Qigong practice addresses the two main causes of illness according to Traditional Chinese Medical theory: Qi deficiency and stagnation. Deficiency is indicated by chronic illness, and stagnation is most often associated with pain. But Qigong does more than help people to become or stay physically healthy. The third intentful adjustment in Qigong practice (besides movement and diaphragmatic breathing) involves the mind and awareness. "Spiritual" Qigong involves treating Qigong as an Art. This is the "gong" in Qigong -- cultivation of a skill or art over time -- such as archerty, tennis, or Tai Chi. Cultivation of an art over time is also referred to as "kung fu". Qigong becomes a foundational part of your lifestyle, along with proper nutrition and western-style exercise which combine to promote health, growth, and vitality.
Spiritual Qigong is concerned with Qigong practice resulting in the "Qigong State", a focused awareness of existing in the present moment in a state of deep relaxation. This is also the goal of Zen Buddhism, which came from the Chinese Ch'an Buddhism, predominately native Chinese Daoism integrated with Buddhism imported from India. The word zen literally means "meditation", as does it's Chinese counterpart and parent, ch'an as does the Sanskrit dhyana (for a more complete understanding of zen, ch'an, and dhyana, listen to Alan Watt's - Buddhism, religion of no religion (55:14) . A fundamental practice used by the Daoists and Ch'an Buddhists to reduce stress, increase awareness, and fully live in the present moment, is Qigong. Spiritual Qigong is not a religious practice. It is a secular practice completely compatible with any religion and no religion.
The state of mind that can result from the practice of Qigong may be familiar to some as satori, being one with the Dao, nirvana, enlightenment, emptiness, or simply the outcome of meditation. From a physiological standpoint, the body is in a state of relaxation and regeneration. This state is achieved by eliciting the Relaxation Response, coined by Herbert Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine at The Harvard Medical School to describe the healing and stress reducing effects of a mind-body practice. In this case the practice is Qigong, a new category of exercise called Meditative Movement, leading to the Qigong state.
Spiritual teacher Eckart Tolle describes the process of achieving the Qigong state (his term being The Power of Now) as "the transformation from time to presence and from thought to pure consciousness".This transition or path has also been referred to as the ancient practice of internal alchemy (the Chinese neidan or neigong). Eckart Tolle further explains that enlightenment (video 8:32) is only in the present moment: "Enlightenment, or the ego-less state, cannot be achieved in the future, or in time. It is only by looking through it now that the ego-less state is here now. A state that you want to achieve is a mental concept that is endowed with self and as such you can never reach it because it is an abstract concept of who i want to be, not realizing that you are it already."
Note that it is fairly straight-forward to achieve the Qigong state quickly through normal Qigong practice. Someone who knows nothing about Qigong may achieve the state after minutes, hours, or days of practice and instruction. Someone who regularly practices Qigong may achieve the state in minutes. The real challenge is not achieving the state; rather, the trick is maintaining the state throughout the day as you go about normal daily activity.
Although Qigong has spirituality virtually built-in to it because of its foundation of meditation, all of the health benefits of Qigong can be achieved without even considering its spiritual aspects. The practitioner simply doesn't need to be concerned with spirituality. However, for those who want to consider Qigong beyond its health benefits, there is an amazing world to be explored. This world involves age-old spiritual questions such as what is the nature of the world, who am i, do i have a purpose in life, what is life, is there a purpose to life, what is consciousness, etc. All of these questions are a result of one simple fact: humans are self-aware, and as such, they are aware of their own mortality and have created spiritual and religious practices to deal with that knowledge.
Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight (18:42). The Dao and the Right Brain. Neuroanatomist Taylor describes her experience of literally losing her left brain due to a stroke and discovering her connection to the world.
Breathe Deep Newsletter. When we can look at our life and throw together all of our experience simply as "life unfolding" and do our best to refrain from saying that something was "good" or "bad", then we are well on our way to true freedom. When we can drop into that place of presence, that inner place where everything exists in a unified field of Qi, then we are beginning the journey toward a truly stress-free life. There's something about judging things as good or bad that creates a certain "attachment" to them - funny huh? It is that attachment that binds us, keeps us from letting go and moving on in some cases. That attachment (even to "good" things) is what creates expectations and keeps us from being open to new and unexpected opportunities. Those attachments (to "bad" things) create fears that inhibit our growth. This concept of attachment is at the core of Buddhist philosophy and is key in understanding what the Buddha (enlightened one) was exemplifying. Whether any of us will ever achieve enlightenment in this body is another story, but we certainly can begin to make choices to move our lives in the direction that best reflects our heart. Francesco Garripoli, Chairman of the Board, Qigong Insitute.
