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Friday, October 28, 2011

Qi Matters

The Four Stages of Life
By Adam Wallace
Qi Magazine | Issue 50 | Aug2000

There is only one certainty in life and that is unequivocally everythingmust die. Life and death is a continuous cycle, like night following day. The question is how and when will we die. Will it be natural or premature? Will it be sudden and peaceful or slow and painful?

We all pass through four stages in life which correspond to spring, summer, autumn (fall) and winter. The first stage in life is known as the ‘Child Body’. Children possess a tremendous source of Qi which can manifest itself in hyperactivity, restlessness - constantly running about, and rebelling against sleep, even when their bodies are tired. Many children possess a fairly developed ‘sixth sense’ or ‘potential’ due to their abundant Qi resources and pure minds. They may see the ‘colours of Qi’ and possess sharp intuition but sadly in most cases the parents quash these genuine experiences as imaginings so this potential is often foregone and generally remains underdeveloped.

Around puberty there are many changes internally and Qi begins to leak naturally from the body. This is known as the ‘Leaking Body’ stage. The individualis not yet aware of this as his body is creating Qi faster than it can be expended. He possesses youthful vigour, does not tire easily, and heals rapidly. This is why professional athletes are at their peak of fitness during this phase of life. The downside of this is that the individual lacks self-awareness and does not know his limitations. He feels invincible which can lead to trouble. This stage of life begins in the teens and generally ends around the thirties. In most instances if there was any ‘special’ ability it becomes lost due to a variety of factors. Firstly sexual energy is being created. The Qi behind this powerful driving force fortifies the internal body and develops the ‘potential’ if stored, but at this age it is not understood or controlled, and is easily squandered. Also the mind becomes blocked by other distractions including budding ambitions, desires, and peer pressures, etc.

During the ‘Broken Body’ stage the individual becomes more aware of his body - a certain sluggishness, and aches and pains. The body tires more easily and is more susceptible to illness as the body’s internal systems are working with less efficiency. It also takes somewhat longer to recover from illnesses and injury than before. This stage is generally from the thirties to the fifties, or sixties. On top of the gradual physical decline, the individual also has to deal with increased pressures and responsibilities, and mid-life crises.

The ultimate stage in life is the ‘Decaying Body’. Kidney Qi is weaker so there is general fatigue, sensitivity to cold weather, poorer memory, eyesight and hearing, teeth and hair fall out, and the bones become brittle (so the body can be easily injured in falls), and recovery time is much longer. The body is more prone to senile diseases such as lumbago, arthritis, bronchitis, hypertension, etc.

For the average person this cycle of life is inescapable except in unnatural or accidental death. There is no fixed age at which you pass through any given stage. It depends wholly on your Qi; Prenatal Qi (inherited from parents) and Postnatal Qi (acquired from food, water, and rest, but especially Qigong and meditation). So through the practice of Qigong and correct living, this process can be delayed and senility prevented as a youthful body is forged. Through your parents’ genes you are allotted a certain number of years of life - it is up to you how you use them.

You are as young as you look and this is wholly dependent on the condition of the internal body. If at the age of thirty you appear fifty, then you possess the internal organs and Qi of a fifty year old. Premature ageing is caused by using your Life Qi too quickly. It is the result of stress, emotional problems for extended periods of time, and excess negative Qi in the body from the build-up of toxins caused by consumption of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and a diet of fatty foods with additives, lack of exercise, inadequate rest, and poor quality sleep.

Why practise Qigong if we are going to die anyway? We can either passively accept fate (even accelerating our own demise) or actively prolong the four stages of life to reach and enjoy oldage in sound physical health with mental faculties intact and pass away peacefully when the time is right. Which would you prefer?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michael Tse on Qi

Many people think that Qi is something special and want to do all kinds of things with it: play, redirect or use it for healing. However, everyone has Qi. If they did not, they would not be alive. When we take one word from a whole sentence, we lose the meaning and purpose of the word. The same for the concept of Qi. If we only consider the idea of Qi and not its purpose in our body, then we miss the point.

