Archives for category: Qigong

yangsittingBelow is a summary for Dr. Yang Yang’s Functional Meditation including the contemplations and mental principles.  Hopefully this will help in understanding this technique and process

Nurturing Daily Life through Contemplating Reality

Awareness Contemplations for Understanding Reality as it is through Functional Meditation

*The Meaning of Life

*Everyone is Seeking Happiness

*Nothing is Personal

*Everyone is Different

*Yin-Yang (Reality/Reversal)

The purpose of the Contemplations is to identify aspects of life to consider and upon which we can meditate, or contemplate. As a methodology for meditation, this technique is considered contemplation. The process is to take a topic for which we want a deeper understanding and to take it into meditation, to contemplate it. The process is basically a reversal of the Taoist cosmological idea of “from Wuji to Taiji”. In this case, we go from Taiji to Wuji. We take an idea into our busy minds and purposefully think upon it as a method for leading us to stillness. Once we reach of state of Wuji, we of course discard the idea and sit in stillness. In the process we make peace with the idea or concept we are contemplating so that once we leave meditation we are hopefully not bothered by the aspects of our life that relate to the contemplation. In time, we should be at peace with the idea more and more until we have a change in our relationship with the idea and the greater world. From this we can see that not only is this a good method for meditation, it is also a template for enlightened living, a guide for daily life and a way we can extend our “practice” to all aspects of our lives. Read the rest of this entry »

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Following is a list of suggested reading (books, articles, videos) for Insight Qigong students.  The Basic Program Readings apply specifically to those just beginning on this path or taking our workshops, but are obviously applicable to any and all who may be interested.  Further readings explore Taijiquan, Yoga, Neigong, Zen and advanced Qigong practices.  They are divided into categories based on our approach to training, but only as a means for organization because in the end it’s all Qigong.

Basic Program Readings

Qigong

Dr. Yang’s Evidence-Based Taiji and Qigong video  The Qigong on this video forms the underlying basis of the Qigong aspect of our basic program

The Healing Promise of Qi, by Roger Jhanke  This is a great general introduction to Qigong practice.

Meditation

Mindfulness in Plain English  A great handbook on mindfulness practice

In the Sanctuary of Silence  How to plan and carry out a daily practice of superconscious meditation

Returning to Natural Mind  This video captures what we call applied meditation, being present all the time

Engaged Living

The Power of Intention  Wayne Dyer’s book on using mind and intention to live at a higher level.

Seven Lessons in Conscious Living  Roy Eugene Davis’ book for engaged living through the discipline of Kriya Yoga.  This is a simple outline to powerful daily living.

 

Further Readings

Qigong/Neigong

Hunyuan Qigong, Feng Zhiqiang  This advanced book forms the underlying essence of what Insight Qigong is all about.  Unfortunately it is out of print.  However, if you are interested in the book, please let me know.

Daoist Neigong  Once we get beyond the basic Qigong practice, we begin to  work with Neigong or internal skill.  This is not necessarily advanced practice as much as it is deeper practice.  This is a good general book for delving into Neigong.

Warriors of Stillness: Meditative Traditions in the Chinese Martial Arts  This is one of those books that belongs in every category.  Ultimately, it is about Zang Zhuang, or Standing Qigong.

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing  This is a very good book on all aspects of Qigong practice by Ken Cohen, who is also a student of Hunyuan

Special Taoist Taiji Stick and Ruler Qigong  This book is by Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang and Master Wang Fengming on the Bang and Ruler.  This is high level Qigong and is recommended for those interested in going deeper into the practice.  It is available on Master Wang’s website, per the link above.  There is no direct link to the book nor a way to purchase online, you will need to contact Master Wang and send a check for the book.  There is also a video further down the page which accompanies the book well.  I recommend them both.

Taijiquan/Martial Arts

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power  By Dr. Yang Yang.  The premier book on Taijiquan practice.

Chen Style Taijiquan  By Feng Zhiqiang and Chen Xiaowang.  This primarily is a book of martial applications utilized in Chen Style Taijiquan by two of the highest ranking masters in that discipline.

The Essence of Taijiquan  David Gaffney and Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim.  This is a great overview of the history of Chen Village, Taijiquan, and the practice of Chen Shi Taijiquan Gongfu

Internal Gung-Fu Volume 2: Fighting and Healing Methods, by Erle Montaigue  A look at the complete art of the Internal Gongfu of the original Yang school, by the late Master Erle Montaigue.

The Art of Peace  The way of the warrior is based on compassion, fearlessness, wisdom, and a love of nature.  By Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido

Spiritual Practice

Zen Mind, Beginners Mind  An important book in so many ways

The Upanishads  This is a classic.  But it is not an instructional book.  Rather, it is the kind of book that resonates more and more as one develops in practice.

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge  There is a bit of controversy around Castenada, and this is not traditionally found in context with Asian practices, but it covers the Warrior’s Way, which ultimately transcends time and boundaries.  Recommended.

