QI GONG: The Art of Cultivating Energy
The Discipline of Cultivating Body, Mind, and Spirit
Qi Gong is the art and skill of training qi. It is the method of using subjective initiative (intention) to get physical and mental exercise. In order to attain physical and mental holistic accomplishment one must coordinate thought, posture, and breathing. Physically, qi gong optimizes organ functions and maintains dynamic equilibrium. Energetically, qi gong enables the storage of energy by reducing energy consumption and increasing energy accumulation, producing the effects of harmonizing yin and yang, cleaning the channels and collaterals, and emitting external qi.
Qi Gong is based on the TCM theories of yin-yang, five elements, and jing-luo (meridian-collateral).
promoting and conducting qi
expiration and inspiration
inducing and conducting qi
Wogong: lying exercises
of the senses happens on all levels of consciousness, and is the focus in the
practice of qi gong. This translates
as “qi work”, or “merit of qi.”
Qi Gong optimizes physical health,
clears the mind, and enlightens spiritual goals. Qi
Gong practice coordinates posture, breath, and an empty mind that is alert
to correcting the tasks of acting, feeling, and thinking into form, force, and
substance, respectively. To correct means to refine. Form is the diligence of
the body. Force is the discipline of the mind. Substance is the devotion of the
spirit. The substance of spirit gives flavor to the force of mind that positions
the form of body. Refinement of the senses is the process of merging form,
force, and substance into the original essence of all things, a quality that has
no name. This quality without a name is temporarily given the name, Tao. While
practicing qi gong one should be
thinking of nothing but this essence of life, located in the dantian (field of the immortality elixir). By keeping to the
essential source, one gains the accomplishments of longevity, prosperity, and
DANTIAN (THE ELIXIR FIELD/MYSTICAL
PASS): The Essence of Qi Gong
Dan is the immortal elixir. Tian is the field of attention. The dantian is an area where zhen (true) qi is accumulated and stored. Focusing on the lower dantian means focusing on the center of gravity and the essence of life. Three dantians have been documented.
The Elixir Fields: The Three Centers
There are different opinions on the localities of the three dantians.
Dantian: Mental Center
(Mud Ball)/Baihui (Hundred Meetings): top of the head
2) Zuqiao (Progenitor Orifice): 3 cun inside yintang; center of head
Dantian: Emotional Center
(Scarlet Palace): inside shanzhong;
center of chest
2) Inside shenque: center of gravity
Dantian: Physical Center
(Ocean of Qi): where qihai and mingmen
connect during abdominal contraction
(Converging Yin): perineum
3) Yongquan (Pouring Spring): under ball of foot
Keeping to the Mystical Pass:
the mind on the lower dantian can
eventually promote the control over involuntary bodily functions like
respiration and pulse. The lower dantian is
the hinge of the transformation (ascending/descending, opening/closing) of zhen
qi, the origin of the jing-luo system and zang-fu organs, the
confluence of yin and yang,
the gate of fire and water, the gate of respiration, where the man stores
reproductive essence, where the woman nourishes the fetus, and the essence and
creator of life itself. Constant focus on the lower dantian
can prevent and cure disease.
AND YANG: The Polarity of Qi Gong Practice
Respiration of Yin and
is excretion and yang while inhalation
is tonification and yin.
“Exhalation sends qi out, being the opening of yang; inhalation brings qi in, being the closing of yin.” –Treasured Mirror of Oriental Medicine
and Water: Movement and Stillness
Seek movement within the calmness to shine peacefully, returning the fire; if the fire doesn’t return, it flies away. Look for calmness in the movement to condense, adding the water; if water is not added then one withers.
Empty and Full:
simply the transference of attention from the mind to the lower dantian via the will. This is the practice of flipping the positions
of fire and water; cooling the head with water and warming the vitality with
fire. Keeping the water above and the fire below is the intention of the firing
in Accordance with the Seasons (Month):
“Spring and summer nourish yang, fall and winter nourish yin.” –Su Wen
Training in Accordance with the Hour:
Training hours correspond to the superficial circulation of energy meridians which is expressed in two hour increments for each meridian.
