Monday, February 1, 2010

Exploring Qigong II: Clarification

As I delve in the art of Qigong I want to clarify some of the terms and concepts we use in association with the art. I think this helps to better understand what we are looking at and what we are doing. I find it beneficial to revisit definitions and basic concepts from time to time. It helps me to clarify what I'm doing, and to ensure I'm keeping everything in place and in proper perspective. I hope to cover most of the terms and concepts we use in the practice of Qigong. I will probably leave some out or take some for granted. But hopefully I can review the basics.

The gong of Qigong and Gong Fu, or Chi Kung and Kung Fu if you will, is the same thing. Gong is essential foundation, it is the essence of the essentials. According to Yang Yang, gong "is not technique--it is the root from which the flower of technique can grow.(1)" The practice of Qigong and of Taiji is the process of accumulating gong. The accumulation of gong, according to Yang refers to "constant improvements in balance, coordination, agility, and power through the accretion and replenishment of Qi.(2)" Qi is the vital energy that not only flows through our bodies, but through all of creation. Qigong is the process of cultivating Qi, of consciously and intentionally working the foundation and the essence. The ancient formula, according to Jahnke is "Practice + Intention = Inner Harmony = Qi Flow = Health and Longevity.(3)" Qi is the stuff, gong is the conscious intention.

Dantian is defined as the Elixir Field. It is the area of the body where the cultivation of Qi is carried out. On a basic level, we define the dantian as the Qihai point, or CV6 along the Conception Vessel meridian. This area is approximately two inches below the navel. Qihai is translated as 'sea of Qi'. This is the area often referred to in Taji as the dantian. However, the art of Qigong recognizes three dantians. The first, the Earth Dantian, is the lower dantian, the one we have located. The second dantian is the Heart Dantian, located in our chest area roughly in the area of our hearts and is associated with the Chinese concept of Xin, or Heart/Mind. The third dantian is the Heaven Dantian, located just below the Bai Hui point, or GV20 on the Governing Vessel meridian. It is just below the soft spot on the top of your head and the area just behind your eyes. It is also associated with the third eye. In a balanced state the Qi of heaven flows toward earth and the Qi of earth flows toward heaven and merge at the Heart Dantian, thus achieving a Taji state, or fully balanced Yin-Yang state of being(4).

CV1: Huiyin and GV4: Mingmen
Huiyin, or CV1 on the Conception Vessel Meridian is located between the legs and between the genitals and the anus. Mingmen, or GV4 on the Governing Vessel Meridian, is known as the Gate of Life. It is located between the second and third lumbar vertebra. Personal geography is important in Qigong. CV1, Huiyin is directly opposite the Bai Hui point on the top of the head in the vertical axis. Mingmen is directly opposite the lower dantian on the horizontal axis. Utilizing the proper body alignment, the intersection of these two axes is the Wuji Point, or Wuji Center. It is what we usually mean when we discuss our "center".

Wuji and Taiji
Wuji means void or nothingness, stillness, or no extreme. Taiji means grand extremes, or Yin and Yang. Wuji is the mother of Taiji. Yang says that in Wuji, "there is no differentiation between yin and yang. It is neither this nor that--it is no thing (nothing)(5)." Qigong meditation is often referred to as Wuji meditation. It is static Qigong. Once movement happens, yin and yang separate from within Wuji to create Taiji. The Wuji point described above is our center. When we meditate on this point we sense the movement of Qi through the body. The Wuji point is a spiritual point of focus, a biological point of Qi generation, and a structural reference point for posture and balance.

The Three Treasures
The Three Treasures are Shen, Qi, and Jing. Shen is spirit and is associated with the spritual realm of our existence. Qi is essential energy or the life force and is associated with with our minds or our heart/minds. Jing is our essence and is associated with earth, and reproduction. There is much that can be said about The Three Treasures. It is a basic concept that builds upon itself and can be quite intricate in the end. I don't expect to reference this concept in my exploration of Qigong any more than what I have defined here. But for the advanced practitioner there is much to learn and to benefit from.

I hope this serves as a decent primer for the following posts on the subject of Qigong. I am sure I haven't covered all the components of Qigong, but I hope I have covered enough so that any further explanations can be dealt with in text. Typically, the more I look at this subject and consider the art, the more I learn, and the more I am reminded I need to learn. But in the end the best way to learn is to let the art teach you. Just do it.

Works Cited:
(1), (2), (5) Yang Yang. Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power. Zhenwu Publications, 2005.
(3), (4) Roger Jahnke. The Healing Power of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi. Contemporary Books, 2002.

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