Mindset Philosophy qigong

On Basic Essentials of Health Qigong

Wei Yongzhong; Tangshan College

The second basic essential of Health Qigong is to enter serenity. Compared with the first essential “relaxation”, serenity is mainly focused on the regulation of mental activities. Entering serenity mainly means reducing and stopping the conscious activities of the brain or, in Qigong terms, attenuating and eradicating the postnatal conscious spirit (also known as “external mind” or “external spirit”).

Consciousness is acquired during social activities. It is specific to the human kind and influences and determines other natural instincts of man. Therefore it is an essential quality of man. Whenever we are awake, the brain always thinks one thing or another. On many occasions it will keep thinking even if you don’t want it to. And the thinking is completely irregular. This can be seen from both the ECG and EEG. When one gets excited, the mind will be difficult to calm. When one gets troubled, many thoughts will possess the mind. Therefore it is really difficult to enter serenity, which seems to be against the instinct of man. But the real problem is even worst. The so-called conscious spirit includes the thinking spirit and the lust spirit. In other words, we should not only eradicate conscious activities, but also eradicate emotional experience during Qigong exercise. The former belongs to IQ and the latter belongs to EQ. They are owned by all normal people and should be cultivated since childhood. Animals also have emotions and feelings. Isn’t it against the nature to eradicate them? Why do we have to enter serenity above all?

The direct purpose of serenity is to mobilize and enhance our self-regulating functions or, in Qigong terms, excite and activate the congenital primordial spirit (also known as “internal mind” or “internal spirit”). The primordial spirit exactly controls and regulates itself. This function is inherent with everybody and should not have to be excited. But it has been inhibited and even degenerated by the strong postnatal consciousness and excessive lust spirit of man. Therefore it has to be mobilized and excited. We will not be able to preserve health unless we manage to do so. And we will not have Qigong if we fail to do so. How to mobilize it? It is excited just the way it has been inhibited. As it has been inhibited by the mutual growth and reduction, it should be activated through mutual growth and reduction. In the basic Chinese terms, it is called mutual growth and reduction between Yin and Yang. Among the various types of spirit in the human body, the conscious spirit belongs to Yang and the primordial spirit belongs to Yin. To boost Yin or to excite and activate the congenital primordial spirit, we need to reduce Yang or, in other words, attenuate and eradicate the postnatal conscious spirit.

It seems difficult to eradiate the conscious spirit. Therefore some people completely give up the idea of entering serenity. They think: “It will be OK if I don’t think about anything!” As a matter of fact “thinking about nothing” is just the hardest part, and thus the highest degree of serenity. All Qigong exercises involve serenity. Any exercise without serenity does not belong to Qigong. This is an inevitable step. Relaxation and serenity are like two thresholds to the hall of Qigong. The first threshold is low and we can easily cross it. The second threshold is high and easily daunts us. But it is the most important and critical basis essential. Why is serenity the most critical essential? We have to analyze the reason from the perspectives of both health preservation and Qigong.

First let’s take a look at health preservation. Health preservation is a modern term. In ancient times it was referred to as “physical cultivation”. Qigong is called “life cultivation”. In the introductory chapter of “Xiu Qi Zhi Ping” in The Great Learning, the first of the Four Great Books, it says: “Self-cultivation is the foundation for all people from the emperors to the common people.” But it also stresses: Self-cultivation should be carried out on the basis of a righteous mind.” This is because “the heart is the master of the body.” (annotated by Zhu Xi). This is no longer Confucian but involves medicine. Nei Jing explicitly says: “the heart is a monarch organ.” A monarch gives orders. The heart does not give orders; the brain and the central nerves do. How come the heart becomes the monarch? This is because “the heart is the container of spirit” and “the origin of spirit”. The spirit in the brain is originally stored and originated from the heart. This is why we call it primordial spirit. Let’s make a metaphor. Although the spirit works in the brain, the heart is its home. And this home cannot be changed. Therefore spirit is the master but when it comes to organs, the heart is always the monarch which governs the entire body. Being in charge of the entire body, can it have a rest? No. Even if it takes a nap, “all internal organs will be endangered”. Therefore the heart does not have a rest for even one second. The cerebrum, cerebellum, and all other organs have rests and at least work shifts. Now that the heart is the master of the whole body, we should never ignore the health of the heart and erase it from the list of our health-preservation items. Otherwise, health preservation will be just a joke. We have always wanted to realize “Fitness of the nation” and the United Nations have also proposed “Health for all” and made new annotations of “Health”. But health is far from being realized. When will it be realized? How? As far as I am concerned, mental regulation is the key to health preservation and health. Some Health Qigong specialist have long pointed out that: The life of a man is a contradictor yet unified entity dominated by the mind. The key words here are “dominated by the mind”. This means the main aspect of the mind-body contradiction is the mind rather than the body. And it also annotates the “simultaneous cultivation of both Xing and Ming” which has been pursued by Chinese Qigong exercisers since the ancient times: Cultivation of Xing and mind is dominant and cultivation of Ming and body is auxiliary.

The same conclusion will be reached when it comes to the treatment of disease. But we have to begin with the dialectics of traditional Chinese medicine. According to traditional Chinese medicine, diseases are caused by “seven emotions from the inside and six evils from the outside.” The endogenous factors are in the first place and the exogenous factors are in the second place. This is because endogenous factors are the basis and the exogenous factors are the conditions. The exogenous factors do not take effect unless through endogenous factors. Western medicine does not explain pathogenic factors this way. It only involves germs and viruses. However, traditional Chinese medicine never mentions these. It focuses on wind, cold, summer heat, damp, dryness, and fire, the “Six Forms of Heaven Qi” and “Six Forms of Earth Qi”. They fill up the entire universe and do not carry benign or malignant properties. They do not harm people unless they are surplus. Surplus leads to excess, excess leads to pathogens, pathogens lead to toxicity, and this is how harm is eventually done. However, if we do not have excessive emotions, we will never be affected by the six excesses. If we preserve health according to the four seasons, we will never get sick. This is why Taoists believe “life is controlled by oneself instead of God”. And as a matter of fact, there were many Taoists and doctors who did manage to master their own lives and lived long lives until their painless deaths. How did they manage to do so? They did not rely on sterilization. On the contrary, they knew that many germs were good even if they were toxic, as toxic things could be utilized to counteract toxin. Therefore they did not try to kill them but did whatever they could to find and utilize them. As a matter of fact, such things have always been with us or inside us since the very beginning of our history. They could never be eliminated. If we do want to kill them, they will get stronger and stronger and more and more diverse until they completely go out of control. And us human beings will be victims when that day comes. Taoists and doctors of China would never get the worst of it, neither would the Confucians, Buddhists, or the I-Ching practicers. The key to their longevity was: avoiding being impaired by the seven emotions. Emotions originate from the heart. The seven emotions are activities of the mind.

This is also true when it comes to happiness. Happiness does not lie in excellent material conditions but lie in the delightful feeling of the mind. Therefore, a person always in a good mood is far happier than another person having delicious food and drink everyday. As the saying goes “laugh and grow fat”, we will never feel at east or happy if we do not have an open mind.

From this we can see that the mind is always the dominating one in the physical-mental entity under any circumstances. Therefore we need to cultivate our mind if we are to preserve health. This is the key that we have to grasp. Then why do we have to enter serenity before mind cultivation? To answer this question, we need to start with some detailed information of Qigong.

Qigong is the manipulation of Qi. Once the body is relaxed, Qi will start to circulate. This is easy to understand. But how do we master, control, rein, and apply Qi once it starts to circulate? This is a complicated but most critical issue. Fortunately, many health-preserving schools of ancient China, such as Qigong, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, I-Ching, medicine, and Wushu, have provided us with clever methods to rein and control Qi. There have been countless grand masters that had profound knowledge about the mechanisms of Qi. Even if we ignore the time before the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, there were Guan Zhong, Lao Tzu, Kuei Ku-tzu, Confucius, Yen Hui, Bian Que, Wang Qiao, Qu Yuan, Liezi, Chuang Tzu, Mencius, Hsun Tzu, Dong Zhongshu, Wang Chong, Wei Boyang, Zhang Zhongjing, and Hua Tuo between the Spring and Autumn Period and the Qin and Han Dynasties. After the Wei and Jin Dynasties, there were fewer grand masters but numerous famous masters. And we had many hermits who concealed their identities or left their works but not their names. And countless ancient people knew how to control Qi. Below are just some examples:

The Guan Zhong, the great politician of the 7th century BC wrote in Nei Ye Pian that: “Qi cannot be spoken, seen, or heard.” This indicates how difficult it is to control Qi. “Therefore this Qi cannot be stopped with force but can be calmed with virtue. It cannot be vocalized with the mouth but can be expressed by the mind.” “When the mind is serene, Qi will come into order and stay inside you”. “By cultivating our mind and tranquilize our thought, we will be able to achieve Tao.” This indicates that Qi can be controlled. But how do we control it? With “serene mind” and “cultivated mind and serene thought”. What Guan Zhong meant was that: Qi cannot be spoken, seen or heard. Therefore this Qi cannot be stopped with force but can be calmed with virtue. It cannot be vocalized with the mouth but can be expressed by the mind. But we can calm it with virtue and cater to it with thought. When the mind is serene, Qi will come into order and stay inside you. And when you cultivate your mind and enter serenity, you will achieve Tao and Qi and be able to control Qi.

Mencius is as good as Guan Zhong with it comes to the Qi-driving skills. Although he too though it was “difficult to explain” what was “the Great Qi”, when asked by his disciples he still dared to say: “I am good at nourishing the Great Qi.” The Great Qi is “extremely tremendous and firm” and “fills the entire universe”, while Mencius were able to “nourish it without being harmed” and convert it into “filling material of the body”. How did he manage to do so? Mencius says: “Aspiration is the master of Qi” and “focused aspiration will help control Qi and focused Qi will help control aspiration”. Aspiration is will. Nei Jing: Ling Shu: Ben Shen says: “persistent intention is called aspiration.” Put in a modern way, aspiration is very similar to intention. In other words, Mencius use focused intention to control Qi, driving the endogenous factors with exogenous factors and converting external Qi into internal Qi. It should be noted that according to Mencius, Qi and aspiration are interactive. (See Mencius: Gong Sunchou I)

According to Chuang Tzu: Ren Jian Shi, Confucius also used focused intention to drive Qi. One day Yen Hui asked him what was “pre-occupation”, he said: “Maintain a perfect unity in every movement of your will, You will not wait for the hearing of your ears about it, but for the hearing of your mind. Let the hearing (of the ears) rest with the ears. Let the mind rest in the verification (of the rightness of what is in the will). But the spirit is free from all pre-occupation and so waits for (the appearance of) things. Where the (proper) course is, there is freedom from all pre-occupation.” From this we can see the keys to pre-occupation and serenity. And we can also see that the Qi-driving techniques of Confucius described by Chuang Tzu were more than a health-preserving method or a Qigong exercise used to cultivate the mind and build up the body. They are a great way to master everything, properly treat everything, adapt ourselves to everything, and contain everything. And they are also the life philosophy of both Taoist and Confucianism. This was exactly why Chuang Tzu named this Chapter as Ren Jian Shi. How did they realize the great leap from a health-preserving method to great Qigong? They grasped the common things between Qi and mind, the coupling joints between Qi and mind, and coordination between Qi and mind. According to Mencius, Qi and aspiration are interactive and coordinated. None of Guan Zhong, Mencius, Chuang Tzu, and Confucius was a scientist and none of them knew any physics or systematic sciences. But they all knew coordination-the great coordination between Qi and mind and between nature and man. Only these great thinkers could manage to do that.

All roads lead to Roma. The Qi-driving techniques and methods of the great thinkers came from various origins but were based on the same mechanism. This can be summarized with four words: “Driving Qi with spirit”. This sentence was frequently seen in many Qigong classics such as Zhou Yi Can Tong Qie and Xing Ming Gui Zhi. The spirit referred is only the primordial spirit that lives in the monarch organ. And to sum up the Qi-driving mechanisms of all Qigong schools, we can describe them with a single sentence in Nei Jing: “A tranquilized mind will cause vital Qi to flow normally in the body.” According to my understanding, quiescence, peace, vacancy, and inaction are four levels of serenity in ascending order. In other words, we should first achieve quiescence, and then move from quiescence into peace, from peace into vacancy, and finally vacancy into inaction. Inaction is the ultimate level that we need to climb up to. Buddhists call it “void”, Taoists call it “inaction”, and common people call it “having nothing on mind”. This is the highest level of serenity. And all the way to serenity, Qi will follow you. The word “follow” means Qi only follows you when you try to enter serenity. And it will not follow you and listen to your orders if you do not enter serenity.

From this we can clearly see the critical role of serenity in the entire system of Qigong. “Driving Qi with spirit” and “Vital Qi in the body flowing normally” are both based on serenity. Therefore once you circumvent this threshold, you will never enter the hall of Qigong.

As a matter of fact, it is not difficult to enter serenity. Since it is easy to learn the rudiments of Qigong, it is totally possible to go further. Readers may still remember the rudiment keys to Qigong that I presented last time. Now we may name them as “Trilogy of Relaxation”: 1. Calm the mental state; 2. Coordinate respiration; 3. Command the intention. The first and the last steps are all about serenity. It has also been mentioned earlier that the neck is the key and has to be relaxed in particular during the practice. Why? Once the neck is relaxed, an expressway from the brain to the heart and from the heart to the brain will immediately come into being. And the spirit will be able to go home from time to time with ease. Once it’s home, the conscious spirit is returned to its original position and serenity will be achieved. In addition, relaxation of the neck will drive the relaxation of the brain. And once the cerebral cortex is relaxed, serene you will immediately be. This is because once the cerebral cortex is relaxed, Qi will start to circulate there and driving power will come in to convert essence into Qi and Qi into spirit. And spirit will be able to get home in no time. In other words, serenity is a natural process which takes place with the relaxation of critical parts of the body.

However, serenity of Qigong is an attenuation of the conscious spirit. It has to face complicated factors such as the brain, spirit, thought, and emotions. Therefore it is easy to achieve rudimentary serenity, difficult to achieve in-depth serenity, extremely difficult to achieve ultimate serenity, and desperately difficult to maintain the ultimate serenity. It is most difficult to maintain and experience the ultimate serenity everyday.

Now that serenity is a prerequisite of Qigong, how can we enter it better? What are the methods to enter serenity? Generally speaking, there is no definite method. But we can learn from the experience of predecessors in Qigong and may make our own innovations. Next I will offer five methods.

I. Internal and external consignment. This means to consign all your thoughts to a certain place inside or outside the body. Inside the body, it may be the tip of your nose, the area between eyebrows, the arch of your foot, Dantian, a Zang or Fu viscus, the Ren or Du Channel, or the focus of a disease. Outside the body, it may be the sun, the moon, a mountain, a river, a flower, a grass, a sweet moment, or a beautiful scene. Internal consignment is also called “internal concentration”, “inward vision”, “internal scene”, “aperture adherence”, and “pivot adherence”. External consignment is also called “external concentration”, “external scene”, and “mental consignment”. Both of them are called “mind concentration”, “consignment of thoughts”, “consignment of mind”, and “meditation”. Nei Jing says: “When mind is concentrated inward, how can disease take place?” This is just an example of the health-preserving and disease-preventing effects of internal consignment and internal concentration. External consignment and external concentration are also a good and indispensable method to capture, collect, and input benign information. However, as the methods to achieve serenity, both internal consignment and external consignment are elementary approaches to temporary replacement of multiple thoughts with one single thought. And such methods are optional and differ from person to person. However, any method will contribute to your accumulation as long as you use it to enter serenity. Even the elementary exercises may lead to perfection after being practiced again and again. They may also be universal and good for the cultivation of both the mind and the body.

It should be noted by readers, and especially foreign readers that: The intention of oriental Qigong does not equal thinking or consciousness, even if they all belong to the spiritual world. All Qigong intentions are peaceful and between adherence and non-adherence. They seem to exist and yet not to exist. And they are half-hidden and always kept at arm’s length. As Mencius put it, “neither forget it nor support it”. As Lao Tzu put it, “keep between concentration and absent-mindedness”. The so-called mind concentration means concentrating the mind to a certain place instead of having distracting thoughts on the mind. Otherwise you will not be entering serenity, practicing, or cultivating spirit. On the contrary you will consume life and spirit. Some hold that: mind concentration also includes rich imagination which enhances attention and imagination. This is wrong. Mind concentration should never involve imagination, let alone rich imagination. The “richer” you get, the far away you will deviate from Qigong. In one word, the boundary between thought and consciousness must be clearly defined. Although the mind concentration is described as a method to enter serenity, it is actually directly used to control Qi. All techniques of Qigong are Qi-driving techniques. And it is the thought rather than the consciousness that drives Qi. The primordial spirit rather than the mind drives Qi and the heart rather than the brain drives Qi.

