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Soft Qigong & Meditation
Qigong combines meditation and gentle movement with controlled breathing, helping to promote physical, mental, and spiritual health.
How many types of Qigong are known?
In China, there are five distinct traditions of Qigong with specific characteristics, theories, and practices that cultivate and balance the flow of Qi:
- Chinese Medical Qigong
- Daoist Qigong
- Buddhist Qigong
- Confucian Qigong
- Martial Qigong
Soft Qigong promotes exceptional spine health and helps keep the waist and torso fit and flexible. It also enables smooth Qi flow and builds robust health and longevity. At the Shaolin Temple in Chengdu, we are teaching all these five traditions of Qigong.
Metaphysics of Soft Qigong
Soft Qigong is the opposite of Hard Qigong. Hanxu Weng said: "It is Qi, as small as it is soft, nourished by music and harmless, and it gathers in the void." It is different for those who mainly refine external Qi. Soft Qigong is also based on the Dantian of the waist and abdomen, combined with the use of breathing and nerves. The breathing in soft Qigong refers to the natural vibrating internal Qi in the abdomen corresponding to the breathing in and out of the nostrils.
Soft Qigong is very similar to meditation, but the essence is different. The meditation method is devoted to calming the mind and the nerves. Its ways of calming the nerves are either staying on the top, or between the eyebrows, in the palace, in the Dantian, or the body, in the outside, in the form, or the non-equal. It isn't easy to enumerate. The practice method of soft Qigong is a special exercise method that uses the natural breath in the body to calm the nerves. The practice is simple, smooth, and honest. Anyone who is too old, weak or even has a severe disease should practice this method, which is the safest.
Some people say that soft Qigong practice is prolonged to take effect, but as long as you have strong confidence and determination, you can get rid of distracting thoughts and truly reach a state of tranquillity. The result will be quick, and Kung Fu will not be easily degraded because any time, anywhere, as long as the mind is calmly resting, the continuation of soft Qigong.
Originally, it was okay to stick to a certain way for the sake of calming the nerves and convenience, but this is only a temporary expedient method. Many static exercises primarily focus on keeping one's mind on a certain orifice as the secret. To relax. If it is taken as the ultimate, the result will be that those who keep the upper hand will be more angry and congested; Those who support the middle will inevitably feel full and swollen, which is far away from the liveliness and ease of Rou Qigong (soft Qigong) because the orifice is just a unique point on the body.
Soft Qi is slow in power, but soft Qi is the densest in Qigong. Just like in martial arts, the strong and fierce ones are so shallow, but the quiet and internal boxing is no matter how deep and subtle, there are infinite mysteries.
The Practice of Soft Qigong
Completely relax the whole body from the inside out, ensuring the body is comfortable without any hindrance. The Qi can naturally sink in the Dantian as the main purpose. The mind should be completely relaxed to let go of all ties, be free from attachments and dwellings, and be at peace. Exhale one to three mouthfuls of turbid air. After exhaling, do not close the mouth immediately. Let the airflow in and out for three to five minutes. Close your mouth, gently close your eyes, or look at the tip of your nose. Freeze for a while. Use your mind to narrow your eyes slightly. Look straight up from between the eyebrows to the top of the head, and see through to the highest point. The higher the penetration, the broader the vision. Slowly bring the mind inward, as if nature is being contracted together and merged into one, like a rainbow light penetrating the top. Move forward to focus on the third eye, stop slightly, and reach the mountain’s root. Stop slightly again, and go in and down until the Dantian is somewhat lowered in front of the back of the navel and front of the waist. The ears also listened. It is the reflection of the light, concentrating on the body’s acupoints.
