Friday, July 23, 2010

Guided qi gong healing visualization and breathing exercise for developing, maintaining and increasing our Essential energy or “jing-qi”

The main body of this article is going to be a practical guided exercise, but first I want to mention expand a little on the term “jing qi” which I mentioned in the overview article of the four levels of qi last week

What is jing qi?
Jing qi translates as meaning “essential energy”. Our essential energy is derived from the potency of the fluids in our body that carry the energy of our life force, particularly our sexual fluids, hormones and neuro-chemicals.
Qi gong exercises and lifestyle advice often centre on the development of this form of qi within our energy system, as when it is strong our immunity system will be strong and our energy levels will be high.
Our jing qi is supported by our “Yuan qi” or primordial energy (the pre-natal life force that we received from our parents) and “Jen qi” or true energy (postnatal energy derived from breathing and metabolism of food). Thus qi gong exercise nurtures our jing qi, and we support this by good diet and breathing habits (yuan qi), and the preservation and care of our yuan qi.
In general our jing qi pervades our body and all of the subtle energy meridians that interpenetrate our physical being. However, in qi gong the focus or fulcrum of our jing qi is explained to be in our lower dan-tien (dan tien meaning elixir filed or energy centre). For this reason the exercise below uses the lower belly area as its point of focus.

Qi gong healing visualization and breathing exercise for developing, maintaining and increasing our Essential energy

Sit or stand in a relaxed position, with the head, neck, chest, belly and pelvis aligned vertically with each other, so that the weight of your upper body is able to travel down your lower torso in to the chair (if seated), or down your lower torso and legs into the floor (if standing).

Finding your core
Visualize a line of light and energy coming down from the sky, passing through the dead centre of your crown, brain, neck, chest, belly and pelvis, exiting through your perineum and passing down into the centre of the Earth. This is the vertical core line of your body. Once you have a clear image or feeling for it, breathe in and out of it gently for a little while.
Focusing your jing qi
Now see along the core line of your body at the level 3-6cms beneath your belly button there is a ball of light about the size of a golf ball. This is the fulcrum of the jing qi or essential energy in your body. Focus on it gently for a while, as you focus on it you will feel its light begin to glow and intensify.
(See general article for core body breathing HERE).

Building and distributing your jing qi
As you breathe in, visualize the ball of light in your belly glowing intensely with energy and qi. As you breathe our, feel light and energy flowing out from your lower belly into the energy meridians of your body. By the time time you finish your exhalation you can feel all the energy meridians of your body from your crown to your toes glowing with the light of your jing qi. Follow this breathing pattern for as long as is comfortable.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How is enlightenment measured in Qi gong practice? Identifying and connecting experientially to the four levels of qi that we work with in qi gong

Over the next few articles I want to talk about practical ways of identifying different levels of qi. In this article I am simply going to identify these levels, name them, and give some simple exercises for identifying them. To do this I am going to be using comparisons between the four kingdoms mineral, plant, animal and human.

The names of the four types of qi are:
1. “Jing-qi”, or life-force energy
2. “Qi”, which equates to consciousness or mind energy
3. “Shen-qi” which equates to self-awareness (spiritual?) energy
4. “Wu-qi” which equates to words like primal energy, non-dual energy, all pervasive energy, causal energy.

Plants possess the first form of qi. Animals possess qi-types 1&2. Humans possess qi-types 1-3. The fourth type of qi, Wi-qi could be said to inhabit and pervade all four kingdoms of mineral (in inanimate matter), plant, animal and human.

Identifying Jing-qi:
Compare a living plant and a dead plant, or a living tree and a dead one (if you can actually go out and do these exercises physically). What is it that you can see, feel and sense as present in the living plant that is not present in the dead one? That which you see feel and sense is the living plants jing-qi, or life force energy.

