07 April 2010


This is only the eighth post and already a couple of readers have asked me to explain more about Qigong. My newly renascent writing muse completely balks at the idea of synthesizing pages of internet research on Qigong into interesting Jennifer-speak. It's just too reminiscent of when the candida-brain muse and I stared at 40+ typewritten pages of interview notes and internet research for an entire month in 2008 while trying—and failing—to produce a publishable magazine article about Penang.

Besides, this blog is a chronicle of one person's Qigong journey, not a bunch of essays on the practice itself. Last year Sifu H gave me several books on Buddhist-related topics, but none about Qigong. I completely trust his sense of when I'm ready to learn something new and reckon he's got his reasons for not going into it right now.

While looking for an image of the two Chinese characters for Qi gong (roughly translated as energy work), I found this overview and history which pretty accurately describe the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the practice. Some, but not all, the FAQs are relevant too.

All that said, from our first day together in March 2009, Sifu H conveyed tons of useful Qigong tips which I dutifully tried to record. I wanted to capture his every word, but he insisted that until I  experienced Qigong in my body, writing words was a waste of time.

"The mind is not dependable on," is a typical Sifu statement. And as usual he's right. Paging through my little notebook to pick out salient tips for this post, I'm shocked at how often he repeated the basic tenets and how quickly I completely forgot them. "Forget the words," he'd say when I tried to bring out my digital recorder. "You can't tape record a feeling or how to feel it!" I've got plenty more Sifu-isms for other posts.

Relaxing = Letting Go ≠ Floppy
This sounds deceptively simple but even now I still struggle to understand that Qigong strength comes through letting go, not tensing or forcing.

Body parts to relax
This list doesn't include many other body parts I've discovered since those early days. Back then these were more than enough for my tense, gym-exercised body and frenetically busy mind to handle:

• eyes • neck • shoulders • elbows • coccyx • soles of feet • hips • knees •  groin • hands • wrists •  fingers. And the most crucial body part of all...... • mind.

Body Can Release Mind
Mind Cannot Release Body
•  Tight strong muscles = mind (Sifu H is totally against gym training)
•  Dynamic energetic limbs = body

•  Mind = physical tension
•  Mind = control

•  Pumped up body = brute strength
•  Qi-ful body = quiet force
•  Qi generates its own energy

•  Pain arises from mental tension
•  Mental tension arises from fear, desire for perfection

• Trust: my body, myself, my teacher

•  The mind commands (the GENERAL)
•  Dan tian executes (the CAPTAIN)
   (Dan tian is the region in the lower abdomen below the navel where Qi is cultivated and stored.)
•   Arms and legs are SERGEANTS
•  Captain can't execute the command if the mind won't let go
•  Breath can release the mind.

•  Trust the energy in the dan tian. Let it guide the body.
•  Energy moves body, not vice versa!
•  Energy channels regenerate.
•  Like a stream, energy finds its way
•  Body decays; energy does not

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