Practice Makes Perfect: Common Grounds in the Practice Paths of Chuan Chen To and Dzog Chen Dharma. " In order to avoid stumbling into the same old religious rut of promised salvation later in exchange for blind faith now, Western seekers must learn how to cultivate awareness and discover the truth themselves through personal practice and direct experience, utilizing their own energies and their own minds as a basis." Dan Reid.
"Be Here Now" - Perfecting the Practice of Presence. "The entire corpus of complex practices taught in the traditional schools of Daoist and Buddhist cultivation boils down to a single simple teaching that can be summarized in three words : “Be here now.” This is the keystone that supports the entire foundation of all the practices. This precept has become such a popular “New Age” slogan that it’s usually dismissed as a trite cliché, but it nevertheless remains the essential link connecting all the major Eastern practice lineages, and it holds the key that unlocks the gate to success in them all." Dan Reid. Historical consciousness and traditional Buddhist narratives. Fascinating exploration of the origins of Mahayana Buddhism in the context of how mythic accounts can be interpreted symbolically and that symbols should not be considered as less important or real than facts. Only those who buy completely into the model of scientific materialism provided by the European enlightenment would not understand that in religions, symbols are as meaningful as facts.
Bruce Lipton 'The Power of Consciousness' (video 50:57) . Teaching the belief that genes control life is very incorrect. When you teach genetic control, you teach victimization by your heredity. On the other hand, the new science of epigenetics (see Epigenetics and Psychoneuroimmunology) says that when you change your response to the environment you change the expression of your genes. In other words, your beliefs -- how you see the world, your perceptions -- can change your biology. There are many new healing modalities that can help you re-write your subconscious behaviors and beliefs. In order to do this, you need to be present.
Breathe Deep Newsletter, June 2011 - Issue #61 The Healing Power of Ritual:"Ritual is such a critical aspect to our lives... for millennia, ritual has guided humans to plant crops and to harvest them, to pray to the gods, to honor tradition. In our modern life, sacred ritual seems to have been replaced with television viewing or going to work. Even going to church, mosque or synagogue has become an obligation rather than an integration. I find that a personal practice like Qigong, yoga, tai chi, etc. can fulfill that critical element of "ritual" in our lives. Whether it is the group class that you attend once each week or the quiet time you find for yourself, your personal practice is essential. Yes it feeds your body... and certainly it calms the "monkey mind" that our fast-paced word feeds... but ritual personal practice feeds the spirit, fulfills our spiritual hunger for being connected to something infinite... to our own infinite nature."Francesco Garripoli. Chairman of the Board, Qigong Institute.
From Finance Executive to Wellness Coach: Finding My Place in the World. I was 40 years old and the effects of stress started showing up in my body. Rather than just treating the symptoms of these ailments, I chose to understand myself and my life at a deeper level. This shift in my focus transformed me from being a Finance executive to a Wellness Coach and Qigong Energy Healer. Arda Ozdemir.
The Cosmic Pulse of Wilhelm Reich: Where Science, Sex and Spirit Meet. "What some people categorize as "spiritual" (or the "divine"), and what these same people consider "sin" (the earthy or sexual), exist on a continuum. The current throughout this continuum is the universal intelligence or life force, called in various cultures chi, kundalini, prana, or the great spirit. This current, which pervades all living things, fuels the celebration of life and self inherent in both sexual vitality and authentic spiritual practices. Since ancient times, priestesses, healers, and shamans have perceived this current or flow as permeating and surrounding the human form, with vortices (called "chakras" in Hindu theory) at major glands. Seekers today, feeling incomplete or empty in their individual existence, are turning to esoteric teachings to help them reconnect to the life force, the infinite source of power. They recognize that to feel whole—whether they ascribe this connection prana or to the Goddess—they need not only the comfort, but the ecstacy, that this union provides...why not reclaim ourselves by focusing on the physical plane? If our body is indeed a temple of the divine, then the growth of our spirituality will be an organic result of living fully, ecstatically, and pleasurably in that temple. This approach makes sense when we consider the role of the body in blocking or allowing the life force to flow, and how even those on a spiritual path harbor blocks." Nenah Sylver.
