By Shoshanna Katzman, MS, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac & CH
Qigong and tai chi are Chinese exercises traditionally practiced for physical fitness, increased energy, and health and wellbeing. However, they are also powerful exercises for the development of mental power and inner wisdom leading to increased focus, clarity, self-confidence, inner knowingness, and emotional stability.
These qualities exist within each individual but to varying degrees. The first step toward strengthening them is to recognize one’s personal capacity for such development. The second step is to begin to practice the gentle, flowing movements of qigong or tai chi with care and purpose.
How to Begin
It is best to begin slowly with one or two exercises, and then progressively add more when comfortable. Development of mental clarity and inner wisdom comes through daily practice over an extended period of time, increasing exponentially as vital energy is cultivated, blood flow increases, vital organs are strengthened, and hormone levels are balanced.
These results happen naturally through the practice of qigong and tai chi as long as the movements are done correctly, together with coordinated breath, and targeted mind intent. Progression of inner wisdom and enhanced clarity happens incrementally over time, however, significant changes are experienced immediately as well.
“Beating the Heavenly Drum” is a simple qigong exercise, to begin with, one which wakes up the brain and stimulates clarity and awareness.
Begin by standing comfortably with feet shoulder-width apart, with head and spine erect and body relaxed.
Next cover both ears with the heels of your hands, with fingers facing behind and fingertips placed over the center back of the head just above the hairline.
This is the location of the acupuncture point governing vessel 16, translated as “wind mansion,” and also known in Taoist circles as “jade pillow.”
The next step is to rhythmically tap your fingertips over this area over and over, for approximately 1-2 minutes.
Do so while continuing to press your palms over your ears. The tapping sounds exactly like a drum, hence its name. Be sure to keep your eyes relaxed, but continuously open during this exercise.
“Beating the Heavenly Drum” opens up the channels to the brain, increasing the ability for clear thinking and concentration while releasing extraneous thoughts.
This exercise stimulates brain function and maintains strong bones. The point being tapped is where the governing vessel connects with the brain. This is a great exercise added to any and all exercise routines.
It can also be practiced while sitting at one’s desk during a work break, while stopped at a red light for quick energizing, or when in a waiting room to bring in a fresh look at one’s situation.
This qigong exercise also provides an excellent break from outside stimuli, providing a much-needed respite in many instances from the stress of daily life.
Qigong and tai chi are effective forms of energy medicine exercise, whereby a practitioner self-activates healing through stimulation of the physical and energetic components of the body. In doing so, the vital energy of qi is cultivated and spread throughout the body to innervate all of the body’s structure and function.
It is the powerful motivating force of qi that is the underlying root effect of qigong and tai chi success.
They naturally peak energetic awareness, resulting in increased sensitivity to the electrical, magnetic, and other energies emanating from self and others. As this ability progresses, a practitioner becomes more able to access such information within them, leading to enhanced inner wisdom.
Stimulation and activation of the endocrine system are other key components for the development of inner wisdom through qigong and tai chi. Interestingly, the endocrine system along with its associated hormones is the physical body component most closely aligned with the body’s energetic system.
This gland secretes melatonin, which regulates daily biorhythms to promote restful sleep, neutralizes the damaging impact of free radicals to delay the onset of degenerative disease, and boosts immunity thereby warding off illness.
Qigong and tai chi activation of this gland is also said to control the acceleration of sexual growth and retards the aging process. The pineal gland is particularly influential in promoting inner wisdom and clarity due to its metaphysical function, which is to link the physical body with the energetic world.
In terms of Chinese medicine, the closest equivalent to the Western concept of hormones is known as prenatal essence or jing. Jing is acquired from one’s parents at conception.
It exists as a fixed amount and determines an individual’s unique qualities, basic constitution, strength, and vitality. Preservation of prenatal essence is an important aspect of qigong for promoting health and longevity, in combination with balanced and healthy lifestyle habits.
During qigong and tai chi practice, jing is naturally converted into qi to stimulate proper body function. Qigong and tai chi are helpfully done alone or in combination with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese tuina massage, Chinese dietary therapy, and following of healthy lifestyle habits for the preservation of jing within the body.
Qigong and tai chi practice also develop a greater awareness on a non-verbal level. Specific body language and facial expressions are excellent indicators of particular non-verbal messages.
A typical message would be feeling that another person needs space, without them verbally saying it. Awareness and trust in such non-verbal cues help create greater ease and flow within relationships while developing a strong sense of inner trust and knowingness.
Through advancing qigong and tai chi practice, one becomes increasingly aware of such information, leading to one’s pool of inner wisdom. It becomes a reliable source of information that is helpful with establishing healthy relationships, due to the acknowledgment and respect for another person’s unspoken wishes. This leads to a profound level of guidance from within for making conscious, clear decisions about how to behave appropriately in relationship to self and others.
Peak Inner Wisdom Benefits
- Every day decisions are made easier through not only information (thoughts) derived on a physical level but also information (feelings) obtained on an energetic level.
- Truth is understood and perceived through instinctive feelings, rather than limited to conscious reasoning
- Increased ability to know and understand one’s true inner nature
- Adequate time is taken to “tune into self” prior to taking action, thereby minimizing the likelihood of mishaps in life.
- Choices in who to come into a relationship with improves
- Paying special attention to inner reminders helps one yield and avoid danger spots, thereby saving time, aggravation, and money
- Increasing ability for awareness of subtle energies within self and others
Qigong and tai chi forms of exercise thus serve as an effective and power physical exercise and impetus for growth on so many levels. They cultivate qi (vital energy) and blood, balance the endocrine system, strengthen jing, and cultivate inner wisdom and clarity through integration and awareness of the body’s physical and energetic components. The Qigong and tai chi experience lead to a deeper meaning for what is otherwise considered common, daily life experiences. This is achieved through the enhancement of consciousness, leading to conscious behavior toward self and others. Moreover, they bring one into the present moment and sharpen the ability to make decisions with greater astuteness and solid knowing that it is the right one. Thus, qigong and tai chi are essential practices that help one to navigate their lives with great ability and success.
Enhance your Health with Qigong
Learn a series of gentle movements from the ancient Chinese art of self-healing and fitness, to maintain health and nurture your spirit.
Qigong is a form of energy medicine movement that activates the body both physically and energetically. During Qigong training, you learn to cultivate your Qi (vital energy) and increase energetic awareness. This results in an increased sensitivity to electrical, magnetic, and other energies not just emanating from yourself, but from others.
Through the practice of Qigong, one begins to strengthen and train the development of inner awareness. When this occurs, a person can begin to access information within themselves in an enhanced manner increasing inner wisdom.