Ideal Hours for Cultivation of Elixir Pellet (Zhen
Appropriate Training Direction:
According to the five element theory, heavenly bodies, or the practitioner’s sensitivity, certain directions may be more appropriate for a particular time of practice.
of the four directions are designated as yin
or yang. In five element theory,
each viscera relates to a particular direction and element. When practicing, one
can face the direction corresponding to a specific deficiency.
Sun, Moon, Stars:
the moon, sun, or stars can influence the conducting of qi.
SUBLIMATION OF THE THREE TREASURES:
prenatal essence; vitality; procreative energy
Qi: universal life force that
surrounds, permeates, and binds everything
Shen: spirit that has the potential to become immortal and leave the cycle of reincarnation
The Qi Gong Training Process:
Convert the jing into qi
Nourish the shen with qi
Refine the shen into nothingness
Crush the nothingness
The refinement process can be thought of as exchange of one’s material and emotional desires for the conception of a holy child, one’s spirit. This is the birth of one’s correctness. As this correctness is maintained the spirit grows closer to its source, heaven.
Steps of Spiritual Sublimation:
Build the foundation
Receive mystical conception
Holy fetus gives signs of
Birth of holy baby
Nursing the holy baby
Maintain oneness of baby and
Decide whether to forsake the
old body or continue worldly service humbly
“You know what is bright, but you would rather keep to
the dark as though you knew nothing.”-Master
said, “Objects are many, each returns
back to its root. When it returns
to its root, it means calmness. It also means repeating life.”
what is, one must know what is not. Refining the senses means a daily decrease
of the unnecessary, or the elimination of irrelevancies in feelings, thoughts
and actions. Decreasing the irrelevant increases the relevant. By eliminating
irrelevancies, feeling, thought, and action can become concentrated into
substance, force, and form, promoting the efficiency of the doings of the self.
But to eliminate doesn’t mean do nothing. Doing nothing eventually causes
deficiency. Doing without
coarseness will lighten the stress load and clear clutter from the mind,
allowing advancement of the self. In the practice of refinement, when
interacting with the external world, the self should screen unnecessary input
and filter unnecessary output. The refinement process consists of:
Cleansing, or clearing out the irrelevancies so that the subtle structure can be
recognized (being able to feel qi)
Learning, or accumulating information through the experience of refinement
(building a reservoir of qi)
Moving, or using the qi to nourish
honest self-expression (letting the spirit return to the source of creation)
the undoing benefits physical health. Speaking too much damages the chest (zhong)
qi. Thinking too much injures ying
qi, or the spleen’s ability to transform food and make blood. Eating too
much causes stagnation and dampness of blood and qi. Drinking alcohol too much, taking drugs, or smoking intoxicates
the liver and blood. Looking too long also injures the liver. Being angry
injures the liver’s ability to regulate the smooth flow of qi. Too much sexual activity injures the kidney qi
and depletes the life essence (jing).
Listening too long injures the kidneys. Worrying too long injures the heart.
proverb says, “Food is better than
medicine for increasing health. Using qi to improve health is better than eating
The self knows what is relevant for the self by peering into the source of its being.
Feeling the qi, or the spherical cushion of energy, gives one belief in the unseen energy force. The more one feels the qi, the more one learns about what to do with it. When the qi is felt, one may feel a peaceful, warm, cool, or electrical tingling sensation. Usually the tingling begins in the fingertips and the joints. The tips of the fingers and toes, and the soles of the feet, mark the locations of the jing-well points of the qi meridians, where the qi flows quickest during transition from external to internal. Feeling the qi brings a sense of fullness, or awareness of the self’s connection with the universe. Feeling the qi is the empirical confirmation of the conversion of vitality into qi.