Spirituality Linked With Mental Health Benefits. A small study shows that regardless of what religion you ascribe to, spirituality in general is linked with greater mental health. In particular, spirituality in the study was linked with decreased neuroticism and increased extraversion, researchers found. "With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe," study researcher Dan Cohen, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, said in a statement.
The Microcosmic Orbit – Taoist Secret of Higher Consciousness. The human body is endowed with spiritual anatomy, using energy to support life and consciousness. As a microcosm of the universe, the energetic circulatory system of the body mirrors the patterns found in the cosmos. The practices of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Kundalini Yoga, and energetic meditations focus on the development of chi and pranic energy.
Embracing our infinite potential & living abundantly everyday
Anne Harrington, Ph.D., Professor for the History of Science in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. This talk covers the range of research traditions today that are investigating the relationship between health and spiritual practice, the various historical roots of these traditions and how they interact in our own time, and the different kinds of challenges—intellectual, ethical, political—raised by this research. Nursing CEUs are available for this lecture from NCCAM.
Health and Spirituality includes:
Introduction to Health and Spirituality
Church Attendance Is Correlated with Increased Longevity
Meditation Might Reduce Stress and Enhance Health
Is Spirituality Good for Health?
History Decides Relationship Between Spirituality and Health Emerges
Film "Wisdom of Changes - Richard Wilhelm and the I Ching". Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930) is regarded as the European who discovered China´s spiritual world. "Wisdom of Changes“ is a documentary about the life and work of the most distinguished translator and mediator of classical Chinese culture to the west. The film narrates from today's perspective of the granddaughter, award winning film director Bettina Wilhelm, the phases of Richard Wilhelm's eventful life in times of dramatic changes. It also provides insight into the deeply humane, timeless Chinese wisdom of the I Ching, which can still serve as orientation in our own volatile times.
Chi Tree.This short film explores the connection we have to the life of trees. It's a video meditation on the stillness of the earth and the presence of an oak tree in a Quantock field in Somerset, England. "Everything on earth is made of the same stuff ultimately - chi (qi, ki, prana or life force - vitality). The notion that we humans are separate from nature, including the earth itself below our feet, is an illusion.
The Jesus Sutras describes how the beliefs of the Eastern World of Buddhism and Daoism were brought together with those of the Western Judeo-Christian world to create the vibrant practice of Daoist Christianity within Confucian China some fourteen hundred years ago. The book presents a fascinating history and picture of the intermixing of Shamanism, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and the Church of the East. The sacred texts provide an unprecedented view into Jesus' teachings and life in the context of Eastern philosophy and meditative practices.
Read hundreds of different opinions. Excellence Reporter: Reporting on the Meaning and the Excellence of Life.
McKenna discusses the science of the I Ching and how it relates to modern quantum theory. The I-Ching represents a primary perception of the organization of mind, time, the Dao, and matter. Interior psychic events are related to exterior events forming the unity of our existence.
Shaman are the ultimate technicians who know how to deal with cultural operating systems.
“Style is a pedagogical tool that helps the student to recognize and identify shapes and patterns. It is also a label that allows us to sell the pedagogy itself. But once the student has learned the true nature of shapes and their meaning, then the style must be transcended. Otherwise, the style becomes nothing more than a well-crafted boat floating in the wrong river.” – Ian Sinclair
"ABOUT THE POWER OF MOVING FROM FORM TO THE FORMLESSNESS OF PERSONAL SPONTANAITY! This article is not actually about Martial Arts -- it is more about the formulation of your personal practice, whether Gongfu (Kungfu), Taiji (Tai Chi), Qigong (Chi Kung). It is also about the process of owning your own, unique insight and power. How will you evolve from learning and practicng forms to learning about yourself and practicing what is perfectly suited to the moment!?!" - Roger Jahnke
Emptiness is a key notion in Taoism. According to author Ray Grigg (The Tao of Zen), "emptiness is not an understanding, it is a condition of receptivity. Tao is essentially discovered by learning what not to be and do. Mistakes, therefore, become a valuable source of information."