Qi literally means air. It also means energy. Human beings need both air (oxygen and other elements in the air, plus the radiation from nature - like trees, mountains and water) and energy to survive. Qi is constantly flowing throughout and around our body along with our blood. When blood and Qi are balanced, then a state of harmony exists and we have good health. However, if we injure ourselves, there is a blockage which keeps the Qi from flowing. When this happens, it is like stagnant water. The toxins cannot release naturally from our body and will pile up in this area.

When we practise Qigong, we use relaxation, breathing and movement and meditation to release negative Qi from our body and gather fresh Qi. The movements direct the Qi, so we do not need to think about where the Qi will go.When you start your car in the morning, do you think about how the petrol will flow through the engine? Of course not. You know that by pressing on the accelerator that you will move forward. So you think about the end result, not the method of what has produced that result. Otherwise, in order to drive a car, we would not only need a license,we would also need a degree in mechanical engineering. So in Qigong, we do not need to think about or direct the the Qi with our minds. It will happen naturally.

Actually, the more you try to direct Qi, the more problems you will get. If you are not healthy, this already shows that you do not understand Qi, so how can you think of wanting to move it to different areas of your body. In thinking like this, you miss the point of Qigong. The best is to find a good instructor who is healthy and who is qualified to teach Qigong. Then practise the movements you are taught. Forget about directing or visualising Qi and let your body and mind relax. Eventually, as you become healthier, your Qi will become stronger. Of course, you will feel it in different parts of your body and at your Dantien, but this is natural and not unusual or special. It is just the beginning of a Qigong journey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Qigong and the Supernatural

Qi Magazine | Issue 49 | June 2000
By Adam Wallace

There are many human abilities we deem paranormal, or supernatural, which the Chinese respect and term ‘potential’, and regard worthy of scientific enquiry. Qigong follows nature’s principles so any uncommon skills developed through practice are perfectly natural.

Some styles of Qigong claim to offer special abilities including healing powers, aura diagnosis, astral travelling, mind-reading and future prediction, etc. but these are actually genetic. The pursuit of these skills should not be the goal of practicing Qigong but health and longevity. The greater your desire to develop these skills the more elusive they become, and the more mentally unbalanced and unhealthy you will be.

We are conditioned to believe that the universe operates in a certain way and that anything unexplained in scientific terms is ‘supernatural’ and should be treated with suspicion, even though our science is still young. Our rational mind inhibits us from being open to possibilities and if allowed to dominate it is a barrier to our own potential and the truth.

There is a Chinese fable about ahunter who sees a deer in the woods. He fires an arrow through the bushes butthe deer bolts. As he sets forth to retrieve the arrowhe discovers it embeddedin a boulder. Confounded, he returns to his original position and fires at tat the rock. This time the arrow does not penetrate. Previously the hunterheld no preconceived ideas regarding what had happened but when he intellectualised the improbablility of the situation he subconsciously decided the outcome.

Everyone has heard the truetale of the woman who lifted a truck to save her child trapped underneath. In that instant her mind (intent) and body connected to harness ‘supernatural’ strength. She did not stop to rationalize what was possible and had she done so she would undoubtedly have failed. This clearly demonstrates that when our Qi, mind, and body are connected, focused and concentrated we are capable of a great many things. Qigong renders many seemingly impossible feats possible and the difficult seem effortless because it connects the mind, body, and spirit.

Animals possess great instincts and heightened senses as they live closely with nature.We are no different except that we have allowed ourselves to become dulled and go to waste as we seek to remove ourselves from nature and become ill, physically and mentally, from the stresses of living and competing with one another.

The human brain only uses a small percentage of its capacity. We develop our intellectual side but not the intuitive, spiritual side. There are many instances when we think of someone and either the individual is suddenly phoning us or we run into him or her later that day.Sometimes the telephone rings and we know who it is before picking up. Most people explain this as mere coincidence but actually it is because there is a ‘connection’ between the two people and the ‘Sky-eye’ is open.

