Qi is the Moving Principle of Life
How can the universe be alive? Because it is the continual transformation of primal qi, the pivotal energy and living soul of the universe. . .Hua-Ching Ni, I Ching The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth, p.222.
Qi is most often translated as vital life force. The upper lines of the character depict qi as coming from above (the heavens with its celestial bodies). The lower left symbol shows that qi is also contained in a grain of rice. Life energy flows like a wave that is always expanding and contracting. When qi expands it is like space and manifests as the sun and stars. When it contracts, we experience it as matter, like the earth and all things on it. The quality, quantity and consistent, undulating flow of qi creates the individual characteristics of all things as well as the seasons and the cycles of nature and our lives.
Qi, the vital, transformative, moving soul of the universe, is intimately intertwined with our human structure and physiology, and with our minds and hearts. As the transformative agent in a human being qi takes on many functions. It is the power of digestion, circulation, thought, emotion, growth and development.
Qigong, or qi cultivation, is a traditional method of physical, mental, and spiritual cultivation. An abundance of energy is with us in every moment. Qigong forms are methods that teach us to recognize, absorb and direct qi movement in body and mind to bring healing, peace and a deeper relationship with the universe and how we understand it. There are many forms of qigong that regulate our posture, breath and mind. They include focused movements coordinated with the breath, meditation, and visualizations that help us consciously connect our inner world with our outer environment to increase healing and vitality.
At the Moon and Lotus Center for Movement and Healing we teach forms from two different schools of qigong: Emei Zhen Gong and Jin Jing Gong. Below you will find a brief explanation of each school and videos of some of the forms.
Our mission is to teach these wisdom traditions as a way to take us deeper and awaken us to the meaning and purpose of our lives, so we can bring out the innate creativity and compassion we need to blossom as individuals and leaders in our families, communities, and our world.
Emei Zhen Qigong Lineage
TIEN DAO SHEN MING GONG
Practice that Cultivates a Bright Spirit
Tian Dao Shen Ming Gong is one of the key forms of the Moon and Lotus Center for Movement and Healing. It comes from the ancient Emei Zhen Gong lineage of qigong practice. Emei Zhen Gong has its roots in the shamanic practices of the ancient Wu, or shaman, culture of China which predates Daoism and Confucianism. The practice began on Mount Emei, which is considered one of the sacred mountains of China, located in Sichuan province. Chinese shamans and wandering Daoist hermits and monks were at home here since ancient times. Mount Emei is a place known for the beginnings of Daoism as a religion in about 100 AD. It was also a melting pot for the blending of Daoism and Buddhism.
I was taught this qigong form in China in 1994, when I was part of a Chinese medicine and qigong study group led by Heiner Fruehauf, Phd. LAc, founder of the classical Chinese medicine program at the Natural University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland Oregon. We were taught by Zhang Yuanming, a qigong teacher from the Emei Zhen tradition of shamanic style qigong.
In its ancient way, Tien Dao Shen Ming Gong combines many elements of healing that we know today as working with the bio-electric field and opening the cranial-sacral rhythm. This form’s wave-like movements emphasize the loosening and flexibility of the spine, which houses our entire nervous system and connects with the brain. The health of the nervous system impacts and guides the functioning of all our internal organs and affects our clarity of mind and our perception.
According to Master Wu Zhongxian, current linage holder of Emei Zhen Gong, the ancient Chinese sages or Wu created Qigong as a life science system to maintain the health of the body, mind, and spirit. In its true form, Qigong is a practice for cultivating knowledge and a main method for moving into Tian Ren He Yi 天人合一 (the state of oneness of the universe and the human being).1 The Wu possessed shen ming, which means bright spirit. By implication they were enlightened spiritually and had a deep understanding of the workings of the natural order, the Way, Tao. The Wu embodied Tian Ren He Yi, and through this ritual connection with Heaven, sustained both Yin and Yang – stillness and movement.2
We can brighten our spirit, shen ming, as we do the flowing, dance-like movements of Tian Dao Shen Ming Gong.
1. Dancing and Drumming, Wu Zhongxian, www.chinesewisdomtraditions.com
2. Stephen Karcher, Ta Chuan (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000, p40)
The other Emei Zhen Gong form we practice is Fire Dragon. Dragon forms are used to expel illness, negativity and pathogens from our body and mind. The Fire Dragon is a meridian qigong. It helps keep energy in the meridians flowing smoothly and promotes physical and emotional balance. I also learned this form in 1994 from Zhang Yuanming. It has since been updated by Wu Zhongxian. Elements of the original and the updated movements are included here.
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