Exploring Emptiness and its Effects on Non-Attachment, Mystical Experiences, and Psycho-spiritual Wellbeing: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study of Advanced Meditators. "Compared to the mindfulness control condition, emptiness meditation resulted in significantly greater improvements in non-attachment to self and environment, mystical experiences, compassion, positive affect, and negative affect. No significant relationship was observed between duration of emptiness meditation and any of the aforementioned outcome measures. Qualitative outcomes demonstrated that participants (i) combined concentrative and investigative meditation techniques to induce emptiness, (ii) elicited spiritually meaningful insights both during and following the meditation on emptiness, and (iii) retained volitional control over the content and duration of the emptiness meditation. Cultivating emptiness appears to be a means of reconnecting advanced Buddhist meditators to what they deem to be the innermost nature of their minds and phenomena."
This research does have potential flaws by not taking into account that compassion and positive affect are the result of being an experienced ("cultivated") or being so-called "advanced meditator". One session of emptiness vs. the mindfulness control that is perhaps performed by less experienced meditators who have not cultivated the equanimity that the other group has. Maybe if they start at ground zero with all inexperienced meditators...
Dr. Roger Jahnke discusses the relationships between Kung Fu, Qigong, and Tai Chi
Cultivation, or practice over time, is an essential component of spiritual Qigong. Although the term "kung fu" is most often associated with the martial arts, developing or cultivating any art over time is kung fu. Kung Fu for Philosophers offers some insights into cultivation from the standpoint of language, the mind, and Chinese philosophy. Qigong could be substituted for "kung fu" in this article. (New York Times).
Qigong is key to healthy aging. This UK study concludes that promoting and maintaining physical activity among older people may require more attention to activeness as an attitude and way of life as well as to its social context, and initiatives encouraging broader activity habits rather than discrete activities. Physical qigong practice sessions are discrete activities. But the true power of Qigong comes from the combination of practicing Qigong while embracing it as a habit and a way of life.
"With sustained 'listening', a more global sensation of energy arises involving the whole body. The 'practice' here is one of effortlessly allowing the attention to rest within the Inner Body, the field of Qi that is manifesting within and perhaps extending beyond the body. Breathing may be experienced over the entire body, as if the cells themselves were inhaling and exhaling. Yet, there is no imaging, description, labeling or conceptualizing involved in any of this. Gradually, the body itself becomes more transparent and the distinction between the doer, the observer, and the object of observation begins to dissolve. Directed attention itself begins to dissolve and what remains is Wu Chi - simple pure, awareness." Gunther Weil, PhD. Qigong educator and psychologist.
Read more about Dr. Weil's insights on awareness through Qigong in Qigong as a Portal to Presence.
Spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world. I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it -- not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship, but spirituality -- waking up, waking up! When your illusions drop, you're in touch with reality at last, and believe me, you will never be lonely again. Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind. You can become happy not by being loved, not by being desired or attractive to someone. You become happy by contact with reality."Life is something that happens to us while we're busy making other plans." That's pathetic. Live in the present moment. This is one of the things you will notice happening to you as you come awake. You find yourself living in the present, tasting every moment as you live it. Every concept that was meant to help us get in touch with reality ends up by being a barrier to getting in touch with reality, because sooner or later we forget that the words are not the thing. The concept is not the same as the reality. They're different. Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. Anthony DeMello.
Being in the present moment is ordinary; it's the point of being human. Learning to be present for the moment is the beginning of the spiritual path. Rinphoche Sakyong Mipham.Sakyong Mipham gives an introduction to meditation with some deep insights from his book Turning the Mind Into an Ally. Strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind is the essential first step in accomplishing nearly any goal. Growing up American with a Tibetan twist, Sakyong Mipham talks to Westerners as no one can: in idiomatic English with stories and wisdom from American culture and the great Buddhist teachers. More on Meditation.
How Meditation Primes The Mind For Spiritual Experiences. While the stillness and connecting with one's inner self cultivated through mindfulness are certainly an important part of a spiritual practice, feelings of wonder and awe -- the amazement we get when faced with incredible vastness -- are also central to the spiritual experience. And according to new research, mindfulness may actually set the stage for awe.
Placebo studies and ritual theory: a comparative analysis of Navajo, acupuncture and biomedical healing. Harvard Medical School: Placebo effects are often described as 'non-specific'; the analysis presented here suggests that placebo effects are the 'specific' effects of healing rituals.