Messages and information are constantly around us but mostly we are unable to receive them because our minds are distracted or blocked by trivial thoughts, like static radio waves. The mind needs to be relaxed and clear to receive information and then it is possible to know others’ thoughts, their state of health, their problems and other such knowledge. Qigong develops this ‘hidden’ part of the brain. Sometimes you meet people whom you instinctively mistrust. Others may be blinded by their gregarious and effusive nature, fashionable style, affluence, wit or physical appearance but you see their true nature with the ‘Sky-eye’. You can read the person’s unconscious messages which remain undetected by others. Other times you may be somewhere and suddenly ‘feel’ uncomfortable. You are receiving the message that something bad may have previously occurred at that location or it may be a warning of impending danger. You must learn to trust your instincts and follow your intuition to avoid mistakes. Failure to do so is to embrace danger.

The China Qigong Scientific Research Association, in addition to investigating Qigong’s effect on ESP and the like, and medical usage, has firmly established that in the field of academic studies Qigong improves concentration and memory, in sports it raises physical and psychological conditioning for competition, and in the military field Qigong raises endurance, focus, stress threshold, and overall combat capability. Qigong does not endow individuals with any ‘special’ abilities which were not present within them latently from birth. Whatever hidden talents you possess Qigong enables you to realise and develop this ‘potential.’

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Key to Developing Internal Energy

Hun Yuan Qigong - the Key to Developing Internal Energy
Chief Instructor Brett Wagland
 
Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang (1928- ) is one of China’s ten greatest martial arts masters.  He is the founder of the Hun Yuan Tai Chi system.  From his more than sixty years of experience in Chinese martial and health arts, he emphasises the need to develop internal energy and, to this end, he recommends the practice of the Hun Yuan Qigong set.
Qigong is the term Chinese use to describe practices that stimulate and strengthen the body’s energy system.  We all have qi.  It is our life force.  It can be balanced and powerful or out of balance, causing our bodies to weaken.  Qigong is the essence of Tai Chi and Chinese martial and health arts.  The first stage of Qigong or energy training is the nourishing of yuan qi or essential energy.  Due to life style, over exhaustion, worry, fear, stress, illness, etc., this energy supply is gradually weakened.  Qigong exercises help to purify, cultivate and eventually strengthen the body’s energy system.
The main qigong form that we teach is the Hun Yuan Qigong.  It has its roots in Taoism and was taught to Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang (1928- , founder of the Hun Yuan system) by his teacher Hu Yao Zhen.  Hu was a famous traditional Chinese medical practitioner, a qigong master and an expert in Xin Yi Chuan (Heart Mind Boxing).  Hu became known as the father of modern qigong in China.
When Grandmaster Feng met Hu Yao Zhen, he had been training in Shaolin and Tong Bei Chuan, two very hard style martial art systems.  Grandmaster Feng was able to smash a stack of bricks with his palm and lift a weight of 300 kilo.  He was a very strong man.  However, when he attempted to hit Hu Yao Zhen, his power was useless.  He was effortlessly propelled by what he described as an electric shock.  Hu was a gentle looking man.  So where did this power come from?
Hu warned Grandmaster Feng that he was damaging his body by practising only the hard style.  Hu prescribed qigong training for Grandmaster Feng when he began studying with Hu. 
The Hun Yuan Qigong practice gathers the qi from our surroundings and mixes it with the body’s qi.  It is best to practise in the morning or late at night when the air is fresh.  In the Hun Yuan Qigong, we make a conscious effort to connect with the environment.  If possible, practise in a garden or amongst the trees and sky.  We usually face the sun – not looking directly at the sun but through the trees.  We draw the warmth and energy of the sun into our bodies.  Try to practise for forty minutes.  If you do, you will feel peaceful and happy.  A strong flow of qi will gradually move through your body.  You will feel tingling and warmth in your hands.  Eventually, your abdomen will become warm.  This is a sign that the qi is building.  By this stage, you will not want to miss your training.  Continuous practice will lead to feelings of joy and clarity.
It is important to practise every day.  Do one movement for ten minutes if you are very busy.  Grandmaster Feng always says, “You must practise Hun Yuan Qigong daily.  If you have limited time, do the essential movements or a few of the set.”  Cultivating qi is no different from eating.  If you miss a day, you body will feel uncomfortable. 
In the Hun Yuan system of Qigong, we build the qi and refine it to one point at the body centre (Dan Tian).  Then, we watch it move through the body – from the Dan Tian to the Hui Yin point (the perineum), up the spine to the crown of the head, then down the front of the body to the Dan Tian.  This is referred to as the Small Heavenly Circuit (Micro Cosmic Orbit).  Accomplishing this is considered a great achievement in Qigong.  It means that the Conception Vessel (Ren Meridian) and Governing Vessel (Du Meridian) are fully open and connected.  One’s qi is able to flow according to one’s intention throughout the body.  Good health and well being will now prevail. 
People, whose internal power is developed, are very aware of their bodily functions.  They can feel much more than most people.  They can even adjust their heart rate and other bodily functions which are normally beyond our conscious control.  Grandmaster Feng was once challenged by a Qigong master to a fasting contest.  They sat in meditation for three days and nights without eating anything.  Only a little water was allowed.  On the morning of the fourth day, Grandmaster Feng was seen practising with an iron spear weighing over 19 kilograms, while his rival could hardly walk.  This feat indicates that Grandmaster Feng’s internal energy is very strong.
Grandmaster Feng attributes his health and his high level of martial skills to the practice of the Hun Yuan Qigong.  A student who is serious about good health cannot afford to neglect this simple yet effective set of exercises.  As you continue practising, the sensation of qi will be stronger and you will also feel the various acupuncture points in your body.  Practising this Qigong for thirty to forty minutes daily can dramatically improve your quality of life.  Try it for ten days and experience the difference for yourself!
Qi cultivation takes patience, persistence and the right effort.  If you do the practice daily with mindfulness, you will get results.  A calm mind, an optimistic attitude, contentment, confidence, and good health are some of the many rewards. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Silk Reeling: The Chen Family Way