II. Coordination of mental activities and breathing. This is also called mental and respiratory interdependence. In other words the mental activities are dependent on respiration and coincide with the breathing process. This is advocated by almost all schools of Qigong. Liu Zi Jue and the Buddhist “Liu Miao Fa Men” are both based on coordination of mental activities and breathing. The practicing process is divided into six stages and six levels: Counting breaths, following breaths, stopping breaths, observing breaths, returning breaths, and clearing breaths. Counting breaths means counting silently how many times you breathe. By replacing all other thoughts with this one thought, you will be able to reach serenity. Following breaths means no longer counting breaths but having the mind follow the exhalation and inhalation to ascend & descend, open & close, or enter & exit. Stopping breaths means stopping the thought at a certain position where the breaths pass by and keeping it from leaking. It may be stopped at the tip of the nose, between eyebrows, in the bottom of the heart, or in the lower abdomen. Observing breaths means meditation and inward vision of your own respiration. For example, you can observe exhalation when turbid Qi is exhaled from the body and observe inhalation when genuine Qi is inhaled into the body. Returning breaths means returning to the source of breaths. The source of breaths is the congenital Qi of the universe. Clearing breaths means clearing all breaths and thoughts. This is the ultimate result of Liu Miao Fa Men. In addition, Chuang Tzu says: “immortals breathe to the ankles while common people breathe to the throat.” Then is “inhaling to the top and exhaling to the bottom” no more than the mental-respirator interdependence of these “immortals”?

III. Kung fu comes from outside the exercise. The great Qigong master and poet Lu You enlightened his sun by: “Kung fu comes from outside poets.” This is of profound meaning. The serenity Kung fu of Qigong comes from outside Qigong. The key to the practice of Qigong is mind cultivation. Serenity only calms the mind. Therefore a man with a dirty mind will be stuck in obstacles during the practice of serenity. And people with bad moral characters or selfish thoughts will find it difficult to enter serenity. And if we become capricious during practice, we should know how to restrain and lock the distracting thoughts.

Looking back into the history, we will find that the best practicers of Qigong were philosophers, great writers, medical masters, thinkers, and politicians. “Ge Wu” has existed in China since the ancient times. This is science. The Great Learning says: To cultivate the body, we must clear our mind. To clear our mind, we must be sincere. To be sincere, we must get informed. To get informed, we must learn science. In other words, the entire “Xiu Qi Zhi Ping” is based on science. Philosophy is the highest level of thinking but it is by no means unfounded thinking. Thinking comes only from learning. The philosophy of Lao Tzu was exactly obtained by “learning Tao”. Body cultivation, mind clarification, and sincerity are all within the framework of Qigong but learning and science are outside Qigong.

How to make efforts outside Qigong? We can start with the following three aspects. The first is mental cultivation, the second is moral cultivation, and the third is daily cultivation. Mental cultivation includes philosophy cultivation and science cultivation. All these three levels of efforts are based on both learning and mental exercise. Therefore both the inside Kung fu and outside Kung fu belong to one Kung fu. And philosophers are often Qigong masters too. Daily cultivation is called “mental refinement through things”. Exercise is different from refinement. Exercise is like bleaching a silk cloth with water, while refinement is like smelting metal with fire. I’m afraid that the human mind has to be both bleached and smelted. Cultivation means learning. Learn proficiency for officialdom. Chinese Qigong was called refinement in ancient times but now considered an exercise. But if we only exercise the body and fail to refine the heart, it will be like strengthening only the body and ignoring the spirit. And the tradition of cultivation and refinement is not an ordinary culture or spirit. It is a symbol of the civilization and spirit of the Chinese nation. Refinement is very difficult, we need to be serene, clear, precise, and humble and persevere on a long term basis, so that we could be pure, noble, generous, and good for others.

IV. “Achieving the ultimate vacancy and adhering to the true serenity”. In the strict sense, this is more a goal than an approach. It is the ultimate serenity that can be hardly achieved by normal people. Adhering to the true serenity is more difficult than achieving the ultimate vacancy. The ultimate serenity of Chuang Tzu is “utterly dead mind”. But this mind has to be revived for if it does not, serenity will be absolute. And as we know, serenity is always relative. Just as there is no absolute quiescence in the material world, there is not absolute serenity in the spiritual world. But Chuang Tzu did not say how long we should adhere to it before its revival. The longer we adhere to it, the closer we get to the “immortal” state of health preservation. And this is surely difficult to achieve. “I’m number one in the universe”. This is true. He might be the first one in the world’s history to interpret the dialectics. Was Chuang Tzu the second one in the universe? As a top philosopher under the sun, he also made it to the ultimate serenity. This is a secret in which methods are hidden.

V. Assume a humble attitude. As far as I’m concerned, these four words are both keys to the elementary hall of Qigong and the keys to the serenity of Qigong. And they are a clever way of cultivating the mind and body, preserving health, prolonging life, and staying happy and delighted. Why do we have to be humble? This is because “Human hearts are evil”. This maxim was said to have been spoken by Shun when he handed over his crown to Yu in the ancient times. Evil is height. And height is evil. Our great ancestors knew the human heart profoundly. Human hearts are even higher today. Many children are customized as scientists when they just enter the kindergartens. Their parents wish they could sign a contract. Some country kids were forced to answer to the question “who will you make money for when you grow up” when they don’t even know how to speak. They parents wish they could make money right now. Why are human hearts so high? This is because the heart belongs to fire and fire easily leads to inflammation. However, Shun also said to Yu that contrary to the human heart, “the Taoist heart is humble”. The Taoist heart is also surrounded by shadows and contains pure essence. Taoists also pointed out that we should be as noble as water, which facilitates everything but does not snatch anything. Here is the solution. Water restraints fire. However, we cannot live without fire. We cannot keep the kidney and heart in balance unless we have both water and fire. It is just that we have to keep the water on the top and fire on the bottom in order to cook rice thoroughly. This is also the case with us human beings. We will not be “mature” unless we lower the fire-natured heart. If one can remain as mentally serene as water, he will definitely be able to find Kung fu in the finest places and get closer and closer to the Taoist heart. Taoists heart is not only humble, but also very, very low. It always stay when it belongs. Besides the Taoist heart, the Confucian heart is also low. It’s just that Confucianism did not come into the world in the times of Shun and Shun could not speak it. Mencius believes that we should just lower our hearts. Lowering our hearts means lowering our attitude.

To sum up, the key to the serenity of Qigong is to overlook the bottom of the heart from a philosophic perspective. As Taoists put it, we start with action, return with inaction, and thus achieve “No willful action and nothing without willful action”.

Reference: On Basic Essentials of Health Qigong

Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

How to Enter a Relaxed, Serene, and Gentle State of Exercise As Quickly As Possible

Zhang Caiqin; Inner Mongolia Normal University

The key to the practice of Health Qigong is to stay indifferent to fame or gain and keep a vacant heart, control genuine Qi, and contain the essence and spirit.”In order to “control genuine Qi”, the exerciser must first clear the mind, calm the spirit, and eliminate the distracting thoughts and ideas. And physical relaxation can promote the quiescence of mind. Once the body and mind enter a relaxed, quiescent, and gentle state during the exercise, the breath will be naturally even, fine, soft, and long. In such a state, the harmonious Qi within the body will be activated and circulate between the grain of skin and the texture of the subcutaneous flesh, were pathogenic Qi will have no place to stay. This will promote the activity of Qi, strengthen the body, and prolong life. It was said in ancient times that: “The mind will be harmonized only when the body is quiescent; when the mind is harmonized, Qi will be harmonized; when Qi is harmonized, form will be harmonized; when form is harmonized, everything will be harmonized.” If the mind is restless during the exercise, the respiration will be unsmooth, the body will be rigid, blood and Qi will be obstructed, and Health Qigong will not provide any disease-eliminating and life-prolonging effects.

By summing up my practicing experience over the years, I have created a method to practice relaxation and quiescence. By following this method in our practice on a long-term basis, we will be able to quickly enter a relaxed, quiescent, and gentle practicing state. And on the other hand, the functional activities will gradually change from energy consumption to energy reservation and thus provide “self-repairing” and “self-regulating” effects on the organic body during the practiced of relaxation and quiescence.

Practicing Method

The relaxation of Health Qigong involves relaxation of the body form and relaxation of the spirit. The quiescence of Qigong is “a special quiescent state of the waked man and the optimal state for physiological functions and activities”. It involves “motion in quiescence” and “quiescent spirit and moving Qi”. In this state, the Yang Qi of the human body will be placid and smoothly reach the four limbs, so that the Primordial Qi (Genuine Qi) is plentiful, Yin Qi is harmonious, and Yin and Yang are well-coordinated. This will improve health and lead to a good mood. Relaxation and quiescence promote and supplement each other and are closely connected. They cannot be separated and must be practiced simultaneously.

During the exercise, the body posture and respiration shall be as follows: lie on the back. Naturally straighten the legs. Put them together or keep them a little bit away from each other as long as you feel comfortable. Lay flat both hands on both sides of the lower abdomen with the palms facing downward. Slightly bend the fingers and slightly close eyes with just a small seam left. Take natural and smooth breaths. The mental requirements of relaxation are as follows: After setting the body posture and evening respiration, imagine that the head is relaxed and take a deep breath. Slowly exhale the breath and relax the facial muscles so that they are light and soft. At the same time clear the distracting thoughts from the mind and relax the head. Naturally breathe for a while, and then image the relaxation of shoulders. Take a deep breath and while slowly exhaling the breath, relax both shoulders from top to bottom and relax the neck, chest, back, and lower abdomen along with it at the same time. Naturally breathe for a while, and then image the relaxation of arms. Take a deep breath and while slowly exhaling the breath, start the mind-guidance from the upper arms down to the fingers. Naturally breathe for a while, and then image the relaxation of hips. Take a deep breath and while slowly exhaling the breath, start the relaxation from the hips down along the thighs to the toes by way of knees and shanks. It is required to lead the thought along the different parts of the body during the slow exhalation. Where the thought goes, the appropriate body part shall relax accordingly and drive the adjacent parts to relax in a transferring manner. After a relaxed state is achieved, mind concentration on acupoints is used to achieve quiescence: mind concentration on acupoints means to concentrate the mind on certain acupoints of the body during practice in order to “replace all thoughts with one thought” and thus to inhibit the generation of distracting thoughts. This helps the exerciser to enter a relaxed, leisurely, peaceful, and quiescent state. The acupoints to be concentrated on include: Dantian in the lower abdomen below the navel, Laogong Acupoints in the centers of both palms, and Yongquan Acupoints in the most dented parts of both soles. Requirements on mind concentration are: Stay between concentration and non-concentration, do not adhere to a certain point, and constantly switch between three positions.

Relaxed and Quiescent States in Different Stages of Practice

The practice of relaxation and quiescence is divided into three stages. The exerciser needs to enter the stages according to the progress he has made in Health Qigong. Not every exerciser needs to start with the first stage. Exercisers that have already made high achievements in Health Qigong will quickly enter the Stage 3 relaxation and quiescence even when practicing this method for the first time.

Stage 1: when one takes Health Qigong exercise for the first time, the distracting thoughts and disturbances from the outside world will always prevent the body from fully relaxing and the mind from being quiescent. The exerciser cannot experience the comfort of relaxation and leisure of quiescence. This is an inevitable process of the exercise. As long as the exerciser strengthens the conviction and keeps practicing, the due efficacy will be naturally achieved in the long run. While using the mind to guide relaxation, the beginner first needs to constantly eliminate the distracting thoughts and focus as much attention as possible to the position where the thought goes during the relaxation process. Distracting thoughts will keep tangling the mind when the exerciser tries to concentrate the mind on acupoints. In this case, the exerciser should just eliminate those distracting thoughts he is able to and give up on those that he cannot cope with. Do not insist on it and always treat it with a peaceful mind.

Stage 2: After the relaxation and quiescence exercise in the first stage, the exerciser will naturally enter the second stage. When an advanced exerciser practices this method for the first time, he will directly enter the relaxed and quiescent state of this stage. During the practice, he will be able to basically control the train of thoughts, actively cease the distracting thoughts, and relax all parts of the body under the guidance of the mind. The exercise should best be done right before sleep at night, as Yang Qi is restrained and concentrated in the body at this moment, which is quite suitable for quiescence cultivation. Lie on the back in a bed and follow the method of relaxation and quiescence exercise to relax the entire body from the head to the feet under the guidance of mind. Then gently close eyes and relax the brain. Assume a leisurely and comfortable look on the face and keep the body in a basically relaxed state. Start to concentrate the mind on Dantian, Laogong, and Yongquan. We can stay at Dantian for a while, switch to both Laogong Acupoints in a moment, and then switch to both Yongquan Acupoints. Sometimes we can also focus the mind on two acupoints (e.g. Dantian and Laogong) at the same time. When distracting thoughts begin to flock in, pull the mind back to the acupoints. As the mind gradually enters a focused state, the thoughts in the brain will continuously fade away and the spirit will be gradually relaxed. Occasionally, the exerciser may achieve a relaxed form and a clarified brain. At this point, the brain will be free of all distracting thoughts and worries and the mind will be in a state between thinking and non-thinking. And the exerciser will experience the relaxation and happiness brought by relaxed form and quiescent mind.

Stage 3: Try not to take deep breaths in the beginning. Slowly relax the different parts of the body according to a sequence of head, shoulders, arms, and hips under the guidance of mind. During the relaxation, distracting thoughts may come in from time to time. But the exerciser will be able to dispel them immediately and keep a light and serene face. With the constant progress in skills, the exerciser will gradually do without mind guidance. During the entire relaxation process, the respiration will be naturally and smooth and the exerciser will no longer need to perform local relaxation with the help of deep respiration. Whenever lying in the bed before sleep, the exerciser will naturally begin to practice relaxation and quiescence before he even notices it (except when the exerciser is angry or has something on mind), and both the interior and exterior of the body will be completely relaxed in a matter of seconds. Then concentrate the mind on Dantian, Laogong, and Yongquan and stay between adherence and non-adherence. When distracting thoughts flock in, the exerciser will be able to timely pull the mind back to the acupoints. After entering this stage, the exerciser will gradually switch from brain-based mind concentration to intuition-based mind concentration. Sometimes the exerciser will glimpse all three acupoints in just one thought and start to understand the essences of “the state between adherence and non-adherence”. At this point, the acupoint of Dantian on which the mind is concentrated will become clearer and clearer. The exerciser will unconsciously lock the position of mind concentration at Guanyuan Acupoint which is right below the navel by 3 Cun or Qihai Acupoint which is below the navel by 1.5 Cun. But the specific position may differ from person to person. For example, when somebody concentrating mind on Dantian first feels numbness, heat, or distention around Qihai Acupoint (numbness: a physical phenomenon caused by brain cells sending out bio-radio wave information during the mind application process; Heat: a thermal reaction caused by the unobstructed blood and Qi abrading the walls of blood vessels after nerve cells are excited; distention: a comfortable feeling of slight numbness and hot distention; it reflects the expanding capillaries and unobstructed blood and Qi circulation over the body during practice), the mind will naturally reach Qihai when he practice mind concentration on Dantian in the future. During the latter period of the third stage, the exerciser may sometimes feel indistinctly that even the brain cells are relaxed with the mind concentration. Occasionally, the exerciser will feel that the relaxation begins with the exterior of body parts and gradually infiltrate the cells. All of a sudden, a subtle perception will cross the mind¬as if all cells of the body are suddenly released and all burdens on the body and soul are completely relieved in a second. At this point, the mind will be tranquil, the expression on the face will be leisurely, and the harmonious Qi will fill all the body. In the moment of relaxed form, tranquil thought, and peaceful mind, a door to wisdom seems to be opened all of a sudden in the brain and the exerciser will gradually learn the true meaning of “If we stay indifferent to fame or gain and keep a vacant heart, the genuine Qi will follow us, the essence and spirit will be contained, and diseases will be prevented.” This perception is fast like a lightning across the sky. So we should let it be and not seek it on purpose.

Reference: How to Enter a Relaxed, Serene, and Gentle State of Exercise As Quickly As Possible

Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

Adherence to Quiescence

Li Jinlong and Jia Meiying; Shanxi University

Health Qigong is a traditional sport of our nation with body movements, respiration regulation, and mental regulation as the major forms of exercise. It has carried the essences of the excellent traditional health-preserving culture of the Chinese Nation for thousands of years. The practice of Health Qigong is focused on the “strengthening of mind”, and the key to the strengthening of mind is “adherence to quiescence”. The mind guides the body and the body is used by the mind. The well-combined mind and body and a healthful and harmonious life are the goals of Health Qigong exercises. Just as Lao Tzu says: “All the flourishing things will return to their source. This return is peaceful. It is the flow of nature.”