Qi and heart are related because the mind is quiet, and the breath in the nostrils is naturally delicate. The inner breath in the abdomen is slightly turbulent. It is also naturally combined with the heart. It returns to the deep air hole, like dirty water not shaken by the wind. It can settle slowly. The so-called tranquillity of the mind leads to the calmness of the Qi, and the harmony of disharmony is the best. The spirit and the Qi are combined, and the emotion and the environment are forgotten. In the beginning, the breath in the abdomen is circling and melodious. Standing alone, the inner Qi goes out, and the outer Qi reverses. It is the initial scene of the success of the natural fetal breath. Continue to work hard, and there will be a warming in the abdomen, but you must know that the heating is just a kind of Qigong. Remember not to be happy and attached. The heating will become more and more prosperous. Over time, it will open the tail valve, run along the back and neck, follow the front and down, return to the Dantian, and even spread all over the limbs and bones. It is a natural experience. There is no need to be anxious.
Always focus on calming the breath and mind; nothing else is known. Suppose you can hold on to the above. In that case, it can be practised to liquefy blood, refine blood to transform essence, practice essence to transform qi, refine qi to transform the spirit, endless biochemical, all natural; all illusory realms of internal and external qi changes, you can also get along with it calmly.
Qigong Routines for Health & Longevity we teach
Below there is a sample of the Qigong practices we teach. The more students will stay at the Temple and have the opportunity to learn more routines.
Wu Qin Xi (5 Animals Qigong)
Bodhidharma Yi Jin Jing
Sitting Shi Er Duan Jin
12 Daoyin Health Preservation
Chen Bu Gong
Jin Gang Gong
Zhan Zhuang Stances
The routines we teach have working manuals
Below are some examples from our working manuals. They include routine high-quality photos, descriptions, technical aspects, breathing and assignments to ensure the practice is of a high standard.
awareness & fusion with nature
Qigong is an individual mind-body exercise. The practices can be classified into external and internal Qigong. External Qigong requires a master who can use emitted Qi to promote healing. The internal Qigong is the personal practice. The personal practice of Qigong is considered healthy because entails gentle movements and relaxation.
Qigong practice has excellent benefits for our health and longevity. Qi flows around our bodies daily, mainly but only partially through pathways called meridians and vessels. It is stored in energy centres or reservoirs called Dantian. The two primary sources of Qi are the Earth (Yin Qi) and the sky (Yang Qi). When the Qi in our bodies circulates freely and is balanced between Yin and Yang, we will enjoy good health. Opening the meridians through stretching exercises and guiding Qi through them facilitates the strong, smooth circulation of the Qi. Drawing in fresh Qi from the earth and sky keeps our Qi plentiful and allows us to balance Yin and Yang. Expelling stale or excess Qi keeps our Qi fresh and prevents it from becoming excessively strong.
If the shape is incorrect, the Qi will not flow smoothly; if the Qi does not flow smoothly, the mind will not concentrate. After Qigong is practised well, the five internal organs can be strengthened internally, and the muscles and bones can be strengthened externally. The health benefits of the Qigong practice include:
- Balancing Yin and Yang.
- Dredging meridians.
- Benefiting physical and mental health.
- Improving natural self-healing power.
- Prolonging life.
Qigong is divided into static and dynamic exercises. Static exercises are divided into lying exercises (auspicious lying down, etc.), sitting exercises (both sitting on a bench and meditating), and pile exercises (round piles and even horse steps).
Movement skills, although there is external movement, internal tranquillity is achieved through the practice of Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, Tai Chi, Ba Gua Zhang, etc. Static Kung Fu mainly trains spirit, and dynamic Kung Fu mainly trains the strength of muscles and bones.
Sitting meditation is a Buddhist way of practising meditation, and it is the upper edge for clarifying the mind and seeing nature. From Daoxin, the fourth patriarch of Chan (Zen), looking at the heart, was very popular in the Northern School of Chan then. It was also a meditation method adopted by Shenxiu, the disciple of the fifth patriarch, who believed that only sitting meditation was the way of practice. The state of “the body is a bodhi tree, and the heart is like a mirror stand” is mentioned in the fifth patriarch’s heart gatha.
