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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Daoist Wisdom for Healthy Living

Qi Magazine || Issue 60 || April 2002
By Adam Wallace

Qigong training not only encompasses breathing, movement, and meditation but should also include basic knowledge of Chinese medical theory and philosophy. ‘Dao De Jing’, written by Laozi over 2,400 years ago, is a source of wisdom, which when applied becomes high level Qigong skill.

 The following is merely a sampling together with some personal comments for clarification. 

“When a person is born he is soft and supple. 
When he dies he is stiff and hard. 
All things are soft and tender at birth and at death they are withered and dry”.  

When the body and mind are relaxed and soft the Qi flows properly which is essential to health. A stiff body is caused by straining while working or exercising and a stressful mental state. Gentle movement and remaining mentally flexible aids longevity. 

“In concentrating the Qi to achieve flexibility can you be like a baby?”

In the womb babies breathe from the Dantian, which stores Qi. Breathing with the lungs uses Qi. Dantian breathing saves much biophysical energy, which is then converted to True Qi, and serves as an internal massage for the vital organs. 

“Do not swerve from your innate nature and return to the state of infancy”. 

The newly born are pure of mind, without passions or ambitions, etc, and can let go of their emotions. They cry and quickly forget. As adults we internalise our problems, which affects our Qi and health. Meditation is the tool to enable us to return to the peaceful state of infancy and transcend our emotions. 

“A tall tree grows from a tiny sprout. 
A tower begins from the earth up. 
A journey starts with a single step”.

Everything grows from small to big. This is the way of nature. It is a mistake to rush the natural process. Businesses collapse because owners miss this principle and expand too quickly. Qigong practice is no exception - to rush or take short cuts can be disastrous. With regards to illness, listen to your body and catch any problem when it is still small and has not become too big to control. Better still, practise Qigong and prevent disease altogether. 

“If your hallis filled with gold and jade, it cannot be protected. 
If you are wealthy and honoured, pride follows, which can attract mistakes and misfortune. 
When the work is done retire; this is the Dao of heaven”. 

Many people are obsessed with collecting valuables. The more belongings you acquire, the more responsibilities and worries you have. In the end, you no longer possess the valuables, they possess you. Throughout life, we need to let go of our attachments so that we can truly be free. This includes our emotional baggage. 

“No disaster is greater than not knowing what is sufficient. 
No crime is greater than avarice. 
One who knows sufficiency will always have enough and avoid danger”. 

Desire is a disease. The more you accumulate the more you want. ‘What is a rich person? Someone who has everything he or she needs. If your needs are few and you have everything you could want, then you are richer than the person who has has financial wealth but is never satisfied. 

“The five colours cause blindness. 
The five tones cause deafness. 
The five flavours cause the inability to taste. 
Racing about on horseback and hunting cause madness”. 

Overexposure to visual stimulation i.e television, computers etc. expends Qi and damages eyesight. When the eyes are tired rest them or meditate. Constantly listening to loud music impairs the hearing. Those who move to the countryside from the city and find the quietude disturbing have already lost their balance with nature. Choose specific times in the day for silent contemplation. Perpetually eating rich or spicy food damages the palate’s ability to distinguish flavours. Those addicted to high-speed thrills and dangerous situations who only feel ‘alive’ when adrenaline is pumping have also lost balance. 

“Rare commodities cause mankind to do wrong, 
so the Sage concerns himself with his abdomen and not his eyes”.

Gold and rare jewels may seem substantial and worthwhile possessions but you cannot take them with you after you die so they are ultimately worthless. Dantian Qi, on the other hand, may appear intangible but it is more real and valuable as it cultivates your health and spirit, and bestows longevity. The eyes generally look outwards and we are tempted by what we see. Hence, it is beneficial to routinely shut the eyes and look inwards. Sometimes the blind perceive more than the sighted. 

“What is dearer, fame or health? 
What is more valuable, health or wealth?”

Everyone should ask themselves this question. You cannot enjoy your wealth or fame in sickness. Health is also the only factor over which you have complete control.