away Monkey
62. Thrust Both Palms Downward
63. Diagonal Palm Thrust
64. Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
65. Single Whip
66. Part the Wild Horse’s Mane
67. Grasp the Bird’s Tail
68. Single Straight Whip
69. The Fair Lady Works at the Shuttle
70. Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
71. Single Straight Whip
72. Cloud Hands
73. Single Straight Whip
74. Push down on the Left with the Single Whip
75. Push down on the Right with the Single Whip
76. Single Punch to the Throat
77. Step back and Whirl Arms on Both Sides
78. Diagonal Flying
79. Empty Step, Pushing Palm
80. Lift Hands and Step Forward
81. The White Crane Spreads its Wings
82. Brush the Left Knee, Bent Leg Step
83. Needle at the Bottom of the Sea
84. Dodge to Strike the Back
85. Straight Punch
86. Step, Parry and Punch
87. Grasp the Peacock’s Tail
88. Single Straight Whip
89. Cloud Hands
90. Pat the Horse
91. Diagonal Palm Thrust
92. Right Foot Diagonal Thrust
93. Brush the Left Knee, Bent Leg Step
94. Lion Kick with the Right Heel
95. Brush the Right Knee, Bent Leg Step
96. Left Cutting Palm
97. Punch the Chest
98. Grasp the Bird’s Tail
99. Single Straight Whip
100. Push Down with the Single Whip
101. Seven Star Forward Step
102. Step Backwards to Mount the Tiger
103. Place the Lotus
104. Flex the Bow to Shoot the Tiger
105. Step, Parry and Punch
106. Apparent Close-up
107. Cross Hands
108. Carry the Tiger Back to the Mountain
2013 Public Tai Chi Class Schedule
Schedule notes for January 2013
- Two New Qigong practice sessions each week!
- January 17th & 18th I will be doing a Tai chi for Arthritis Workshop at Kaunoa, call 270-7308 to sign up!
Monday at the West Maui Senior Center on Lahainaluna street in Lahaina.
- Intermediate Level I Taiji 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
- Beginner Levels I & II Taiji 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
- Sitting Qigong/Meditation 11:30 PM to 1:00 PM
Monday at Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Park in Kihei … more info
- Qigong Practice Session 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Tuesday at the Hui Aloha area (down near the beach road) inside Keopuolani Park in Kahului.
- Advanced Level I Taiji 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
- Beginner Level II Taiji 9:00 AM to 10::00 AM
Tuesday at the Kaunoa Senior Center (seniors only) in Sprecklesville Maui.
- Intermediate Level I Taiji 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- Beginner Level I Taiji 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Wednesday In Kihei-Wailea area; Semi-private: Space available, contact me for more information.
- Qigong & Taiji, All levels 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM
Wednesday at the Kaunoa Senior Center (seniors only) in Sprecklesville Maui.
Thursday at Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u Park in Kihei … more info
- Qigong Practice Session 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM
Friday at the Kihei Community Center’s Aquatics Center classroom next to pool.
- Beginners & Intermediate Level I Taiji 7:45 AM to 9:00AM
- Intermediate Level II Taiji 9:00AM to 10:00AM
Saturday at Waipuilani Park in North Kihei
- Wudang Qigong & Taiji Styles 8:00 AM to 9:30AM
Private and Semi-Private Classes available, contact me here and leave a comment.
To be real we must get over our perceptions that we know things. Knowing, in a way is prejudice, when we think we know something we shut down our awareness and stop being open to the moment.
Who we are changes each moment… we exist as a being not just in a physical form but as an entity in time, the moment by moment perception of reality defines who we are.
As such “who we are” is always in flux if we are always sensitive to the changing circumstances. Whenever I am fixed in my perception of who I am, I forget to take every situation as is comes to me. For example if I perceive myself as a “teacher” then I will act out by trying to educate….. If I perceive myself as being “helpful” then I will act out by thinking I am above a situation.