Main Idea of “Adherence to Quiescence”

With regard to the idea of adherence to quiescence, quiescence is relative to motion. In the broad sense, they represent two opposite states in the physical phenomena of the nature. In the narrow sense, they refer to the stationary and dynamic, resting and moving states of man. Seeking “quiescence” and adhering to “quiescence” are the inevitable way and basic method to preserve health. Reflected in the practice of Health Qigong, they mean to seek balances between the mental state, movements, and respiration. Secondly, from the perspective health preservation (body building): The sources of all life functions grow in “quiescence”, just as any animal or plant in the nature draws the energy of life from “quiescence” for its growth. This is especially true with the human life. It is only through the never-ending circulation of quiescence and motion that we can obtain vitality that with each passing day. This is basically equivalent to the ideas of “Dhyana” and “Meditation” in Buddhism. In reality, however, people usually feel confused about being unable to feel “quiescence”. Therefore they make every endeavor to seek a method to “adhere to quiescence”. As a matter of fact, Man Huaijin said: “Quiescence is quiescence. We just need to seek it with our heart. If we deliberately use any method to seek it, won’t it cause more disturbances?” If that is true, it will seem impossible for us to seek quiescence. In fact, however, people are just getting too used to the moving state. They keep moving both physically and mentally all the time. Therefore they have different feelings. For this sake, the best way is to pay no special attention to quiescence. For example, we don’t see the dirt in a cup of water when it is turbid. But if we add some clarifying agent to it and rest it there for several days, we will be able to find the sediment in the cup. This is not because this cup of water generates dirt in the stationary state, but because it already has dirt which cannot be found until it is rested. Therefore when we are trying to “adhere to quiescence”, we don’t do it on purpose. It is important to do it with a normal and calm state of mind. Everything is subject to the rules of nature. Where water flows, a channel is formed, and we will be able to experience the mystery of “quiescence”.

Embodiment of “Adherence to Quiescence” in the Health-Preserving and Body-Building Essentials of Health Qigong

The thought of Health Qigong can be traced back to Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine and the legend of Pengzu who lived for 800 years. It originated from the ultimate wish of the human kind-to find a way to immortality, and the greatest quest of the human kind-to learn the principles of life and the origins of Heaven, Earth, and Man. These two factors have also become the initial approaches to seek detachment from reality and sublime the spirit. Ji Kang once proposed and theoretically proved that the meaning of Immortality Art (also an origin of the thought and forms of Qigong) lied in health preservation instead of immortality. In other words “eliminating diseases and prolonging life mean that a man has to learn and practice a great deal of knowledge necessary for health preservation, so that he can live happily without any disease or pain and die smoothly without causing troubles to himself or anybody else. This is the ultimate happiness of life which is most difficult to achieve”. These are the essentials of body building and health preservation. They are just in concert with the awareness of people about “Qigong everywhere”.

Health Qigong is based on harmony and mind regulation. The exerciser needs to seek “Unity of Nature and Man” on the outside and self-content and self-consistency on the inside. Adherence to quiescence, contemplation, introspection, harmony, mental relaxation, and quiescence of mind shall be the major goals of practice so that the exerciser can maintain a good state of mind and perform reasonable metal control and behavior control of himself. How to preserve health? Pengzu says: “control motion with quiescence and close eyes to rest the mind”. In everyday life, we should try the best not to “exhaust the ears or eyes or sit or sleep too long”. On the whole, we should not seek fame and wealth or be fierce, but remain peaceful and calm. In this way our spirit will naturally be at ease and our body will naturally be healthy.

In is expressed in the very introductory chapter of Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine that: “Ancient sages said: 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. ” They advised people to stay indifferent to fame or gain, keep a vacant heart, and contain the essence and spirit. The essence belongs to the kidneys. It is only when the kidney essence is sufficient that the mind can be calmed. And it is only when the mind is calmed that health can be ensured. The “regulating health according to the four seasons” and “adjusting to the four seasons and climate changes” in traditional health preservation are emphases on the harmony between man and nature. Intrinsic harmony is concretely and commonly sought in health preservation. It is a part of the theoretical basis for Health Qigong and determines the emphasis on “contemplation”, “application of thought”, and “interior practice” features of Health Qigong. The guiding theory of Health Qigong involves “using the mind to practice”, “keeping the essence and spirit in the interior”, “pay independent attention to spirit and integrating the muscles”, “entering the quiescent state”, and “achieving the ultimate vacancy and adhering to the true quiescence” which are all embodiments of the characteristics of this “introversion” culture. Mencius advocated “deliberately cultivating the mind and moral characters to behave ethically”, which is also an embodiment of the introversion spirit. “Feeling the Way with your mind and understanding the unity” in the Taoist Culture and “clarifying the mind to see the disposition”, “depending on yourself instead of depending on others”, and “seeking Buddha dharma from inside instead from outside” in Buddhism all indicate that the practice of Qigong should be more inclined to the quiescence and cultivation of the interior world.

Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine also says: “The heart is the master of all viscera. When the heart moves, all viscera will sway.” The “heart” here refers to the mind. This indicates that all mental activities and emotional changes of man may influence the functions of the interior body. It is therefore said that “overwhelming joy impairs the heart, and terror overwhelms joy; overwhelming anger impairs the liver, and sorrow overwhelms terror; overwhelming thought impairs the spleen, and anger overwhelms thought; overwhelming worry impairs the spleen, and joy overwhelms worry; overwhelming terror impairs the kidney, and thought overwhelms terror”. This also indicates that all kinds of extreme emotions will stimulate the mind, impair the internal organs, affect the activity of Qi, and prevent people from being adherent, quiescent, and happy, causing all kinds of diseases. Therefore, we should eliminate the distracting thoughts and achieve the quiescent and concentrated state of mind as much as possible during the practice of Health Qigong. This is exactly “adherence to quiescence”. Just as Zhuangzi: “I venture to ask what that fasting of the mind is,’ said Hui, and Kung-ni answered, ‘Maintain a perfect unity in every movement of your will, You will not wait for the hearing of your ears about it, but for the hearing of your mind. Let the hearing (of the ears) rest with the ears. Let the mind rest in the verification (of the rightness of what is in the will). But the spirit is free from all pre-occupation and so waits for (the appearance of) things. Where the (proper) course is, there is freedom from all pre-occupation.” This means we need to eliminate the distractions from the sensory organs, listen to the bounces and vibrations of our heartstrings, and quietly experience the softness and harmony of Qi. The “fasting of mind” and “adherence to quiescence” are two approaches to the freedom from pre-occupation and quiescence. When it comes to health preservation, their essences belong to the quiescence-adherence and mind-regulation parts of Qigong. Zuo Wang Ming written by Zheng Xuan of the Ming Dynasty says: “Constantly contain the Primordial Qi to prevent impairments, reduce the distracting thoughts to preserve wisdom; keep away from anger to harmonize the spirit, keep away from vexation to clear the mind; do not fabricate or flatter, do not stick to foolish ways; keep away from greed to enjoy a normal life, and do the right things to be not afraid of law suits.” These words are good food for thought and can be considered as the keys to physical and mental health. And when the mind is adjusted to an ultimate vacant and quiescent state, it will bring spiritual enjoyment that transcends the physical world. Xu Fuguan perfectly summed this up by saying: “The Way mentioned by Zhangzi is a lofty artistic spirit when it comes to life”. From this we can see that the vacancy and quiescence practice of “freedom from pre-occupation” actually presents an artistic life of the spiritual world. Then how to achieve “freedom from pre-occupation” and “Zuo Wang”? Zhuangzi believes that we should first achieve “vacancy”, “quiescence”, and “clearness”, i.e. mind regulation.

In addition, Lao Zi further considers Qigong exercise as an important method to understand “the Way”. He says: “To experience without intention is to sense the world; To experience with intention is to anticipate the world. These two experiences are indistinguishable; Their construction differs but their effect is the same. Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way, which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.” This means that it is only by focusing the mind on Dantian and achieving ultimate quiescence that we can see the ultimate changes of “the Way” and understand the subtle and unpredictable “Way”. Zhu Guangqian says: “When focusing on an object (natural or artistic), man will forget the ego and the outside world and then achieve a unity between them. The life and flavor of life will be ‘radiated’ or transferred to the object so that the object that originally had no life and flavor will have human-like activities and the originally physical things become humanized.” In other words, if we can achieve “freedom from pre-occupation” in the mind regulation of Health Qigong, we will be able to feel aesthetic joy. This is one of the reasons whey it can preserve health. With this “mind regulation” before the practice of Health Qigong, the exerciser will be able to merge into the imaginary state, change the thought with the form, move Qi with the thought, and thus to regulate the viscera, promote the circulation of blood and Qi, and achieve both mental and physical health.

Embodiment and Importance of “Adherence to Quiescence” in the “Thought Regulation” and “Routine Posture” Exercises of Health Qigong

Both the practicing tips and routines of four Health Qigong exercises currently being promoted are based on quiescence, relaxation, gentleness, and true hardness and hardness out of softness. For example, the foremost requirement of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing is to “relax the spirit and unite form and thought”. It is not allowed to be absent-minded or obsessed. And the first requirement of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin is to “be relaxed, quiescent, and natural”. “Relaxation, quiescence, and nature” are the fundamental points and basic rules of the exercise. “Relaxation” means both mental and physical relaxation. Mental relaxation mainly means to relieve the physical and mental tension. Physical relaxation mainly means to relax joints, muscles, and viscera until the mind is light, comfortable, and free of nervousness. “Quiescence” means both the mind and emotions shall be smooth and at ease and all distracting thoughts shall be eliminated. Relaxation and quiescence supplement and promote each other. A “natural” state in the practice is the good mental foundation for practice. There are both relaxation and tightness requirements on all kinds of rotating, twisting, stretching, butting, lifting, and crouching movements in the exercise. The transitions between movements have to be smooth and both hardness and softness need to be coupled. For example, the “Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails” in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing involves step-by-step rotations from the legs to the waist. And “Bowing Down in Salutation” involves step-by-step pulling, bending, and stretching by way of the head, neck, chest, waist, and sacral vertebrae. In “Tiger Posture” of Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, the vertebral spine wriggles from a folded state to an unfolded state. In “Deer Wrestling”, the waist bends sideways and twists by a large margin. Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue lays emphasis on respiration and together with the rotation, stretching, and contraction of the body, relaxes and strengthens the body and mind. All the routine postures require that the exerciser ease the mind, calm the spirit, and put the focus on the transition of movements or respiration or both. All of them require “adherence to quiescence”, just as Zengzi says in The Great Learning: “When you know where to stop, you have stability. When you have stability, you can be tranquil. When you are tranquil, you can be at ease. When you are at ease, you can deliberate. When you can deliberate you can attain your aims.” All these are rules of things that people have learned from nature. It is only through quiescence that we can focus and then attain our goals. If we still have many distracting thoughts in the practice and cannot be quiescent enough to gather our mind and thought, we will never be able to experience the subtleness of the routine postures and their stimulation and effects on the body. And we will not even be able to memorize or recall the most basic routing postures. Without mind, quiescence, and focus, such exercise will be just a waste of time without any achievement. And it will even cause doubts on the efficacy of Health Qigong itself. The subtleness and secrets of things cannot be learned unless we carefully feel them after we remove all distracting thoughts. “Adherence to quiescence” is the most important key to the problem.

The most fundamental characteristic of Health Qigong exercises is the control of thought and the accurate and proper mastery of the rules of “deliberation”. And “quiescence of mind” is the precondition of “deliberation”. It requires the exerciser to do the exercises by practicing Qi, achieve a vacant and quiescent state, master the mind, control Qi circulation with the mind, and transport Qi throughout the body. The thought, spirit, and mental state of man are used as the basis for cultivation. The mental state, the movements of the exercises, and the cultivation of Qi and spirit are unified to coordinate movements, thought, and respiration under the guidance of thought, so that the “internal Qi” in Dantian can be moved and used at will. Both the interior and the exterior are coordinated to achieve a relaxed, quiescent, and natural state of harmony and unity between the form, Qi, and spirit, so that “form and spirit can be unified and body and mind can be harmonized” and that the mental state can be balanced. Here the role of “adherence to quiescence” is even more prominent. If the exerciser cannot achieve quiescence of mind and often gets disturbed by “thoughts” about external things, he will not be able to focus the thought on the practice or smoothly coordinate thought with form. And it will be difficult to achieve any good result of practice. In the worst case, the disturbing thoughts may even cause straying or stagnant Qi. Stasis will lead to obstruction, and obstruction will lead to pains. The exercise will damage health instead of improving it. Therefore removing all distracting thoughts during “deliberation” to “adhere to quiescence” is the most fundamental and important precondition for the practice of Health Qigong.

Reference: About the Basis of Health Qigong-Adherence to Quiescence

Exercise Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

Using a Five-step Relaxation Method to Regulate Your Moods

When we feel down, depressed, or distressed, we need to fully exert our subjective initiatives, strengthen our self-control, control the nervousness, anxiety, and pain through our self-consciousness, and do the best to eliminate the adverse effects of passive thoughts. We can use the five-step relaxation method for the adjustment. Choose a suitable posture by sitting on a chair or standing naturally.

(1) Inhale through the nose and slightly turn your face upward. Keep still other parts of the body. Keep yourself relaxed. Exhale through the mouth and pronounce “ha”. Relax the head and neck and put them back to the original position. At the same time imagine that the back of the body is slowly relaxed with the exhalation-vocalization until the tail bones are relaxed. Repeat this step for 3 times.

(2) Inhale through the nose and keep your body in the original posture. Keep yourself relaxed and do not take any movement. Exhale through the mouth and pronounce “ha” without moving the body. Imagine that the front of the body is slowly relaxed with the exhalation-vocalization from the chest to the lower abdomen. Repeat this step for 3 times.

(3) Inhale through the nose and slightly turn your face upward. Raise both arms from both sides of the body until they are higher than the head. The palms centers should face downward during this process. Relax other parts of the body and keep the original posture. Exhale through the mouth and pronounce “ha”, and return the head and arms simultaneously. At the same time imagine that upper limbs and body flanks are slowly relaxed with the exhalation-vocalization. Repeat this step for 3 times.

(4) Inhale through the nose and turn your face upward. Arch the waist and cock up the tail bones. Raise both arms towards the front. Slightly bend the legs (You don’t have to move legs if you are sitting). Exhale through the mouth and pronounce “ha”, and return the entire body to the original position simultaneously. Slowly lower the arms. At the same time imagine that the entire body, especially the legs, is slowly relaxed with the exhalation-vocalization. Repeat this step for 3 times.

(5) Inhale through the nose. Close the lips and teeth. Raise both arms from the flanks of the body until they are higher than the head. The palm centers should face each other at a certain angle as if hugging something. Keep still other parts of the body and keep yourself relaxed. Exhale through the nose and close the lips and teeth. Bend the elbows at the same time and press down with both arms from the front of the body to the lower abdomen. The finger tips should point at each other during the process. Then relax them naturally and return them to the body flanks. Repeat this step for 3 times. Be gentle and slow with the movements. Do not use strength. Keep yourself relaxed. (written by Hermit of Mt. E’mei)

Reference: Using a Five-step Relaxation Method to Regulate Your Moods

Philosophy qigong

Nutrition Philosophy of Qigong

Health Qigong is an embodiment of the excellent health-preserving culture of China, which has a history of thousands of years. As a health-preserving exercise, Health Qigong is based on traditional theories such as the Man-Nature Unity Theory, the Yin-Yang Theory, the Theory of Five Elements, and the Channel Theory. Its unique motion modes and rich theoretical content have determined the unique nutrition mode of Health Qigong.

1. Nutrition philosophy of Man-nature Unity

Man-Nature Unity is both a basic concept in the Chinese philosophy and an important theoretical basis for the Health Qigong Theory. “Nature” refers to all objective things in general, including the nature and human society and the rules of their variation. As a component part of the natural, man is inevitably subject to the influence of the changes of nature. This is why people say “one who wants to preserve health must carefully respect the nature”. A “nourishing Yang in spring and Yin in autumn and winter” health-preserving theory was first proposed in Huangdi’s Internal Classics.

And the concept of Man-Nature Unity has been fully embodied in the traditional food culture of our country. Internal Classics has clearly pointed out that proper dietary control is the key to longevity. For example Internal Classics: Suwen holds that flavors in compliance with the season rules are the guarantee for health, such as acid flavor in spring, bitter flavor in summer, spicy flavor in autumn, and salty flavor in winter. In addition, it is also believed in theories of traditional Chinese medicine that the dietary structures and dietary behaviors of the human kind must in concordance with the four seasons and the weather; otherwise they will have adverse effects on human health. Suwen: Antediluvian Primitive Theories points out that: “wise ancient people abode by the rules of Yin and Yang, followed the correct approaches, properly controlled their diets, led a regular life, and seldom overstrained themselves. Therefore they were able to preserve both the body and the spirit and live to the natural span of their lives.””

2. Nutrition philosophy of Yin-Yang Theory

Yin-Yang Theory states the unity of Yin-Yang opposites. It is a world outlook and methodology used to learn all things in the universe. In the field of Health Qigong, Yin-Yang Theory is used to account for the tissue structure, physiological functions, and pathological changes of the human body. And it is used to direct various kinds of training with an emphasis on the principle that “Yin and Yang must be clearly differentiated in the regulation of Qi flowing in channels”.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that all diseases of the human body, no matter how complicated, can be divided into Yin and Yang categories. The Yin and Yang natures of food need to be paid attention to in the nutritional mode of Health Qigong. Generally speaking, cold and cool foods are Yin-natured and provide heat-clearing, fire-purging, blood-cooling, and poison-neutralizing effects. Warm and hot foods are Yang-natured and provide cold-dissipating, channel-warming, vein-dredging, and Yang-boosting effects. The warm or hot nature is opposite to the cool or cold nature. All foods (e.g. ginger, fistular onion stalk, parsley) applicable to symptoms such as anemofrigid cold, fever, cold-aversion, running nose, and headache, foods (e.g dry ginger, black tea) applicable to symptoms such as stomachache, vomiting, and hot-drink preference, and foods (e.g. capsicum chilli and liquor) applicable to cold limbs, cold intolerance, and rheumatic joint pain are warm-natured or hot-natured foods. All foods used for hot-natured body constitution and symptoms are cool-natured or cold-natured foods.