The Science of Self-Realization  This is a guide to spiritual practice in the Kriya Yoga tradition based on a commentary on the Yoga Sutras, the Shandilya Upanishad, and a brief outline of the inner meaning of the Bhagavad Gita.

Tao Te Ching  This is a staple for all seekers.  In this translation, Ursula Le Guin offers what I have found to be the best interpretation of Lao Tzu’s masterpiece.  It is much more poetic than rhetoric, a easy and at the same time challenging read.

I Am That  Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj.  The natural approach for returning to union with the Ultimate Source.

We will be doing our 2016–2017 Winter Qigong Series on December 10th, 2016 and January 7th and 28th, 2017.  These are consecutive workshops in that they each build on the previous one.  However we will be keeping  the approach simple and approachable, so it is not necessary to take all three or any two consecutively.  However, the following outline is based on the assumption the student will be taking all three.

The theme and approach of this year’s workshop series is “Establishing a Daily Practice”.  Thus, we are also assuming the student understands the basic benefits of Qigong and the benefit of steady consistent practice.  Accordingly, we won’t be spending a lot time lecturing on the benefits of Qigong or the benefits of steady daily practice.  Rather, we will be spending more time on the components of efficient, effective practice and strategies for establishing a daily routine to the point that practice isn’t a separate activity as much as it is an essential aspect of daily life.

Please understand that Insight Qigong is not a variety of Qigong or a new approach to anything.  It is simply the name of my “school” (for lack of a better word) of Qigong training.  The overall majority of what I teach is Evidence-Based Qigong, as developed by my teacher Dr. Yang Yang.  I do supplement this with some complimentary aspects of Zen Buddhism and Kriya Yoga.  All of this is Insight Qigong.  It is what I have been trained in, am certified to teach, and believe in and practice myself on a daily basis.  The basic components of Insight Qigong are: Evidence-Based Qigong; Meditation; and Intentional Living.  The components of the workshops are as follows:

  1. Preparing the field: Warming up and stretching, basic standing Qigong
  2. Six Evidence-Based Qigong exercises
  3. Basic Sitting Meditation
  4. Intentional Living Regimines

In each workshop we will introduce different warm-up and stretching exercises, and variations of standing and lying down Qigong.  In each of the first two workshops we will introduce three of the six Qigong exercises and review all six in the third.  In each workshop we will introduce a different sitting meditation technique to include mindfulness, Pranayama, and functional meditation.  In each workshop we will work with different approaches to intentional living to include mindful (present) living, positive thinking, various stress-management techniques, and Dr. Yang’s Mental Principles.  Each workshop is four hours in length.  At the end of all three the student will have accumulated twelve hours of training and should be much better prepared for daily Qigong practice.  It will be helpful to bring a yoga mat and meditation cushion if you have them, but not necessary.

The training will be held at the Daishin Zen Buddhist Temple in Thomasville, NC.
December 10th, 10:00 AM–2:00 PM
January 7th, 10:00 AM–2:00 PM
January 28th, 10:00 AM–2:00 PM

 

Proper stretching is a must for efficient Qigong practice.  Stretching is necessary to prevent injury and to open the jingjin or the connecting tissue, tendons, and joints to allow for better energy flow.  There is not a standard format for pre-Qigong stretching, per se.  However, practitioners should ensure that the whole body, all muscle/tendon groups are worked.

Before stretching, the body and muscle groups should be warmed up.  This can be accomplished by vigorous walking or any of a variety of gentle exercises.  In our Taiji classes, we typically warm up with agility exercises:

Another possibility may be sun salutations:

It doesn’t have to be intense or complicated, just something you are comfortable with that will do the job.

After you have warmed the body, begin the stretch routine.  If you are a Hatha Yoga or Gongfu practitioner, you may certainly use the routine you are comfortable with.  If you don’t have a warm-up/stretch routine, the videos below are all suitable choices.  Once you get established in your practice, you may want to alternate routines to keep it interesting and provide for various approaches.

 

 

 

 

Being a Taiji/Qigong practitioner and teacher, I am frequently asked about the art, the why, how, about, what-if, belief, tall-tale, deep-meaning, etc…kind of questions.  The answers are basically easy.  There are evidence-based proofs of the efficacy of the art on many levels, and there are hundreds of thousands of amazing testimonies, records of martial prowess and miraculous healings, and there is the old proof-in-the-pudding of practical experience: just try it.