I often hear people say……”I help people” but this in effect is coming from a place that says…..”I am better than the people that I perceive as needing help”
Or for example “I teach” … In reality, no one teaches anymore than the student’s capacity to learn…and so learning is a higher skill than teaching. In this regard the student only “learns” what he wants to from a given experience, the teacher only shows the student whatever the “teacher” thinks is important coming from the teachers perspective.
When a person thinks they are teaching they are putting what they do above the student who is actually doing the work of “learning”. After all, it is the learning that is important, not the teaching.
Thinking that things “mean something” disrespects the spirit of the moment in that if we are always learning then we must be open to the possibility that maybe “it” means something else…..Every moment has different possibilities. Getting over our perception that somehow we “know“ the meaning of something is a way to finding harmony in a new reality of infinite possibility.
These concepts are a subtle learning we get from Taiji practice. Indeed, it is somewhat arrogant to always be so sure we know what something means. When we are so sure we know something, we show our lack of understanding that “things are not always what they seem”.
“The peacock spreads its wings” is the second and third move in the Yang (Dong) Style. Here are some photos of the posture and two common applications.
First, neutralize the incoming attack by circling your arm to the right.
Next pull down to the jade table...this will pull the attacker off balance towards their "front door" forcing them to decide whether to be pulled down or to pull back.
Most people will instinctively pull back, so you step in blocking their retreat and then...
Finish by throwing them out the back door using "Left ward-off" by turning your waist and shifting your weight forward, tripping them over your leg. See how much fun Taiji is!
Alternatively, if your opponent does not pull back, you can follow up the original movement with your left hand, keeping them from closing in on you with a shoulder strike...
and apply "Brush knee and push"
Finish them off out their front door in the original direction that they were moving.
Thank you to Wanda for assisting in this project.
Repulse Monkey Step
Kick with Sole
White Crane Spreads its Wing
Lazy Tie the Coat from the Fast Form
Push Hand Through Mountain
Like a stepped pyramid, we lay down a foundation, taking us higher as we go.
Taoist physics, the laws of energy.
This article is about outlining some of the basic Taiji principles that I have discovered through the years, and some taught to me by Master Dong. I will explain each one in time. These are not the “Classic Taiji Principles” that other authors have written about through the ages, but a pragmatic look at the common sense of practical Taiji.
These are not the only principles that I will discuss, many esoteric principles can be inserted in between and after the ones on this basic list, yet they are most basic and important ones. Understanding the physics of the human energy system and codifying, and sharing these principles is my life’s work.
Staying on your feet is an important skill that can save your life, whether talking about martial arts, or walking down a flight of stairs. There are many obvious gains from assimilating these principles into our lives but know that these principles go far deeper than Taijiquan.
The entire human energy system uses these same principles, not just your body, but also the mind, emotions and spirit. I am taking about the laws of physics; nothing is exempt from these basic principles of the universe.
For example, energy follows the path of least resistance; therefore reducing the resistance to energy increases the flow and the apparent volume of energy. The best way to remove resistance is to remove blockages. These blockages can be from misalignment and (muscle) tension. Again these principles are not necessarily only about your body, keep in mind the “big picture”.
The way to remove obstructions is to align and relax…. Know that aligning will facilitate relaxation. It is easier to relax when we have good alignment, like in the physical attribute of structural integrity. A strong frame requires less reinforcement; look at an “earthquake resistant” building, a proper frame, allows for a flexible, less ridged, relaxed structure.
Likewise, in relationships, having the same values and interests with another is “alignment” with this alignment a person will be more relaxed. Being aligned and relaxed leads to balance, and with a little give and take (counterbalance) we can achieve a harmonious relationship. Understanding energy is about a relationship with it and it applies to all things accordingly.
While keeping the big picture in mind and realizing that there is a hierarchy to these principles and also that Taijiquan is a method of training and understanding energy, we need to start with the most important principles first. Layering principles overtime will bring enlightenment.
To get started, to keep things simple here is a basic outline to these principles. Each principle will require further explanation, so be patient, and check back to the “Taiji Principles” category here on this blog.