For example when we practice Routine 1 “Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin, we can stimulate the Du Channel by crouching on both feet and swinging the coccygeal end and stimulate Dazhui Acupoint by swinging the head and thus to dredge the channels, reduce the heat, and remove excessive heart fire. If the practicer has great internal heat, we can add more Yin-natured foods to the diet such as duck meat, spinach, and bitter gourd, which will often boost the body-building effect.

3. Nutrition philosophy of the Theory of Five Elements

The five elements herein referred to are Wood, Fire, Metal, Water, and Earth. The Theory of Five Elements is a theory that explains the interrelations between things with the boosting and restraining relations between the five elements. In Health Qigong, the complicated things and phenomena exhibited in the life activities of man are categorized by means of analysis, classification, and deduction according to the characteristics of the five elements.

And the inter-promoting, inter-complementing, inter-restricting, and inter-checking relations between the liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney systems during the body-building and health-preserving process are explained and explored according to the inter-promoting, inter-complementing, inter-restricting, and inter-checking rules of the five elements. In traditional dietary health preservation, foods are divided into acid, bitter, sweet, spicy, and salty types that correspond to the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The Book of History: Hongfan states that: “Salty food is used for mild laxation, bitter food is used for fire reduction, acid food is used for correction, spicy food is used for transformation, and sweet food is used for sowing and reaping.” This explains the one-on-one matchup between the five elements and the five flavors. Internal Classics also states that: “spicy flavor provides dispersing effect, acid flavor provides astringing effect, sweet flavor provides relaxing effect, bitter flavor provides solidifying effect, and salty flavor provides softening effect”.”

For example, the “XU” in Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue can release foul Qi from the liver and regulate the liver. Sufficient blood in the liver will benefit heart Yang and sufficient heart Yang will warm the spleen and remove damp. However the spleen prefers dryness. Excessively strong Yin blood in the liver will be actually adverse to the spleen Yang. Therefore we could eat some food that disperses the depressed liver energy and regulates the flow of Qi while practicing, such as celery, crowndaisy chrysanthemum, tomato, turnip, orange, pomelo, tangerine, citron, and finger citron to regulate the liver, and hyacinth beans, sorghum rice, pearl barley, buckwheat, chestnuts, lotus seeds, gordon euryale seeds, Chinese yam, jujube, carrot, cabbage, pumpkin, tangerines, and oranges to invigorate the spleen.

4. Nutrition philosophy of the Channel Theory

Channels include trunk channels and branch channels. They are passages that carry blood and Qi of the entire body, link internal organs, limbs, and joints, and connect the upper, lower, interior, and exterior parts of the body. The Channel Theory is the theoretical basis for both traditional Chinese medicine and Health Qigong.

It is believed in Health Qigong Theory that the Qi, blood, and body fluid of the human body cannot nourish the viscera and tissues until they are transported by the channel system to all parts of the body. Therefore we can dredge channels and regulate the viscera by properly stretching and turning limbs from time to time. Many exercises of Health Qigong are performed under the guidance of the Channel Theory.

For example, “Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jin stimulates the related channels in the abdomen and sternocostal parts and Shu Acupoint in the back through the alternating up-down stretching motions of the left and right upper limbs. And eating some warm-natured or hot-natured food such as beef, mutton, onion, leek, ginger, or jujube during the practice will warm the body, excite the physiological functions, increase the vigor, and dredge the channels.

To sum up, perfect combination of the features of Health Qigong exercises with nutriology will boost the body-building effects of Health Qigong and further promote the development of Health Qigong. (Ding Yu)

Reference: Nutrition Philosophy of Health Qigong

Exercise Philosophy principle qigong

A Brief Analysis of Preparatory Exercises before Practicing Qigong

Health Qigong is an auto-exercise based on the perfect combination of posture regulation, breathing regulation, and mental regulation. The practicer is required to stay focused and take natural and long-lasting breaths during the practice. But physical exercise not only bears gentle and slow movement features but also contains tendon-stretching, bone-drawing, firmness-gentleness alternating, and forces-to-the-ends movements with wide ranges. Hence we need to get fully prepared both mentally and physically before the practice in order to prevent damages due to limitation of joint motions and excessive viscosity of muscles during practice, avoid deformed movements due to stiff muscles, inertial viscera, and absent-mindedness, excite the central nervous system, bring the response, comprehensive analytical ability, and differentiating ability of the brain into an appropriate state, promote the coordination between the motor centers participating in the activity, and thus naturally enter the practice of Health Qigong and achieve good practice effects.

Unfortunately, observation results show that most Health Qigong instructors and amateurs have an inadequate understanding of preparatory exercises before Health Qigong practice. They do not know the purpose, significance, and rules of preparatory exercises, let alone a complete set of effective routines and methods. In most cases they merely do some random conditioning exercises or casually press legs and mobilize joints before practicing Health Qigong. Both the form and contents of such exercises are simplistic and mechanical. To be worse, some practicers even take it for granted that since Health Qigong movements are slow and gentle, preparatory exercises are not even important. As a result, such practicers often give up preparatory exercises completely. This will not only affect the practicing efficiency of the practicer but also cause strains to the locomotor system of the practicer or, in some serious cases, cause certain injuries and thus impede the further implementation of Health Qigong activities.

Functions of preparatory exercises

1. Regulating the mental status before practicing; Preparative execises can bring the excitedness of the cerebral cortex to an appropriate level. Before Health Qigong practice, the practicer can use autosuggestion and meditation to focus the mind, relax the brain, enter a state of peace and quietness, and thus get prepared for the unity of “Three Regulations” in practice.

2. Promoting the functional levels of internal organs in the circulating and respiratory systems; Preparatory exercises promote the functions of the respiratory system and leave elevated-excitedness marks in the respiratory center of the cerebral cortex. Entering the formal movements on top of this elevated excitedness will increase the pulmonary ventilation volume and ensure the sufficient oxygen supply during formal practice.

3. Promoting the coordination between centers involved in movements; Preparatory exercises can connect multiple conditional reflexes related to motor skills so that the practicer has more reasonable rhythms, more accurate movements, more precise postures, and more coordinated motions during Health Qigong practice.

4. Improving the metabolic level and raising the body temperature; Preparatory exercises can raise the body temperatures of the practicer and thus reduce the muscular viscosity, increase the contractive and diastolic velocities of muscles, and strengthen the muscle power. Under a higher body temperature, hemoglobin and myoglobin will release more oxygen and thus increase the oxygen supply for muscles. Due to the increased level of substance metabolism, the excitedness of nerves and muscular tissues will be widely increased. In addition, the increase in muscle temperatures will dilate the small vessels, reduce the peripheral resistance, and increase the blood supply for muscles. At the same time, increased body temperature will add to the extensibility of muscles and tendons, increase their tenacity, and prevent sports injuries.

Requirements of preparatory exercises

The purpose of preparatory exercises is to cause a trace effect in organs and systems of the body. This trace effect relates to the post-excitation effect of the nervous system, the secretion of some hormones in the internal secretion glands, and the temperature effect of increased body temperature.

The length of time that this “trace” stays in the body depends on the degree of stimulation by the preparatory exercise and the interval between the preparatory exercise and the formal exercise. Therefore the workload and intensity of the preparatory exercise and the interval between the preparatory and formal exercises are crucial factors. Generally speaking, the preparatory exercise shall last 10~15min and its intensity shall be so that the practicer feels warmed-up and sweats a little bit without any heavy breath. Due to the “Three Regulations” requirement of Health Qigong, the interval between the preparatory exercise and formal practice should better be no longer than 3min.

Notes about preparatory exercises

1. The exercise shall be both comprehensive and clearly targeted. Except Liu Zi Jue, all exercises of Health Qigong require movements of the entire body and alternating firmness and gentleness. Therefore their preparatory exercises shall be able to warm up the muscles, joints, and tendons. Moreover, Health Qigong exercises involve particular requirements on different parts of the body. For example, Ba Duan Jin involves high requirements on the strength of lower limbs, Yi Jin Jing involves high requirements on the flexibility of the spine column in all directions, and Wu Qin Xi involves high requirements on the coordination between the nervous system and the body. Therefore different preparatory exercises shall be chosen for different formal exercises to be practiced.

2. The preparatory exercise shall be simple, less intensive, and easy to learn. This is because a preparatory exercise is meant to get the practicer prepared for the formal exercise. Compared with the formal exercise, it should be basically auxiliary and secondary. In addition, the both the physical and mental loads of the human body should better be raised in a bit-by-bit manner. Therefore the preparatory exercise must be so arranged that it is easy to learn and not very intensive. Only in this way can a preparatory exercise truly mobilize the practicer both mentally and physically, prevent injuries and cardiovascular accidents, and serve the formal exercise.

3. The amplitude shall be moderate and movements gentle and slow. The preparatory exercise needs to warm up all related joints of the body, stretch relevant muscles and tendons, and raise the service level of the heart and lungs. But at the beginning of the exercise, the practicer’s body is usually not hot enough and the heart and lungs are very inertial. Therefore the preparatory shall be provided with a moderate amplitude and gentle and slow movements. This way it will both warm up the body and prevent muscle strains and a series of problems caused by inertia of the internal organs.

4. The body shall be warmed up in an orderly manner from head to foot. The purpose of the preparatory exercise is to make sure that full-body movements are done under a relaxed physical and mental status. Therefore we should carefully consider the sequence of activities while arranging the preparatory exercise, so that the practicer won’t be confused or have to go out of the way to consider what the next movement is while practicing.

5. The full body shall be stretched with moderate strength. The warm-up exercise shall not only warm up the joints and activate the functions of internal organs, but also warm up muscles related to the formal exercise. This will add to the extensibility of muscles and the amplitude of movements and prevent injuries to muscles and joints. And the exercise of Health Qigong will involve 90% percent of all muscles, including both big and small muscle groups. Therefore, while arranging the preparatory exercise, we should consider stretching all muscle groups of the entire body but with gradual and moderate use of strength so as to prevent injuries to muscles and joints.

6. The “Three Regulations” shall be well combined and relaxed appearance with mental tension is required. The preparatory exercise is in the service of Health Qigong and therefore has to bear the features of Health Qigong. As a result it must both present the characteristics of the traditional sports of our nation and accord with the principles of modern science. And the most distinguishing features of Health Qigong are the approaches of posture regulation, breathing regulation, and mental regulation, the combination of these “Three Regulations”, and the practicing style of relaxed appearance with mental tension, which are quite different from the features of warm-up exercises of modern sports. (Hu Xiaofei and Zhuang Yongchang)

Reference: A Brief Analysis of Preparatory Exercises before Practicing Health Qigong

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

Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

Experience of Improving Exercise Effectiveness

By Lei Zunting

How is the effectiveness of exercise? I think it mainly embodies on three aspects. Firstly, how the effectiveness of health condition and disease prevention and cure is, which is closely related to the exercisers’ fitness condition(body regulation).Secondly, whether it can draw breath into the lungs, which is closely related to the exercisers’ ideation and will(breath regulation ). Thirdly, how the mentality and moral cultivation is, which is closely related to the exercisers’ impression (mind regulation). The three elements of ideation, qi and form are inseparable in the course of exercising .Among them body regulation is the premise and basis, and is the key point for beginners; and gradually through regulation of breath, ideation and will and the mental and physical health condition named “Three Regulations” can be achieved. By so doing the effectiveness of exercise will not be bad. However, desirable effectiveness won’t be achieved without a series of theory. Exercise requires great efforts and workable methods. Therefore, we need to pay attention to each detail from the beginning to the end. Any detail should not be neglected because every little effect makes mickle.

Pre-exercise Preparation

Pre-exercise Preparations shall begin physiologically and psychologically. Psychologically, Exercisers must calm their mood down firstly, and stop any psychological activity unrelated to exercise. None of ages of successful exercisers emphasized that illuminating distractions and keeping quiet mind is the right way to the static state of exercise. Quiet environment should be chosen and intense sound avoided when the exercise is going on to ensure mind tranquility of the exercisers. No matter the exercise is carried out indoors or outdoors, the light should not too strong and ventilation should be ensured but direct blow shall be avoided. Physiologically, piss and defecate before exercise or it is easy to lose breath. In Yizhousantongqie, it reads that “Closing upper organs means being healthy while closing lower organs means not.” Here “upper organs “means seven apertures in the human head while “lower organs” means front yin and back yin. This indicates that if you want to learn Health Qigong well, you must practice closing upper and lower organs, and closing the former can prevent Yuan qi from leaking while closing the latter can prohibit essential qi from losing. Open the collar; the bent should not tie too tight and get off all the decorations such as bracelets, glasses, and necklace that affect the operation of meridian and the running of blood. Besides, warm-up exercise is necessary. Have the body and mind gradually meet the requirement of the exercise through the ease movement and deep breathing.

Attach Importance to Ready Posture

Many exercisers should attach great importance to imitate the act of exercise and make it skillful but always neglect the ready posture. As a result, perform of the whole set of exercise is undispclined and essence and spirit run freely. Finally the style and features of Health Qigong is lost. The so called Ready posture is adjustment of the mental state of exercisers to the official exercise state. Only by the mental state adjustment through prepare potential are kept throughout the process of exercising, can the goal of prepare exercise be achieved. Accordingly mind、qi and form of Health Qigong should be prepared from three aspects. Firstly, adjust the body to the proper state through ready posture. In ready posture, bent knees slightly and stand relax and quiet; keep head and neck straight and chin close lightly; remain chest and back straight and waist relax and hip up , all of which is the demands for body position. However, the essence of the demands is to keep Baihui point and Huiyin point on the same line, which is the point of body straight. Secondly, regulate breath to the deep and fine state through ready posture. The saying goes that if the form is not right breath will setback. The right posture of the body in ready posture to some extent is to regulate breath. Because of the emphasis on natural breath it is easy to regulate. Thirdly, adjust mind from distracted state to concentrated state through ready posture. The ready posture emphasizes contained eyes. Eyes are the window of heart, the expression of which can be found its element in eyes. The contained eyes help to keep mind tranquil. If exerciser keep looking around with wide open eyes, which is comply with the saying in Zhouyinsantongqi: mind is distracted and thought run freely, their mind is disciplined and distracted. The disciplined and distracted state is uneasy to come to the element. Of course, the ready posture can’t be learned overnight but require a lot of time and effort. However, the significance of it is worth what we have paid.

Pay Attention to Action Norms and Transform Movements to the Required Point

Generally, Health Qigong method is easy to learn, but to master it exactly needs some skills. According to my experience, it is better to start from action norm and movement transformation.

The so called action norm is to do each action on the exact rules. In simple word, three points are necessary. First, make sure the form is right. The action of Health Qigong seems to be easy but in essence it embodies profound meaning. For example, Holding the Sky with Palms Up to Regulate the Internal Organs in Ba Duan Jin, while the arms-up to requires the arms be straight and chest and back pull, the purpose of which is to regulate upper, middle and down qi. The physiological function of the Internal Organs is to make various qi smooth and liquid run freely. The smoothness of the three points is helpful in liquid movement and spread, turbid liquid discharge and Organs and tissues functional operation. another example, the action of Holding Up a Single Arm to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and the Stomach in Ba Duan Jin, while one palm is up to support and the other down to press, elbow should bend lightly and the force should be from palms root. Only by this way, can the body be extended and the back pulled. If the force is not strong enough to the palm root while arms are up to support or down to press, the effectiveness of the Spleen and the Stomach regulation would be reduced greatly. Surely, any actions should be based on the right and proper body posture. Secondly, deal with the relationship between tight and loose properly. The three element of tight and loose, Rigid and flexible, virtual and real is closely related but the relationship between tight and loose is of the greatest importance. While Rigid and flexible, virtual and real is easy to do. How could we deal with the relation between tight and loose? The point is that our body is in relax state in the most time of exercise process and only a short period is in tight state. Take the action of Holding up a Single Arm to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and the Stomach as an example, there are two joint points can be considered as to be tight. One joint point exists when one palm is up to support and the other is down to press; the other point exists when palms are on either side of the body pressing the ball in water. The relax state is in domination in other time.

Apparently, the tight and loose here is comparative. It does not mean that when in tight state the force should be strong to extreme and when in relax ,the body is slackened and limp. It does mean that relax but not limp and that tight but not rigid. Thirdly, evenness, slowness, consistence and softness are very important. Evenness means that actions should be done at even speed; avoid sudden fastness and sudden slowness; slowness means that the action is carried out slowly to get si; consistence means that the action should be done without cease; though there is pause in some static posture, posture is at static but the force can’t cease or the force ceases the spirit doesn’t; softness means flexibility and it is not stiff or rigid; evenness, slowness, consistence and softness are an integrated unit; any element is Indispensable.

