Trilogy of Health Qigong Exercise

In daily exercise, it’s easy to be found that a Health Qigong lover was still difficult tograsp the essentials of exercise even though he spent a lot of time in practicing and themain cause was due to his improper practice. I’ve often wondered how we can help theseimproper practicing lovers to grasp a kind of practicing technique, so that they can betterenjoy the pleasure brought by Health Qigong. I hereby recommend an approach for“trilogy” of Health Qigong exercise to everybody from the essential characteristics ofHealth Qigong and combined with years of teaching and practice experiment, hope that itcould enlighten the beginners and instructors.

I. Interpretation of “Trilogy” Exercise

What are the essential characteristics of Health Qigong? The definition of HealthQigong has given us a definite answer, namely Health Qigong is a traditional exercise ofour nation with body movements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) and mentalregulation as the major forms of exercise. In accordance with the commonly used terms ofHealth Qigong, “body regulation” means “body movements”, “breath regulation” means“respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out)”, “mind regulation” means “mental regulation”, andthe essential characteristics of Health Qigong can be expressed as a heath preserving exercise with combination of “body regulation, breath regulation and mind regulation”, namely the unity and collaboration of “three regulations”. Further simplified, if used “form,breath, mind” to replace “body regulation, breath regulation and mind regulation”, theessential characteristics of Health Qigong can be further expressed as an exercise withcombination of “form, breath and mind” of the human. Accordingly, I proposed “trilogy” ofHealth Qigong exercise, namely practicing Health Qigong based on the sequence of“form-breath-mind”. The specific practicing contents and steps are shown in the following diagram:

  1. Form
  2. Form +breath
  3. Form +breath + mind

Schematic Diagram of “Trilogy” of Health Qigong Exercise (see original diagram in pdf file)

II. Sequence Analysis of “Trilogy” Exercise

(I) The first step exercise – form

As for the Health Qigong beginners, the first step of Health Qigong exercise is to master the practicing methods and essentials of the “form”. The “form” herein refers to body movements and adjustment of body posture, namely “body regulation”, which is the external manifestation of the movements.

The basic contents of the “form” mainly include three aspects. The first is the methods and the hand shape, such as the “tiger claw, deer horn and bird wings” in HealthQigong • Wu Qin Xi, the “dragon claw, tiger claw, lotus leaf palm, willow leaf palm” inHealth Qigong • Yi Jin Jing. As the saying goes, “clever in mind and skillful in hands”. Modern brain physiology research indicated that the hand reflex zone also accounted for alarge area in cerebral cortex reflex zone. The regular changes of the hand shape inexercise can effectively stimulate the hands’ different nerve muscles and enable thecerebral cortex to produce good adaptation variations. The second is the footwork and stances. The moving and transition of the gravity center of the body and the bodymovements are dependent on the changes of footwork and stances. The general requirement of the footwork is “walking with cat-like step” and changing agilely and flexibly.The third is the body methods, including “chest, back, waist, abdomen and hip”. The substance of the “emphasis on extension and rotation of spinal column” mentioned in the essentials of four Health Qigong exercises is the body methods.

Only when one has mastered the “form” methods and essentials can he “guide thewaist and body and exercise all the joints” to fight with aging. The Health Qigong beginneris sure to make great efforts to perform well at the first step, distinguish the movements’routines, directions, angles, vacancy and fullness, laxity and tightness, and achieve neatpostures and accurate methods, so as to lay a solid foundation for in-depth exercises inthe future.

(II) The second step exercise – form + breath

After being more fluent in essentials of the “form”, the practicers can start the secondstep and pay attention to the close coordination of body movements and breathing. If thefirst step is required to achieve “guiding the body into a soft state”, the second step shouldachieve “guiding Qi into a harmonious state”, to combine “body guidance” with “Qiguidance”, thus to achieve “coordination of form and breath”.

Generally speaking, the coordination between breathing and movements is based onrules of “ascending-inhalation and descending-exhalation, opening-inhalation andclosing-exhalation, accumulating-inhalation and releasing-exhalation, andtightening-inhalation and relaxing-exhalation”. For example, the “bird flying” movement inHealth Qigong • Wu Qin Xi, an inhalation is taken as the ascending of gravity center whenboth arms are lifted to complete the movement of “spread wings” and an exhalation istaken as the descending of gravity center when the knees are bended and both hands arefolded, that is the coordination of “ascending-inhalation and descending-exhalation”; the“showing claws and wings” movement in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, an inhalation is taken when both hands are changed into willow leaf palms and erected in front of chest, thechest is expanded and the force is accumulated and an exhalation is taken when bothhands are changed into lotus leaf palms and reached forward and the force is released,that is the coordination of “accumulating-inhalation and releasing-exhalation”; the“Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain” movement of Health Qigong • Ba Duan Jin, an inhalation is taken when “looking backwards” and the neck muscle is tightened and an exhalation is taken when “looking forward” and the neck muscle isrelaxed, that is the coordination of “tightening-inhalation and relaxing-exhalation”. In essence, the rules of coordination between breathing and movements are consistent, in general, it can be concluded as “opening-inhalation and closing-exhalation”,for example, for the “bird fly” movement, an inhalation is taken when the chest is expanded to complete the movement of “spread wings” and an exhalation is taken when the chest is folded to complete the movement of “folded wings”. Of course, the skillful coordination between breathing and movements requires a process, which cannot be achieved overnight. How can we achieve it? It shall start with the coordination between natural breathing and movements. Natural breathing is a way of breathing going on all the time around us. The practicers are required to slowly combine the movements withbreathing at the moment of natural breathing and breathe naturally with the changes inmovements. When the natural breathing and movements are coordinated skillfully, thebreathing will gradually become deep, slow, even and long, and then the effect of unifying state of mind is achieved to prepare for the third step exercise. If the natural rules ofcoordination between breathing and movements are violated to pursue unrealistic coordination, it may result in out-of-adjustment respiration, stubborn movements and even suffocation and fail to take effect.

