According to traditional Chinese medicine, excessive anger will
affect blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion and the
functioning of the liver, not to mention that it upsets those around
us. Excessive fear will begin to shut down the body and create
problems with the kidney system which is the gateway to vitality and
which helps to generate heat in the body. It is part of the water
element and relates to our level of courage. Weakness in the kidney
system will cause the body to lose vitality and thus affects sexual
functioning and our ability to face life confidently. Excessive
worry will slowly weaken the spleen affecting the stomach and
digestive system, leading to ulcers and an inability to absorb nutrients
from food. There will also be a build-up of toxins due to sluggishness
in eliminating waste from the body.
Masters of traditional Chinese medicine and internal health arts are
well aware of the relationship between the mind and body and have
developed many methods to address imbalances that may arise. One tool
that does not require a physician is the practice of qigong (energy
work). It will bring a lifetime of good health and well-being. There
are many methods that fall under this heading, such as Tai Chi,
Microcosmic Orbit, Self Healing Qigong, Eight Section Brocade, Walking
Qigong, etc. The first requirement for all qigong practices is a calm
mind; without calmness, nothing can be achieved. An agitated
mind will create turmoil in the body. The nervous system will be highly
excited causing the organs to overwork. In this state, the mind cannot
focus on subtle matters; even trying to perform delicate tasks will
prove to be difficult. Most people require a good 10 minutes to calm
down. For this reason, in our Tai Chi classes, we do warm-up, Fa Soong
Gong (Balancing Yin Yang etc.) and Hun Yuan Qigong (Lower the Qi and
Cleanse Internally) before the Quiet Standing, to bring about a more
Tension creates blockages which inhibit the flow of blood and qi
(energy) throughout the body. Our worries, fears and negativities
are greatly highlighted when we begin to calm down. Sometimes a certain
event will continually play on our minds. Occasionally, we might
shudder, shake, cry or laugh. This is how the body begins to adjust to
the energy as it is released. In the classical literature on qigong,
blockages are impurities and the practice of calming the mind is the
catalyst for a purification process. As we learn to be calm,
blockages are released and our energy levels rise. This is due to less
resistance in our systems. As a result, we may experience heat or
vibrations as the previously blocked energy begins to flow through our
bodies. The more we practise, the better we feel.
As we begin to recognise and deal with the causes of blockages (such as
tension and trauma), we learn to flow more in our everyday lives.
Instead of becoming overly attached to things, events and people, we develop a more balanced approach to life. If not, we could become
slaves to our gadgets which give us a false sense of freedom. For
example, our love affair with technology, such as the smart phone,
dominates many people’s behaviour instead of being their servant.
The Qigong training makes us more aware of the big picture,
the transience of life which in turn highlights the precious nature and
sanctity of existence. Gradually we learn to cherish every moment by
living it fully. Worrying excessively about the future or living in the
past means that the present is not being valued. If we continue our
Qigong practice on a daily basis, we discover just how wonderful the
present moment can be.
In the famous “Tao Te Ching”, Lao Tzu outlines many of the important
principles which enable us to live our lives according to the Tao (the
Way). Learning to be natural is one of them. This means casting
aside artificial behaviour, such as trying to get your own way by lying,
cheating or bullying others. When we go against our true nature, trying
to be someone we are not or by adopting someone else’s lifestyle, we
become inauthentic. All behaviour that is inauthentic will have certain
negative consequences; we may feel unworthy or do things that will
further compromise our integrity.
Lao Tzu also talks about being good hearted and spontaneous. For
example, when we meet people we like or comfortable with, we tend to be
more spontaneous and less contrived. We are not trying to cultivate a
relationship with them for the sake of gaining something. When we are
not spontaneous, our relationships become tainted and are based on what
we can get or how we would like to be perceived, rather than just the
joy of friendship with another person.
Another important principle that Lao Tzu advocates is simplicity.
Our lives can become incredibly complex. Relationships with family,
friends and work colleagues all have different values and requirements.
Being able to see things clearly and simplify our lives helps us
conserve our energy and allows us to put our energy to better use.
One of the main tenets in “Tao Te Ching” is personal development.
This is a lifelong pursuit. Lao Tzu encouraged us to study the classics
and practise self discipline. With the right attitude, we can learn and
grow from all things in our lives. Self awareness developed
through Qigong practice or just the habit of taking note of our
shortcomings can bring great insight into ourselves and prevent us from
repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Study and
contemplation help us to become stronger and refine our character. In
other words, instead of being arrogant or ignorant, we gain perspective
and see others more clearly, making us more compassionate.
One quality which Lao Tzu advised us to cultivate is the ability to
live frugally. It is not about being stingy. It is learning to
appreciate what we have and make good use of our resources. Often we
waste things or just buy something new because it is in fashion.
However, if we can enjoy a simple meal and make the best of our
resources, we become more self-sufficient and contented. This quality
will calm the mind and help us to stay centred under difficult
According to the Taoists, each of us has a great untapped potential
and qigong practices help to realise this potential. Knowledge can
free us from the binding chains of conditioning and enable us to live an
empowered and fulfilling life. The above principles can help us to
transform ourselves in both our inner life and our outer life. They are
already embodied in our Tai Chi and Qigong practices. This training is
based on a deep body of knowledge that can transport us to a place of
great peace and harmony. This is the abode of the true self, pure and
untainted by all the usual goings-on in our lives. This sanctuary is
waiting to be discovered by each of us.