Movement transformation in place expresses double meaning. One meaning is that the action of the exercise method, breath and mind should be done just in place. For example, the action of Monkey Picking Fruits in Wu Qin Xi, when hands are up in hooks needs to shrug shoulders, shrink neck and chest and group two cubits within clip. Breathe and then hold breath when breathing; what is on mind is to conceive you as a naughty ape on branches looking around. Another meaning is that the action, breath and thought shall coordinate and be in place. Make sure the thought conform to the body, thought and qi are coordinated and in union. Also take Monkey Picking Fruits as example, when hands are up in hooks needs to shrug shoulders, shrink neck and chest and group two cubits within clip at the some time hold breath instead of breathing. The essence is on branches looking up. In the coordination process of breath, thought and action, my experience is that master the evenness, slowness, consistence and softness and the coordination of evenness, fineness, depth and length of the breath first. Then we can pursuit the union of thought, qi and form.

Pay Attention to Guide Qi to Return to Yuan

There are narrow and broad senses of guiding qi to return to yuan. The narrow sense indicates the act of finishing action; the broad sense indicates both what the narrow sense expresses and guide qi to return to yuan in exercise process. Here, the emphasis is on broad sense.

To guide qi to return to yuan in exercise process is achieved by the regulate action of breath, thought and act, and promote blood and qi of body circulation around original routine. It is much the same as the car on the road. If not carefully handled, it will pull off to the sidewalk and cause accident when coming the rigged part of the road. Only the smooth and broad road is easy for cars to pass though safe. Similarly, Meridian operation is of the same rule. Meridian system is cleared by Health Qigong exercise, which is helpful in getting rid of fatal threaten and improving health. Besides, there are, actually quite a few, actions of guide qi to return to elixir field in exercise. For example, when each action in Ba Duan Jin is finished, palm over the navel, a seemingly action of guiding qi to return to yuan, keep accompany. Palm must be aligned the navel and avoid being over high or over low when the action is done.

To guide qi to return to yuan account for small part of exercise. Therefore, when the exercise comes to an end, there is finishing action for any exercise that gathers grains to Granary. Some make such an analogy that starting posture is as if spring plowing, exercise as if field management and finishing action as if harvest; if plowing and management is done perfectly but harvest is neglected, the gathering won’t be satisfactory. Thus, finishing action is indispensible for the whole set of exercise. Four styles of Health Qigong attach great importance to finishing action. For example, the finishing action in Yi Jin Jing, Wu Qin Xi is to cross hands pressing down with mind concentrated, body relax and arms up gradually. All the actions should be finished evenly and consistently so as to guide qi to return to yuan; While the finishing action in Liu Zi Jue and Ba Duan Jin is to press pubes for a second minute with hands accompanied by great attention. Though various styles of Health Qigong are different in exercise and method, they share commonness. That is exercise of mind, breath and body regulation conform to the natural rule of qi production, operation and returning to yuan. Definitely, each exercise has its own requirement on finishing action and the rule and scale shall be well grasped.

Reference: Experience of Improving Exercise Effectiveness

Anecdote Classic Meditation Mindset Philosophy Zen

The Ten Chan Pictures

(1) In the Wild(1) In the Wild

Troubled by all kinds of thoughts and desires, people are liable to get nervous anal disturbed in daily life and with their natural character con-fused and the ability to sustain themselves lost, they are quite ill with vari-ous worries and diseases. The poem reads:
Displaying its horns, the buffalo bellows aloud,
Running along the mountain path into the distance.
A patch of black clouds overhangs the valley,
The buffalo tramples wheat seedlings wherever it goes.

(2) Initial Training(2) Initial Training

When you start qigong practice, place your mind under control and set strict demands on yourself, as if fastening the buffalo with a rope. Af-ter persistent practice, you will become disciplined and avoid unnecessary losses. The poem reads:
Controlled by a rope through its nose,
The buffalo runs swiftly under the whip.
It is no easy thing to overcome a willful temper,
As the boy struggles hard to lead the buffalo.

(3) Under Control(3) Under Control

After some practice, you will find yourself calm and stable gradually. But you cannot slacken your efforts at this moment, anyway. Be sure to forget fatigue and feel at home. The poem reads:
Under constant training the buffalo stops dashing,
Following the boy across streams and through clouds.
Not daring to loosen the rope in his hand,
The boy tends the buffalo all day in spite of his fatigue.

(4) Turning Back(4) Turning Back

When you reach a certain stage in practice, a turn for the better will take place and the destination of your life’s voyage will appear before you. In so doing, you can grow out of recklessness and act in conformity with nature. At this juncture, keep your mind steady and consolidate the origi-nal ring and strengthen the original qi. The poem reads:
A long time has passed before the buffalo turns back,
Its reckless temper has gradually grown gentle.
Not trusting the buffalo completely to itself,
The boy has not yet unfastened the rope.

(5) Tamed(5) Tamed

When you return to the true nature, you will enter a state of freedom; and when you combine the inside with the outside, you will not find yourself shrouded in dust any longer but see the light. Now that you have found your true character, you can do away with those strict demands. The poem reads:
Under the green poplar, by the ancient stream,
The buffalo moves in harmony with nature.
Returning at sunset over the fragrant meadow,
The buffalo follows the boy, who has dropped his rope.

(6) Getting Free of Hindrance(6) Getting Free of Hindrance

Getting free of hindrance is a state of penetration and evenness, and real control of both the body and the mind. Then try to enter a state of void through qi and shen practice and you will feel the inherent rhythm of life. The poem reads:
Sleeping contentedly under the sky,
The buffalo needs the whip nevermore.
The boy, sitting under the pine tree,
Starts to play a peaceful, happy tune.

(7) In Control(7) In Control

A man’s potential is boundless, and exploiting and making use of it will lay groundwork for the distillation of life. As the “buffalo” has been tamed and is free from worldly hindrance, it is time for you to enjoy the power of freedom and stroll in the realm of life. The poem reads:
Bathed in sunset, the river floats past the willow tree
Under the fragrant meadow in light mist.’
Totally at ease, the buffalo drinks when thirsty, eat when hungry,
And the boy is lying on a rock, deep in sleep.

(8) False Reality(8) False Reality

What is above everything is the true reality and observing various things in the world with a tranquil mind. Attaining the “union of man and heaven,” an advanced state in qigong practice, you will be in harmony with yourself and with nature. The poem reads:
The white buffalo stays in the white clouds;
The boy is free of concern, and so is the buffalo.
Penetrated by moonlight, the white clouds grow whiter;
The moon goes its way, and the clouds drift by.

Single Light(9) Single Light

With the buffalo and its master in perfect harmony, there is not any difference between the outside and the inside. Shen merges with the body and willpower with qi. Whenever illumination comes, you will feel at ease and full of go and vigor. The poem reads:
After the buffalo has vanished, the boy enjoys leisure;
A solitary cloud drifts across the hill.
Clapping his hands, the boy sings under the moon,
Though he has another portal to cross before reaching home.

(10) Rest in Sleep(10) Rest in Sleep

The mother of nature is formless, and everything may be back to the original purity and simplicity. The circle in the diagram shows a state of purity and perfection so that existence is non-existence and vice versa. Re-maining quiet and still, you will gain ultimate wisdom and enlightenment and the purification of your life will draw to an end. The poem reads:
Both the boy and the buffalo are nowhere to be found,
The moon illuminates the vast void.
If in search of the meaning of all this,
Look at the wild flowers and fragrant grass.

Chan (meditation) is a state in which you gain wisdom and enlight-enment through self-cultivation. There are many methods of achieving this state, including zuochan, xingchan (walking quietly)and wuchan (con-templation). Self-cultivation is an advanced skill in Buddhist qigong. Bojo Guksa, a Buddhist monk living in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), wrote ten poems and drew ten pictures to describe the steps to enlightenment through contemplation. The buffalo in the pictures stands for the natural character of man or the source of life.

The Ten Chan Pictures ( 十禅图 , shí chán tú ) also known as The Ox Herding Pictures originally comes from China.

Reference: Chinese Qigong Illustrated by Yu Gongbao

Ten Bulls – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Sensaki

Philosophy principle qigong

Essentials of Body Regulation of Health Qigong Exercise

Body regulation is a component of the Tree Regulations of Health Qigong and the foundation for the Three Regulations. It was said in ancient times that: “When the shape is not straight, Qi will not move smoothly. When Qi does not move smoothly, the mind will not be at ease. When the mind is not at ease, Qi will be scattered.”This indicates the importance of body regulation. Therefore, in Health Qigong exercise we should master the correct techniques and methods for body regulation. Below are the essentials of “body regulation” that I have learned from my exercising and teaching experience in Health Qigong.

1. Lifting and straightening the head and neck as if propping up something

The head is the controller of the entire body, as the saying goes: “man cannot walk without the head; birds cannot fly without wings” and “the coccygeal end should be straight and upright so that spirit can reach the top; the head should be suspended so that the entire body can be light.” Lifting and straightening the head is very important in body regulation. Different people have different methods for practicing this movement. As far as I am concerned, the circulation of genuine Qi will be facilitated as long as we slightly withdraw the chin and gently push up Baihui. Certainly, this should be done with a naturally relaxed neck and a naturally upright head. The up-pushing imagination of Baihui should be moderate. An excessive imagination will result in rigidity and an insufficient imagination will result in laxity.

2. Stretching Meixin

Meixin refers to the midpoint of the line connecting centers of both eyebrows. In the theory of traditional Chinese acupuncture, this place is called Yintang Acupoint which is mainly used to clear the brain, promote eyesight, dredge the nose, unblock the orifices, calm the spirit, and promote intelligence. In the theory of Qigong, Meixin belongs to the upper Dantian, as the ancient saying goes: “the upper Dantian is a vessel for the spirit”, and “the brain is the container of marrow and is referred to as the upper Dantian”. Therefore stretching Meixin is a very important warm-up step for us to enter the exercising state as quickly as possible.

3. Lowering the curtains to look inward

Lowering the curtains means keep the eyes half-open. Looking inward means to focus the attention on a certain place inside the body during the exercise. Looking inward helps eliminate distracting thoughts, purge the brain, achieve serenity, and maintain the spirit during Qigong exercise. It was believed by ancient people that eyes are passages for man’s spirit and all essences of the five Zang viscera are focused in eyes. By looking inward with both eyes during mind concentration, we can prevent the exuding of the spirit and concentrate our mind to facilitate serenity.

4. Butting the tongue against the palate

Butting the tongue against the palate can promote the secretion of saliva. Saliva is a treasure of the human body, as the saying goes “Qi is a life-prolonging drug and saliva is a health-promoting ganoderma”. Modern medical research has revealed that saliva secreted in the mouth contains oxidases and hormones needed by the human body and helps regulate the organism, promote digestion, and prevent cancer. Secondly, by slightly folding the tongue and gently butting it against the palate, we can form a so-called “Magpie Bridge” which connects Ren and Du Channels and facilitates the circulation of blood and Qi.

5. Wearing a smile on the face

Smiling is the best relaxing method. When a person smiles, the brain will enter an almost blank state free of distracting thoughts, which can release the person from a nervous state. Scientific experiments have proved that “smiling is the most effective method to relieve nervous emotions.” By removing the stress on the nerves, we can relax the muscles.

6. Lowering the shoulders and elbows

Lowering the shoulders and elbows means the practicer should relax and lower both shoulder joints and elbow joints in order to prevent nervousness of the shoulder joints, elbow joints, and surrounding muscles. By relaxing both shoulders and naturally lowering both elbows, we can promote the circulation of Qi in the three Yin and three Yang channels of hands.

7. Slumping the chest and straightening the back

This means relaxing and slightly slumping the chest without pushing it outward, and straightening the spinal column without tensioning it. This posture promotes the smooth circulation of blood and Qi in Ren and Du Channels. The chest should be naturally slumped so that the back is straight and upright. The body should be kept steady in order to facilitate the circulation of genuine Qi.

8. Relaxing the waist and abdomen

As the ancient saying goes: “the waist is the vessel for the kidney and the home for Mingmen. The abdomen is an oven for the smelting of Qi”. The waist and abdomen are critical gates for dredging channels and circulating Qi. Relaxing the waist and abdomen will facilitate the smelting and circulation of Qi, help us maintain an upright and straight coccygeal end, and keep unblocked Ren and Du Channels.

9. Withdrawing buttocks and relaxing knees

Withdrawing the buttocks can keep the spinal column straight and upright and facilitate the circulation of genuine Qi over the body; relaxing the knees can promote the circulation of Qi in the three Yin and three Yang channels of feet.

10. Gripping the ground with ten toes

Toes are where the three Yin and three Yang channels of feet meet each other. By gripping the ground with the ten toes, we can stimulate the related channels in the feet and regulate the functions of viscera to which they correspond. While practicing the stance, we should lay flat our feet and grip the ground with toes in order to stabilize the body and facilitate the ascent of genuine Qi.

11. Filling up the aperture and secluding the hearing

Filling up the aperture means gently closing the mouth rather than gritting your teeth and retracting the mouth. Secluding the hearing means keeping your hearing inside the body and isolating it from the outside world. Lao Zi says: “Fill up your apertures. Close your doors.”By slightly closing the mouth, we can return the hearing to our body to block out the external distractions and facilitate our serenity in exercise.

To sum up, the most fundamental keys to Health Qigong exercise are relaxation, serenity, and a natural way. And relaxation is the precondition and foundation for serenity and natural way. Here relaxation means both physical and mental relaxation. Body regulation facilitates serenity, spirit cultivation, and mind concentration. Following the abovementioned instructions on body regulation will be quite helpful for us to achieve serenity and enter the Qigong state as quickly as possible.

Reference: Essentials of Body Regulation of Health Qigong Exercise by Xia Xuewei Chinese Health QiGong Association

Breath Classic Energy Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Taoism

Union of the Triplex Equation

Let the void be your cauldron
Let nature be your furnace
for your primary ingredient, take stillness
for your reagent, use quietude
for mercury, take your vital essence
for lead, use your daily energy
for water use, restraint
for fire, take meditation.

Reference: A Complete Guide to Chi-gung by Daniel P. Reid p.81

Classic Mindset Philosophy Taoism

Awakening to Reality Wuzhen pian

1 If you study immortality,
you should study celestial immortality:
only the Golden Elixir
is the highest principle.
3 When the two things meet,
emotions and nature join one another;
where the five agents are whole,
Dragon and Tiger coil.

5 Rely in the first place on wu and ji
that act as go-betweens,
then let husband and wife
join together and rejoice.
7 Just wait until your work is achieved
to have audience at the Northern Portal,
and in the radiance of a ninefold mist
you will ride a soaring phoenix.

Notes on Poem 3
In this poem, Zhang Boduan uses traditional images to describe the main features and benefits of the Golden Elixir. There are several grades of transcendence, but for the very fact of being graded, they pertain to the realm of relativity in which we live. Only “celestial immortality,” says Zhang Boduan, grants complete transcendence, the removal of distinctions between the precelestial and postcelestial domains. Fulfilling the Way of the Golden Elixir is analogous to ascending to Heaven as an immortal and having audience with the highest deities.

1 If you study immortality.
The word translated as “immortality” (xian) means, more precisely, “transcendence.” In the view of the Awakening to Reality, celestial immortality is the highest degree of realization. Taoist texts contain several descriptions of the grades of transcendence. For example, the Zhong Lü chuandao ji (Records of the Transmission of the Dao from Zhongli Quan to Lü Dongbin), a work probably dating from the tenth century, states in the section entitled “On True Immortality”: “Immortality is not of one kind only. . . . There are five degrees of Immortals, namely, the demon immortals (guixian), the human immortals (renxian), the earthly immortals (dixian), the spirit immortals (shenxian), and the celestial immortals (tianxian).”

3 When the two things meet, emotions and nature join one another.
The “two things” are, fundamentally, True Yin and True Yang. Inner nature (xing) is essentially pure and unaffected by phenomena or events of any kind. Emotions (qing, a word also translated as feelings, sentiments, or passions) are often impure and tend to disjoin from one’s nature, to the point that they may become uncontrolled. According to many Neidan texts, the separation of inner nature and emotions is a feature of the conditioned state in which we live. Only when True Yin and True Yang merge can one’s inner nature and emotions be not independent of one another, but in agreement with one another.

The Chinese view of “emotions” is more complex than it might at first seem. Emotions are not seen as merely psychological phenomena, but rather as pertaining to the sphere of existence, of one’s being in the world as an individual entity. For this very reason, emotions are often at odds with one’s inner nature, which is inherently transcendent. When emotions and inner nature join one another, emotions turn into qualities — personality, temperament, attitudes — that allow a person to express his or her inner nature in life, according to his or her individuality.

4 Where the five agents are whole, Dragon and Tiger coil.
The five agents are Wood, Fire, Soil, Metal, and Water (see tables 2 and 3). They represent the differentiation of the One into the many, and the diverse qualities taken on by Original Breath (yuanqi) in the conditioned state. Soil is an emblem of the original unity of the five agents. “The five agents are whole” refers to the reversal to unity, which is performed first by reducing the five agents to three, and then to one (see Poem 14). Therefore the undividedness of the five agents is analogous to the joining of Yin and Yang.