To make comprehending and learning these principle easier, I have organized them into three sub-groups of three principles each. Beginners should mostly be concerned with the first three. Intermediate students focus on the first six and as students progress keep layering principles until all nine are understood.
String of pearls
Not too much not too little
Open and close
See all things
"Tiger" from Dragon & Tiger Yiquan
“I don’t have time for Taiji!”
So many times, I have heard this, usually from “non believers”, but occasionally I myself am guilty of such thoughts.
Well now…… If you have been training with me, you have been exposed to a variety of Qigong and Taiji sets. It is important to keep in mind that eventually, as you assimilate the principles into your life, everything will be Taiji. Yet in the beginning, we all need some ‘forms’ to direct us in the Way.
This page is just a list of some of the forms that I have shown to my classes and some for advanced students. With so many options, it is easy to just pick one or more depending on your goals or time frame. All of my beginner students have been doing the first four or five on this list, and I consider these a “core group” of practices. Over time, I will show everyone all of these sets.
Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to get bored, so add the others in occasionally as you want to. There is always time to get in a quick “Soaring Crane” or some Zhan Zhuang practice anywhere any time.
Some of the Qigong and Taiji sets for beginner and advanced students
1.) “Wuji” a standing qigong for overall health, perform for one minute to as long as you wish!
2.) Dong Family “Warm up Qigong” strengthens the posture and opens the joints. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.
3.) Wudang Daoist Abdominal Breathing Qigong, five simple exercises that form the foundational skills for all qigong, taiji and meditation practice.
4.) Dong Family “Basic Qigong Set” builds and distributes qi through the whole body. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.
5.) Taiji Walking
6.) “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The first section of the long form of Taiji (Tai Chi). A total body and mind Qigong and martial art form. Takes about 6 minutes to perform.
7.) The Dong Family “Hard Qigong” A zhan zhuang practice that builds structural integrity in your physique. These ten postures can be done in as little as 5 to 10 minutes or as long as you wish.
8.) “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The second section of the long form of Taiji. Takes about 12 minutes to perform.
9.) “Soaring Crane 1” is a medical qigong set to strengthen your overall health. Takes about 5 minutes to perform. See video here: Soaring Crane with Master Dong
10.) “Tiger Mountain” AKA “Taiji Gong” an assemblage of some postures from Yang style Taiji set. Takes 5 to 10 minutes to perform. See video here: Tiger Mountain
11.) “Zhan Zhuang” or “Standing like a post qigong” Strengthens your stances and internal energy; I suggest just picking any of the postures from the Taiji form and stand still as long as you can comfortably. Take at least 2 to 10 minutes or as long as you wits to perform. See photos of Yang’s Taiji postures here: Yang Cheng Fu
12.) Yiquan Zhan Zhuang. Eight basic standing postures and a few other simple postures designed to open the hips and strengthen the legs and back and build structural integration into your physique Takes from 5 to 40 minutes to perform.
13.) “Dong Sitting Qigong, Long Form” From Master Dong Zeng Chen. A total mind and body Qigong for meditation, thrusting vessel, small circle qi and upper body strengthening. Takes about 30 to 40+ minutes.
14.) “Dong Sitting Qigong” From Master Dong Hu Ling. A simple sitting routine for the upper body qi, the mind and the eyes.
15.) Five Elements Qigong, Wu Xing Qigong is a nine form set that is a medical qigong toning the internal organs and meridians. See video here: Ziranmen Five Elements Qigong.
16.) Muscle and Tendon Changing Classics, Yi Jin Jing is one of the oldest known set of gigong, originally authored by the famous Da Mo.
17.) The Eight Brocades, Ba Duan Jin is another old classic set.
18.) Zi Fa Gong, spontaneous Qigong comes when you have figured out some of these basic sets then you let your qi body lead you to move or not to move.
