Archives for category: Taijiquan

The following article by Master Wang Zhijun, a Chen-style practitioner in Shanghai, offers a deep look at deep internal training in Taijiquan:  When we practice the Taijiquan form, we must train very hard and work on understanding and perfecting the ‘internal’ method of martial arts practice. This is how the Dao of internal health is developed, which is not dependent upon any form of externality….When ‘intention’ is used correctly, the mind is ‘stilled’ before expanding and embracing the divine-sky and the broad earth. This is how personal consciousness expands and is realised to share the same essence as the universe. This is the integration of the micro and macro-cosmic orbit circulations. In the deluded state, the fundamental integration of the divine-sky and the broad earth remains unknown. In the enlightened state, this obscuring layer of ignorance is ‘dissolved’ and the universal reality of diversity within oneness is directly understood.”

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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 »

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.

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 »

 

ChenXin

This book is the definitive source of Chen Family Taijiquan.  It was written in the late 19th and early 20th Century, published in 1908.  It includes theory and technique along with illustrations.  A pdf copy is available here:  http://www.inbiworld.com/sample_chen_xin_book.pdf

 

 

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.