The Dragon stands for True Yin within Yang, also symbolized by the inner line of the trigram Li , and the Tiger stands for True Yang within Yin, also symbolized by the inner line of Kan . They are the “two things” mentioned in the previous line. Kan and Li are born from the union of Qian and Kun , the True Yang and True Yin of the precelestial state. To generate the world, Qian entrusts its creative essence to Kun, and becomes Li; Kun receives the essence of Qian to bring it to fulfillment, and becomes Kan. In Neidan, Kan and Li newly join together (“coil”) and return their essences to one another. Symbolically, this liberates True Yin and True Yang from their residences in the conditioned state, and reestablishes the original pair of trigrams, namely Qian and Kun.

5 Rely in the first place on wu and ji that act as go-betweens.
Wu and ji are the two celestial stems related to the agent Soil (see table 4). Soil, which is placed at the center, is an emblem of the One giving birth to multiplicity. To generate the “ten thousand things,” the One first divides itself into the Two, or Yin and Yang. The stems wu and ji respectively represent the Yang and the Yin halves of Soil, or the One.

In the human being, Soil is associated with the intention (yi), the faculty of focusing the mind on a goal or an object. In Neidan, the True Intention (zhenyi) brings about the union of Yin and Yang. This is possible because intention, just like Soil, embraces both Yin and Yang, or wu and ji. For this reason, wu and ji are often said in Neidan texts to be the “go-betweens” (meiping) that allow the conjunction of Yin and Yang.

6 Then let husband and wife join together and rejoice.
Husband and wife respectively stand for the Yang and Yin principles, which join to generate the Elixir.

7-8 Just wait until your work is achieved to have audience at the Northern Portal, and in the radiance of a ninefold mist you will ride a soaring phoenix.
The expression gong cheng, translated above as “your work is achieved,” can also mean “your merit is complete.” — The Northern Portal (beique) is the gate of Heaven, and an emblem of the Center: the symbolic center of Heaven is at due North.

The imagery of these lines is similar to the one found in this passage of the Cantong qi (Token for Joining the Three, chapter 8):

With the Way completed and virtue fulfilled,
withdraw, stay concealed, and wait for your time.
The Great One will send forth his summons,
and you move your abode to the Central Land.
Your work concluded, you ascend on high
to obtain the Register and receive the Chart.
The last line of the Cantong qi passage refers to receiving consecration as an Immortal.

Commentary by Liu Yiming

[Commentary on line 1: “If you study immortality, you should study celestial immortality.”]

Those who fulfill both their nature and their existence, who have a body outside their body, whose form and spirit are both wondrous,(1) who are joined in their reality with the Dao, are celestial immortals. . . . Only the celestial immortals shed their illusory body and achieve a dharmākaya (fashen, the body of Buddhahood), go beyond creation and transformation,(2) and are without birth and without death. Being able to shed life and death, their longevity equals that of Heaven, and they last eternally without decaying.

(1) As remarked above, this expression — which authors of Neidan texts use often — refers to the state of non-duality between formlessness and form, the Dao and the world, the absolute and the relative.

(2) I.e., they go beyond the manifested cosmos, which is ruled by change and impermanence.

[Commentary on line 2: “Only the Golden Elixir is the highest principle.”]

Human beings receive this Golden Elixir from Heaven. It is perfectly good with nothing bad in it, it is innate knowledge (liangzhi) and innate capacity (liangneng).(1) It is the Numinous Root, entirely achieved and with nothing lacking. It is the Breath of precelestial Perfect Yang. . . .

Golden Elixir is another name for one’s inchoate fundamental nature (xing).(2) There is no other Golden Elixir outside one’s fundamental nature. Every human being has this Golden Elixir complete in oneself: it is entirely achieved in everyone. It is neither more in a sage, nor less in an ordinary person. It is the seed of the Immortals and the Buddhas, the root of the worthies and the sages.

However, when it is not refined by fire, Yang culminates and necessarily becomes Yin, completion culminates and necessarily becomes lacking. One falls into the postcelestial state. . . . Therefore the sages of antiquity established the Way of the Return [to the original state] through the Golden Elixir, so that everyone could go back to one’s home and recognize one’s ancestor, and revert to what one fundamentally and originally has in oneself.

(1) The terms “innate knowledge” and “innate capacity” derive from one of the main Confucian texts, the Mengzi (chapter 7): “What one is able to do without learning is called innate capacity; what one knows without pondering is called innate knowledge.”

(2) By using the adjective “inchoate” (hun), Liu Yiming immediately suggests the affinity between one’s original nature and the Dao. “There is something inchoate and yet accomplished, born before Heaven and Earth. . . . I do not know its name, but call it Dao” (Daode jing, chapter 25).

[Commentary on lines 3-4: “When the two things meet, emotions and nature join one another; where the five agents are whole, Dragon and Tiger coil.” This passage provides an example of how Liu Yiming explains the relation between the precelestial and the postcelestial states of being.]

The Way of Cultivating the Elixir (xiudan) is nothing more than harmonizing the firm and the yielding, making strength and compliance match one another, and making nature and emotions join with one another. When nature and emotions join, Yin and Yang meet and the five agents are whole. This is the boundless norm of Heaven.

The five agents are the five breaths of Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Soil. In the precelestial state, these five breaths are the five origins,(1) namely Original Nature, Original Emotions, Original Essence, Original Spirit, and Original Breath. In the postcelestial state they are the “five things” (wuwu), namely the wandering hun-soul, the ghostly po-soul, the Yin essences, the cognitive spirit (shishen), and the errant intention.(2)

The five origins include the five virtues, which are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity.(3) The “five things” include the “five thieves” (wuzei), which are pleasure, anger, grief, joy, and lust. When the five agents are whole, the precelestial and postcelestial are gathered together, and the five origins control the “five things.”

(1) I.e., the basic constituents of the human being in their original, uncorrupted state.

(2) On the hun-soul and the po-soul see above the note to Poem 10, lines 3-4. On the Yin essences see above the note to Poem 9, line 1. The “discriminating spirit” is the thinking mind. The “errant intention” is the common intention, different from the True Intention that makes the joining of Yin and Yang possible; see above the note to Poem 3, line 5.

(3) These are the five so-called “Confucian” virtues.

[Commentary on lines 5-6: “Rely in the first place on wu and ji that act as go-betweens, then let husband and wife join together and rejoice.”]

After the original fundament of the precelestial state is lost and scattered, nature goes east and emotions go west,(1) and the firm and the yielding do not respond to one another. If there is no harmonizing thing that goes back and forth and mediates,(2) “that” and “this” separate and do not know one another.(3) What harmonizes is the two Soils, namely wu and ji.(4) The wu-Soil rules on movement and pertains to Yang. The ji-Soil rules on quiescence, and pertains to Yin. . . .

Within the five virtues, the two Soils, wu and ji, are true sincerity. When true sincerity is in the center, one’s nature is stable. When true stability functions on the outside, one’s emotions are harmonized. When nature is stable and emotions are harmonized, nature and emotions go back to the root: husband and wife join together and rejoice.

(1) These words should be understood in a quite “literal” sense. See table 3, which shows that nature corresponds to the agent Wood (east), and emotions to the agent Metal (west).

(2) The term translated as “mediate,” tongxin, literally means “to transmit a message,” and refers to the function of Soil in bringing Yin and Yang to join one another (see the note to Poem 3, line 5). At the same time, xin also means “sincerity,” the virtue associated with Soil mentioned by Liu Yiming in the next paragraph.

(3) “This” (ci) and “that” (bi, lit. the “other”) are conventional terms in Neidan for the postcelestial and the precelestial, the “ten thousand things” and the Dao, the relative and the absolute, and other analogous pairs of notions or entities.

(4)See the note to Poem 3, line 5.

[Commentary on lines 7-8: “Just wait until your work is achieved to have audience at the Northern Portal, and in the radiance of a ninefold mist you will ride a soaring phoenix.”]

When benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom go back to the oneness of sincerity, and when nature, emotions, essence, and spirit meet in the One Breath, “the three families see one another,”(1) and “the five breaths have audience at the Origin.”(2) You return to the origin and revert to the fundament, and the Golden Elixir coalesces; some call it the Embryo of Sainthood.

Continue to advance in your practice, passing from “doing” into “non-doing.” Nourish [the Embryo] warmly for ten months, keeping it tightly closed [within the womb].(3) Lessen the excess of strong emotions, and augment the insufficiency of compliant nature.(4) Using the celestial True Fire, and relying on the hexagrams Zhun in the morning and Meng at night, smelt away the postcelestial Yin breaths.(5) Generate the immaterial from the material, passing from the subtle to the apparent. When the Breath is complete and Spirit is whole, “with a peal of thunder the golden cicada sheds its shell,”(6) and you have a body outside your body.

When the work is completed and your name is recorded,(7) you will have audience at the Northern Portal and will ride a soaring phoenix. You will fly and rise in the broad daylight,(8) and will become a Celestial Immortal of Pure Yang, free from death. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

(1) These words are quoted from Poem 14, line 6.

(2) This expression is found in many Neidan texts.

(3) Note the emphasis given on “closing,” also found in texts of external alchemy where it applies, in a literal sense, to hermetically sealing the crucible.

(4) “Lessen” (chou) and “augment” (tian) are two other technical terms used in many Neidan texts. At this stage of the practice, Lead should be “lessened” and Mercury should be “augmented.”

(5) This sentence refers to one of the ways in which the “fire times” are represented in internal alchemy. Sixty of the sixty-four hexagrams are associated with the thirty days of the lunar month. One pair of hexagrams, therefore, rules on each day; the first hexagram rules on its first half, and the second one, on its second half. Zhun and Meng are the first two hexagrams used in this cosmological pattern.

(6) This is another expression found in many Taoist texts. It alludes to achieving an “immortal self,” which Liu Yiming refers to at the end of the present sentence by saying, “you have a body outside your body.”

(7) That is, one’s name is entered in the “registers of immortality,” according to the classical Taoist image for the achievement of transcendence.

(8) This sentence, which is frequent in Taoist texts, alludes to attaining the highest state of transcendence.

Reference: Awakening to Reality (Wuzhen pian) Poem 3 translated by Fabrizio Pregadio

Classic Exercise Mindset Philosophy principle Taoism Zen

100 Chinese and Buddhist Health Rules 51-100

No. 51 – Quiet Sitting
To nourish yourself in quietude: lie on your bed, completely relax body and mind, let your whole body melt without using even a tiny bit of effort, so that you feel as if there was no body. Breathe naturally and exert not even a trace of effort in the mind-and-heart— when a thought arises, this is already the use of effort. Place your mind calmly on the soles of your feet and from there guide fire down and water up, so that the qi and blood in the entire body flow vibrantly.

No. 52 – Cultivation Formula
The essential formula of cultivation practice:

Serene and radiant, radiant and serene—I am utterly effortless.
To become enlightened, turn into a patriarch: there is no other secret.

Essential requirements for healing the body: Do not allow any part to use even a bit of effort. Fully control your thoughts, breath, and limbs. The eyes do not see, the ears do not hear, the tongue does not taste, the mouth does not ingest, the mind does not think. This is the only thing.

As soon as there is anything you think, hear, or feel—this is effort. Even a slight movement of arms or fingers—this is effort. Making the breath softer or harder—this is effort. Practicing like this, soon your breath will be naturally calm and it will feel as if it is not moving at all through nose and mouth. Then the 84,000 pores of the whole body will work actively, expanding and contracting. At this point there is no I, no self, no qi, no mind. The mind of heaven has returned to its original position. This is what we call the fire returning to the prime, or fire and water in complete balance. It is the key mode for curing the hundred diseases.

Please rethink the above rule, maybe you forgot it since you read rule no. 20 🙂

No. 53 – Attachment and Fear
Among people who nourish life, thirty percent die anyway. Why is this? It is because they are overly attached to their bodies. On behalf of this stinking bag of skin, they fear being embarrassed, they fear being imprisoned; they fear being defeated, they fear reaching the top. They scan in all directions, looking forward and turning back, looking left and turning right, nervous and terrified of fear itself, troubled by success, troubled by failure. . . .

In this state their pure mind and heavenly connection shrivel to the size of a plum pit and they look like they have been bitten repeatedly by nasty dogs—how can they not end up dying? The more you fear death, the faster death comes. If you want to nourish life, you cannot ever feel fear of death. If you just don’t fear death, you can easily get farther away from it.

No. 54 – Awarness
When people are sick but think they are fine, this is the worst kind of sickness. How many people really are there who know they are sick?

People who truly have no fear of death will never encounter wild tigers on the road or, if they do get close to one, it won’t devour them; they will not encounter knives and guns when in a fight or, if they are attacked by those, won’t suffer harm. Why is this? It is because they do not make death their reference point. Not fearing death, death has no power over them. In nourishing life, what could be more important? Thus people who practice cultivation attain long life with ease. They don’t think about long life, and paradoxically they can live long. Thinking constantly about long life, on the other hand, only makes death come that much faster. Long life is not the goal of cultivation; it is only a secondary phenomenon on the way.

No. 55 – Disconnection
People who surf the web in the middle of the night day after day do great harm to their bodies and chances for long life. The so-called famous great doctors are just like this. Their mind-and-hearts are totally involved in measurements and comparisons of all sorts and trying to ask them to connect to their selves for life-preservation is impossible. What kind of doctors are they?

No. 56 – Bargaining
Don’t crave for anything to be a bit cheaper or even a lot cheaper. Even a bit of craving holds the evil of attachment. Craving is being troubled by gain and loss until one gets a serious heart disease. Craving is being troubled by gain and loss: this means one has no clue about nature or the ways of Dao.

No. 57 – Food
Don’t spend your days thinking about what you could eat to supplement yin or what you could take to enhance yang. Just remember in all activities you give rise to yang; in all quietude you give rise to yin. Yin is the mother of yang; yang is the son of yin.

No. 58 – Precedence
When your qi is deficient, don’t enhance it blindly. This may have a negative impact on the whole body. If it is because blood is deficient, then you should first enhance the blood. This is because blood is the mother of qi, and if you don’t treat it first, you run the danger of drying and overheating the blood vessels and burning up the inner organs. If it is because there is an obstruction and the qi cannot flow freely, enhance both blood and qi by working on them equally. This way you will succeed in enhancing qi.

No. 59 – Environment
The importance of the environment for people’s health cannot be overemphasized. This is why people who live in deep mountains and ancient forests with clean air and fresh qi heal so much more easily. The subtle particles and high oxygen content of the air in these places get into the deep breath when people are in a relaxed state. They thus are absorbed by the body, where they moisturize and nurture the five organs and six intestines and give people new life energy. Another point people are not usually aware of is that even if they do not breathe deeply through nose and mouth, every pore of their bodies breathes in and out all the time—a feature that is essential in our connection to nature and heaven.

No. 60 – Heaven and Earth
When people are relaxed and breathe slow and deep, their body achieves a state of subtle energetic exchange with heaven and earth. Upon inhalation, they in fact expel the inhaled breath in the lungs and the whole body moves to push internal qi out. This is how the qi of humanity moves toward heaven and earth. During exhalation, they in fact absorb the subtle energy of heaven and earth through every pore of the body. This is what Laozi refers to when he speaks of “Between heaven and earth, it is like a bellows.”

No. 61 – Avoid in Exercising
Two things to avoid in exercising:

Do not exercise when blood and qi are deficient.
Do not exercise in a dirty or defiled environment.

No. 62 – Do in Exercising
Two things to do in exercising:

Increase the speed of blood and qi circulation, so the toxins inside the body can come to the surface.
Open the body’s pores wide and breathe in deeply, so you absorb the essence and qi of heaven and earth.

No. 63 – Simplicity
What is “awakening to inner nature”? What is “wisdom”? Both mean to regard all beings from a position of greatest simplicity. However, most people and especially those who are frustrated with themselves tend to take even the simplest thing and see it as highly complex, thus creating complexity. Intricate and straightforward are really the same thing; they are just different sides of the same coin. Smart and perceptive people choose to look at things from the simple side; stupid and ignorant people tend to see them from the complex side.

No. 64 – Incurable Diseases
If people have a incurable disease, they have to rely on the spirit for a cure. If the disease does not respond to reliance on the spirit, they have to rely on the Buddha. What is the Buddha? The Buddha is the mind-and-heart.

No. 65 – Hospitals
In the modern world hospitals and prisons have a lot in common, especially when we think of patients as having received a death sentence. Also, in both situations, many people who do not deserve a death sentence receive one anyway. Why am I saying this?

Let’s think of cancer for a moment. Cancer for many people today equals a death sentence. That is to say, as long as we don’t actually call it “cancer,” we give the patients a sense of hope and a new chance at life. So what I am saying is that the vast majority of cancer patients today are dying of their fear, of the ill treatment of their spirit, of the harsh treatment in the hospital. You may be diagnosed with cancer one day, but you should immediately assume a position of no fear, because if you get well and don’t die, it is your destiny to do so, and if you don’t get well and in fact die, it is because you are the cancer.