19.) Wudang Daoist (Hun Yuan) Primordial Qigong, a new set I have been showing and will be writing out soon…
20.) Wudang Five Animal Forms, another new set I will be showing in 2012
Over time I will expose everyone to parts or all of these forms, just keep coming to class and reading online and most importantly: PRACTICE
Do some Qigong everyday! Keep it simple but……Do it!
“The sage sees the whole universe without going out the door”
If you only learned to meditate, it would be the most valuable experience of your life. To gain understanding, a wordless gift of knowing that you’ve always had, but haven’t used is a profound thing indeed. I am paraphrasing Roy Masters work “Be still and Know” and yet there is so much more going on when we do qigong.
By combining physical exercise and meditation, we gain more than can be had by just “exercising” or “meditating”. The synergy is further enhanced by the other attributes of qigong, like the way we exercise, opening up the joints, and skeletal system and the sequential opening and closing of the muscles and energy pathways within our bodies. There is really no other “exercise” like qigong; in my opinion there is no better exercise, and yet it is so much more.
Dissolving your mind and body using qigong also has a calming and strengthening effect on our emotions as well. To liberate your mind from the emotional prison that has kept the real you locked up without your knowledge is not an insignificant gain!
The understanding gained from proper practice gives insight to all things. The meaning of the quote from the “Tao Te Ching” written above is this: Within everyone, there are elements of all things; a celestial world, we are a microcosm of the universe. Every atom is like a minute solar system, all our cells are virtual galaxies, and our consciousness is like God, indeed, if you can truly know yourself, then you can understand the whole universe.
I often wonder what if we all could expand our understanding in this way. Yet it was once the normal way for humans. Our convoluted lives have dulled our sense of reality; learning to get in touch with our true objective self is to understand a separate reality, a primordial knowledge that is the “Way” we were intended to be….. Freedom from contrivance, like an un-carved block of wood, becoming what Nature (God?) intended for us.
If you have a goal in life, make it to be a fully integrated human being by being balanced in each realm of human functioning. Don’t be a “spiritual person” or an “intellectual”, and do not be a slave to your emotions and don’t ignore or indulge them. Stop always seeking physical gratification or obsessing about your body. To be a “Real Human” you need to be in control of all of these things.
Balancing all these separate things naturally into one universe is, for me…..The Way, Taiji the “Supreme Ultimate” and qigong is the path to the Way….. The Way to divinity, to freedom, to perfect health, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.
Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.
Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.
There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free. The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses. Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.
Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.
Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training. Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth. Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.
The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.
Go to Qigong on Maui web site
There is no "try" only do, or not do (Master Yoda)
Recently someone said to me, “I need to learn to relax”, after apologizing for laughing at the remark, I poised the comment, “Realize that you can’t learn to relax, you need to un-learn being discontent.”
When things are going well, they just flow correctly. A pro athlete never forces anything; neither does a pro musician, or an artist. If they did, you could tell it was not quite right. When things flow from your heart it is true and correct and it shows. When we are balanced within and we are in harmony with our surroundings there is no “effort”
Every time I “try real hard” in life, I usually mess things up. So will you if you don’t understand the principle of “Non Striving”
Among the basic Taoist principles that can improve our lives “Wu Wei” is the most important and pervasive concept of all. Not forcing things seems like an obvious concept to most of us and yet our competitive nature often encourages us to do so. It’s not that “force” is a bad thing but unnaturally forcing things usually is. Make things right with the universe and effortlessness is an indication that you “get it”.
Any feeling of “forcing”, “striving” or “contrivance” tells you that you do not get “it”.
The “it” I am referring to is the understanding that you are (or not) coming from your heart. Do not think this is easy however, I’m no Pollyanna; you might say “It’s simple, it’s just not easy”. The Tao Te Ching is full of commentary on this subject in fact almost every one of the 81 verses contains a statement about Wu Wei.
“The sage does nothing and yet nothing remains undone”
“My way is simple, yet no one can follow it”
“An infant can follow the way. But can an eighty year old?”
“To manage a large country is like frying a small fish, the less you poke it the better.”