This realm is the law of action, constantly arising and passing away. It must be “wiped frequently not to stir up dust.” If this is the realm of Chan, it will go against the original intention of the Buddha to “smile with flowers and communicate with hearts”. If you persist in thinking that this state is the true mind, the nature of your mind, a new kind of delusional attachment will arise.
The fundamental feature of the connotation of Chan is that the mind that can see and the sight that can be seen are all dependent and unreal, and they are not entities. Could you look at everything without looking at it? It is the wisdom corresponding to the truth. Use wisdom to eliminate all kinds of ignorance and troubles and not be moved by problems.
The sixth patriarch Huineng enlightened the mind of Chan Buddhism because of his exploration of “the mind should be born without a place to live” and obtained the true teaching of the fifth patriarch of Chan Buddhism. He said to the public: This sudden enlightenment method of sitting meditation originally neither looks at the heart nor looks at it, nor does it sit still. If you talk about looking at your mind, your mind is originally illusory and discriminative. If you know and see your mind as it is, it is not real so that no mind can see or see.
If we talk about seeing clearly, the nature of the mind of the world is originally pure, but because of delusional thoughts, the true nature is obscured. The illusory mind has no place, and the mind that can see is the illusory mind. Purity originally has no form, but it is necessary to establish a clear and pure form, which is said to be the realm of practice. This kind of understanding hinders the nature of one’s mind, and one will be bound by the pure appearance of “false discrimination”.
What is meditation? It is Chan to stay away from the attachment and attachment to objects outwardly, and it is samadhi not to have ignorance and affliction inward. Without greed and attachment, the heart will not be able to cope with the troubles of ignorance.
The “Bodhisattva Precepts Sutra” says: My origin comes from my heart’s pure and untainted nature. In the heart, mind, and thought, we all know and see the pure and untainted nature of our mind as it is and practice following the nature of our mind so that we can achieve supreme enlightenment.
Chan is Experience
As for what Chan is or is not, we have to experience it ourselves. Chan directly refers to people’s hearts and becoming a Buddha by seeing one’s nature. It is separated from language and writing, and it is not a problem that can be solved by logical thinking.
Chan is a kind of enjoyment, a kind of experience. The realm of Chan is invisible and intangible, only to be experienced and used by oneself; moreover, this kind of benefit is for one’s benefit and cannot be shared with others.
The practitioner can only find the enjoyment and experience of Chan. If you are a Chan practitioner, you will have this kind of experience and benefit; if you have attained the state of Chan, you will get this kind of benefit.
“Everyone walks like crazy to escape the summer heat
Only the Chan Master does not leave the room
Not a Chan master, no fever
Only because the mind is calm and naturally cool.”
Although the second patriarch Huike “seek the Dharma with a broken arm”, he failed to get the point because Chan is the Buddha’s heart seal. Huike said to Bodhidharma: “Master! This heart is disturbed! It is a method for peace of mind.” Bodhidharma shouted: “You bring your heart. I’ll give you peace!” Huike was stunned for a long time and then said: “Master! Where is your heart? I can’t find it!” Bodhidharma seized the opportunity and said, “I have already made peace for you.”!” It is the heart that speaks, and the heart is also the one that obeys. Huike was thus greatly enlightened.
Only you know this feeling. Can you tell that feeling? “It can only be understood but cannot be expressed in words”. It is the state of Chan, which cannot be described in words. Others only see that you are peaceful and comfortable, but they cannot experience your kind of benefit, which differs from yours. It is not benefited from space transfer.
For students who cannot attend live classes at the Temple, we offer the option to learn Qigong Online.
Chan is a kind of enjoyment, a personal experience. This experience is to get away from distinction and to achieve non-discrimination. It is also “Chan” meaning. The essence of everything in this world is equal and unobstructed. The difference is only its appearance, and equality is its nature. We separate from appearance and realise nature. The benefits we get in this way are the ultimate.
Written with Qi by Shifu Shi Yanjun
Shaolin Warrior Monks Head Coach