Qi Magazine | Issue 48
By Glenn Gossling

Chan Si Gong or Silk Reeling exercises, as they are called in the West, are the foundation of Chen style taiji. These profoundly simple movements show how Qi circulates during the practice of taijiquan.

Once the principle of these moves is understood it is easy to bring clarity to the many thousands of moves that make up the taiji system, whereas without them one could easily learn many thousand moves without ever attaining a high level of skill or clarity. During his recent visit to the UK Sigong Chen Xiaowang elucidated the fundamental principle of taiji. He stated that the taiji principle is composed of one posture combined with two movements. The posture is based on the Zhan Zhuang meditation stance and the two movements refer to the two directions that the Dantien is rotated during taiji. The basic Zhan Zhuang posture provides the framework for these two movements of the Dantien to direct the Qi about the body. In the Zhan Zhuang stance the spine is upright with the head, shoulders, Dantien and feet in vertical alignment. All the joints are slightly bent and loose. It is vital that the whole body is still and relaxed. This does not mean that the body is allowed to collapse, it means that good posture is maintained but without any tension. With the body relaxed, the movement of the Dantien is able to spiral out from the centre to the periphery of the body in a logical way. The silk reeling energy spirals from the Dantien to the shoulder, to the elbow to the wrist and finally the fingers. The rotation of the Dantien takes the body from a neutral relaxed posture into a state where the body becomes yin then yang, or yang and then yin. In a sense the movement of the Dantien can only take place because of the way that stillness is able to culminate in the Zhan Zhuang posture. Therefore when movement culminates it returns to stillness. This is why taijiquan always begins by preparing posture and consciousness before starting any movements. The breath is sunk to the Dantien. By maintaining the centre of the Dantien it is possible to become still while in movement and in movement while still. This paradox is at the heart of taiji and is what gives taiji its unique spirit.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Michael Tse pointers on Zhan Zhuang

From Qi Magazine | Issue 47 | February 2000

About the Zhan Zhuang posture... generally, the Bai Hui point should connect in a straight line with the Hui Yin and Yang Quan points. This is the correct posture. Posture is important but it is external. The most important is the mind and the attitude which is internal. So when you stand the mind should be relaxed and all the joints and muscles relaxed. The only pressure you should feel is on the upper thighs. Do not drop your head. Keep your ears and the shoulders on a straight line. The knees should never extend further than the toes. This is already the frame of the correct Zhan Zhuang posture. In regard to the hands, some people hold the hands higher and some people lower but both are like holding a ball. If holding the hands lower, Laogong points face the Dantien. If higher, then usually at the middle Dantien but they can even be a bit higher up to shoulder height.