Relaxation response and spirituality: Pathways to improve psychological outcomes in cardiac rehabilitation. Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health have demonstrated a link between the relaxation response (which is elicited during Qigong practice) and spiritual and psychological well-being. The study was conducted as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Building spiritual fitness in the Army: an innovative approach to a vital aspect of human development. This article describes the development of the spiritual fitness component of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. Spirituality is defined in the human sense as the journey people take to discover and realize their essential selves and higher order aspirations.
Impact of Spirituality/Religiosity on Mortality: Comparison With Other Health Interventions. Spirituality is as effective as fruit and vegetable consumption in reducing mortality rate.
Spiritually-based treatments for advanced cancer patients are not "one size fits all". The study found that with regard to patient conceptualizations of religion and spirituality, three categories emerged: (1) Spirituality is intertwined with organized religion; (2) Religion is one manifestation of the broader construct of spirituality; (3) Religion and spirituality are completely independent, with spirituality being desirable and religion not.
Exploring Shamanic Journeying: Repetitive Drumming with Shamanic Instructions Induces Specific Subjective Experiences but No Larger Cortisol Decrease than Instrumental Meditation Music. A significant decrease in the concentration in salivary cortisol was observed across all musical styles and instructions, indicating that exposure to 15 minutes of either repetitive drumming or instrumental meditation music, while lying down, was sufficient to induce a decrease in cortisol levels. However, no differences were observed across conditions. Significant differences in reported emotional states and subjective experiences were observed between the groups. Notably, participants exposed to repetitive drumming combined with shamanic instructions reported experiencing heaviness, decreased heart rate, and dreamlike experiences significantly more often than participants exposed to repetitive drumming combined with relaxation instructions. The findings suggest that the subjective effects specifically attributed to repetitive drumming and shamanic journeying may not be reflected in differential endocrine responses.
Li means patterns of energy.Wu Li (chinese for physics) is patterns of energy from wu. Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics is about the relationship between physics and Dao.
"The comparison between physics and mystical traditions is only a small part of the much broader change of worldview and change of consciousness that is now happening in our society. A shift of paradigm, as it is often called. It is the shift from the mechanistc worlview that is expressed in classical physics to a holistic and ecological vision of reality."
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Fritjof Capra, physicist.
"I`m a long time Spiritual seeker just getting into qigong. It seems qigong, as with Spirituality has a dizzying array of different techniques and opinions. I was wondering if you could tell me, in your opinion, which are the best qigong styles for Spirituality, as opposed to medical and other types of qigong."
Gunter Weil's 'Qigong as a Portal to Presence' is an interesting read. Qigong has spirituality built-in to it, so any Qigong that you do can be done for spiritual purposes. The best Qigong is one that you like to do and will keep doing. Since you are starting out, we would recommend checking out different forms. You will potentially resonate with some and not others. You may be lucky enough to enjoy them all. Consider trying the DVDs in the 'QIGONG DVDS' section of the Store page. Any of Francesco Garripoli's DVDs are great. Roger Jahnke's 'Qigong Chi Kung' turns many people on to Qigong. Bingkun Hu's '12 Treasures for Beginners' and his 'Creating Flexibility' are excellent as well. Also, check out the examples of different forms that are in the Sample Qigong Exercises section of the Getting Started With Qigong page. Some of the example practices shown on the page are from the DVDs listed on the Store page.
"The physical act of awakening from a dream is a metaphor for awakening to a higher level of consciousness"
The American Dragon Gate Lineage (ADGL) is under the umbrella organization of the Qigong & Daoist Training Center (QDTC). The ADGL was founded by Michael Rinaldini (Li Chang Dao), a Qigong Teacher, and a 22nd generation (Longmen) Dragon Gate Daoist priest. The American Dragon Gate Lineage is a non-monastic order of Daoist practitioners who have made a conscious commitment to self-cultivation and to the spreading of the Daoist View. More.
Daoism is a philosophical and religious tradition, which has its roots in the Chinese culture, history and philosophy. The ultimate concern for Daoists is the return to the Source, which is the Dao. A Daoist in the ADGL studies the history of Daoism specifically the teachings of the Quanzhen-Complete Perfection school and its founder Wang Zhe (Chongyang) (1112-1170), which eventually resulted in the Longmen Dragon Gate sect in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
Topics of this interview include: how he got interested in studying consciousness and the definition thereof; why understanding anesthesia is the route to understanding consciousness; the hard problem of consciousness; why the brain is more than a classical computer; how Hameroff reached out to Roger Penrose after reading The Emperor's New Mind; the Orch OR model and why the vast majority of scientists are disdainful of it; the best ways of proving or disproving the Hameroff/Penrose model and the most important implications if it is indeed correct; Hinduism and Buddhism; cryonics and chemical brain preservation; Stuart's upcoming paper [together with Roger Penrose] where they will review and present new evidence in support of the Orch OR theory. He also discusses the singularity and why it is not the correct paradigm for consciousness, based upon his decades of research.
