Qigong's Five Basic Elements

Learn these five basic elements of Qigong to live a more purposeful life

Qigong should never be seen as a fix-all answer to all that western medicine cannot fix. Qigong is neither magical nor a cure-all remedy. Although it is a 'little new' especially to the western world, Qigong, as an ancient thousand-year-old Chinese practice is based on very basic understanding and practicality.

Some would imagine that Qigong would 'magically' handle their particular problems when they perform just a few movements. For Qigong to work, one must understand that they must use all their faculties - body, mind, and even spirit. Intensive studies and experimentation on the positive and healing effects of Qigong in China have shown that five basic elements must be consistently present if one's Qigong is going to work well. If any of these elements is missing, one's Qigong practice will not have its full effect on one's health as preventive medicine or for healing. These five elements are movement, breathing, concentration, and relaxation, and attitude.

One must move the body. Large movements or small movements, wide or shallow, it doesn't matter. Just move. Movement and activity is essential for health. Of course if the movements are small one must do many more repetitions than if the movements are large. Like lifting weights one can do very heavy weights with less repetitions or light weights with many repetitions. The same concept applies. And it depends on one's purpose and intent in doing the Qigong. Small movements will circulate a little energy, so one must do many repetitions to generate enough energy circulation. If the movements are large and vigorously opening the joints, ligaments, and muscles, then fewer repetitions may be sufficient.

When moving, in Qigong, one can use several fundamental approaches. Slow and steady, extremely slow with feeling, or more rapid yet smooth. What should not be done is jerky and violent movement. Use smoothness and sensitivity as a guide.

One must breathe. Everyone knows this. Without breathing one wouldn't be able to stay alive very long. But deep breathing is more beneficial and preferable than surface or shallow breathing. It oxygenates the body and massages the internal organs. Breathing also sets up a rhythm which helps one to relax more deeply. When one uses deep breathing in a very focused and slow way making the breath long, fine, and deep, one can let the whole countenance take a small vacation. Ones inner being can become calm and centered, and one can let go of all the outer stress producing agendas which inhibit one's inner spirit.

Another of the basic four qualities which is necessary for good health is concentration. One must concentrate the mind - regularly. Concentrating the mind helps to keep the pathways of mental activity open and viable. When one stops using the mind it kind of forgets how to work at its peak level. It becomes lethargic and lazy the more the internal synapses and junctures go unused. The mind works exactly the same way as with the body - in fact it is the body. When one stops exercising the body it doesn't work as well...and is always difficult to get going again. The same is true with the mind. They are both connected. So, naturally, they function in the same way. Doing exercise without a concentrated mind may produce some results, but it cannot be as beneficial in a total way as doing exercise while using a concentrated mind.

Paying attention to what is being done - implementing one's intent is important. Without precise, definite, and focused intent one's exercise - one's Qigong will be nothing more than generic, non-specific movement; and it will produce exactly those kinds of results. If one is not paying attention, one will generally become bored. If the exercise one does seems uninteresting, this is only a signal that one is not really inside the exercise deeply - not using one's curiosity and vitality to apply of one's intent.

Relaxation is the fourth quality which is necessary in order to produce the most positive effects of preventive health maintenance and healing. Relaxation is of course important in the reduction of stress and the letting go of negative agendas which produce life-strangling, "non-healthy" mind-sets. Naturally, a mind and spirit which is constantly urging, constantly doing, constantly pushing, impede your practice of Qigong. Relaxation cannot be attained under a driving, pressure filled attitude. The mind and body doesn't function well under such unrelenting conditions. It needs time to settle down and back to the center of stillness within. It needs to get back in touch with what is really the inner source - calmness and ease. The human being's condition needs a calm inner source to work from or many diseases and calamities will ensue. The body needs time to repair itself. Sometimes sleep is not enough, especially in today's world, with its fast pace and insistent lifestyle. One must relax. And just as important as relaxing the body is relaxing the mind and spirit, in fact, most people get more than enough relaxation in the body. People sit when they drive to and from work, they sit at their jobs, and when they get home they sit around reading the paper or watching television, What they need in their body is movement and invigoration. Relaxation is what they need in their mind and in their spirit.

Sometimes one develops stored body tension from trying too hard or worrying too much, etc., but generally speaking this stored local body tension can be dealt with through active and vigorous exercise, which helps one to let go of such body anxiety and its inherent blockage. Relaxation is, for most people, more a matter of relaxing the spirit.

It should also be understood that the attitude of the person plays a role in the effectiveness of one's health practice. Attitude is similar to mental concentration, but not quite the same. It is comparable to relaxing the spirit, but is its own distinctly different thing. Even if the practitioner does everything else well - the movement, the breathing, the concentration, and the relaxation - if one's attitude is not well attuned for the purposes of good health and preventive medicine, the benefits a practitioner gain will still be somewhat less than they would be if their attitude was more positive.

Every attitude one has contributes to either empowerment or dis-empowerment, truth or illusion, health and recovery, or its opposite discomfort and disease. Usually nothing except one's own attitude can inhibit progress. Yet, the ability to affect one's own attitude is part of one's personal power. Anyone who believes they cannot do something denies their own inner strength and capability. Each practitioner is responsible for our own attitude and the path to change.

If one's attitude is open and free, one will have the chance to see clearly. If one's attitude is closed or run by inappropriate agendas, one will cling to such inappropriate modes and pretexts and see only from those vantage points. One's inner source is the filter that colors whatever one sees and does. Through it, one creates one's own heaven or hell. If one adopts an attitude which is unsuitable, one sees through that particular point of view.

It is up to each person, themselves, to overcome any negative conditioning - what one learned from, what one bought into from others cannot be an excuse. Inaccessibility cannot be an excuse either, for the truth is all around us. If one can wake up to that constantly available truth, one can change one's own attitude. Knowing reality deeply one can keep things in their proper perspective and, in turn, act from that reality to be more capable in one's life.


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