The most important is the posture and not the hands. Sink the Qi to the Dantien, relaxing the upper body. The back should be straight but not tense and when you stand, you should feel really relaxed and comfortable. Close your eyes and breathe naturally through your nose. Stay there and enjoy the standing and in the end, forget everything. Then slowly this will build up the internal energy and the strength. From higher posture, you can slowly develop a lower posture, but you must listen to your body. Do not force yourself to stand longer and or go lower. It will build up step by step. If you have any joint injuries, then you can slightly adjust your posture to make you feel more comfortable, but still keep the posture straight. Once the Qi flows over the injured area, it will slowly recover. I do not suggest you start with five minutes and build up step by step. It is better to do a small amount that you feel comfortable with every day than to do long stands infrequently. 

Yours sincerely,
Michael Tse

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Classics

The body is the temple of life. Energy is the force of life. Spirit is the governor of life. If one of them goes off balance, all three are damaged. When the spirit takes command, the body naturally follows it, and this arrangement benefits all Three Treasures.  Wen Tzu Classic (First Century BC)

Heaven is clear and calm, earth is stable and tranquil. Humans who reject these virtues perish, while those who adopt them thrive.   Huai Nan Tzu (First Century AD)

The Tao gave birth to the one source, The one gave birth to two things, Then to three things, Then to ten thousand...   Tao Teh Ching (Third Century BC)

The yang transforms and the yin conserves. The yang and the yin manifest as movement and rest; yang moves to its utmost, then rests; yin rests to its utmost, then moves. Therefore, yin rests within yang, and yang moves within yin; the two are inseparably interwoven. It is thus as a single unit that they are one with the Tao.   Chu Hsi (Eleventh Century AD)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Qigong in the News: International Business Times


Stress and anxiety may often cause pain in your stomach, according to reports.
Here are a few suggested meditation techniques, that may relieve any pain that lasts more than a day or so.
  • Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
  • Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
  • Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.
  • Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-chee), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
  • Transcendental meditation. You use a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase repeatedly silently, to narrow your conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from your mind.
  • Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind.
There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components that don't result in people having to resort to a number of costly methods to fight stress and anxiety.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Global Standing: 20 min in front of the Cape Cod Light

We traveled to Truro, Cape Cod, and stood in the universal zhan zhuang post for 20 minutes in the fog with the famous Highland Lighthouse at our backs. Although it is best not to practice outside (especially in the wind), the view of the Atlantic made it a memorable experience. 

The Highland Lighthouse went into service 1797, and prevented many shipwrecks over the following centuries. The naturalist and author, Henry David Thoreau, visited Highland Light several times in the 1850s. Thoreau found the lighthouse "a neat building, in apple pie order." In his book, Cape Cod, he wrote:

The keeper entertained us handsomely in his solitary little ocean house. He was a man of singular patience and intelligence, who, when our queries struck him, rang as clear as a bell in response. The light-house lamp a few feet distant shone full into my chamber, and made it bright as day, so I knew exactly how the Highland Light bore all that night, and I was in no danger of being wrecked... I thought as I lay there, half-awake and half-asleep, looking upward through the window at the lights above my head, how many sleepless eyes from far out on the ocean stream -- mariners of all nations spinning their yarns through the various watches of the night -- were directed toward my couch.