(III) The third step exercise – form + breath + mind

If making distinction with overall exercise and decomposing exercise, the first andsecond steps can be considered as the decomposing exercises and the third step can beconsidered as the real overall exercise. The step-by-step principle is in line with the rulesand is also an important principle for performing well in Health Qigong exercise. Based onthis principle, the first and second steps are the precondition and foundation for the thirdstep and the third step is the goal and pursuit of the former two steps. Only when thecombination between body movements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) andmental regulation was achieved can the essential characteristics of Health Qigong be trulyembodied, can the Health Qigong exercise enter the realm of integration of body and mindand the Health Qigong exercise obtain desired effect.

Whether it is the “form”, the “breath”, or the “form + breath”, both of them are “visibleand touchable”, and what’s going on about the invisible and formless “mental regulation”?How to fulfill the third step? We first need to figure out the essence and contents of thementality and the nature of consciousness. What’s the human’s mentality? Zhang Houcan, the vice chairman of International Union of Psychology, has explained it in plain languagein the article of “Current Situation and Development Prospects of Psychology in China”.She explained the psychological as “first, it is the function of the brain, it cannot workwithout the brain; second, it is the reflection of the real world, it can reflect the realities inthe outside world; third, the reflection of the human is not negative and reactive butpositive and proactive, which can be consciously carried out. The human being not onlyneeds to understand the realities but needs to reshape the realities, and we have to studythese issues if the psychology wants to achieve a high level of development”. The three notes of Zhang Houcan about the essence of mentality can be summarized as “mentalityis the subjective reflection of the human brain on the objective world.” The nature of consciousness theory of dialectical materialism pointed out that, “consciousness is the subjective reflection of objective existence, which is a reflection process of the human brain on the objective world and a process for continuous processing and production ofd ata input externally”. It is easy to see the consistency between the essence of mentalityand the nature of consciousness by linking them together.

According to the conclusion that “the consciousness contains the unity of knowledge,emotion and willpower”, it can be considered that the “mental regulation” contents of Health Qigong include “knowledge, emotion and willpower”. “Knowledge” refers to thetheoretical knowledge of “body movements and respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out)”and the theoretical knowledge of how to improve our health and the mechanism ofproducing healthy effects. For example, the joints, muscles, routines and methods in bodymovements, the respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) methods and how to coordinaterespiration with body movements. “Emotion” refers to emotional feelings or sentiments. In Health Qigong exercise, the practicers are required to enter the healthy emotional stateand enter different emotional states according to different movements. For example, thepracticers are required to enter the state of mind of Health Qigong • Wu Qin Xi exercise toact like whatever role they act to achieve the unity of form and spirit. “Willpower” refers tothe mental state such as self-control, perseverance, confidence and indomitable spirit ofthe human being manifested in pursuit of certain goals and ideals. Understanding theessence of mentality and its contents before interpretation of the meaning of the third step6exercise is, after being more proficient in coordination between body movements andbreathing and combined with the requirements of different exercising methods andspecific movements, to give full play to the imagination based on functions of the brain toenter appropriate artistic conception requirements and gradually achieve the physical andmental state of the “unity of three regulations”.

III. Supplemental Instructions of “Trilogy” Exercise

There are two points need to supplement. First, the purpose of putting forward the“trilogy” exercise is to provide some theoretical guidance for beginners, and moreimportant is to tell the beginners that they must follow the principle of step-by-steppractices and always grasp the essential characteristics of combination of bodymovements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) and mental regulation of HealthQigong. Never start to “imagine or absorb ideas” and even “random thinking” withoutbeing proficient in coordination between movements and breathing. This is “aggressivedoctrine” in exercise and is totally bad for the practicers; second, there is no absoluteboundary between the three steps and it does not mean that the practicing cognitiveprocess of Health Qigong exercise is ended up after three steps exercise. The principle ofepistemology of “practice, cognition, re-practice and re-cognition” is also applicable to thepracticing process of Health Qigong. As the saying goes, “art is endless”, Health Qigongexercise is always a continuous learning and continuous improvement process. Duringthe practice, only when we continuously improve the state of “form”, “form + breath” and“form + breath + mind” based on understanding and practicing levels at different stagescan we gradually improve the level of exercising methods and acquire maximum effectivehealth-preserving effects and more harmonious physical and mental skills.