Once the qi is felt, one begins building up a qi reservoir (the yellow court), located about 1.5 inches below the navel and about 3 inches deep, in the centroid of the self. The centroid is called the lower dantian, where the points qihai and mingmen touch during inhalation. Building the qi actually means refining the qi to nourish the spirit. Refinement of qi is the condensation of qi. Condensing qi has the quality of wiryness associated with the practice of bone marrow washing. This is the practice of breathing the fresh qi into the deepest core, the bone marrow, and exhaling the toxins.
enough qi is built up, the qi
can be moved. Let go of the mind to open the door to the spirit. This is
necessary in the process of sublimating the spirit. This is the practice of
letting go of the spirit. Refining the spirit into nothingness has an empty
quality. This is responding like an echo and adapting like a shadow.
Once the spirit has been released, an outside reference point can be focused on. This is the practice of crushing the nothingness by making the decision to integrate awareness, or expand the spirit. Expanding the spirit is honest self-expression. This is the decision to forsake the body or to continue worldly service. In worldly service, moving the qi can be expressed as a transfer of qi from one person to another. This is an application that can also be used with martial arts and healing arts.
Sources of Qi:
Correcting Breathing, Eating, and Sleeping
vitality into energy for mental clarity is called getting the medicine.
are three essential sources of vitality: breath, food, and sleep.
If one eats too much,
food will stagnate, toxins will accumulate, and one will become tired. Spend
time before eating to generate saliva. Swallow all saliva. Saliva will fill some
space in the stomach, so to prevent over-eating. Swallowed saliva collects in
the lower dantian to form the
immortality pill, or the egg of the spiritual embryo. Chew every bite until food
ice cold food and drink because it prevents the qi
from moving upward. Drinking alcohol effects concentration, judgment and
sensitivity. Avoid caffeine and strong tastes because they interfere with
leading the qi upward as well as cause
disturbances in the digestive system.
the right amount of sleep. If one sleeps too much, one will become tired.
Maintain a conscious sleeping posture to control dreams. Bright dreams are a
reflection of a calm spirit, that is housed in the heart. Protect and nourish
the heart during sleep. When sleeping on the side, choose the right side.
Because the heart is more on the left, there will be less weight over the heart.
Place the right hand under the right ear and the left hand on the left leg. The
left foot rests behind the right knee. If sleeping on the back rest the left
hand in the center of the chest and the right hand just below the navel.
Listen to natural (slow, deep) breathing in order to get control of relaxation. When relaxed the mind can be happy. When happy saliva is naturally generated. Happiness is knowing contentment. Contentment is the recognition that one has enough (energy). Thus, happiness is energy being fulfilled. If one is depressed, one’s energy level will be low.
brain generates ideas that govern thoughts, spirit and qi around one’s field. The brain is the main source of EMF
(Electro Motive Force) which increases mental concentration for stronger and
more smooth flow of qi. A healthy
brain raises spirit vitality. Understanding is the key to long life. When brain
cells are at an increased level then sensitivity is increased. Sensitivity is
the key to good health and longevity.
brain is the sea of marrow which is ruled by the energy of the kidneys. The
kidneys are also responsible for growth and reproduction. Therefore, the kidneys
are responsible for semen (spermatozoa for
men and ova for women) production. The semen is the main source of human energy,
via vitality. The four qi vessels (Yangqiao,
Yinqiao, Yangwei, and Yinwei) of
the legs receive their qi from semen
conversion. At midnight, the qi
circulation about the microcosmic orbit reaches huiyin
that stimulates the genitals to interact with the dantian
qi. Sublimation of jing causes the
qi in these four vessels to become
deficient, so more essence may be converted.
To practice sublimation, lead the qi upward, returning the essence to nourish the brain. When the brain is full it becomes energized with clear thoughts and is able to function more completely. When more of the brain is able to be used, the shen can be raised through increased sensitivity and effective thinking. This allows the spirit to remain after death of the physical body. To reach this level one must first let go of all material thoughts and emotions. The Chong vessel is the most responsible vessel for the sublimation of spirit due to its capability of regulating the kidney meridian and mutually supporting the Ren meridian.
THE THREE KEYS:
The three key elements of qi gong are the regulation of the body, regulation of breathing, and regulation of mind. The three keys must simultaneously coordinated to achieve dirigation.