We encourage you to share pictures or videos of 
your practice from around the globe: qi@mit.edu

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wuji Meditation Generates the True Qi

WARRIORS OF STILLNESS: WUJI
By Jan Diepersloot

Both the tragedy and dilemma of modern humanity is that it has internalized the psychophysiology of emergency, flight and fight, on a global scale. In the biological, psychological, spiritual, political, social and economic structures and institutions, humankind is mindlessly ruled by fear and aggression, creating a self-perpetuating and self-feeding emergency situation spiraling out of control and draining the psychological and physical energy reserves both of the human individual and humanity as a whole. Only stillness can provide the antidote within the person and within the civilization. Only meditation gives us the tools to change our current habitual state of stress and emergency into one of harmony. Thus the practice of meditation, in general, takes on immense relevance for humanity, giving us the ability to control our physiological and psychological states through relaxation.

The particular uniqueness and relevance of wuji standing, as we shall see in the course of this book, is that it makes accessible to us the emergency powers of the body while remaining in a state of harmony. In the martial dimension, we reclaim the emergency powers of our mammalian heritage without our organism being overwhelmed or governed by them.

We described in some detail how Master Cai's practice of "raising the spirit and sinking the qi" changes our normal/civilized bodies and enables us to regain our natural/instinctive bodies and enables us to regain our natural/instinctive posture and movement. For indeed the practice of "raising the spirit and sinking the qi" mimic and reinforce basic mammalian response patterns to emergency situations. 

Raising the head and the spirit refers to the alertness response which activates the sensory-neural apparatus and integrates it with the neuromuscular system. Sinking the qi refers to bodily mobilization which activates the "crouch" response. The tucking under of tailbone and pelvis, expanding the lower back and filling the mingmen integrates the upper and lower bodies, making their combined power available to deal with emergency situations.

By "keeping three points on a straight line" and "sinking the qi and raising the spirit," wuji meditation cultivates a state of awareness/being in stillness the may best be described as the perpetual "calm before the storm," the silliness and heightened awareness of the cat that precedes its jump on its prey. The goal of wuji meditation is to acquire the strength of calm so that the storm never breaks, the total alertness and readiness to "jump the prey" without ever jumping. By maximizing cultivation and minimizing use, wuji meditation generates the true qi, i.e. increasing our energy potential and accessing our human emergency powers while continuing to operate under the psychophysiology of harmony.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Twisting Step (Dr. Ma Li Tang)

Date: 10/11/11
Subject: The Twisting Step (Dr. Ma Li Tang)

Hello,
     Last night we had a nice simple set and finished the evening with something a little different from Dr. Ma Li Tang's Qigong.  This training is excellent for loosening up your body which will allow all the important key points to function more naturally during Zhan Zhuang.  As with all our training this set should be completely relaxed so the deeper aspects of healing can surface.  Thanks again for all your support!  


Monday Night Session:

5 Gather Qi
5/5 Crane Post
5 Gather Qi
20 Zhuang #3
15 Twisting Step
Seal & Wash

See you next week!

Peace,

Jim Roselando

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Video: Coach Jim Demonstrates the Low Post

Coach Jim Roselando demonstrates the Low Post Exercise from Year One of the MIT Qigong curriculum.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Monday Night Wuji Recap

Date: 10-8-11
Subject: Monday Night Session
Hello,
     Monday night was a wonderful session.  A full house of holistic health enthusiasts all training the simple yet powerful Wuji Zhuang!  It was nice to hear so many comments regarding our practice.  The reason for the fantastic results was 100% rooted in the deeper level of relaxation everyone was able to taste.  In Qigong we always say: The deeper the relaxation, The deeper the cultivation!  Some comments I heard: "I'm pumped", "My shoulders are more relaxed", "I was able to relax my breathing much more than normal", "I feel more centered", "My legs were fried", "My arms feel longer", etc....   

Monday Qigong Session:

5 Small Vibes
10 Gather Qi
35 Wuji Zhuang
5 Gather Qi
Seal & Wash


Thanks for all your support and once again I would like to say, Great job everyone!
See you on Monday!
Peace,
Jim Roselando


 
The ordinary is the extra ordinary!  WXZ

Friday, October 7, 2011

Video: Coach Jim Demonstrates the Turning Cow

Coach Jim Roselando demonstrates the Turning Cow exercise
from Year One of the MIT Qigong curriculum.