Reference: “Trilogy” of Health Qigong Exercise (pdf) by Wang Yanqun Chinese Health QiGong Association

How to Successfully Lower Qi to Dantian

Lowering Qi to Dantian can dredge the channels of the entire body, harmonize blood and Qi, prolong life, eliminate worries and fatigue, calm the bad emotions like anger, fear, and worry, open the mind, and boost wisdom. As far as I am concerted, lowering Qi to Dantian means: the exerciser has made a certain progress and entered the deep relaxation and serenity in the exercise, as mentioned in Lao Zi “empty the heart and fill the abdomen”. Lowering Qi to Dantian means to meet the requirements of “keep the head and neck straight and lift the head as if propping up something”, lowering the shoulders and elbows, drawing in the chest, straightening the back, relaxing the waist, and keeping the coccygeal end in the middle after long-term persistent practice, so that the entire body is completed relaxed inside out and a serene, calm, and worriless state is naturally achieved. With the “Bird Exercise” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi as an example, this paper dwells on how to relax the body and mind and lower Qi to Dantian to achieve serenity during practice.

Initial Stage

After the exerciser has got familiar with the movements of the exercise and has begun to comprehend the key points to the exercise, relaxation exercises such as lowering shoulders and elbows can be introduced. In the first movement of “Bird Flying”, both legs are slightly bent, both palms are closed in front of the abdomen, the centers of palms are obliquely directed toward each other, the eyes are directed at the lower front. After the posture is established, attention is first drawing to the lowering of shoulders and the mind is concentrated on the tips of elbows to feel them lowering. This feeling is brought by the relaxation of the elbows. As both palms are pushing upward on the lateral sides of the body, both shoulders will be lowered and kept from rising. The elbows should not be raised. And the back is straight and eminent. Then the head slowly moves into the straight position and the chin is slightly withdrawn. The neck is relaxed and the small ligaments of the C-spine joints are loosened so that the suspended top is not stubborn. At the moment when both palms move laterally like spread wings, the shoulders are lowered and the mind is concentrated on the thumbs and index fingers of both hands. Lift the wrists to move the palms like waves and you will feel an indistinct force transmitted from the wrists to the ends of the thumbs and index fingers. As both arms are lowered and the shoulder joints are opened, the shoulder blades will be loosened horizontally with the tend so that both shoulders will be slightly withdrawn, both flanks are slightly contracted, and the thoracic skeleton is slightly withdrawn. Therefore there will be a slight tensioning sensation towards the left and right on the shoulders and back. This relaxation will be naturally transmitted to the elbows, wrists, and fingers and the process will be too quick for the mind to stay. In this way the shoulders will be lowered and the shoulder blades will be opened horizontally. The shrinking bosom and straightening back results will be naturally produced. Shrinking bosom and straightening back shall be completely compliant with the natural form of the human body and shall not be arched back and shrunk chest. Do not deliberately produce it. On the basis of shrinking bosom and straightening back, slightly draw in the buttocks. While doing this, relax the muscles in the buttocks and waist as much as possible so that the muscles of the buttocks are spread downwards. Then gently retract them forward and inward as if propping up the lower abdomen with the buttocks. This will restrict the projection of the buttocks and ensure the straightness of the lumbar vertebrae and the coccygeal end. By combining lowering shoulders and elbows, shrinking bosom and straightening back, and loosening waist and contracting buttocks, we can help lower Qi to Dantian. In this way the reversely ascending pathogenic Qi caused by bad emotions will be gradually lowered and eliminated and the harmonious Qi will be gradually distributed throughout the body. During the breath regulation of Bird Exercise, the body and mind will have an other experience: The body will be light and delightful. The respiration will be smooth and stable. The exerciser will temporarily forget all worries and sorrow and become carefree and cozy. This is the initial stage of lowering Qi to Dantian.

