Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

A Brief Discussion of the Three Stages of Qigong

Zhang Guoming; HuangHe Science and Technology College

Health Qigong is a traditional sport of our nation with body movements, respiration regulation, and mental regulation as the major forms of exercise. By practicing Health Qigong, we can dredge the channels, harmonize Yin and Yang, strengthen the body, eliminate diseases, and prolong life. And during the practice of Health Qigong, body regulation, respiration regulation, and mind regulation must be coordinated in order to exert the health-preserving effect of Health Qigong and achieve harmonious development of both body and mind. Therefore the practice of Health Qigong shall be divided into three stages. The first stage involves body regulation; the second stage involves coordination between body regulation and respiration regulation; the third stage involves coordination of body regulation, respiration regulation, and mind regulation. Through these three stages, the three regulation items can be gradually integrated.

Stage 1: Body Regulation Plays the Principal Role and Respiration and Mind Regulation Play the Supplementary Role

Body Regulation Is the Focus

In the initial stage of body regulation, the exerciser often attends to one thing and loses another. He or she tends to forget the next movement while doing the current one or forget certain details while doing a certain movement. With the increase in the number of repetitions and duration of exercise, the exerciser gradually masters the essentials of movements and no longer focuses on the memorization of movements but the accuracy and coordination of movements, and begins to enjoy the comfort brought by the exercise to the body. At this point, the exerciser will occasionally coordinate some movements with respiration and thought but still be in a twilight state. During this stage, the exerciser shall pay special attention to relaxation. Relaxation involves the following two aspects: physical relaxation and mental relaxation. Physical relaxation helps relax the blood vessels and promotes the circulation of blood and Qi. Mental relaxation helps the brain to enter quiescence, promotes the excitation of nerves to achieve a moderate balance, enhances the interoceptive feelings of the brain, strengthens the perception and control of the brain on the body, and thus improves the accuracy, coordination, and appearance of the movements of the exerciser.

Stage 2: Body and Respiration Regulation Plays the Principal Role and Mind Regulation Plays the Supplementary Role

Coordination between Body and Respiration Regulation is the Focus

When the movements become accurate, well-coordinated, and good-looking, the exerciser needs to move on to the exercise of coordinated body regulation and respiration regulation. The movements shall be carried out to the extent that the timing of inhalation and the time of exhalation are perfectly coordinated with the movements. During the coordination exercise of body regulation and respiration regulation, the exerciser is required to move gentle and slowly and breathe evenly, softly, and deeply. Do not take over-fast or over-deep breaths in case of suffocation, chest distress, and hyperventilation. The coordination between body regulation and respiration regulation cannot be natural and harmonious without a long period of efforts. Therefore, during this stage the exerciser needs to practice step by step according to his own specific conditions and by strengthening the regulation of respiration, increase the oxygen intake of the body, discharge the waste gas from inside the body, enhance the regulating functions of the sympathetic nerves and parasympathetic nerves, improve the functions of internal organs and central nervous system, and thus further improve the health of the body.

Stage 3: Coordination of Body Regulation, Respiration Regulation, and Mind Regulation

Gradually Achieving an Integration of three Regulations

After body regulation is naturally coordinated with respiration regulation, the mind regulation shall be stressed so that body regulation, respiration regulation, and mind regulation can be well coordinated. Good coordination shall be achieved between the timing of inhalation during movements and the focus of thought and between the timing of exhalation during movements and the focus of thought. Through long-term practice, organic connections between the Three Regulations will be gradually created to promote the coordination and synchronization of the Three Regulations, and rhythmic movements will be gradually formed. With the constant improvement of skills in the coordination of the Three Regulations, the organic connections between these Three Regulations will completely replace the conscious practice and the exerciser will enter an advanced state of integrated Three Regulations. At this point, both the body and mind of the exerciser will make qualitative leaps forward and the movements of the exercise will proceed with the relaxing and contracting forces that naturally connect the Three Regulations.

The three basic elements of Health Qigong are body regulation, respiration regulation, and mind regulation. Body regulation means to regulate the limb activities, respiration regulation means to regulate the respiratory activities, and mind regulation means to regulate the mental activities. The coordination and integration of these Three Regulations have to be achieved through a gradual and step-by-step process. If we emphasize the close coordination between the Three Regulations at the beginning stage of Health Qigong exercise, we will easily attend to one thing and lose another or spoil things by excessive enthusiasm. Therefore during the practice of Health Qigong, we have to follow the fundamental rules of the exercise and practice in different stages and steps in a gradually way in order to achieve the best exercising effects.

Reference: A Brief Discussion of the Three Stages of Health Qigong

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