In actual reality, there is no disease that cannot be cured, there is only your mind-and-heart that can or cannot let go. All diseases arise from the mind-and-heart, all diseases heal from the mind-and-heart. You only need to return to active living and you will soon have your chance at life. Finding this chance at life means the cure of cancer and your return to full health.

No. 66 – Competition
Any form of competition will turn order into disturbance and lead people into evil [immorality]. What is competition? Competition is anything that pulls people into the world of craving and desire.

No. 67 – Pure and Turbid
From the perspective of the mutual interchange of yin and yang, pure and turbid attract each other. Therefore, any pure and fresh things people eat inevitably get mixed with the turbid juices inside the body and are expelled accordingly.

No. 68 – Overeating
A dominance of turbid juices arises because people eat unclean things, but more importantly because they overeat. The body cannot digest all this matter and it accumulates inside, creating barriers.

No. 69 – Spontaneity
Smoothly following one’s natural course (inherent so-being, spontaneity) is the highest level of nourishing life. Each human being from birth has a set pattern that forms the foundation of his or her destiny. What he or she should or should not do, should or should not eat—as long as he or she follows this inherent pattern of destiny, he will encounter peace and be free from trouble.

Some people are very much aware of their inherent nature. They can specify the details and know exactly what their pattern of destiny is. They will be very clear about what they should and should not do. For this reason, nourishing life definitely has no simple one-fits-all system to follow—people are as different and as fluid as the clouds. Never go after what you admire in others, but always from the depth of your own mind-and-heart look for realizing your own inner nature.

How, then, do people know whether or not they are actually following their own natural course? If in actual life, you find dead-simple things that don’t work out, you get sick a lot, you are not comfortable, and you cannot be at rest with yourself—these are signs that your are going against your natural course. You need to start moving along with the great course of nature on the outside and follow the natural course of your destiny on the inside. Don’t miss out on either one!

No. 70 – Sensitivity Levels
A lot of people, when they hear that a doctor can help with their serious health issues, often assume an attitude of innocence and expect him to eliminate their disease by cutting, excising, poisoning, or otherwise killing it. But after that, does the disease really not have a place from where to resurface? There really is no such thing in the world as a “suddenly arising disease.”

Let me take the common cold as an example. If a patient really came to examine himself carefully, he would find that the various symptom all first gave some subtle indication and that he could have, before actually getting the cold, dispersed its building blocks in the different parts of the body. Thus, some people will find that they were recently exposed to some cold wind or drenched in a rainstorm. Others will discover that they had a great deal of stress at work, suffered from headaches and could not sleep. In reality, all these phenomena are elements that eventually lead to the common cold. In conclusion, if patients’ personal sensitivity and inner awareness were increased to a sufficient level, one could easily reach the goal of “blocking afflictions before they arise.”

No. 71 – True Science
What is true science? It is the law of cause and effect. If it does not work with cause and effect, it is not true science.

No. 72 – Failures
Do not fear failure [defeat, loss] in your mind. Do not take advantage of others in your mind. In other words, only you can suffer failure. Other people are part and parcel of your destiny, so you should give to them and never develop a craving to take advantage of them. You cannot get your mind to stay stable? Who in the world can get it there? Only the Buddha has that power.

No. 73 – Self-Assurance
Once people have taken charge of their health-related thoughts and practices, they develop perfect self-confidence in their entire being that eliminates any need of worrying about disease. This kind of feeling is fabulous. I wish we could all have this kind of powerful self-assurance.

No. 74 – Examination
In intense study, intention and qi are balanced. When the mind is stable, qi is balanced. Thus, for anyone who has attained Dao, examining another person is not a terribly difficult task but just the effect of yet another turning of the mind.

No. 75 – Five desires
Among the five desires, fame [feeling important] is hardest to overcome. Next comes sex [sensual pleasure, having fun], third is wealth [material stability], then food [eating and drinking], and finally sleep [rest and recreation]. As long as the mind-and-heart for fame is not dead, there is no way one can enter Dao.

No. 76 – Disease Inception
The hundred diseases begin when wind and heteropathy enter the body. If the body’s qi is vacuous and weak, the defensive and constructive energies lose their balance. Then worry and speculation, fright and anxiety arise, and wine [intoxication] and sex [distracting sensory pleasures] exhaust one’s strength. Perfect qi is minimal, and outside heteropathy comes in.

No. 77 – Rule 29
This is a circular rule, go and remember rule no. 29

No. 78 – Rule 30
This is another circular rule, go and see again rule no. 30

No. 79 – Side Attack
In the past, when hearing about how Hitler resolved breaching the extremely well defended and highly armed Maginot Line in France, I understood the following: when faced with strong and resistant diseases, you cannot overcome them with a frontal attack. Rather, to destroy it, you must get at it from a variety of angles. Kidney and liver problems, for example, tend to be highly resistant. You get best results when you approach them by balancing the lungs or spleen.

No. 80 – Centering
Being well centered is the root source of nourishing life. Qi and blood in people’s bodies form a pair of yin and yang. Blood is yin and substance; qi is yang and function. Blood is the mother of qi; qi is the master of blood. If qi is insufficient, one easily gets accumulation disease, such as swellings, tumors, blood clots, and the like. If qi is excessive, one easily gets diseases where blood flows too fast from the brain. Thus, as long as you keep blood and qi in even balance, you can stay very healthy.

No. 81 – First Steps
When people just have awakened to some kind of feeling for their “natural course” [inner spontaneity], they already reckon that they have attained Dao. But knowing the natural course is only the first step; going on and following it is what makes people spirit men. Understanding and matching yin and yang, understanding and following one’s natural course, this is the great inner power needed to be a good healer.

No. 82 – Natural Course
What is this “natural course”? It is the fact that each and every thing has the two sides of yin and yang, that each and every being undergoes the same life process of birth, growth, decline, and death. Following this process, you can use the production and conquest cycles of the five phases to enhance someone’s inner balance. Then what disease could not be cured?

No. 83 – Simple and Complex, Hard and Soft
Simple and complex form a pair just like yin and yang. The more an affair is complex, the more often it can be resolved by the simplest means. In the same way, if you look at what seems to be a simple issue, you often find that the solution is not easy at all and you cannot resolve it even by exerting utmost efforts.

The same also holds true for hard and soft. Extreme softness can overcome the hardest substance; against extreme hardness softness stands no chance. For this reason, whenever we are faced with solving an issue we should use this kind of thinking: when encountering a complex problem, look for the simplest way of resolving it; when meeting with a simple question, do not disregard it, but make sure to give it sufficient importance. It is just like Chairman Mao used to say: The strategy of war take lightly, the art of war take seriously. In other words, the state of the issue take lightly, the process of resolution take seriously.

No. 84 – Today
Let us see whether the following is true in the world today: people follow their natural patterns of eating and sleeping; people honor their natural course of life. Not really. If they can’t do so, why? Because that is way too simple. So they don’t just rest at ease and honor their course. Such is the honest truth.

No. 85 – Balance
What does “balance “mean? Balance is the state when yin and yang depend on each other and control each other in equal measure. Any form of excess or sufficiency means a loss of balance. All sorts of things may harm primordial qi, loss of balance certainly injures it. Always resting in a state of balance, primordial qi is well preserved and people age and decline only very slowly.

No. 86 – Yin and Yang
The way of yin and yang means two opposing forces depending upon, and changing into, one another. Thus, in any kind of oppositional situation, if one side distances itself from the other, it will never be controlled by it. Thus if one lets go of all loss, destruction cannot reach one.

You see, the leaders in modern society do not like constraints; they want to come and go as they please, following their whims, their own modes, greedy to obtain more goods. The result of this is that there are more rules than one can possibly think of.

Yin and yang are like that. In the great course of life, when one being arises, it becomes the cause of the birth of other beings, but at the same time some other being comes into existence that starts to limit them. This in essence is how the production and conquest cycles of the five phases work, the way yin and yang depend upon and check each other.

For this reason, the way of nourishing life also works like this. If you get sick, there is always one cause that brings it forth. At the same time there is also always a factor that controls it and makes it go away. Just like in the natural world, in any place that has poisonous snakes, there will be plants that cure snake bite.

No. 87 – Body Oblivion
What is self-realization through body oblivion? It means giving up control, giving up secret schemes.

Note: we are unsure of at least some part of the translation. If anybody has a better insight please relay it to us.


No. 88 – Great Wisdom
Any so-called great wisdom, if it is without heartfelt feelings, what great wisdom is that?

No. 89 – Learning
Ordinary people talk about living to old age and learning to old age. But learning also has its time and what you learn in each phase of life needs to match what need most at that time. Otherwise you are not in harmony with the flow of life and fail to follow your natural course. However, looking at education in the world today, from kindergarten to university, how many things do the children learn that they actually need at their age?

What do you need to learn as a child? Most importantly, you need basic ethics and a sense of reverence for your parents. Only learning to read and write, what good does that do after you leave school? Once you get to adolescence, you need to learn how to be good at living in harmony and raising children, focusing on family happiness. In middle age, you need to work on nourishing life. Eventually, when you get to be old, you need to learn how to relax your mental disposition and be at peace in your last years. Whatever else you choose to study, these are the essentials of learning.

No. 90 – Emotions
Emotions and sickness are closely interrelated: all diseases come from emotions. You may use medications for a cure, but whether you do in fact remove the symptoms or not, underneath you are still not well. When you deal with this kind of disease, after you deal with the outer signs you still have to deal with the person inside. The five emotions can bring about disease; the five emotions can also cure them.

No. 91 – Courage
Nourishing life centers on one thing only: do not fear death! As long as you fear death, your yang-qi is insufficient, and when that happens, the power of death can defeat you. That’s what the Daoists keep talking about: the heroic energy found in people who practice cultivation and refinement. Kindness, wisdom, and courage: you must have all three!

No. 92 – Samadhi
Take any subject of study or practice and work on it until it becomes utterly easy and simple: this is the point where you reach an essential state of samadhi. As long as you still feel that the subject has some parts that are great and profound, sections that you cannot fathom, you still have not fully mastered its ultimate essence. You are still only seeing its outer leaves and branches and have not yet reached the root.

At this point you are still in the stage of “being” and have not yet attained the stage of “nonbeing.” All things for you still are enmeshed in the realm of yin and yang, all the myriad affairs and myriad things are still part of yin and yang. You need to find the root is of yin and yang: “Know the one and the myriad affairs are done!”

No. 93 – Nourishing Life
Concentrate your spirit and stabilize your qi, forget both yourself and all beings. This is the ultimate core of nourishing life.

No. 94 – The Center
The center bright and clear, peace will result. Nourish life this way and you will live long, die and not perish, and become a great light in the greater universe. The center not bright and clear, the twelve organs are endangered; they block the Dao and prevent it from flowing freely, so that the body is greatly harmed. Nourish life this way and you will endanger the powers of the greater universe. Be very, very careful!

No. 95 – Proper Cycles
How to apply the five phases’ cycles of production and conquest: if a disease is due to an excess in the five organs, use the conquest cycle to remedy it; if it is due to a depletion, use the production cycle. This is the fundamental principle of using the five phases.

No. 96 – Materialism
People nowadays often pursue an expensive material life-style and put all their efforts toward that. But the result of this kind of pursuit is really scary. What you need to realize is that people’s desire for material goods is inexhaustible. Once this desire can no longer be controlled, it does nothing but create inexhaustible suffering.

In fact, material goods can bring happiness but so can the spirit. Medications can cure diseases, but so can psychological healing. For this reason, spending all our life in the pursuit of material wealth is no where near as good as using our entire life to nurture a good mental disposition, which alone will allow our spirit to attain transcendence.

No. 97 – Rule 73
This is the fourth and the last (re)cycled rule, please read again the rule no. 73

No. 98 – The Sentinels
Our bodies are mechanisms full of wisdom: they have excellent sentinels that guard over our health: the teeth, the appendix, the tonsils, and so on. Originally, any time our bodies enter an exceptional situation (such as, most commonly, “fire rising”), these various sentinels immediately react and communicate the disturbance to the brain. Smart people at this point harmonize their minds-and-hearts and inspect themselves, making sure to restore inner balance.

However, what do Western-trained physicians do these days? “You hurt?” they say. “I will make your pain go away.” Even worse, they have developed some kind of scientific instrument, so they say: “You have a serious nasal infection and sneeze a lot? Let me cauterize the nerves inside your nose, so that you won’t be able to sneeze, no matter how strong the provocation.” The result of these treatments by Western doctors is that, if we ever fall ill, we won’t know until the disease affects our five organs and six intestines.

No. 99 – Benign Symptoms
Just remember: if we have sudden diarrhea, sneezes, coughs, or fever, these are signs of our bodies working at comprehensive recovery. There is no need to take medicines for these symptoms.

No. 100 – Terminal Diseases
Most serious diseases and terminal growths have only one cause: resentment [hatred, discontent]. Once resentment is gone, all ailments dissolve. What is hardest to resolve in this world is continuous and unstoppable resentment. As long as there is such unresolved resentment, there will always be incurable diseases.


Classic Exercise Philosophy principle

100 Chinese and Buddhist Health Rules 1-50

No. 1 – Sleep
Sleep is the first element of nourishing life. Your preferred time to sleep is between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., becausethis time in the course of the day matches the season of winter. If things are not contained in the winter,they cannot grow in the summer, which means that on the next day your spirit will be low.

No. 2 – Medication
All the various medications used to cure diseases work on the surface and don’t penetrate to the root, no matter whether they are Chinese herbs or Western drugs. Because all the different diseases arise from basicmistakes in living and are the result of such mistakes, as long as you do not remove the cause of the mistakes,their result cannot be eliminated at the root.

Now, the root of health is the mind-and-heart and all life factors and experiences originate from there. If themind-and-heart is pure, the body is pure. So, if you get sick, don’t look for a cause outside, but rely on the innatepowers of your own body and self to recover. This reality applies equally to human beings and animals; ifanimals can recover from diseases relying on their own powers, so can people.

No. 3 – Correct Behavior
The right understanding is to stay far away from expensive drugs and dangerous surgery in helping patients to get rid of their diseases. Based on this, you tend to make the right decisions and follow the right patterns of behavior. This will also allow you to ward off the arising of numerous diseases.

No. 4 – Innate Wisdom
People all have innate wisdom, which definitely does not come from book learning. Rather, it comes from their own true mind-and-heart, their pure and clear mind-and-heart (what Daoists call “Dao nature” and Buddhists call the bodhi-mind).

No. 5 – Inner Regulatory Abilities
Among all living beings, people have the most beautiful and complex body, but the degree of its health is determined at birth. Their level of health, then, depends on their original body’s innate regulatory and recovery abilities; it has nothing to do with outside elements. Outside factors can only aid in its functioning.

No. 6 – Purification
The vast majority of symptoms people develop are signs of their bodies ridding themselves of internal toxins in the process of adjustment and purification, conditions that appear as part of the body’s automatic regulation and balancing process. You should therefore take them as signs of the proper functioning of life and never forcefully get rid of them, thinking that they are the beginning of a disease and should be eliminated.

For this reason, when you are sick, by all means avoid developing a mind that is full of resentment, hatred, anger, and anxiety. Rather, make sure there is peace and stability in your mind-and-heart. When the mind is stable, the qi flows properly; when the qi flows properly, the blood is vibrant: the hundred diseases will dissolve.

No. 7 – Qi and Blood, Meridians
People’s heath is closely connected with two factors: sufficient qi and blood; free and open meridians (including blood vessels and the digestive channels).

No. 8 – Good Living Habits
Having sufficient qi and blood depends on sufficient food + bile + good sleep at the right time—from dusk to 1:40 a.m. when the brain does not work at all and we are guided by plants and spirits— + good living habits.

No. 9 – Clear and Pure Mind
To have free and open meridians you most of all need to have a clear and pure mind. The seven emotions and six desires all harm you’re your mind-and-heart, which in turn causes harm to the proper circulation in the meridians.

No. 10 – Enhance and Control Qi
To maintain a healthy body, you need not only to enhance (increase qi and blood) but also to control (diminish the loss of qi and blood).

No. 11 – Control Food
A massive increase in food intake not only will not increase qi and blood but will produce a greater burden of toxins in the body. To return to normal, rely on the purifying powers of digestive blood and qi. The five organs and six intestines all work due to the efforts of blood and qi. Food is their raw material, but there is a limit to how much their work capacity can be increased. Since there is no limit to available food stuffs, we must establish control over the amounts we eat.

No. 12 – Relaxation
Appropriate exercise can aid people’s blood and qi circulation, but it can also contribute to the loss of blood and qi. The energetic cycles in the human body should most of all be approached in a state of relaxation: never compromise on this rule of health!

No. 13 – Detoxify, Open Meridians, Increase Blood and Qi
The greater the amount of toxins in people’s bodies, the more they need to purify their blood and qi. However, people’s blood and qi are reduced because of this increase in toxins and blockages in the arteries. This creates a vicious circle and becomes the main mechanism of aging and decline. For this reason, people who want to be healthy and stay young should do three things: reduce the amount of toxins in their bodies; increase the open passage in their blood vessels and meridians; and increase the blood and qi in the body.