Intermediate Stage

After the key points to the practice are comprehended, the movements can be further refined. During practice, the exerciser will be able to actively eliminate the distracting thoughts, focus the mind on the practice of the exercise, and maintain a peaceful and serene mind, and achieve a leisurely and calm look. In the first movement of “Bird Flying”, the palms are obliquely directed towards each other and the eyes are directed towards the lower front. No mind guidance is required and the exerciser should naturally meet the relaxation requirements such as lowering shoulders and elbows and shrinking bosom and straightening back. When both palms are moved up laterally, the shoulder blades will be opened horizontally towards both sides to drive the shoulder to move down. At the moment when both palms move laterally like spread wings, the shoulders are lowered and the mind is concentrated on the thumbs and index fingers of both hands. Lift the wrists to move the palms like waves and you will feel an indistinct force transmitted from the wrists to the tips of the ten fingers. This sensation is especially obvious with the thumbs and index fingers. As the palms move downward, the brain is between mindful and mindless. And the brain knows where the mind goes. Before the brain realizes the concept of “relaxation”, the body movement will suddenly relax the muscles in the shoulder blades. All of a sudden the entire body will receive the transmitted relaxation. A slightly numb sensation comes across the entire back. These are the results of the force of Qigong. The force is the force produced suddenly when the mind guides the circulation of the clear and harmonious Qi in the body when both the body and mind are relaxed and serene. It is the result of appropriate mind, appropriate Qi, and appropriate strength. Therefore it is also known as internal force. This practicing experience does not occur during every practice. As the shoulder blades are loosened to drive both shoulders to lower, the horizontal relaxation caused by the internal force will promote the natural extension and slight upheaval of muscles in the back. The sensation of straightening back will come along. Once this sensation occurs, the chest will be naturally relaxed and contained. The criterion for shrinking bosom is: At the moment the shoulder joints are opened and the shoulder blades are loosened horizontally, you will feel as if a round door is opened in the chest and the long-standing worries in the heart are discharged. The chest is slightly empty and the heart will suddenly feel relaxed and easy. The internal Qi that sways between both arms when they are moved upward and downward seems to be blocking the arms. And driven by the internal force of Dantian and Mingmen, the softened arms will be like the wings of the light crane that are spread in the air. When both arms are moved upward and downward, the entire body is relaxed and kept down. At the same time Baihui Acupoint on the top of the head will always feel a slight propping sensation instead of an imagined up-propping force. Baihui is suspended on the top, the coccygeal end is in the middle of the lower body, the shoulders and elbows are lowered, the chest is shrunk, the back is straightened, the waist is relaxed, the bottoms will be contracted, and the spinal column will e naturally relaxed segment by segment to form an up-down pulling posture. The state of “keeping the head and neck straight and lifting the head as if propping up something” will be naturally achieved and the heart will be suddenly enlightened. At this moment, the turbine Qi in the body will be lowered and eliminated. The clear Qi will be raised and infused into all parts of the body. The external form and the internal Qi will be gradually merged. Although we cannot clearly feel the incoming and outgoing movements of genuine Qi during this stage, the lower abdomen will feel the numbness, heat, and swelling caused by the swarming internal Qi. This sensation is generated because after entering serenity, the interoception is improved and the proprioceptive sensitivity is increased. The experience varies from person to person and should not be deliberately pursued. Otherwise deviations like “abnormal sensory perception” will be easily caused. After breath regulation of Bird Exercise is completed, the exerciser will unconsciously enter the intermediate stage of lowering Qi to Dantian: The body is soft and comfortable, the breath is even, gentle, and long, the brain is clear, and the chest is relaxed and empty. The gloom accumulated in the chest will be eliminated. All constraints of material desire are suddenly removed. The mind is suddenly opened. Dantian is filled with internal Qi and begins to communicate with the Qi of Mingmen. The facial appearance is calm and stable. The exerciser will look both mighty and easy.

Advanced Stage

With the refining of movements, the exercise enters the automation stage. All distracting thoughts are eliminated during the exercise and even the movements as well as the ego are forgotten. But all movements are still in line with the standard requirements and will still represent the verves of the five animals. After the last movement of “Bird Stretching” is completed, both hands will be naturally lowered at the lateral sides of the body, the eyes will be directed at the front, the entire body will be completely relaxed inside out, the mind will be free of worries, and Yang Qi will be calm and harmonious. Linked with the previous posture, both legs are slightly bent, both palms are closed in front of the abdomen, centers of the palms are obliquely directed at each other, and the eyes are directed at the lower front. The exerciser is still in a relaxed, serene, and gentle practicing state. When both palms are moved up laterally, the shoulder blades will be opened horizontally towards both sides to drive the shoulder to move down. Lowering means the lowering sensation of muscles in the relaxed and gentle state and is the criterion for relaxation. The relaxation in this stage has transcended lowering and is mainly represented by looseness. Genuine Qi flows throughout the body. The entire body is relaxed and loosened. Relaxation is driven by the internal force from the muscles to the tendons and bones and from the exterior to the interior to penetrate the body bit by bit and segment by segment. When both palms are lowered, the relaxation and looseness produced by the internal force will be even stronger. The mind already knows everything before the thought is moved. The interior of the shoulders will be automatically relaxed and loosened. The relaxation and looseness will be suddenly transmitted to every part of the body. The chest will be vacant. The back will be filled up with internal Qi. It seems that the muscles and bones are missing. Shrinking bosom and straightening back has exceeded the body form requirements. Baihui Acupoint on the top of the head will be vacant and unobstructed. And almost no up-propping force is felt because the channels around Baihui are smooth. The exerciser will begin to comprehend the true meanings of “Achieving the ultimate vacancy and adhering to the true serenity”, “coordinating the mind with Tao”, and “clearing the mind to gain insight into nature”. At this moment, the Qi activity will be smooth. “Man resides in Qi and Qi resides in man”. As the internal Qi is unsettled and breaks through the body surfaces, the body will be merged into Qi between heaven and earth and the feeling of boundaries of the body will be lost. This state does not run through the entire practicing process as Qi activity is transient. It shows up at different moments for different people. And it differs even in the same person with the different serenity states during exercise. After breath regulation of Bird Exercise is completed, the exerciser will unconsciously enter the advanced stage of lowering Qi to Dantian: The body will be naturally relaxed and gentle and the respiratory Qi will directly reach Dantian. The targets of “Exhale softly, inhale slowly, stay between consciousness and unconsciousness, and remain continuous and unbroken” will be truly reached. The brain will be clear and free of thoughts. The mind will be vacant and ready for everything. Wisdom will appear in the vacant mind and shine the interior and exterior of the body like bright sunshine (deficiency of the upper portion of the body). Qi circulates smoothly in Dantian and merges with the Qi of Mingmen. The facial expression will be calm and imbued with supreme heroism and mightiness (excess in the lower portion of the body).