“The sage leads by following”
“Water is the softest thing in the universe yet it overcomes the hardest things”
“The greatest misfortune is discontentment.”
“The sage never contrives greatness that is why he is truly great”
The other day someone said to me, “I was told (by a qigong teacher) to force the qi downward during qigong”, holding back a laugh I smiled and went on to explain “Wu Wei” a guiding principle.
When we relax, the qi will flow effortlessly, using “force” causes muscle tension that uses up more qi then it allows to pass through, resulting in less movement of the qi.
Again I recommend getting your very own copy of the Tao Te Ching (see my reading list) the philosophy of Taoism provides a foundation for understanding reality.
First, learn all you can; then forget it all. Learning is prejudice and contrived and will limit you. Having expectations can lead one to disaster. Knowledge is only a starting point, when we apply the principle of “Wu Wei” we turn knowledge into something far more valuable…Understanding
Part 1 Balance
Align with Heaven and Earth,
Relax and discover the truth about balance
Move with dignity and grace through life,
And harmony will be your companion.
Balance is a function of aligning with Heaven and Earth, relaxing into our roots and exploring the confidence of equilibrium within the self.
Harmony is a function of remaining balanced as we move through time and space, remaining content, while interacting with the forces of nature that act upon us.
Balance is always first, only then can we harmonize well.
In life, there are many ways we can discuss balance and harmony…..
If you think about the opening words, it is apparent that I could be talking about many different aspects of balance and harmony; be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, they all share the same principles.
In fact, if we learn the hierarchy of achieving balance and harmony in one realm we can apply the formula to any of the four realms mentioned. Understanding reality is one of the goals of Taoist praxis, and understanding balance and harmony is paramount to that goal.
For Taiji practitioners as well as in all aspects of life this is a fundamental principle. For example, “aligning with Heaven and Earth” could mean, to know your values and morals and align to them, this could help you relax in a relationship, feeling secure and confident about yourself. The balance gained will allow you to compassionately harmonize with your partner and remain content.
Taiji (the supreme ultimate) teaches us how to achieve balance and harmony in all things through the understanding of the simplest of methods. I have written blog posts about this topic that can be found elsewhere on this site.
To review, the most basic is the physical then as we move inward the next level of understanding is the mental, then the emotional and at the center is our spiritual core. Each level feeding its energy into the next one and each level is more complex than the one before it. As we move up through the layers in quantum leaps, the understanding of the principles reinforces the reality of the truth of the hierarchy of our personal growth.
In regards to transformational improvement of our lives then, all we need to do is start with the simple, external physical methods and understanding will emerge with practice over time and through space…
Back to Taijiquan…..and balance and harmony….
When we move in Taijiquan we first need to balance, then we can harmonize with things as we move. Now reread the opening lines and see what you can glean from the simple instructions.
In class, when we are transitioning to one leg, I say repeatedly…. Align, relax, and move. There are two alignments. First, there is “rotational” where you align your nose, navel, knee and toes. Secondly, there is the “Taiji Pole” where you align your Crown Point, perineum, and ankle, actually the bottom of your foot about 1 inch in front of the ankle.
After you are aligned with Heaven and Earth just relax into your leg and explore some counterbalancing with your arms and legs until you find that one spot where you feel confident. When you move (step) maintain a moving counterbalance to harmonize with your movement.
The Taoist sees the simple in the complex and the complex within the simple, achieving balance and understanding all things trough harmonizing with the principles of nature.
You need to know where you are in order to find your way.
Your place in the universe is often twisted away from the ideal; it may be physical, mental, emotional,and/or spiritually misaligned.
Let me first explain that in the “physical world” you can be physically, mentally, emotionally,and/or spiritually misaligned and you can also be misaligned in the “celestial world”. This is because all things have Yin and Yang elements to them. Our goal is harmonizing Yin/Yang, not just balancing Yin and Yang .
To keep things simple, my objective in this article is just to start with the body, the physical within the physical.
The most important overriding principles in Qigong and Taiji and Meditation for that matter revolve around alignment. As stated in the second paragraph of this page, alignment could mean spiritual, emotional. mental, or physical.