Cognitive decision processes are generally seen as classical Bayesian probabilities, but better suited to quantum mathematics. For example: 1) Psychological conflict, ambiguity and uncertainty can be viewed as (quantum) superposition of multiple possible judgments and beliefs. 2) Measurement (e.g. answering a question, reaching a decision) reduces possibilities to definite states ('constructing reality', 'collapsing the wave function'). 3) Previous questions influence subsequent answers, so sequence affects outcomes ('contextual non-commutativity'). 4) Judgments and choices may deviate from classical logic, suggesting random, or 'non-computable' quantum influences. Can quantum cognition operate in the brain? Do classical brain activities simulate quantum processes? Or have biomolecular quantum devices evolved? Hameroff discusses how a finer scale, intra-neuronal level of quantum information processing in cytoskeletal microtubules can accumulate, operate upon and integrate quantum information and memory for self-collapse to classical states which regulate axonal firings, controlling behavior.
The Brain is not the Mind. David Brooks. NY Times. The brain is not the mind. It is probably impossible to look at a map of brain activity and predict or even understand the emotions, reactions, hopes and desires of the mind.
Magnetic correlates in electromagnetic consciousness. We examine the hypothesis that consciousness is a manifestation of the electromagnetic field, finding supportive factors not previously considered. It is not likely that traditional electrophysiological signaling modes can be readily transmitted throughout the brain to properly enable this field because of electric field screening arising from the ubiquitous distribution of high dielectric lipid membranes, a problem that vanishes for low-frequency magnetic fields. Many reports over the last few decades have provided evidence that living tissue is robustly sensitive to ultrasmall (1-100 nT) ELF magnetic fields overlapping the γ-frequency range often associated with awareness. An example taken from animal behavior (coherent bird flocking) lends support to the possibility of a disembodied electromagnetic consciousness. In contrast to quantum consciousness hypotheses, the present approach is open to experimental trial.
“Daoism” and “Taoism” are different ways to spell the same Chinese word (characters). Taoism is more well-known and thus more popular because it has been in use the longest. Taoism is the deprecated Wade-Giles spelling and Daoism is the modern Pinyin spelling. Wade-giles was created in the late 19th Century while Pinyin was adopted as the government standard transliteration system in the mid-20th Century.
In the Daoist tradition, a healthy body and longevity -- the goal of most Qigong and Daoist healing arts -- is regarded as the foundation for spiritual realization. The message is a simple one: the longer one lives in health and well-being, the greater the potential for realization. There is no obvious parallel in the Buddhist or Hindu traditions, which, with a few exceptions, view the body as an impediment to spiritual realization.
'Qigong as a Portal to Presence: Cultivating the Inner Energy Body' Gunther Weil, Ph.D.
Contemporary Qigong tends to focus on medical goals and the improvement of life quality with the help of methods transmitted by Daoists. It is practiced both in the medical community and actively pursued among Daoist followers and successfully combines techniques that go back to both medical and Daoist sources. The main distinction between health and longevity on the one hand and advanced spiritual or immortality practice on the other, within the overall system of Qigong, is the degree to which the body is aligned with the flow of yin and yang or the Dao on the periphery versus being transformed, transfigured, and energetically reorganized to a higher level—the ineffable Dao of creation at the center of all. The Daoist transformation of the self in the process of inner alchemy, reaching from essence through energy to spirit and the emptiness of Dao, has become part of modern Qigong discourse, and many techniques of inner alchemy are actively applied in practice. Not only perceiving of the body as an entity of qi-flow and a replica of the universe, adepts of inner alchemy take active control of the energies and, through the systematic circulation and collection of qi, transmutate the body into a cauldron for the growth of an inner elixir. More...