Looking at the Limits. By Glenn Gossling

When studying martial arts one constantly finds oneself working against the limits of one's body. Different martial arts approach the limitations of the body in different ways, but all martial arts seek to develop the body and extend the limitations of its capabilities. 

For most martial arts this means doing physical exercises such as press ups and sit ups to make the body stronger and develop stamina, stretching exercises to make the body more flexible and thousands of repetitions of basic techniques to make the body more flexible and thousands of repetitions of basic techniques to make the body faster and more efficient. The approach of Taijiquan is slightly different, in that it begins by emphasizing the internal strength of they body. Basic exercises like Chan Si Gong and Zhan Zhuang strengthen the Dantien and improve Qi flow around the body. When the body is brought into balance and good health it can then be trained harder than by physical exercises alone. The danger with just doing physical exercises is that the body can easily be overworked and become exhausted, having a debilitating effects on the kidneys and pre-natal Jing - especially if the person has a deficiency to begin with. However, this does not mean that Taiji can overcome the physical limitations of muscles. 

Taiji's strategy is to side step the issue. Instead of using physical power or speed to overcome an opponent, it uses technique. A good technique does not need the same level of force that poor technique does. For instance a small insect or even a bit of dust can stop the strongest of people if it gets in their eye. 

Because Taiji does not prioritize physical power this strangely enough leads to it developing more. Taiji emphasizes posture, minimum effort and the coordination of breath and movement. In the majority of training one is taught to let one's skeleton carry the weight of the body, so that the muscles remain loose and relaxed. This means that one finds the easiest path of movement for the body so that the body does not work against itself. 

Because of this approach of doing everything without effort one can actually train much longer than if one only relies on muscles. It also means that when Taiji uses physical power, a greater percentage of the muscle's power can be put into the attack. This use of force is known as Fajing and involves more than just the use of muscles as it concentrates the body's entire energy into a strike or kick. The power of a punch does not come from the arm but the coordinated movement of the whole body. After years of training one can deliver a really surprising degree of force, but this also is just an extension of the limits of the body and not an overcoming of them.

Good technique does not overcome the limitations of one's own body, but it allows you to work more effectively against the limitations of an opponent's body. Taiji, in its understanding of the energy flows of the body, has extended the range of techniques available to it. Taiji can use technique against bone, muscle, sinew, organ, vein, breath, channel, and acupoint. 

From simply working with technique Taiji looks at developing sensitivity. Sensitivity pervades all aspects of Taiji training. One has to develop sensitivity to one's own body and movements and one has to develop sensitivity to an opponent. Sensitivity can be used offensively to improve the application of one's own techniques and defensively to undermine the techniques of others. et the sensitivity of touch can also have its limitations.

It is in its uses of strategy and energy that Taiji extends beyond the limitations of the body and confronts the principles of the universe. "Still, yet in movement; in movement, yet still - this is spirit."

Qi Magazine - Issue 46 - Winter 1999  

Video: Coach Jim Roselando Demonstrates the Crane

Coach Jim Roselando demonstrates the crane pose on both sides form two angles. Notice how your body changes by incorporating just three minutes on each side of this exercise into your practice. Half body posting!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Video: Coach Jim Roselando Demonstrates Gathering Qi


Coach Jim Roselando demonstrates the Gathering Qi Exercise from the MIT Qigong Year One Curriculum. Add ten minutes of this exercise at the beginning or end of your daily practice to relax the mind and coordinate the breath with the physical action. 



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sense or Senseless? by J. Reynolds Nelson

High level Qigong Masters develop their sense of Qi, through sight and touch, and more in their practice and may begin to use these characteristics outwardly.

While some Qigong Masters use their skill for martial purposes, many go on to use their special abilities in a medical capacity to help others. One special characteristic they have in common is that their senses are highly developed. They are able to see their patients in ways lower level practitioners are not. They see the circulation of energy, and are able to diagnose without Western scientific methods to a high degree of certainty. They may be able to move their energy into patients to augment the opening of blockages, even heal the patient. More research is being published now on these phenomena than ever before. Certainly, this area is controversial because of its lack of method of empirical measurements. It is often exploited by individuals of lesser character, but however predominately they may figure, we should not discount those few with genuine extra sensory ability. 

