Chi kung, Qigong , chi gung simplified Chinese: 气功, traditional Chinese: 氣功, pinyin: qìgōng, Wade–Giles: chi gong literally: "Life Energy Cultivation") is a practice of aligning body, breath, and mind for health, meditation, and martial arts training. With roots in Chinese medicine philosophy, and martial arts, Chikung is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance Chi (translated as "life energy"). According to Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian philosophy, respectively, qigong allows access to higher realms of awareness, awakens one's "true nature", and helps develop human potential. Chikung practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and calm meditative state of mind. chikung is now practiced throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise and relaxation, preventive medicine and self-healing, complementary and alternative medicine,meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.
Chikung comprises a diverse set of practices that coordinate body (調身), breath (調息), and mind (調心) based on Chinese philosophy. Practices include moving and still meditation, massage, chanting, sound meditation, and non-contact treatments, performed in a broad array of body postures. Chikung is commonly classified into two foundational categories: 1) dynamic or active Chikung (dong gong), with slow flowing movement; and 2) meditative or passive Chikung (jing gong), with still positions and inner movement of the breath. From a therapeutic perspective, chikung can be classified into two systems: 1) internal chikung, which focuses on self-care and self-cultivation, and 2) external chikung, which involves treatment by a therapist who directs or transmits Chi. As moving meditation, chikung practice typically coordinates slow stylized movement, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and calm mental focus, with visualization of guiding chi through the body. While implementation details vary, generally chikung forms can be characterized as a mix of three types of practice: dynamic, static, and meditative.
- Dynamic practice
- Involves fluid movement, usually carefully choreographed, coordinated with breath and awareness. Examples include the slow stylized movements of T'ai chi ch'uan, Baguazhang, and Xing yi. Other examples include graceful movement that mimics the motion of animals in Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi chikung), White Crane, and Wild Goose (Dayan) Chikung. As a form of gentle exercise, chikung is composed of movements that are typically repeated, strengthening and stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial, and lymph), enhancing balance and proprioception, and improving the awareness of how the body moves through space.
- Static practice
- Involves holding postures for sustained periods of time. In some cases this bears resemblance to the practice of Yoga and its continuation in the Buddhist tradition. For example Yiquan, a Chinese martial art derived from xingyiquan, emphasizes static stance training. In another example, the healing form Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin chikung) is based on a series of static postures.
- Meditative practice
- Utilizes breath awareness, visualization, mantra, chanting, sound, and focus on philosophical concepts such as Chi circulation, aesthetics, or moral values. In traditional Chinese medicine and Daoist practice, the meditative focus is commonly on cultivating chi in dantian energy centers and balancing chi flow inmeridian and other pathways. In various Buddhist traditions, the aim is to still the mind, either through outward focus, for example on a place, or through inward focus on the breath, a mantra, a koan, emptiness, or the idea of the eternal. In the Confucius scholar tradition, meditation is focused on humanity and virtue, with the aim of self-enlightenment.
Theories & Conceptions Edit
The theories of ancient Chinese Medical Qigong include the Yin-Yang and Five Phases Theory, Essence-Qi-Spirit Theory, Zang-Xiang Theory, and Meridians and Chi-Blood Theory, which have been synthesized as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM focuses on tracing and correcting underlying disharmony, in terms of deficiency and excess, using the complementary and opposing forces of yin and yang (陰陽), to create a balanced flow of chi. Chi is believed to be cultivated and stored in three main dantian energy centers and to travel through the body along twelve main meridians (Jīng Luò 經絡), with numerous smaller branches and tributaries. The main meridians correspond to twelve main organs (Zàng fǔ 臟腑). Chi is balanced in terms of yin and yang in the context of the traditional system of Five Phases (Wu xing 五行).A person is believed to become ill or die when chi becomes diminished or unbalanced. Health is believed to be returned by rebuilding chi, eliminating chi blockages, and correcting chi imbalances. These TCM concepts do not translate readily to modern science and medicine.
- Daoist view: In Daoism various practices now known as Daoist Chikung provide a way to achieve longevity and spiritual enlightenment, as well as a closer connection to the natural world.
- Buddhist view: In Buddhism meditative practices now known as Buddhist Chikung are part of a spiritual path that leads to spiritual enlightenment or Buddhahood.
- Confucian view: In Confucianism practices now known as Confucian Chikung provide a means to become a Junzi (君子) through awareness of morality.
Three Breathings Edit
- Buddhist Breathing: Regular Breathing practice with mindfulness in each Inhaling Exhaling (also known as Vipassana).
- Taoist Breathing: Place your hands gently on your lower abdomen, with the tips of your thumbs touching each other directly over your navel, and your first fingers gently touching each other several inches below your navel (in the area of what in Taoist practice is known as the lower dantian). Keep the tip of your tongue in gentle contact with the roof of your mouth, right behind the upper front teeth.
Let this lower portion of your abdomen, beneath your hands, gently expand (lift into your hands) with each inhalation; and let it relax back to its starting position with each exhalation. Inhale, expand. Exhale, relax.
- Reverse Breathing: (Also known as Pranayama) is a breathing technique associated with yoga and qigong. It consists of expanding the abdomen while breathing out through the nose, and then compressing it while inhaling via the mouth (or nose also) -the opposite of what an abdomen would do during natural, instinctive breathing -. Via this process there can be paid especially close attention to the act of breathing. A pure, inner type of thought focus may thus arise. The technique is also widely practised in a number of martial arts notably Chinese systems such as Baguazhang, T'ai chi ch'uan, and other styles of Kung Fu.
The reverse breathing is believed to activate healing and protective Chi as the practitioner is consciously controlling the breath in a way opposite to normal breathing. By expanding the abdomen while delivering some technique (e.g. punch), the martial artists also protects the inner organs from any received counterattack.
- Inner Circle Respiration
- Outer Circle Respiration
- Hands Ball Respiration
- Eight Pieces of Brocade Chikung