Monday, May 31, 2010

Flow or Stillness

Comparisons between the energy based meditations of Qi Gong and the concentrative or stillness based traditions of meditation.

This Sunday (6th May) I am going to be doing a workshop on Qi Gong meditation for healing and health, and so I thought it might be a nice idea to have a look at the way in which Qi Gong meditation differs from other forms of meditation. Put in very simple terms it could be stated like this:
Whilst many traditions of meditation such as the Zen tradition and the Insight or Vipassana focuses on stilling and focusing the mind to create insight and inner peace, Qi Gong focuses on the circulation of energy or Qi within the body, in order to promote balance and harmony (for an example of Qi Gong meditation, see my articles on the microcosmic orbit meditation HERE).
So, which one is better? I personally enjoy practising them both* as they complement each other very nicely, and both move us in the same direction in the long term. For example if you practise Qi Gong meditations on circulating energy within the body, then this will make your mind and body feel very balanced and harmonious, which will make it easy to move into a state of stillness and inner peace. Conversely, when you practice stilling the mind, this has a very beneficial effect upon the flow of Qi through the body, and so an experience of bodily balance is induced through meditation on stillness.

Another reason that I practise both is because, although they take us in the same direction in the long term, the two different forms of meditation help us to develop different “skill sets” along the way. To give simple examples of this; Stillness meditation forms help to calm the monkey mind and give us insight into the dynamic of our psychological being, whereas Qi Gong energy meditation shows us how to quickly and effectively clear negative or blocked Qi within our body that is created by negative emotions or other imbalances.

So, my advice here would be to learn simple versions of both types of meditation, and by working with them together in tandem in a way that feels right for you, you can learn the specific skills that each type of meditation has to offer.

(*for examples of stillness meditations see my articles on the meditation blog on Zen meditation HERE, and Insight meditation HERE)

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

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Qi gong standing exercises 1: Light body standing form/Earth light standing form

Over the next few weeks I want to try and outline a few basic static Qi Gong standing postures. Although physically they involve standing still, energetically they catalyse a greatly increased movement and volume of Qi through the body. Thus, when you do them you will be outwardly still, but inwardly you will definitely feel various currents of energy flowing through your body. For me Qi gong standing postures are kind of like having a daily internal shower. In the same way that we stand under a physical shower each day to wash and cleanse our bodies with water, we can stand still for a few minutes in one of these postures and feel energy flowing though our body, washing and cleansing it energetically!
The main point with the standing Qi Gong forms is that you can achieve a much greater and more powerful flow of Qi through your body (flowing from the earth below to the sky and stars above, and vice versa) than you can when you are sitting down. So, when you are standing, you are not able to get quite the same amount of focus and concentration that you can when you sit, but in its place you get an increase in the power and force of the energy flow through your body.
The starting position for all the standing exercises that I will be explaining can be found in my article “Basic Qi Gong standing for beginners” , so please refer to this article for the structural basics of your posture.

Basic light body standing form
So, this first standing form is as follows.
- First read through my article immediately preceding this one; “Building and strengthening your light body by connecting to Planetary Qi”.
- Adopt the basic Qi gong standing posture. Stand there for a minute or two. You may feel the energies starting to flow quite quickly just from this standing posture itself. In more traditional times a qi gong adept would have been instructed to practise just this one posture by his Master for quite some time before moving onto anything more complex
- Now mentally sense below you the vast reservoir of living earth light / earth qi lying within the body of the planet beneath your feet. As you become aware of it feel two streams of earth light starting to rise up into your body through the soles of your feet.
- When you feel ready, place your hands down by the sides of your thighs. Raise your hands (just the hands, not the whole arm) so that your palms are at 90 degrees to the floor. Feel as if your palms are like magnets, substantially increasing the flow of earth light into your body through the soles of the feet. Stay in this posture for a few minutes, observing how it causes energy to flow up from the earth into your body in an increased manner. Feel your energy body filling with light and qi from the Earth.
- To conclude, place your hands back down by your sides and just spend a minute or so standing and relaxing, allowing the flow of energy through your body to gradually settle and return to normal.

Tip: Don’t try too hard, the structure of the posture itself does a lot of the work for you. So no need to try and mentally force things in your visualization, relax and you’ll start to feel the energy quite naturally after a while!

Click HERE to read the next in Toby's series on qi gong standing postures.

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