The expression of sensitivity on a spiritual level is one of the more difficult characteristics to develop for all practitioners of the Chinese internal arts. However, it is as fundamental to our training, as is the development of sensitivity on the Qi and Jing level. Indeed, in our culture we have many clues that this sensitivity exists even in our language. Take for example the phrases, "you could smell the fear on him," "it made my hair stand on end," "I could see that one was trouble from the start," "I should have listened to my instincts." 

On a spiritual level, we need to develop the sensitivity to recognize the sensitivity to recognize the development of danger before it occurs. Our perceptions must broaden beyond mere experience to sense all the elements of our environment as we pass through it. Being here now leaves little room for random voices in our mind or runaway emotions, both of which cloud our sensitivity. As both hunter and prey, our lives depend heavily on our ability to sense our way through the day. Those individuals characterized as insensitive seem to blunder their way from one disaster to the next. In a way, they develop the sense of finding trouble or fault in all things around them, stuck in a downward spiral of self-destruction. 

By being sensitive to the pattern and spirit of those around us, we can learn to find ways to avoid those of lesser character or be in harmony with balanced individuals without the loss of our own boundaries. However, if the need arises for the display of Jing or Qi, being in touch on a sensory level with those around us better prepares us to act more immediately. 

Learning to develop our sensory perception and awareness to a high level can benefit our training in many ways. It can develop our character and skills, as a martial artist or health practitioner beyond measure. It can help us to be in immediate harmony with those around us. It can broaden our experience to sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and sensations denied those who cut themselves off from life's fullness. Emotion and base instincts obscure the senses from reaching our true nature and deny us the ability to perceive. 

The development of greater sensitivity challenges many of our more base characteristics but likewise rewards us with a more peaceful and rewarding existence. And while it may be difficult to acheive, it is not beyond the grasp of any of us willing to invest in loss.


Qi Magazine - Issue 45 - Fall 1999

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Global Standing: Long Nook Beach, Cape Cod

We woke up at 4am and rode our bikes three miles in the dark to Long Nook Beach, Cape Cod. We placed a camera in the dunes and stood in a natural post for thirty minutes while the sun rose. Although it is best not to practice in the wind, we enjoyed the energy of the Atlantic. We encourage you to share your own qigong experiences with us: qi@mit.edu


Monday, October 3, 2011

Wuji Zhuang with Coach Jim Roselando

Date: 10/3/11
From: Jim info@apricotforesthall.com
Subject: Wuji Zhuang

Hello,
     Tonight I am looking forward to doing something a little different.  Not only will this be the simplest set we have had done in a long time it will be the most effective way for you to truly sample deeper levels of relaxation.  When one trains Zhan Zhuang (or any form of Natural Qigong) we must make sure we do not use any extra force to make the exercise truly work.  The two guidelines for the training are for one to be loose & quiet and the rest happens naturally.  So, as Qigong practitioners we can only assist in the breaking of blockages (physical/mental) by following these guidelines and any extra thoughts or work will only have reverse effects on our cultivation. 

     It is said that Wuji is the mother and the Universal Post is the father of the internal arts.  Tonight we will focus on Wuji Zhuang.  The most common question asked about these two methods would be, What is the difference in cultivation between Wuji & Universal?  Answer, Not much!  The posture (body) and principles are the same and the only big difference being hand positions.  One of the benefits of Wuji is that it is less demanding than the Universal Post so you can "taste" a higher degree of physical, mental and breathing relaxation.  When you have experienced high levels of relaxation this allows your sensitivity (AWARENESS) to be greater in any exercise we practice.  I do want to tell everyone to do not under-estimate the effectiveness of the Wuji Zhuang!!!  If you think this will be too easy for you then I will say, come give it a try and let me know how you feel at the end.  I look forward to tonight's work out!

Time: 7:00-8:00
Location: Student Center/Room 491
Cost: FREE 

See you soon.

Peace,
Jim Roselando

http://www.apricotforesthall.com/
http://web.mit.edu/qigong
http://www.wingchunillustrated.com/