Efficiency: Diligence, Determination, Devotion
can be painful because it is through our mistakes that we correct ourselves.
Refinement therefore requires a diligent body, a determined mind, and a devoted
spirit, to persevere in the consistent practice of learning. The intelligence of
the body grows through the refinement of its actions. The more efficient one
acts, the closer one advances to the source of subtlety. In other words, the
lighter the burden, the freer the movement; thrift supports spontaneity.
Qi Gong is a
twenty-four hour a day activity. Be ready to move at a moment’s notice and
never give up.
To pursue Tao, the body must instinctually give away its resource with the guidance of an understanding mind for the principle of cultivating the spirit so that it may express itself honestly, without resistance. To understand the spirit, the body must lighten its load through the refinement of vitality. The physical body refines itself by forgetting itself, or ridding itself of the physical irrelevancies. When the physical body has been cleared of irrelevant activities, the subtle structure of qi can be completely realized. Forgetting ultimately means training the body, mind, and spirit to support each other so that responses come naturally. When qi gong forms can be practiced without the thought of the sequence, true benefit can be attained.
Moderation of Training Duration and Degree: Fire Control
During the qi gong training experience (the firing process) one should moderate the duration and degree of training in accordance with the changing conditions, or set the proper limitations and not fail to recognize turning points (peaks and valleys). Growth from training accomplishments are naturally small and gradual.
Concurrent Training and Nourishing:
forms or postures used to conduct qi;
Nourishing: replenishment of vitality and energy after training; gentle breathing
Transforming Vitality into Energy
Regulating the body with correct posture guarantees smooth respiration and qi flow; smooth flowing qi relaxes and concentrates the mind; a calm and alert mind transmutes the vitality of the body into qi.
Be Like A Tree:
feet walking underground. Qi Gong
practice begins with establishing the root. To refine the body, one must first
root deep into the earth. If sitting, this connection is at the perineum (huiyin).
If standing, this connection is made through the soles of the feet (yongquan).
Rooting is accomplished by putting the mind under the connection point.
Visualize it spreading out underneath the earth. Like water flowing downstream,
the mind must search for the lowest point. Putting the mind in the lowest point
is humble. The one who is last in line, follows first- the ultimate follower.
Initially, a tingling sensation may be felt at the soles of the feet, or at the
perineum and begin tracing the meridians up the leg or the back. Once the root
is established, one cannot be knocked over and proper growth can begin. Zhen
(true) qi flows through the cosmos like water. Since the mind regulates
the interaction of heavenly and earthly qi,
the mind must be like water. It becomes formless in order to assume all forms.
joints must be slightly bent but extended to allow for the qi to circulate.
bottom becomes heavy and the top becomes light, like a tree blowing in the wind.
The tailbone is tucked in and the head is pulled up from under the base of the
skull by heaven so that the vertebrae of the spine hang loosely, like a string
of pearls. The qi can be circulated
efficiently when proper posture of the spine is maintained.
A tree is like the refined self. The correct action is the branch of the correct thought, which is the trunk of the correct feeling, which is the root. The correct feeling sprouts from a seed that is the essence of its life. If the seed sprouts into a tree, then it proves it has been in harmony with the elements. The slightest disharmony of the elements could cause the seed to perish. Will the fragile seed unleash its potential to become generations of trees?
Sitting in Chair:
on Floor: Free Leg Crossing, Lotus, Half-Lotus (Single Leg
Crossing), Za-zen, Butterfly,
the Spirit with Energy
of respiration effects the regulation of qi,
blood, and organ functions. It is the strategy of the mind to achieve mental
tranquilization and physical relaxation.
When breathing is regulated, the mind can lead the qi more easily. Breathing strategy is the key for regulating thought waves. When breathing strategy is absent, the emotions will have an influence on breathing rhythm. Breathing strategy maintains and directs the consistent movement of qi. Listening to quiet breathing, quiets the mind. Breath is the link between the self and the present moment.
