Thursday, April 22, 2010

Building and strengthening your Qi/Light Body by connecting to Planetary Qi.

This is a basic, simple and powerful meditation form that is really bread and butter for my own qi gong and meditation practice. It can be done as a meditation in its own right, as a preparation for Qi Gong movement work, before going for a walk, or as a part of more detailed meditations and practices (for example see recent magical walking meditation article on my meditation blog). Once you are familiar with it you will find it quite easy to sustain just in your daily awareness, as you are going about your tasks. Apart from the basic health and energy benefits of this exercise, which are substantial, it also helps us to develop or re-develop (as it is something many of us have lost) conscious awareness of our natural relationship to the Planetary Being or Earth of which our own body and energy is a part. Doing this exercise helps us to connect deeply to the Earth, and to feel at home wherever we are or whatever we are doing, because we feel her energy and warmth in a very direct and experiential way.

Basic Light/Qi body exercise.

Sitting down on a chair, or standing in the Qi Gong standing posture, take a few moments just to relax yourself, calm your mind and centre your attention. After you have done this, send your awareness down into the land beneath your feet. Sense and feel deep within the body of the planet there is a great lake of earth light, huge and vast. As you focus upon it, feel two streams of light and energy rising up from the Earth from the lake and connecting to the soles of your feet. Feel the earth-light rising up your feet and legs, hips and belly, chest and shoulders, arms and hands, neck and face until your whole body is filled with light and qi from the Earth. You feel that in addition to having a physical body, you have a body made of light and energy which interpenetrates and inhabits the same space as your physical body. If you like you can enhance the flow of this energy up from the earth using the breathing; As you breathe in, feel light flowing up through the soles of your feet. As you breathe out, feel the light and energy from the earth expanding through your body, becoming brighter and stronger. Stay with this experience for as long as you wish.

Text content © Toby Ouvry 2010, please do not reproduce without permission

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Belly, or lower dan tien meditation for finding your centre and reducing conceptual thought.

This Qi Gong meditation form is one that you sometimes see variations of in Buddhist and Zen meditation practices. It involves the centring of our attention in our lower belly area, or lower dan tien (for a general outline of the 3 dan tiens in Qi Gong practice, please go HERE). This meditation form is particularly useful as a way of “ducking under” excessive mental or emotional turbulence in our mind, as, physiologically speaking the energy centres that hold our conceptual energy are above the solar plexus, in the heart and head. Fifteen minutes or so if this meditation a day is a really good practise for calming and centring yourself in a way that feels very grounded, solid and stable, one might almost say it is a very “physicalizing” meditation!

Stage 1:

Sitting with a comfortably straight back either cross legged or on a chair, or standing in the basic Qi Gong standing posture, visualize a line of light and energy coming down from the sky and going through the dead centre of your crown, brain, neck, chest and abdomen, then exiting through the perineum (point between the middle of the legs) and continuing down all the way into the heart-centre of the earth. Spend a short while aligning your body around this central line of energy, which we will now be calling the core of your body (see article on core body breathing). If you like you can gently rock your body a few millimetres from side to side in order to find the central point of right -left balance around your core , and then rock a few millimetres forward and back so that the front and back of your body can find their point of balance around your core. Then spend a minute or two just gently breathing in and out of your core; as you inhale, energy and Qi flows into the core of your body, as you exhale, feel Qi and energy flowing out of your core toward the skin/surface of your body.

Stage 2, locating the lower dan tien in the belly:

Now mentally follow the core line of your body down from the head and heart centres to the lower belly area, about 3 fingers width beneath the belly button (or a few inches above the hips). Visualize a luminous point of light and energy at this level of your body’s core, about the size of a golf ball. This is your lower dan tien (different from sacral chakra, see my article on difference between chakras and dan tiens.)

Stage 3, relaxing and focusing awareness in the belly:

Having found the location of the lower dan tien, the rest of the meditation is spent simply relaxing and trying to gently focus your attention and awareness in this part of your body, and letting go of excess conceptual thought and activity. If you like you can feel light and energy flowing into the belly area as you breathe in, and flowing out to the surface of your body when you breathe out. However, when you feel as if your mind and body have settled down, the main emphasis should simply to enjoy the state of non-conceptuality and relaxation that arise from focusing your awareness in the lower belly / lower dan tien in this way, and allow your mind and body to find regeneration and healing within this deep, calm space.

All text © Toby Ouvry 2010 please do not reproduce without permission.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Qi Gong “calf and thigh walking form” for more shapely legs

I have given this Qi Gong walking form a slightly humorous title, but as you will see it will indeed give you more shapely legs, and have other benefits besides!

This walking form places emphasis purely upon the mechanical dynamics of walking, and is based around the observation that, if you walk with the weight of your body more towards the front of your feet you will be exercising the muscles in your calves, whereas if you tend to walk with your weight more towards your heals, then you will be exercising and developing the shape and lines of your thighs. So, this walking form sees us consciously using the whole of the sole of each foot with each step, thereby giving a workout to both our thighs and calves equally.

The benefits of this are not just aesthetic, from a Qi Gong point of view it is important to keep the legs well exercised and healthy, as they form the foundation of our bodies strength and stability. Also, they (along with the feet) are the parts of our body farthest away from our heart and so regular, well rounded movement and exercise of all the leg muscles helps the heart to circulate blood to the legs effectively. So, this walking form we can say helps us to develop well rounded leg strength, helps our circulation and as a bonus can make our legs look nicer aesthetically! The other good thing about this form is that you can just integrate it into your daily walking around; it is just a matter of adjusting your walking style consciously to incorporate it.

Qi Gong calf and thigh walking

As you step forward with your left foot consciously make sure that your foot lands with the weight upon the heel. By the time you get to your midstep, the whole of your left sole should be squarely on the ground. As you get toward the end of your stride, consciously shift the weight of your body onto the front pads and toes of your left foot, so that you can feel the calf muscle flexing gently as the left foot lifts off the floor.

As your left foot has been lifting, your right foot will have been striding forward. So, as it does so you just need to do the same thing as you did with your left foot: Before it hits that ground, raise the toes and front pads of your right foot slightly, so that it lands with the weight of your body on the heel. By the time you get to your midstep, the whole of your right sole should be squarely on the ground. As you get toward the end of your stride, consciously shift the weight of your body onto the front pads and toes of your right foot, so that you can feel the calf muscle flexing gently as the right foot lifts off the floor.

So, that is the basic technique, it is just a matter of then repeating this pattern so that each time one foot strides forward the body weight lands toward the heel (exercising the thighs) and then as you lift off at the end of your step, the front pads and toes push off, thus exercising the calves. As I mentioned, it can be done as you are walking around doing your daily tasks, but it can also be slowed down a little and done as a contemplative walking form in a quiet space, taking the technique as the point of focus for developing a relaxed and meditative state of mind.

©Toby Ouvry 2010, please do not reproduce without permission.