Reference: How to Successfully Lower Qi to Dantian by Zhang Caiqin, Inner Mongolia Normal University Chinese Health QiGong Association

Exploring Analysis on Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field

No matter you are a Health Qigong beginner or an experienced exerciser for years, you might not feel unfamiliar the term “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(qì chén dān tián)”, because nearly every stance emphases that “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is essential for exercising Health Qigong. However, few of exercisers can clearly explain how it is when asked how is ” Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Analysis finds that it is influenced mainly by conventional way of thinking, which results in a tendancy of ambiguous perceptual mastering of many terms of Health Qigong, and just making use of it rather than discussing it in depth. In fact, with the change in the context of modern people, if some classic terms originated from tradition can be illustrated with modern language, it can not only enrich the basic theoretical knowledge of Health Qigong so as to promote discipline building and scientific development of Health Qigong, but also help people correctly understand Health Qigong and scientifically exercise Health Qigong. In order to arouse people’s serious attention to this issue, I hereby attempt to make a brief analysis of ”Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”, hopefully it could serve as a modest spur.

I. Location and Functions of Cinnabar Field

According to the origin of history, Cinnabar Field is an important position for Taoist practitioners to regulate mind and build up will. In A Brief Talk on Diantian Theory by Chinese Taoists, Xiao Zhicai expatiated the records in various ancient literatures about the location of Cinnabar Field and its important functions. Cai Mingzong also made meticulous discussion on Diantian in his doctoral dissertation “Discussion on Cinnabar Field Mystery and Research on the Function of Delaying Aging of Female Ovariectomized Rats by Catgut Embedment in Cinnabar Field Area. In their opinions, Cinnabar Field is a very special and important position in one’s body. It is called “Mingmen (Life Gate)” in Neijing, located between the eyes and joining in encephalon, which is the vital position. It is called ”Dynamic Qi between Kidneys”, located between the two kidneys, for men to store essence and women to tie ovicell, which is the origin of vitality. One is the Upper Cinnabar Field, and the other is the Lower Cinnabar Field; between the two there is the Middle Cinnabar Field, which is in charge of human being’s Qi, blood and water and food, covering heart, lungs, liver, spleen and stomach, etc. These three need and work mutually, containing human being’s essence, Qi and spirit. The three Cinnabar Fields are not a point but an area. The Upper Cinnabar Field is located in Yintang Area, the Middle Cinnabar Field is located in the Area below Heart and the Lower Cinnabar Field is located in the Area below Umbilicus. The ancient literatures gave the most detailed description of the Lower Cinnabar Field Area, pointing out that that the Lower Cinnabar Field is located three cun (Chinese inch) below Umbilicus, between the two kidneys and back, and in the middle of human body, covering an area of four cun.

The Taoist cognition of Cinnabar Field is somewhat different from Medicine’s cognition thereof. Specifically, the common standpoint of both lies in that Cinnabar Field is the residence of original essence, original qi and original spirit. According to this standpoint, Taoism regards Cinnabar Field as the position for keeping qi with ideation, as well as a main site and fundamental place for condensation of essence, qi and spirit. This kind of cognition produced profound influence on the Qigong Science and even Neijiaquan (internal boxing) of later generations. Medicine regards Cinnabar Field as the origin of life, which dominates all activities of life. In terms of physiological structure, it is “the foundation of five viscera and six bowels, the root of twelve meridians, the gate of breathing and the source of triple energizers”, and it is the physical basis for the formation of human body. In terms of functions, it is the innate level higher than the acquired level of five viscera and six bowels, and it dominates the growth, development and functions of five viscera, six bowels, limbs and skeleton, and plays decisive roles on short or long lifespan, disease and death of human beings.

II. Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field in the Eyes of Researchers

What does “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” refer to specifically? How can we “Sink Qi to Cinnabar Field”? Through consulting literatures, we find that, different researchers have somewhat different views. In the article “Can Air be Inhaled into Cinnabar Field?”, Lin Yongjiang believes that, air breathing can be conducted only in lungs, while Cinnabar Field is located in lower abdomen, and air cannot enter lower abdomen directly. Breathing not only functions exchange of air, but also results in a series of phenomena of physiological changes. He further points out that, so called “internal work” means that, under the domination of “ideas” “which use ideation but no force”, taking actions as the guidance and breathing as the driving force, so as to enable internal qi to run in the whole body at will, which is the mechanism of running of internal qi.

In the article New Comprehension of Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field, Zang Baodong believes that, the qi in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is not the air breathed, but a reflection of a kind of biological pulse which is transmitted into nerves and to cerebral cortex after various receptors of nerve endings receive external and internal stimulations of human body; qi can also be regarded as a kind of special reflection of nervous function under certain condition. When human body is exercising under a relaxing and quieting state, capillaries open under such impacts as innervation, muscle flexing and biochemical and bioelectrical changes, these perivascular nerve receptors are stimulated and then transmit nerve impulses to the brain’s sensory center, causing such feelings as “numb, hot and distending“, which is “qi” or so called “internal qi”. The running of qi is closely related to the running of blood, which coincides with the views of traditional Chinese medicine that “Blood runs if qi runs, and blood stagnates if qi stagnates”, and “Blood is the mother of qi”. He also emphasizes that both air inhalation and air exhalation can “sink Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Upon air inhalation, due to that rhythmic slow actions cause breathing to gradually become natural, deep and long, inspiratory diaphragm moves down more, and will give a kind of beneficial gentle extrusion massage to abdominal organs, thus transforming the stimulations of intra-abdominal receptors into bioelectrical impulses, which are transmitted via sensory nerves to the sensory center in brain, hence causing the feeling of “qi” rushing to the lower abdomen, which is the so called “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Upon air exhalation, due to that diaphragm moves up, sphincter ani relaxes, lower abdominal pressure reduces, and the closed capillaries in abdomen suddenly open, there will be a kind of warm nerve feeling in abdomen, which means a success in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”.

In the article Cinnabar Field·Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field·Ideation of Cinnabar Field, Jiang Shan points out that, the Cinnabar Field referred to in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” can be located in the lower abdomen and the entire pelvic cavity of human body, namely the area in abdominal cavity below umbilicus till the bottom of pelvic cavity. In the infra-umbilical abdominal cavity, there are mainly such organs as small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, nephric duct, etc. In the pelvic cavity, in addition to bladder and rectum, a male also has an ampulla of deferent duct and a seminal vesicle; the pelvic part of deferent duct ranges from sidewall of pelvic cavity, upper back part of bladder to the bottom of bladder; and there is prostate below bladder. In the pelvic cavity of a female, there are also ovaries and oviducts, and there are uterus and vagina between bladder and rectum. “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” means that genuine qi sinks from thoracic cavity via adbominal cavity down to the bottom of pelvic cavity, and it sinks slowly among various organs in thoracic, adbominal and pelvic cavities. Ideation of Cinnabar Field means that using an idea to think of that genuine qi is filled among the aforesaid organs in infra-umbilical abdominal cavity and pelvic cavity, and genuine qi gently infiltrates these organs.

III. Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field and Abdominal Breathing

The term “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(qì chén dān tián)” sounds very abstruse at first, actually it means deep breathing in modern language. Generally normal breathing is thoracic breaghing, which is shallow breathing relative to abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing not only makes thoracic cavity to expand and contract more fully, and improves the air-inflation rate of pulmonary bubbles, but also causes various viscera and bowels as well as various tissues and structures such as secreting glands, junctional membranes, membrane envelopes, nerves, meridians and muscle fibers in abdominal cavity and thoracic cavity to generate relative movement, and hence gently squeeze and massage each other, which is the so-called “surging of Cinnabar Field(dān tián gǔ dàng)”. The air inhaled into pulmonary alveolis by a person in breathing is impossible to enter adbominal cavity through the tissues in his body.A person has the feeling of sinking qi when he “sinks Qi to Cinnabar Field”, just because that the tissues in abdominal cavity relax and sink down. The aforesaid viewpoint was also proved when I interviewed experts, and it is found that, when a person sinks Qi to Cinnabar Field, his caudal vertebra sinks downward and contracts forward, which changes the backward bending radian of the waist, and is more advantageous to relaxing and sinking of abdominal organs.

Different breathing patterns produce different impacts on human body. “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is a manifestation of deep breathing, and it can help human body strengthen oxygen supply and discharge large amounts of carbon dioxide, so it plays very big roles in the metabolism exchange process. The reasons lie in that, on one hand, slow and conscious deep breathing can improve the alkali content in human body, accelerate heart beating and blood circulation, thus transmit more oxygen and nutrients to human body through blood; on the other hand, trash and toxins in body are discharged out of body through deep breathing and sweats, which can effectively reduce the acid content in body, and maintain a balance of chemical compositions in human body. In addition, deep breathing can also promote shock of blood and lymphatic fluid and hence free circulation thereof, restore the connections among various nervous systems, as a result, various nerve endings also cheer up, and directly or indirectly stimulate blood vessels, which enhances the nutrition of muscle due to improvement of metabolism. Furthermore, abdomen is the place where the yin meridians among twelve meridians of the conception vessel joint together, and where many important acupuncture points and autonomic nerve plexuses of human body are distributed; deep breathing makes abdominal muscles to generate regular ups and downs, which can not only effectively stimulate relevant acupuncture points and autonomic nerves, but also massage the liver, intestines and stomach. Thus it can be seen that, abdominal breathing is a kind of scientific method in life nurturing and health care through Health Qigong for promoting the running of blood and qi.