Functional application of wuwei: saving your precious energy. Dr. Yang Yang: "wuwei does not mean “no effort”—making a conscious decision to not waste your energy requires awareness, effort, and practice. And to truly keep your emotional center, it is essential to understand and be aware of reality and how to deal with reality in a healthy way—which my students will recognize as the foundation of my meditation instruction. To be sure, there are plenty of times when I have wasted my energy in response to minor life occurrences. It is only through long practice that I have learned to nurture my energy and come to an understanding of the functional wisdom of wuwei."
Wu wei is one of the most difficult concepts in Daoist philosophy. Roughly translated, it means “doing nothing.” Westerners who are first introduced to Daoism sometimes think the term wu wei means sitting around and doing nothing—a passive acceptance of life and a sort of mushy, hopeless attitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. Alan Watts calls wu wei "a form of intelligence—that is, of knowing the principles, structures, and trends of human and natural affairs so well that one uses the least amount of energy in dealing with them” or “the innate wisdom of the nervous system". More...
Alan Watts, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, points out that our sense of inter-connectedness has been lost because we think that our personality, or ego, actually exists. This misperception gets in the way of our understanding reality and who we really are, with the ultimate consequence being the unconscionable fouling of the planet that we live on. We are not an organism separate from the environment; we are part of it.
We have to give up the ego. People say it is hard. It isn't really, because the ego does not exist. As Watts explains, "If you try to get rid of your ego with your ego, it will take you until the end of time." We need to let go of ourselves, our egos, and let nature be. Our fundamental self is happening, not doing. This truth is revealed through the practice of Qigong. Watts' prescient observations were just as valid in 1970 as they are now. Recommended: The Middle Way (53:43), Man in Nature (8:32) , and Time and the More It Changes (50:33) . Essays on Watt's insight into eastern philosophy can be found in Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life: Collected Talks: 1960-1969.
Note that Watts began his life-long study of eastern philosophy with Buddhism, and became well-known for Zen in particular, but focused his later years on Daoism, whose practitioners use Qigong. Watts explores the essence of Daoism and spiritual Qigong in Tao The Watercourse Way where he explains that "...the most subtle principle of Daoism [is] known as wu-wei. Literally, this may be translated as "not doing," but its proper meaning is to act without forcing -- to move in accordance with the flow of nature's course which is signified by the word Dao, and is best understood from watching the dynamics of water. Wu-wei is thus the life-style of one who follows the Dao, and must be understood primarily as a form of intelligence -- that is, of knowing the principles, structures, and trends of human and natural affairs so well that one uses the least amount of energy in dealing with them."
Best known in Daoist circles for his final book “Dao; the Watercourse Way,” Alan Watts (1915-1973) was one of the 20th century’s “foremost interpreter of Eastern thought for the West.” During the 1950’s & 60’s Watts was a teacher and Dean of Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Through the late 60’s & early 70’s Watts began to lecture and appeared on television and radio.
This short introduction to Daosim is an excerpt from a library of over 400 talks. It begins with the profoundly insightful story of the Chinese farmer.
Much of spiritual Qigong as practiced by Daoists (also 'Taoists' or 'Taoism' - see Wade-Giles vs Pinyin) is encapsulated in The Secret of the Golden Flower. The text uses alchemical metaphors (such as 'Turning the Light Around') to explore psychological transformations that are the heart of spiritual Qigong practice, and can be quite dense reading for people unfamiliar with Daoist terminology. What is the Secret of the Golden Flower? For an in-depth commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower, including an analysis of Jung's interpretation of it, read Analytical psychology and Daoist inner alchemy: a response to C.G. Jung’s ‘Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower.
Influence of I-ching (Yijing, or The Book Of Changes) on Chinese medicine, philosophy and science. I-Ching or Yi-Jing (also known as The Book of Changes) is the earliest classic in China. It simply explained the formation of the universe and the relationship of man to the universe. Most, if not all, branches of various knowledge, including traditional Chinese medicine, can be traced back its origin to this Book in which Fu Shi (2852 B.C.) theorized how the universe was formed, through his keen observation of environment and orbits of sun, moon and stars. He used symbols to represent his views. The essence of I-Ching is basically the expression, function, interaction, and circulation of Yang and Yin.
Ray Grigg explores the origins of Daoist philosophy and conveys a profound insight into spiritual Qigong. In The Tao of Zen he explains that modern Zen did not come from Buddhism. Rather, it's origin can be found in Chinese Ch'an Buddhism which originated in China and Daoism. Grigg discusses in depth the historical connections of Daoism and Zen as well as the philosophical similarities.