Identifying qi:
Compare a living plant with a living animal. What is it that you see, sense and feel as being present in the animal (literally “animating” it) that is not present within the plant? That which you see sense and feel in the animal, not possessed by the plant is its qi, or mind and consciousness energy
(Note: somewhat confusingly, the word “qi” is used as an umbrella term for all levels of energy, and in the case of this level, the same basic term is used specifically to refer to mind or consciousness energy)

Identifying shen-qi:
Contemplate your own, and human beings capacity (sorely underused unfortunately) to reflect upon ourself, our mind and our being in a way that an animal is not capable of. This capacity of human beings is their self-awareness qi, which might also be termed as soul or spiritual qi.
(Note: I am not saying animals have no soul or spirit, just not in the same self-aware sense that is being referred to in the above exercise to clearly identify this level of qi)

Identifying Wu-qi:
Observe that any object, mineral, plant, animal or human has a certain innate being-ness or presence. This sense of being-ness or presence is paradoxical in the sense that it every object has its own unique presence or being-ness, and yet at the same time the essential being-ness that we sense is the same in every object everywhere. It is like the intuitive glue that unites the whole universe into a single unified being. Wu-qi is sometimes simply referred to as the Tao.

Concluding thoughts
The objective of Qi gong practice is to unite these four levels of qi into a unified, harmonious, functioning whole within our own being, to marry the “higher” or “heavenly” energies of Wu-qi and shen-qi with the lower or “earthly” energies of qi and jing-qi. You could say that enlightenment in qi gong practice involves progressively higher and deeper levels of harmonizing, fusing and engaging these four levels within the body of the practitioner.

In my next article I will guide a more detailed contemplation for connecting experientially to jing-qi.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Email:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why is Qi gong practice so relevant in contemporary society and in the current global climate of environmental crisis?

Here are six reasons that come at the top of my list when it comes to motivating people to learn Qi gong if you have not done so already, and for persisting in it if you already have a practice, but occasionally struggle for motivation. I have to say that for me daily Qi gong practice is never something that I have to motivate myself to do these days, as the way in which it value adds to my quality of life is so self evident, but if you want a conceptual taste of what is possible, here you are:

1. Qi gong teaches that we are in a living relationship to our environment

When we practise Qi gong we learn to experience the energy within our body as a dynamic living part of the energy of the Earth herself. We experience daily reception and sustenance of energy from the planet, and from the forces of nature. This re-awakens our sense of being in relationship to and a part of the greater life of the planet. This is good for our physical health, but it is also offers a wonderful spiritual and psychological re-connection the Earth for human beings like us who have become trapped in the sense of separation-consciousness that comes from living in artificial environments that inhibit our feeling for the subtle, bio-electrical energy exchange between ourself and our environment.

There is much talk these days about how we need to change our behaviours and become more environmentally friendly. One of the problems that people face is that they have been cut off from nature and the environment, so they do not FEEL the connection between the way they act and its impact upon the world. Qi gong practice creates a daily, living, truly felt interface between human and environment. Any person connecting to the energy of the Earth in this way is naturally going to sensitize to the relationship between what they do and their environment.

2. Qi gong teaches us how to reconnect to our body’s subtle energy and natural healing power

Qi gong empowers us with real, experiential techniques for gaining control of the subtle energy levels of our body. We learn how we can consciously direct and enhance energy flow to any parts of our body that are sick or in need of healing. When I think for example of the possibility that I may one day get cancer of another form of serious disease, my Qi gong practice always gives me confidence that I have a powerful self-healing tool that I can use effectively even in such extreme circumstances (in combination with whatever conventional or holistic therapies I might also choose to deal with the sickness.

3. Qi gong teaches us how to consciously control our nervous system

Our nervous system basically has two aspects. Firstly it has the action/fight or flight mode, called the “sympathetic nervous system” and secondly the relaxation/recuperation mode, called the parasympathetic nervous system. When our nervous system is in sympathetic mode, we are expending energy and ready for action. When it is in parasympathetic mode we are able to relax our mind and body, and regenerate our body’s energy circuits. Qi gong breathing and movement techniques teach us how to consciously control the nervous system, and ensure that we switch it regularly to “rest and recuperation” mode, rather than having it involuntarily permanently switched on to action/fight or flight/energy expenditure mode.

Having our nervous system permanently over-stimulated is a particular problem for us in today’s society as we are so informationally and energetically over-stimulated by our artificial environment.

4. Increased sensual pleasure

When we practise Qi gong the subtle energy in our bodies harmonize and flows in a way that enables our senses to experience their objects (tactile sensations, sounds, sights etc...) on a deeper and more sensually pleasurable way. We come to realize that simple acts such as walking, receiving the warmth of the sun, touching a leaf (not to mention experiences that involve sexual polarity) are naturally and wonderfully pleasurable.

5. Greater peace of mind and rapidly increased processing of negative psychic energy carried within our bodies’ cellular structure.

Every negative experience that we have had in our life has impacted or imprinted itself onto the cellular structure of our physical body. This can make personal growth (on the level of consciousness) slower than it would otherwise be, because the energy within our physical body itself resists new ideas and ways of being and experiencing our life.

Qi gong practice teaches us how to direct powerful, positively charged qi/energy through our bodies’ cellular structure, thus enabling us to energetically “de-program” and cleanse our body of the negative impact of past experiences. As a result it helps us to experience peace of mind in the short term, and makes inner, psychological progress much faster than it would otherwise be.

6. More energy

You know this benefit is as simple as that, to practice Qi gong is to learn how to circulate greater and greater “voltages” of natural, bio-electrical energy through your physical and subtle bodies, which makes them feel energized, refreshed and ready to go out there and live the life that you always wanted to, but never quite felt like you had the energy to achieve!

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Basic qi gong standing postures 4: Head in the stars

I refer to this standing position as “Head in the stars” as when I do it I combine awareness of the sky and stars above and around my head. It can be done as an exercise in itself or in combination with previous standing exercises (see links to other standing postures below).

NOTE: Because we are focusing on qi/energy within the brain and head, this exercise should always be done gently, taking care to to overstrain or force anything. Remember we are trying to guide energy and encourage it to flow through the power of the standing posture itself in combination with our awareness.

Head in the stars qi gong standing form.

Stand in the basic Qi gong standing position , take a little time just to relax, breathe and centre yourself properly. Visualize a line of light and energy coming down through the vertical core of your body: Through the centre of the crown of your head, your brain, neck, chest and abdomen, exiting your body through your perineum (the point between the middle of your legs, between the sexual organs and the anus). From the perineum this line of light of energy proceeds down into the earth passing through the dead centre of the Earth’s core. Spend a short while aligning your attention and energy around this central line or core of energy that runs down your body and being.

Locating the ‘Upper Dan Tien’ or energy centre in your head:
See along the core line of energy within your body, at the level of the middle of the brain, there is a bright ball of light about the size of a golf ball. Gently focus your attention on this living ball of light and energy within the centre of the brain.

Hand positions:
Raise your hands up to the level of your head, so that the palms are facing either side of the front of your face at an angle. The hands are about 50-7-cms apart, angled in such a way that the palms are facing the ball of light in the centre of your brain. The distance of the palms of the hands from the head can be anywhere between 10-40cms. Find a distance that feels comfortable and ‘right’ for you. If you experiment you will intuitively find a distance that is optimal for you personally.

Breathing qi in and out of the head:
With your hands in place, focus on the golf ball sized ball of qi in the centre of your brain. As you breathe out, feel it expanding gently in size so that it s edge touches the palms of the hands. As you breathe in feel the ball of light shrinking back to the size of a golf ball. As it does so feel its intensity and brightness increasing. Do this for a minute or two only at the beginning, building to 3-4 mins when you are familiar with it.
Conclude the exercise by letting your hands go back down to your sides, and then feel all the energy in your head and brain area flowing down into your torso in general, and belly area in particular.

A further development of the form:
Once you are familiar with the exercise you can try the following: As you breathe out, feel the ball of light expanding outward infinitely into the stars and the universe. As you breathe in, feel yourself drawing universal and stellar qi into the energy centre in the centre of your brain. Do this very gently, just for a few breaths, then relax and just observe the effect that you can feel it having on the energy in your body.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first:

Basic facets of qi gong standing for beginners
Three aspects of qi within the human body
Basic qi gong standing postures 1
Basic qi gong standing postures 2

Basic qi gong standing postures 3