In moving Qigong, many methods contain straight and angular movements. When changing from one posture to another, angles are very obvious. Although some of movements are designed to activate meridian Qi, they lack finesse and smoothness. It also contradicts the principle of “circular and flexible.” There are two common techniques one can use to solve this contradiction.
In Nourishment (breathing), after one has chosen and learnt the breathing method, and understands the essence and purposes of the practice, one should stay within the following practice guidelines to achieve better results.
Besides the existing methods, one can choose any combination of the five essences to create a method to satisfy a particular need. Whether it is a correct method or not mainly depends on how it fits the individual.
For example, one can combine one of the most common breathing methods “Tǔ nà fǎ 吐納法” with the “Six Healing Sound” method to adjust the inner organ Qi.
In order to use breathing to change the Qi functions, one must: (I) understand the essences of breathing, (II) choice an effective method and (III) know the goal and the purpose of the method.
Unrelated to Counting, Following and Observing the breathing, there is a technique called “Listening to the breathing” in Taoist Qigong. The practitioners put their auditory attention to breathing and carefully analysis the breathing sound. If one listens (uses the ears) to the breathing sound from the very beginning of the practice, one will gradually be able to hear the faintest breathing sound that is not related to the practice. Just by listening to the sound patiently, one’s breathing will become deep, fine, even and long. When that happens, the breathing sound will disappear*, and one will be able to hear the heart beats.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, “Counting the Breath” is one of the most popular concentration techniques. If one combines the mental activities with breathing, it is called Shén Xī Xiāngyī 神息相依 (Shen and Breath depend on each other) Nourishment Adjustment Method. There are three stages in Shén Xī Xiāngyī. They are: count the breath, accompany/follow the breath and observe the breath.
Among the three components of nourishment, nutrition is the most discussed subject among both practitioners and non-practitioners. There are thousands of books out there to tell people what to eat or not to eat, from all meat to all vegetables, solid to liquid, over-cooked to raw, etc. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, different flavor, different color nourishes different part of the organ/body. In Chilel Qigong, we recommend balanced diet.
Rest includes physical and mental. Everyone knows the importance of physical rest to the body, but lots time we do not pay enough attentions to the mental rest. Mental restless can do a lot of harm to the body. For example, worry can age a person overnight. Regulating both physical and mental rest is very important in Qigong practice. Traditionally, one cultivates mental rest in daily life. It has to do with virtue, ethics, temperament, etc.
General speaking, during practice, Nourishment Adjustment is to regulate the breath. In Qigong, one breath consists of one inhale, one exhale and the stoppage in between. Traditional Chinese Medicine’s definition of breath has moving/circulating implication; it says with each inhale or exhale, Qi moves three inches. The Qi functions in the pores are activated with breathing, and they will follow the rhythm to open and close (exhale from heart and lung, inhale to kidney and liver).
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The fundamental difference between physical exercise and Qigong is how the mind is employed. In physical exercise, it is the body’s reflexive action that causes the mind to direct the movements. In Qìgōng, the mind is inward focused and consciously directs every movement within the body, it is a learned behavior. The participants need to learn how to purify the mind (get rid of distracting thoughts), concentrate on the movements, follow and adhere to the requirement of the method. The way to employ and use the mind activities during the practice is called Mental/Mind Adjustment. Mind activities are one of the most important parts of Qigong practice.