As I myself grow older and watch my contemporaries ageing,
I appreciate even more so the wisdom of the qigong masters.
Depletion of energy is a major contributor to the ageing process and
disease. We are always expending energy. We replenish our energy
through food and sleep. However, that does not appear to be enough to
sustain our vitality. It is similar to constantly drawing money out of
our bank account without depositing enough savings.
We all require a certain amount of energy, say 50%, to go through the
day. If we have less than 50%, it is very easy to fall sick or become
tired during the day. If we have just 50%, we feel overwhelmed when we
need to carry an extra load, such as a big project, because we do not
have any reserve. So, ideally, we would like to build up our total
energy reserves to 80%. This will give us plenty of energy to deal with
whatever life hands out.
Qigong is the art of cultivating internal energy. There are
literally thousands of qigong forms. This is very confusing since most
people have no standard of reference to evaluate them. The meaning of
classical qigong literature is often obscure. It makes sense to those
who have reached a certain level in their practice. However, for the
novice, the meaning can easily be misinterpreted. A teacher is
essential in qigong training. He is able to guide you through this
energy landscape because he has traversed it himself.
To put it succinctly, these are the 2 important criteria we look
for in qigong practices : to build up the energy reservoir as
mentioned earlier and to improve the functioning of the energy.
The latter is similar to an efficient pump. If the pump is not working
well, energy stagnation (also referred to as blockages) will set in.
This is a cause of illnesses. If we do not make an effort in our
practice to build the energy and improve its functioning, we will be
shocked when suddenly struck down by a serious illness.
Chronic fatigue sufferers naturally assume that they lack
energy. I am sure we agree that this is a logical assumption. However,
in the majority of cases, the problem lies in the functioning of the
energy rather than the lack of energy. Once practices such as the Self
Healing Qigong break up blockages and stimulate the energy
function, chronic fatigue sufferers feel that they have energy again.
They have often commented that they could not believe how well they feel
from the Self Healing Qigong practice.
Ideally, you would like to be training in a system which is able to
provide both of the above. Without a system that can take you to the
high levels, you would feel as if you were wandering around the base
of the mountain but never finding a way up the mountain to enjoy the
The one qigong teacher to whom I am most indebted is Master Liu. As
well as being gifted, he is versed in the five schools of qigong
(Taoist, Buddhist, Confucian, Medical and Martial Arts). When he served
on a national qigong committee in China, one of his roles was to visit
different provinces to document their qigong practices. From his
repertoire of knowledge, he has developed a system which is most
In the Energy for Life system, the first priority is to build a solid
foundation with the balance of yin and yang energy. Without this
foundation, it is impossible to reach the higher levels which enable
practitioners to know their inner nature or Tao. There are 4 practices
to establish this foundation : Self Healing Qigong, Qigong Dai,
Microcosmic Orbit and the Taoist Five Elements Sitting Qigong.
Self Healing Qigong breaks up stagnation and improves the
functioning of the energy. Qigong Dai enables you to gain and
strengthen energy and develop power. The Microcosmic Orbit is
regarded by all qigong masters as an indispensable practice. It
nourishes and heals the body on a deep level and strengthens yin
energy. Once the Orbit is open, tremendous health benefits can be
gained. The Taoist Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and
water) Sitting Qigong stimulates the five organs (liver, heart,
spleen, lung and kidneys), and purifies the body and its energy field.
As a result of these 4 foundation practices, your energy will become
strong, vibrant, balanced, smooth flowing and pure. You will
feel as if you have a new lease of life. Energy being pure is
not often talked about. However, it is very important in the higher
levels of development, whether it is in qigong or sitting meditation.
Some people might like to take up just one or two of the above
practices to improve their health, well-being and energy levels. Those
who would like to carry their development as far as possible will find
that all 4 practices support each other in the big picture. The
foundation level can be strongly established within one to two years of
the above practices which is quite fast in qigong terms.
During the foundation period, my teacher also suggests that we take up
an internal martial art. This helps to bring greater benefits into the
physical. At first, I did not fully understand the significance of
this. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the advanced levels that I
was very grateful that I have been doing Tai Chi. Some of the advanced
training is physically challenging (opposite to what most people
imagine). Having freedom of movement in the joints and overall body
strength helps tremendously with one’s progress.
Another point which came home to me was that the body is full of
blockages, more than you realised. Many are caused by lifestyle.
No matter how good your posture is, just sitting at the desk or in front
of a computer so many hours a day will cause energy stagnation. This
will only be evident when you embark on the higher training. As the
advanced practices continue to build energy, they will also break
blockages on finer energy layers and in regions that are not easy to
access, such as the neck, the areas enclosed by the rib cage, pelvic
area, ankles etc. When these blockages are clear, you will feel an
increase in your energy levels and an amazing degree of mental clarity.
Once we begin some of the advanced training, most of the foundation
practices can be replaced, except the Microcosmic Orbit which will
evolve with the practitioner. However, some people might still like to
continue with a foundation practice, simply because they enjoy it.
We have all heard of the meridians or energy pathways (Jing Luo).
Acupuncture stimulates different points on a meridian to improve energy
flow. This in turn strengthens the whole meridian and in turn the organ
associated with it. There are 2 other networks of meridians (Luo Mai
and Sun Mai) which are lesser known and there are no acupuncture points
on these meridians. Luo Mai are the tributaries which branch
from Jing Luo. Traditional Chinese medicine can have an influence on
Luo Mai although it is more challenging. Then, Sun Mai are the
tributaries which branch from Luo Mai. Sun means grandchild; the word
illustrates its relationship to Jing Luo. Chinese medicine cannot
influence the Sun Mai which is a more subtle level. However, with
the practice of qigong, you can affect all 3 networks. Part of the
advanced training is to stimulate Luo Mai and Sun Mai so that they all
work optimally. This gives the body great flexibility in terms of qi
functioning. This is similar to a situation where a main street is
blocked; you can utilise the side streets to get to your destination.
If the side streets are not open, then you have no way to go. As your
practice matures, you will discover that the whole body is crisscrossed
with energy pathways.
Another part of the advanced training is developing permeability
so that energy can travel from one layer to another smoothly. This
allows you to fully absorb the benefits of a practice. Also, gradually,
while you are doing one practice, you will feel the effects of the other
practices supporting this one practice, thereby enabling you to gain
Qigong reveals a fascinating inner world of ourselves that is
normally not accessible. Once we begin to explore this domain,
there is so much to gain in terms of health benefits, higher levels
of consciousness and an overall enrichment of life. Some of our Tai
Chi students have developed a good degree of calmness from their
practice. They have commented on being in the flow or zone when they do
their Tai Chi and it is a great feeling. There are even more
wonderful feelings in store when your energy is stronger! When you
feel your Microcosmic Orbit while doing your form, energy is flowing
smoothly and the physical body is moving effortlessly, then you know
that Tai Chi is a high level of dynamic qigong. When for no reason,
you feel an inner happiness that lasts no matter what you do or
where you are, you are beginning to come face to face with your inner
nature. At this stage, you will not want to stop your qigong practice.
Enjoy the journey!