For excellent scholarly work on Daoism see Livia Kohn and John Cleary. Also, each Breathe Deep Newsletter contains insights on the philosophy and practice of Qigong.
For contemporary articles on spiritual Qigong and the practice and philosophy of Daoism which utilizes Qigong, see The Empty Vessel: A Journal of Contemporary Daoism.
Empty Vessel Interview on Breathing with Dennis Lewis. "...most of us lose ourselves constantly in one or another side of ourselves -- in our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and so on. As a result, we live fragmented, dishonest, and disharmonious lives. And while we might agree intellectually that this is true, many of us are not convinced enough to actually undertake the demanding work of self-awareness and self-transformation, a work that begins with learning how to sense and observe ourselves sincerely, to listen impartially to ourselves in action. Since our breathing both reflects and conditions the various sides of ourselves, a vital part of this process involves work with breath..." Dennis Lewis.
Building spiritual fitness in the Army: an innovative approach to a vital aspect of human development. This article describes the development of the spiritual fitness component of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. Spirituality is defined in the human sense as the journey people take to discover and realize their essential selves and higher order aspirations.
Thousand Hand Guan Yin Qigong. Watch an example of spiritual qigong expressed through dancing. All 21 of the dancers are deaf. Relying only on signals from trainers at the four corners of the stage, these extraordinary dancers deliver a visual spectacle that is at once intricate and stirring. Its first major international debut was in Athens at the closing ceremonies for the 2004 Paralympics.
Peace, quiet pave road to health. The Rev. Deanne Hodgson, an associate pastor at the Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix, counsels parishioners preparing for surgery in ways to discover inner quiet in bustling hospital settings. Hodgson is a registered nurse and certified Tai Chi instructor who leads classes in the Chinese mind-body relaxation exercises at the church. The classes are open to the public. "We're constantly being bombarded, not only with sound but with visual 'noise,' " explains Hodgson. "The challenge is to discover a peaceful place within yourself, and that's where the practice of meditation of any sort [e.g. Qigong] is very useful."
"Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga will play an important part in the global awakening." -- Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth (Oprah's Bookclub pick).
Different from conventional Western anatomy, Eastern views of the human organism include an energetic metabolism, which sustains human vital functions on a subtle level. Depictions and names of energy ‘organs’ vary from tradition to tradition, but they share the vision that vital energy flows through centers and conduits in and around the human physical body.
Just like breathing happens automatically, we don’t need to do anything to make energy flow through us. However, we can choose to cultivate and optimize our energetic state, be it to improve our wellbeing or to evolve spiritually. Energy work can heal us, if we understand healing as becoming whole; becoming one with ourselves, and expressing this through our material lives. More.
What Could "Turning the Light of Consciousness Around" in the Secret of the Golden Flower Mean from a Scientific Standpoint?
Mindfulness, an intrinsic part of Qigong, strengthens interoception. Mindfulness and Qigong both make you better at tracking your inner experience, that is what may be called "interocepting" or turning the light of attention around... We know that from practicing.
"Life has no meaning, and it is full of meaning. Life does not acquire meaning or reality from something external to itself, a Creator separate from Creation. Tao includes both; in the Chinese language it is both a noun and a verb. The meaning of life is thus experienced; it unfolds like a dance or a piece of music." More....
You never know the consequences of anything that happens in the universe. “The Story of the Chinese Farmer” is a parable about life and nature that helps us to stay grounded in the face of seeming adversity or good fortune.
“Opening Dao” – A documentary film on Daoism and martial arts was filmed in China in 2009. Scholars, top martial artists and monks explain the principles of the Way, a treasure of wisdom that survived thousands of years. The film highlights the interconnectedness between the philosophy and the natural world and how its principles manifest in certain martial arts and meditative arts.
Daoist meditation is often called Embracing the One or Returning to the Source. There is much about it that is mystical and may at first seem hard to understand for the beginner. But then again, as Daniel Reid so aptly puts it: "There is nothing mysterious or magical about such meditation. It is as precise, practical and effective an exercise for the mind as push-ups are for the body and breathing is for energy." More.
Emptiness meditation may be more effective at improving wellbeing than mindfulness meditation, according to psychologists at the University of Derby, UK. More.