As we work ever inward to the higher levels of understanding we need to start somewhere. The starting point is the physical alignment of your body, starting with your feet. When we learn this basic skill called “Wuji Stance” we will have a working model of alignment that we can “clone” into our thinking to restructure our bodies, minds, emotions, and ultimately our spirits. Then we can keep feeding back that spiritual energy to continually strengthen our bodies, minds, emotions. The cycle continues until we have the “rarefied qi” of original Spirit known as “the gold pill” a spiritual embryo that grows within us until such time as it “becomes” us and we are reborn into Tao.
It is simple really. Just start under your feet. We want a totally natural alignment of our skeleton so we can relax all of our muscles. The following list is an example of what I tell my students. I probably say this list fifty times a week in my classes…..
1. Feet parallel and shoulder width apart
2. Knees slightly bent
3. Tailbone tucked in so your lumbar spine is vertical
4. Relax the hips and “sit” into your legs
5. Let the “golden thread from heaven” lift your head
6. Tuck in your chin so that your cervical spine is vertical
7. Relax your shoulders, let your arms dangle at your side
8. Contain your chest, don’t “puff out” your chest
9. Bring your breath to your dantien, just below the navel
10. Bring your mind down to your dantien
11. Put your tongue at your palate
12. Keep your eyes soft, don’t strain your eyes
In addition I tell students to: keep their hearts open, explaining that there is no need for any emotional energy, and to keep their mental energy redirected inward, reviewing the 12 points on the list. Then I repeat the list….
Now you can start right away by learning to Tune your Breath
more here: Qigong lesson #3
“The journey of a thousand miles, starts under your feet.”
For all people on the Way, there are many paths with side excursions and a few distractions and even some “deviations”.
Any well thought out journey starts somewhere; indeed today even scientists think they can explain the origin of the universe. As fantastic as “the big bang theory” is….would you believe that well over 2500 years ago the planet’s original “scientists” the Taoists, had a similar theory?
According to the Taoist cosmology, before anything “existed” there was something they called “Wuji”. This (literally) means “the Void” or “without form” or “the beginning.” From this “Void”,”Tao” emerged, Tao being translated as “the Way” or “path”. An interesting side note corresponds to religious texts….”God created the Heaven and Earth”. For the Taoists you might look at it this way…’From the void, Tao emerged and created the heavens and Earth’.
Is it not sort of enlightening that Taoist thought can merge science and religion and validate both simultaneously? I tread lightly here so as to not evoke sensibilities, but let’s assume that the science of things is always open to scrutiny, and admit that religious texts were written thousands of years ago and are famous for using metaphorical language. Anyway, I’m only attempting to give some perspective to Wuji.
If you are still following me (and wondering what this has to do with Qigong) consider this, finding a “place” without form gives us a connection to divine origins. Notice my choice of words, crafted somewhere between the scientific and religious terminology. It is here where we see one way that “all things are connected”.
Along the Way we often find that science and religion merge into philosophy. By extrapolation it is easy to see that our physical self’s are connected to an understanding of the merger of the two (science and religion) into a philosophy. In the Taoist arts this philosophy is applied to the physical realm so that practitioners can assimilate cosmic energy directly into themselves.
One can see that practicing Qigong is an endeavor using a philosophy combined with science and spirituality, to nurture the physical self that contains our “Self” self.
Now don’t ever get put off by the talk of spirituality or the word “cosmic” as Taoists define these words in a general sense, for instance, tonight I am “inspired” to write this page, and so these words are coming from my “spirit” and as I post this message it is sent (via satellite) into the cosmos.
This stuff is not rocket science, nor is it some intangible “cosmic” thing; the fact is, this concept is so simple it is woefully misunderstood. My approach to Qigong (energy cultivation) is equally pragmatic, I’m not asking anyone to make any leap of faith; only to see the truth. With this understanding, we can now “start” the journey, also know, that by reading this, you already have…..