It can be found through the aforesaid discussion that, the feeling of sinking qi in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” does not mean that the air in breathing enters abdominal cavity, but mean that various tissues in abdominal cavity relax and sink downward, due to the change in intra-abdominal pressure caused by increase in the amplitude of up and down movement of diaphragm. For beginners, they can succeed in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” from two aspects, namely changing the external shape of spinal column and changing the breathing pattern. In aspect of shape of spinal column, it focuses on changing the radian of thoracic vertebra and lumbar vertebra; while in aspect of breathing pattern, it focuses on changing thoracic breathing to abdominal breathing.

When an exerciser succeeds in reaching the state of “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” through efforts, he not only makes his thoracic cavity to expand and contract more fully, and improves the air-inflation rate of his pulmonary bubbles, but also causes various viscera and bowels as well as various secreting glands, junctional membranes, membrane envelopes, nerves, meridians and muscle fibers in abdominal cavity and thoracic cavity to squeeze and massage each other, which exerts active roles in life nurturing and health care.

Reference: Exploring Analysis on Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(pdf) by Lin Zhihua Chinese Health QiGong Association

Practise Qigong for one day

Practise Qigong for one day,
One Will receive a day’s benefit.

If one stops practicing Qigong for one day,
It will be equivalent to losing one hundred days’ benefits.

If one stops practicing for one hundred days,
One get no benefit through all his life.
Life Will become an empty dream.

Qi and Mind in Health Qigong

Shen Xiaodong, Shanghai Qigong Institute

  Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin is a simply, refined, smooth, graceful, and effective health-preserving exercise which contains deep health-preserving philosophy and is deeply welcomed by the common people. This paper provides a detailed analysis of “Qi” and “Mind” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin exercise according to the practicing process of Health Qigong •Ba Duan Jin.

  “Integrated Qi between Heaven and Earth” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin Exercise

  The “integration of three regulations” is the core and feature of health Qigong exercise. The body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation are everything we can use for self-regulation of both body and mind. The three regulations are commonly seen and practiced in our daily activities but the “integration of three regulations” is difficult to achieve. Health Qigong is exactly aimed at achieving such a state. The “integration” of “integration of three regulations” should refer to “Qi”. Zhuangzi said “Qi runs throughout the entire world” (Zhuangzi: Zhi Bei You). Huang Di Nei Jing: Su Wen: Bao Ming Quan Xing Lun says: “when Qi between the heaven and earth was integrated, man was created” and “man was created with the Qi between heaven and earth and lives by the rules of the four seasons”. Man can actively and consciously realize the “concordance of Qi” of his body and mind and merges his own life into the tremendous steam of life in the cosmos. Man can actively maintain his own health and assist the circulation and development of life between heaven and earth.

  Qi is the source of life and motive power for vitality. Qi “cannot be seen, cannot be heard, and cannot be touched” (Lao Tzu). Qi is beyond our sensory organs. We cannot represent it, objectify it, or consolidate it. But we can learn it by establishing a concept with our mind.

  Qi has is intrinsic rules and principles of operation, which are exact “Dao”. There is only one way to master Qi: to merge ourselves into “Qi” and “Tao”. We should “get relaxed and natural”, lay down our preoccupation and sensory organs, empty our heart and mind, and then The forms of things all in it crouch; Eluding touch, eluding sight; There are their semblances, all right. Profound it is, dark and obscure; Things’ essences all there endure. Those essences the truth enfold” (Lao Tzu).

  The movements of Qi in the human body can be understood as “ascending, descending, incoming, outgoing” circular movements. “Extension Tao Outlook” is advocated by the Chinese culture. It is believed that all things in the world moves in circles like the universe. This is also the case with the operation of Qi in the body. Qi runs in the body through the Twelve Regular Meridians and the Eight Extra Meridians like rings. Qi of the human body also communicates with Qi of the heaven and earth through acupoints on the body surfaces. The human body is an open “macrosystem” (Qian Xuesen). On the one hand, our body performs material metabolism with the outside world. On the other hand, the functional activity systems (e.g. meridians, spirit, Qi, and essence) of our life also have energy and information transmissions and exchanges with the outside world. “Man is connected to heaven and earth” (Huang Di Nei Jing: Ling Shu: Xie Ke). Man is a small cosmos. The changes of things in the environment have certain connections with the physiological changes of man. This is called “Induction between Heaven and Man”.