Chest Breathing (Normal): without exertion or the mind’s will
Abdominal Breathing (Buddhist Breathing):
Abdominal/Reverse Breathing (Taoist Breathing): for gathering and replenishing the qi
of the dantian
Pausing-Closing: This is pausing and closing the flow of qi for a little while after each inhalation or exhalation
Sound Emission with Exhalation for Organ Strength:
Breathing through the Five Gates (Macrocosmic Qi Flow):
deep breathing in conjunction with concentrating the mind on the five gates.
Breath qi through the center of the
palm (laogong), the sole of the foot (yongquan),
the crown of the head (baihui).
Genuine Breathing (Fetal Breathing):
gentle abdominal breathing that appears outwardly to have stopped.
gentle breathing without obvious respiration sensation.
Opening-Closing (Body Transparency): Skin Breathing:
pores close; spirit becomes light
pores open; spirit becomes heavy
Preferred Breathing Method with Forms is Reverse Breathing:
When doing qi
gong training one should always breath naturally. After some time, reverse
breathing should happen naturally.
the lower dantian region energetically
rather than muscularly. Guide the energy up the spine. Place the tongue on the
roof of the mouth, just behind the upper front teeth. Contract the perineum
gradually, as if slightly cutting off the flow of urine. Inhale qi through the pores of the skin into the marrow. The hands raise or
the lower dantian region. Guide the
energy down the anterior midline. Drop the tongue below the lower front teeth.
Release the perineum gradually. Exhale toxins out from the marrow through the
pores. The hands descend or push out.
Mind Tranquilization Methods:
Returning to the Void
the mind is tranquilizing the mind to gradually return to the void, where there
is no sensory stimulation or thinking. The mind should be empty of thought, but
be alert to guarding the dantian. The
most essential exercise in qi gong is
to use the will for concentrating the mind in order to replace myriad thoughts
with one thought. The following methods are ways to return to the void of
concentrate the attention on an acupoint (qihai)
or an external point.
on abdominal respiration without using the will in order to unify the qi
of the breath with the mind.
count the times of breath till the ear fails to hear, the eye fails to see, and
the mind fails to think.
think of one word or phrase continuously until peace is reached.
to breathing that will gradually become silent. Then listen to silent breathing
with the mind. This is similar to Breath Following.
inward or object visualization with the mind’s eye. This can be visualizing
the five element color in the diseased organ area.
ACTIONS ON THE FIVE VISCERA:
qi gong breathing, the jing
(essence) qi of heaven and earth are inhaled and the turbid qi
in the viscera is exhaled. The jing qi
promotes zhen (true) qi and the
free flow of qi and blood through the
limbs and bones (marrow) of the body.
Dantian (elixir field) breathing, or deep, long, abdominal breathing, increases kidney receptivity of qing (clean air) qi, and gradually makes respiration undetectable. When this occurs, inhaled essence qi combines with congenital jing qi of the kidney to produce zhen qi, enabling the internal qi and vitality of the body to condense and strengthen.
kidneys, located in the lumbar region to the left and right, contain mingmen,
the gate of life inside. Xu Lingtai believed mingmen
was the dantian.
“The gate of life is the root of primordial qi, the
residence of water and fire. The yin qi of the five zang organs cannot be
nourished without it. The yang qi of the five zang organs cannot be lifted
gentle concentration of the mind on dantian
breathing, the mingmen fire is
sufficient for warming the spleen, nourishing the viscera, transporting food and
air, lifting yang qi, strengthening
the constitution, and contributing to the kidney function of growth and
calms the liver qi, thus hyperactive
liver yang and liver fire
can be stabilized, and the blood will be contained in the liver. When the
blood is stored effectively the emotions can be calmed. When the mind is calm,
the free flow of qi dredges disease.
gently concentrating the mind on qi gong exercises,
the brain can become tranquilized in order to govern mental activities of
awareness and thinking, and govern blood circulation by regulating the pulse and
respiration effects the transportation and transformation function of the spleen
by increasing saliva production and appetite. It also effects the superio-inferior
movement of the diaphragm, thus massaging the stomach to promote peristalsis.