No. 14 – Own Intuition and Awarness
Having faith in the efficacy of medications and diagnostic measurements is not as good as trusting your own intuition and the adequacy of your body’s regulatory abilities. However, these presuppose that you have attained the Dao or opened your inner wisdom and live from that perspective.

No. 15 – Study Buddhism
Health begins with regulating the mind-and-heart and inner nature. So, for the sake of your health, start to study Buddhism. Finding happiness through the practice of Buddhism is the highest fortune among humanity.

No. 16 – False Symptoms
Speaking of someone with an old disease, as long as his blood and qi are kept full (by using the qi-replenishing methods introduced here and by having him do quiet sitting to open the qi nodes), the feelings of the disease may come out in full force.

For this reason, people who practice various forms of cultivation may experience all kinds of “disease-like” symptoms when they reach a certain level. At that time they should intensify their qi-work and firmly stick to their practice of quiet sitting, thereby to increase qi and blood. This way they will move quickly through this situation.

No. 17 – Endangering Life
People who go against the basic rules of nourishing life, even though they may not get obviously sick, as they get habituated to this unhealthy life-style, set themselves up for major disease. It is quite like the basic rules of traffic: if you go against them, you may not have an accident immediately, but the danger of having one is easily obvious.

No. 18 – Emptiness
Why is it beneficial in nourishing life if people maintain a certain level of hunger and thirst? In fact, this is the wonderful application of “emptiness.” Daoists say that emptiness leads to numinosity. This together with humility allows people to make progress, while being full in themselves just makes them drop back to square one. For this reason, one should always maintain an attitude of “empty numen.” This way one can constantly maintain inner clarity and awakeness which in turn allows one to maintain health.

No. 19 – Food Quality
People who want to live a healthy life need to make sure that they take enough qi-bringing and qi-transforming foods. Just by doing this you will avoid accumulating lots of toxins in the body. You will also prevent having too much food releasing a roving “empty fire,” which will deplete your inner organs. Plus, this “empty fire” can turn around and deplete your internal qi. For this reason and speaking from this perspective, when people today get sick, it is for the most part because their intake of food and drink is not properly regulated.

No. 20 – Quiet Sitting
To nourish life by quiet sitting, sit (or lie) on your bed, completely relax body and mind, let your whole body melt without using even a tiny bit of effort, so that you feel as if there was no body. Breathe naturally and exert not even a trace of effort in the mind-and-heart—when a thought arises, this is already using effort. Place your mind calmly on the soles of your feet and from there guide fire down and water up, so that qi and blood in the entire body flow vibrantly.

No. 21 – Turning Point
There is a common saying: “When the turning point is right, a good plan will come.” To properly understand this idea of “turning point,” you need to open your sense of intuition. A teacher giving instructions, a physician curing diseases—these are turning points that fall into your lap and open new chances for you. This “turning point” at times also may be a key opportunity.

Naturally this “turning point” needs to be properly used in the right circumstances which merge with the atmosphere around you to create a certain energetic density, just like by getting ahold of fire one can set off fireworks.

Just to make sure: other people’s activities and events are outside causes; your own talents and tendencies are proper insight causes. If they come together in the right way, this is what we mean by “turning point.” The arrow in the bow ready to be released: you must find the right “point” for your shot. All affairs are ultimately like this—they each have their specific turning point.

If you just connect to this, all kinds of things will evolve. If you don’t connect to it and are involved in too many other affairs, there is no way things will start moving. The turning point is just like this: it is the central element and key opportunity for things to develop. It is a core point, not just a surface appearance. But by setting this core point in motion, you can also move the surface appearance along with it.

For this reason, the turning point of any disease is the central element and key opportunity when the disease arises, develops, and changes. In other words, reaching a turning point of disease, people’s condition becomes openly manifest and they enter a vicious circle of “being sick.” Responding to the turning point of disease opens the “turning point of life.” Once this is opened, people enter a positive circle of health. In fact, these two turning points of disease and of life are two sides of the same coin, a matching yin-yang pair. As the turning point of disease opens, that of life closes, and vice versa, as the turning point of life opens, that of disease gradually begins to close. Such is the honest truth.

No. 22 – Book Learning
The fact is, to appreciate numerous good discoveries and inventions there is no need for book learning. At the proper time, even someone without any kind of traditional education who has a highly developed sense of intution and can completely let go of conscious thinking will be able to arrive at enlightened truth.

No. 23 – Disturbance
The thing people need to be most wary of is something called “disturbance.” If the mind-and-heart is disturbed, it will get entangled in affairs on the outside and cause harm to blood and qi on the inside. All vexations, anger, fear, anxiety, joy, worry, confusion, and doubt mean disturbance. They are the root cause of many diseases and shortened life expectancy. Thus it is not only during times of healing diseases that one should avoid all disturbance but one should keep the mind free from it throughout everyday life.

No. 24 – Excesses
Much sadness harms the lungs; much pleasure (sex) harms the kidneys; much food harms the spleen and stomach; much worrying harms the spleen; much anger harms the liver; much labor harms the spirit. In all cases it will lose its proper course.

No. 25 – Craving
If disease arises in the body, it is in all cases from the mind-and-heart being vacuous empty and the qi being weak. This state makes it possible for outside heteropathies to enter. The mind-and-heart being vacuous and the qi being weak always comes from the mind and the spirit soul(s) being disturbed and agitated, the body structure not being full, and all sorts of anxieties arising: craving for food, for success, for wealth, for happiness—all these are quite enough to produce disease.

Then, when these cravings are not fulfilled, they turn into aversion (anger). Craving and aversion make the mind-and-heart agitated and the qi tense, the gall bladder nervous and the liver excited, the six meridians tremble and the five organs boil. When some outside heteropathy enters at that time, disease results.

No. 26 – Long Life
When people want to reach long life, they first must get rid of diseases. To get rid of diseases, they must first understand the proper application of qi. To understand the application of qi, they must first nurture their inherent nature. The way to nurture inherent nature is to first balance the mind-and-heart.

No. 27 – Five Elements
People receive the five phases to come to life, thus the physical body is dominated by qi. If qi is deficient, there is disease; if qi is obstructed, there is disease. Thus, to cure any disease, first remedy the qi.

No. 28 – Attaining Balance
Qi moves blood; blood enhances qi. They are two yet only one. If people do not sleep for a long time, they harm their blood; if they sleep for a long time, they harm their qi. If they stand for a long time, they harm their bones; if they walk for a long time, they harm their muscles. If they engage excessively in the seven emotions and six desires, they harm their primordial qi as well as their heart and kidneys. As these body aspects increase in fire, perfect yang energy is depleted.

No. 29 – Five Organs
To cure the diseases of the five organs, one must first enhance qi. The kidneys are particularly important in this. One best enhances qi by not moving the mind-and-heart, because whenever the mind-and-heart moves, the liver gets excited and the meridians agitated. Then perfect water is depleted. The mind-and-heart is like a fan: it moves with the wind. When the wind blows, fire rises; when fire rises, water dries; when water dries, the earth is depleted.

No. 30 – Unified Mind and Spirit
When the mind is stable and the spirit unified, one can be cured. Faith strong and the mind concentrated, the two minds [of healer and patient] are in harmony and one can cure the hundred diseases. None is not ultimately the effect of spirit.

No. 31 – Two Kinds of Diseases
People’s diseases are of two kinds:

1. The meridians are vibrant and open, but the qi is deficient. Symptoms include various pains here and there. This is so, because when the qi is deficient and cannot properly digest the food, it brings forth apparent fire (also called false fire or empty fire), and the meridians in the body get agitated. Then energy flows every which way until it hits some obstruction which then manifests as pain. People like this can take some medicines and get better.

2. The meridians are blocked and the qi has no place to go in the body. Symptoms include nothing specific on the outside for the longest time, then all of a sudden a major crisis. People like this may take medicines but the cure will be very slow. They may even be affected at the root and cannot be helped.

No. 32 – Nourishing Life
The highest field of Chinese medicine is nourishing life. The highest field of nourishing life is nourishing the mind-and-heart. For this reason, when speaking about nourishing life, the lowest type of practitioner nourishes the body, the medium type nourishes the qi, while the highest type nourishes the mind-and-heart. Examining people is the same way: looking at outside features is not as good as looking at qi; looking at qi is not as good as looking at the mind-and-heart

No. 33 – Mind at Peace
When mind and spirit are not at peace, feelings and inner nature are rushed and hectic—the ultimate cause of disease and death. Thus calming the mind-and-heart is the first step in guarding life. The mind-and-heart can control all other aspects. Thus, when the mind is stable, the qi is harmonious. When the qi is harmonious, the blood circulates well. When the blood circulates well, essence is sufficient and the spirit is bright. When essence is sufficient and the spirit bright, all internal parts are strong and vigorous and the various diseases dissolve naturally. Thus in curing diseases managing the mind-and-heart is the first priority.

No. 34 – Personal Resistance
Wind and cold, yin and yang, heat and dampness all can cause disease in people. If your resistance is weakened, they can take advantage of your inner vacuity and enter the body. This is why, if the body is weak, there are many diseases.

Rich people have some protection through clothing, food, shelter, and so on. Poor people also have some resistance if their qi is sufficient, their spirit bright, their skin thick, and so on, making it hard for these outside factors to enter. On the other hand, rich people tend to eat heavy food and sweetmeats, thus harming their stomach and hurting their teeth. Poor people often suffer hunger and there is no variety in their diet, so they tend to be free from intestinal disease.

Rich people have many obligations (and avoidances), so they have many irritations to their qi. Poor people work very hard, so they don’t get sick so fast. If rich people don’t produce wealth, they become unhappy. As their wealth diminishes, they eventually become poor. Poor people, on the other hand, work hard and save, and thereby create wealth and good fortune. Then, once they have the protection of wealth through clothing, food, shelter, and so on, their resistance against outside invasions of essence, qi, and spirit lessens. Thus, as the protective devices diminish, personal resistance grows.

No. 35 – Baths
When one first recovers from a grave illness, it is best to avoid washing the feet and taking baths.

No. 36 – Inner Stability
To pursue long life and freedom from disease, one should strengthen the physical body. To strengthen the physical body, one should balance essence, qi, and spirit. To do so one must eliminate all impact of frustration and agitation.

To control them, first work hard to manage the mind-and-heart and transform the three poisons of craving, aversion, and ignorance. Once you have gotten rid of these, you must learn to control the mind-and-heart with the help of precepts. However, just talking about precepts without using them in actual practice and yet hoping to develop wisdom is no different from remaining ignorant. If you really want to develop wisdom, you first must pursue inner stability. And to do so, you need to practice quiet sitting.

No. 37 – Benevolence
Once quiet, you are benevolent; once benevolent, you can live long. Living long is perfect happiness.

No. 38 – Let Go, Look Back
All the various methods of cultivating body and mind have two key aspects: let go and look back. Let go of the butcher’s knife, stand firmly on the earth, and become a buddha. The ocean of suffering has no end, so look back to the shore. All you need to do is let go and look back for once and your diseases will suddenly be healed—which erroneously is called sudden awakening. This really is unlimited life.

No. 39 – Mind Overwork
In people who overwork their mind, the heart is tired and the liver excited. An overworked mind means that it is too full and not empty enough. In this situation, it cannot control the fire generated by the liver (wood), and if that is the case, liver-qi accumulates and overflows.

Now, liver-wood moves on to earth, and so the spleen and stomach get sick next. Then the digestion is not good and one cannot sleep at night. Earth in turn controls water, which leads to the depletion of kidney-water. If the water is not sufficient, this will once more incite fire. The heart and kidneys are closely linked, thus the heart-qi is weakened even more and the lung-qi is affected.

The various parts of the inner body are closely interrelated: if one moves, all move; if one gets sick, all suffer. However, the beginning lies in the mind getting distorted, so the cure lies in calming it. As the mind gets clearer, it finds spontaneous awareness. So, all key efforts for health lie in quiet sitting.

No. 40 – Achieving Liberation
Quiet sitting is a way of giving rest to the mind-and-heart. When it is at rest, the spirit is at peace. When the spirit is at peace, the qi is sufficient. When the qi is sufficient, the blood is bright and both blood and qi flow vibrantly. Then, even if there is some ailment, one can get rid of it easily. If there is depletion, one can enhance qi to fullness; if there is sufficiency already, one can enhance it to greater increase. One can get rid of diseases now and prevent the arising of all future ailments. This is the least of it.

Also, when the mind-and-heart is at rest, the spirit is radiant. When the spirit is radiant, the turning point is numinous [inner center is connected to heaven]. Resting in quietude, the mind-and-heart becomes more wondrous and one can observe the turning point in its full truth. All outside phenomena are clear and one sees cosmic order as being just right. Then one creates no more detachment to ordinary affairs and is no longer alarmed by random disturbances. Seeing the mental projections for what they are, one remains unaffected and can pervade all, naturally achieving a state where there is no subject of observation or one-sidedness of any kind. Then one can greatly apply the numinous pivot and achieve liberation.

No. 41 – Resents
When people get sick, they often resent it and develop a great deal of anger and frustration in their mind-and-heart. At this time it is essential to calm all mental input and allow the mind-and-heart to find peace and stability. Doing so, one can slowly balance it, and health will soon be restored. Only when the mind-and-heart is calm can the qi flow properly; and only when it does so can disease be eliminated. Otherwise, the mind-and-heart gets hectic and fire rises, liver qi is depleted, and the disease gets worse. When mind-and-heart and spirit are restful and unified, the blood and qi that circulate through the body are naturally healthy and whole, and bring forth a glow.

As regards the mind, there are two: one is the perfect mind; the other is the distorted mind. The true mind is like water; the distorted mind is like waves. Waves move because of wind, and when the wind stops the waves rest and the water no longer moves. Being serene and without thoughts: this is the mind of no-mind.

No. 42 – Insomnia
If you can’t sleep in the middle of the night, it is because your kidney water is deficient. Heart and kidneys are closely interrelated, so when water is deficient, fire rises. This may well harm the spirit.

No. 43 – Mental Unrest
If you have a lot of thoughts when trying to sleep at night and cannot calm down, do not toss and turn on your pillow, pursuing these thoughts. This will seriously diminish the spirit.

No. 44 – Noon Hour
The noon hour matches the mind-and-heart. Thus it is good to sit in meditation for a quarter of an hour around this time. Close your eyes and nurture the spirit. This will strengthen mind and qi.

No. 45 – Getting Up
In the morning it is best to get up between 3 and 5 am. If you do so, be careful to avoid all sadness and anger. Otherwise you will cause harm to the lungs and liver. Be very careful.

No. 46 – Stable Spirit
All the various affairs of human life have their root in the spirit. All declining and rising, strength and weakness of spirit, moreover, completely depend on the mind-and-heart. Thus spirit should be quiet, stable, and without agitation. Even a small measure of agitation is enough to obstruct all the good work.

No. 47 – Qi and Blood
In human life, the free flow of blood and qi is most important. If there is an obstruction of qi, this may cause a stoppage of blood which can develop into all sorts of poisons. These in turn can cause clots, swellings, ulcers, cancers, and the like. All these come from blood and qi not flowing freely.

In qi, the right circulation is most important; in blood, openness means vibrancy. All the hundred diseases come from an obstruction of qi. When the qi is blocked within, the first organ to be affected is the liver. The solution to this lies in transforming and releasing it.

To do so, there are two ways: 1. Seek out its root, which is in the mind-and-heart; when the mind-and-heart is empty, all transforms naturally. 2. Use medication and massage to help it release, allowing the qi to regain its free flow.

No. 48 – Craving
Nurturing and curing diseases cannot be hastened. This is because any rushing in inner nature supports fire and rising fire diminishes qi. Turn away from the world and give up outside beauty. Go your own way and do not crave for much. Any craving means lack of constancy and thus rushing inner nature. Thus the hundred diseases all arise from craving and any increase in craving means an increase in disease and suffering.

No. 49 – Steam of Qi
The heart belongs to fire; the kidneys belong to water. Heart and kidneys are closely interconnected. Fire has a tendency to sink down; water has a tendency to rise up. When fire and water are evenly balanced, a steam of qi arises within. Each part of the body then moves appropriately and can be fully healthy.

One can tell whether this is the case from examining the tongue. Without water the tongue cannot live, thus the word for “tongue” combined with the three strokes signifying water is the word for “life.” On the tongue one can see each body part’s state of disease—whether light or serious—and even judge the presence of life and death.

No. 50 – Healing from Serious Disease
The way to heal yourself from serious disease:

Do not fear death and firmly believe not only that this disease can be completely cured but also that the body can attain exceptional good health and can reach great longevity. This is so because at the core of the body is a very special faculty. These are not just empty words of consolation.
Trust that even without any medicinal drugs or relying on special nurturing foods, there is without yourself a great and wonderful method of eliminating disease and extending the years.
Say to yourself: “From today on, I will not be frustrated by my sick body, I will not keep thinking about what kind of disease I have, and I will under no circumstances compare myself to others.”
During the period of recuperation, don’t let yourself think about work or regret lost time and opportunities. Keep your mind-and-heart completely focused. Otherwise you will delay or derail your healing.


Breath Mindset Philosophy principle qigong

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