  By carefully analyzing every movement of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we can find that all three movements embody the association and connection between the human body and Qi of heaven and earth. In “Holding the Hands High with Palms Up to Regulate the Internal Organs”, both arms are required to be rounded and pushed upward and both feed are required to be firmly pressed onto the ground as if taking roots in the ground. The exerciser will be like “standing upright on his two legs between heaven and earth”, connecting the upper and lower Qi of the human body and merging it with Qi of the heaven and earth. In “Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left- and Right-Handed”, the exerciser is required to draw an imaginary bow as if shooting an arrow, pulling the arms, shoulders, and the back leftward and rightward and directing the thought towards the boundary between heaven and earth in the distance. And the legs are kept in a Horse Stance with five toes anchored onto the ground. This can be called “shooting the heaven and anchoring the earth”. In “Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach”, one arm is held up against the heaven and the other is held down towards the earth as if holding up a cauldron with great power. This is called “propping up heaven and pressing earth”. In “Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain”, both arms rotate outward, the head and arms are turned, the chest is square and the abdomen is drawn back. Qi is concentrated in Baihui Acupoint. The entire body looks like a high tower which takes in Qi from heaven and earth. This is called “twisting heaven and bending earth”. In “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire”, the head and hips are shaken while the waist is rotated and the body is turned. They respectively take circular movements which are corresponding to the rotating movement-one of the fundamental movements of the universe. This is called “turning heaven and rotating earth”. In “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist”, both hands move downward from the top, run along the body to the back, reach to the ground and stretch forward, and finally slowly move up from the front of the body, as if both hands are moving in a circle around the body to infuse Qi of heaven and earth into the body. This is called “receiving heaven and connecting earth”. In “Thrusting the Fists and Making the Eyes Glare to Enhance Strength”, both fists are clenched and thrust alternately into the air. Both legs are firmly kept in a Horse Stance. And the eyes glare at the same time to produce tremendous power and grandeur. It is called “thrusting heaven and clenching earth”. The last routine “Seven Movements of the Back to Eliminate all Diseases”, the heels are feet are lifted and then released. The head and neck are kept straight and lifted as if propping up something. The lower part of the body is held to the ground as if being pressed by a very heavy object. This is called “propping up heaven and bumping earth”.

  “Coordinated Form and Spirit” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin Exercise

  Health Qigong exercise is a resting and growing process. In our daily life and work, all kinds of mental and physical damages are inevitable and consume the resources and energies of the body. And Health Qigong is exactly a “magic weapon” for restoring the resources and energy of the body. Our predecessors pointed out that the purpose of Qigong exercise is to “nourish the vital Qi”, “regulate the meridian Qi”, and “consolidate the defensive Qi” in order to help us achieve “sufficient essence, full Qi, and complete spirit”, keep us away from or eliminate diseases, and maintain the internal equilibrium and stability of both the body and mind.

  Health Qigong exercise involves thought, which is a great feature of Qigong. The thought has major influences on both our body and mind. Compared with animals, man is more susceptible to diseases, probably because our thoughts are too disorderly and frequent. It is believed in traditional Qigong theories that thoughts have to be “neither forgotten nor assisted” and have to be placed between adherence and non-adherence. Huang Di Nei Jing says: “To treat deficiency pathogens, we need to avoid wind with good timing. If we stay indifferent to fame or gain and keep a vacant heart, the genuine Qi will follow us, the essence spirit will be contained, and diseases will be prevented.” During health Qigong exercise, we should learn to maintain an indifferent mental state and draw back into our own body. We should neither eradicate thoughts nor become over-absorbed by the mind.

  Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin is a moving exercise dominated by Daoyin of movements. As a Qigong exercise, however, it has its own requirements on thought. “Being relaxed, serene, and natural” is the threshold and orientation of Qigong. During the exercise of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we should always maintain a long and unhurried thought, keep our mind peaceful and delighted, naturally relaxed our body, and make our movements smooth, round, and continuous. In the preparative stance of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we should not only bring our body into an empty and relaxed state, but also quiet our mind, eliminate distracting thoughts, evil intentions, and stupor in order to keep our mind in “subtle and continuous” indifference and delight. As is described in Qigong tips, “when we keep our spirit in a serene state, the form will be naturally upright” (Zhuangzi: Zai You). While quieting, emptying, and relaxing our body and mind, our body will naturally become soft and comforted. In this way we can “maintain both body and spirit and live to the full length of our life” (Huang Di Nei Jing: Su Wen: Shang Gu Tian Zhen Lun).

  To sum up, Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin is dignified and graceful. Its movements are internally smooth and externally straight and full and circular. Its process is like moving clouds and flowing water. Qi circulates throughout the body to straighten bones, soften tendons, and facilitate blood and Qi circulation. While practicing Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we need to enter a good state of “integrated Qi of heaven and earth” and “coordinated form and spirit” through the “Three Regulations” in order to achieve the fundamental objectives of Health Qigong exercise.

Reference: “Qi” and “Mind” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin Exercise Chinese Health Qigong Association