Qi Gong practice
provides empirical evidence of the qi meridian
flows, relationships, and points.
Inter-following of Mind and Qi:
is the unification of the mind’s will and qi.
Respiration follows the mind’s will by being slow, gentle, and deep. When the
internal qi can circulate in the body
via the microcosmic orbit, the mind’s will should naturally follow the qi.
Macrocosmic Orbit of Qi
This is the external energy highway loop that allows the
interaction of heaven and earth with the microcosmic orbit through the five
Orbit of Qi Flow:
This is the internal energy highway loop that connects
the Du (Governing) and the Ren
(Conception) spiritual meridians. The function of the spiritual meridians
are to build up a reservoir of qi and
blood, spread kidney jing, or prenatal
essence, throughout the body, and assist in the circulation of protective qi, or qi that prevents
invasive pathogens. The 8 spiritual meridians supply the 12 regular meridians
with qi. The interaction of qi
through the Du and the Ren meridians
is the interaction of yang and yin
energy respectively. It is through the practice of using the microcosmic
orbit that one can effectively regulate the energy of the organs (dirigation).
The Three Passes (Locks):
are three places on the Du vessel
difficult for the zhen qi to pass.
Weilu/Changqiang (Long Strong): under
coccyx; connecting point of Ren
(Spirit Platform): below T6;
junction point for macrocosmic orbit as it enters from arms;
(Clipping Spine): bilateral
sides of mingmen
(Jade Occiput): base of
occipital bone where brain starts
(Wind Palace): jade pivot;
below occipital protuberance
Huiyin is the
first point on the Ren meridian in the
region of the perineum. Huiyin is the
key to the breathing strategy. As the connecting point of the Du
and Ren meridians, and the transformation point of fire and water, it is
crucial that it be locked during inhalation so no qi can leak out. When huiyin
is contracted gradually, the abdomen seems to contract naturally. Huiyin
is the key to semen sublimation.
Huang Ting Cavity (Yellow Court):
cavity is called yinjiao because it is
the intersection point of two yin
vessels, the Ren and the Chong.
Located one inch below the navel, the fire qi
and water qi are integrated to
generate a spiritual embryo.
Yintang and Baihui (Valley Spirit):
known as the ‘tricky gate.’ Once it is opened, it remains open.
will be certain effects for certain stages for form practice, therapy, and
Effects on Bio-systems:
or dirigation, is the skill of controlling involuntary bodily functions.
Form Practitioner’s Effects from Qi Sensation: (Neiqi)
certain stage of practice particular neiqi
(internal) sensations may be felt.
Effects from Qi Sensation:
During the emission of waiqi
(external qi), qi gong therapist can
diagnose and treat diseases by sensing zhen
qi or pathogenic qi.
Sensation: The therapist may feel sensations of slightly hot or cool, tingling,
tension, circulation, density, and direction of qi
at the area of waiqi emission.
Cold: Cold sensation or pores may contract.
Dry/Hot: Irritated sensation, as if scorched by fire
Effects of Qi Sensation:
These are patient
sensations due to the qi gong practitioner’s
emission of waiqi to treat diseases.
The practitioner must want to practice
Find a peaceful place
Relieve nature before practice
Where loose clothes
Have good hygienic habit
Have appropriately sized practice aids (chairs, cushions, etc.)
Get out of stormy weather
Determine training direction
Relax body posture, empty mind to concentrate on dantian
Conduct appropriate breathing strategy
Do not pursue hallucinations
Nourish dantian when fatigued
Conduct qi to dantian, swallow saliva
Massage, stretch, walk, or meditate
Treat from the root:
Do not drain energy by treating too long; replenish nutrition and channel
Protect from patient illness: expand
Do not treat if ill
Do not treat when starved, bloated, drunk, or emotionally unstable
Do not wash hands or bathe in cold water immediately after treatment
Close: regulate one’s own qi
and disperse patient
Forced: training when constitution or illness is inadequate
Improper: incorrectly training without proper guidance
Weak-mindedness and/or suspiciousness: clinging to qi
Syndromes that may occur from deviations: