Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 328
Chi Kung (Qigong)
Chi Kung is the study of Universal energy’s becoming and interacting with the human body. Through this study, we strive to understand how the universe works, to understand our interaction with this universe, to understand our purpose in this life. We need to look deeply at what the human body and mind is, and try and experience the reality of the moment, for it is only in experiencing the moment that we are wholly real.
Most of us are born like a clear mirror, reflecting back whatever is placed before us. As life goes on, we become clouded and even cracked to the point that reality is no longer able to be seen and perceived. We live in a dream world of past and future. The past, because we are always trying to understand events after they happen, and the future because we live by our desires, hopes, and fears. It is rare to feel the moment for what it really is.
Chi Kung is not just a series of exercises. It is a deep philosophy dealing with living and dying. We use exercises to accomplish certain specific goals, and we must be careful not to get stuck thinking that Chi Kung is only those exercises. Tai Chi Chuan is a Chi Kung exercise. It has goals of strengthening and balancing the body, learning relaxation, increasing sensitivity and awareness, and for the purpose of martial excellence. It is what we call martial Chi Kung. There are also civil Chi Kung and spiritual Chi Kung.
Civil Chi Kung comprises the largest area of study for most people. It is the area concerned with our daily health and well being. There are hospitals in China devoted to this area. We want to attain good health and a positive outlook on life. The exercises tend to be body oriented and generally tonic in nature. There are thousands of general, and very specific, exercises, from improving eye sight to organ cleaning to helping the body overcome life threatening diseases. In this area we could also include external Chi healers, or people who can help others through the manipulation of Chi. Most Chi Kung classes taught tend to be in this area.
The last area is spiritual Chi Kung. This is the most difficult field of study, as we are working with the idea of loss of ego or self identification. The mind wants to control everything it comes into contact with. The mind thinks that it is the god of your existence. In reality, the mind is an integral part of your team – body, mind, and spirit. There is even something greater then your spirit that has influence over you. We call this the Tao or Great Unknowable. In the west, it might be called God.
Spiritual Chi Kung exercises mostly involve sitting and letting the body, mind, and spirit relax, calm, and return to whatever their natural state is. When our mirror is cleaned and repaired, it can again reflect true reality and we become whole.
So, it is important to understand what you want to accomplish with your training. All three of these areas overlap and are interrelated, yet it is helpful to know what you want to do before spending too much time. There are many students who come to Tai Chi class looking for
health cures and would do better with their time to find a class or health professional who could work more in their specific problem area. That is not to say that Tai Chi doesn’t aid one’s health, it certainly does, yet for one specific problem to be solved, a person might not want to learn a whole martial system. Likewise, Tai Chi eventually leads to spiritual perfection, yet many people would not relate to spiritual development through a martial approach. So take the time to figure out what you want, do some reading to find out the benefits of whatever it is you think might help, then get in there and do your best and try hard and be open to whatever happens.
Also, expect a miracle!