While I am thankful for these basic foundations, they are still just that: basic.  They don’t get anywhere near the real essence of this practice.  Unfortunately, I don’t think anything really does, at least in terms of language, the symbolic representation of something else.  This “something else” is experience.  There are aspects of Taiji/Qigong practice that just do not conform to words.  One could say there is nothing to say about it and be correct.  Not because there is nothing worth discussing or reporting on, but because there is no language that does the practice real justice. Read the rest of this entry »

To wake up in the morning is a true blessing.  We are given another day, and shouldn’t take it lightly.  Most systems of self-nurture recommend a routine for beginning the day.  Following is a recommended approach.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Some history of Qigong from Dr. Roger Jhanke:

“There is a growing literature on the history, tradition, science and practice of Qigong.  Its origin is shrouded in the mystery of ancient China. There are stories of special techniques of breath practice that lead to immortality, healing powers, and special abilities…… The martial Gong enhances the strength, endurance and spirit of the warrior. The medical Gong can be used to heal diseases. Confucian Qigong is focused on self-cultivation, ethical development and refinement of personal temperament. The Taoist Gong is aimed at alchemical transmutation, merging with nature, longevity and immortality. The Buddhist Gong seeks refinement of mind, transcending the world of illusion and salvation of all living things…..”

The rest of the story

An important key fundamental practice of Chen Style Taijiquan is Silk Reeling.  Below is a video guide from Grandmaster Feng Ziqiang outlining the standard silk reeling exercises that we train in and practice.

From Taoist teacher Deng Ming-Dao:

“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXERCISE AND PRACTICE?

We’re all exhorted to exercise. Pragmatically, doctors say, “do any exercise you like,” but really, they’re just trying to get us to burn off calories. Physical therapists prescribe exercises so we can get well, but they’re not concerned if we do them once we recover. In other cases, when we think of exercise, it is linked to recreation, sports, having fun, and playing.

Understandably, martial arts and qigong are promoted as exercise. So it’s not hard to see why people have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward it and quit as soon as it stops “being fun.” After all, that’s the way exercise has been defined all their lives. It was the school quarterback, the homecoming game, the thrill of championships, the dives off the high board, the running “because I never got tired,” the game of hoops with the guys, the elegance of tennis games, the excitement of horseback riding. Exercise was defined in what was, after all, the terms of the ephemeral: youth, admiration, cheers, prowess, power, ability, stamina, and joy.

Martial arts, qigong, and spiritual arts shouldn’t be approached as exercise. They’re practices, done for one’s whole life. Where exercise reverberates with the crowd, practice is silent. Where exercise revels in being good, practice only aims at being better. Where exercise loves being fun, practice spends its time probing for deep truths. Where exercise celebrates getting the championship, practice celebrates the journey.

We just don’t have much of a precedent for practice in contemporary terms, and if we do, it has tinges of eccentricity and obsession. We might think of hobbies—someone who’s an avid reader, or stamp collector, or woodworker, or loves to raise animals. But those are activities that aren’t necessarily calibrated for health, longevity, and spirituality.

Practice is important. It does aim at health, longevity, and spirituality. And we don’t have any contemporary parallel for it. Embrace practice. I urge you to. But that embracing will be far easier if you don’t think of practice as exercise and you aim straight at its core.”

Source:

https://www.facebook.com/dengmingdao?fref=nf

We teach and practice a version of Wujigong known as The Heaven-Earth Primordial Qigong Form.  This form is not to be confused with Hunyuan Qigong, which is also commonly referred to as Primordial Qigong.  This is a Qigong form, while the Hunyuan is a set of exercises and principles that cross over all disciplines.  This form works with Yin Earth energy and Yang Heaven energy, utilizing our bodies as the cauldron for the mixing of these energies, along with the three treasures, in an inner alchemical process of total transformation and change.

This form is a type of Neigong.  It works to transform our inner essence to energy, and that energy to spirit, thus revealing our inherent nature as pure Universal Awareness.  So this form accomplishes a lot, but it is relatively simple to learn and practice and can be further refined over time, revealing ever deeper meaning and possibilities.

While there is a bit of mystery and esoterica involved with this practice, there is nothing magical, mystical, or surreal about it.  In keeping with our basic philosophy, we try to emphasize the practical aspects of this training.  It is for this reason that I don’t recommend any videos or books on this form, other than what is presented by Dr. Roger Jhanke.  There are other Qigong organizations and teachers who present this form in a New-Age light that is not in keeping with our intentions.  This is a very powerful practice, and while it is an uncommon practice and esoteric knowledge, it is fully inline with the natural processes of the Universe.

Like all Taoist practices, this form can be equally applied to healing, spiritual growth, martial competence, and physical conditioning.  Being that it is inner alchemy, it is ultimately a spiritual practice, but intense healing is implied in that process.  At the same time, the footwork and balancing involved are consistent with Taiji principles and are good for the overall health and fitness of the practitioner.

As Neigong, this form is ultimately performed internally, the outer movements being a reflection of inner energy dynamics.  The best process for learning is to first learn the choreography, then move into refining the movements and internalizing the practice.  This is a process.  It is a life-long practice.  Benefits are apparent from the beginning and get deeper and better over time.  Like all practice, the best way to begin is to begin.  After that, all things take care of themselves.