By Jeff Patterson 8/8/09
The training procedure with a Taijiquan or Qigong practice should start with regulating the body, breath, mind, Qi and then the spirit.
It is important to have a good understanding of what these are to move forward to higher levels of practice. Also, when learning Taijiquan and Qigong in this progression, one section will feed into the other giving you the most efficient results. This is not to say that you cannot learn more than one simultaneously but I have found with guiding people through this practice that learning in this sequence will give them the best results with their Taijiquan and Qigong practice. With each of these areas in your Taijiquan and Qigong you will find that there are different levels of understanding and development we will address a few of those here.
Defining Taijiquan and Qigong
Qi= The life force or energy in all things throughout the universe
Qigong= The Gungfu of Qi, which means the study of Qi
Taiji= “The Grand Ultimate” it is this force which generates two poles, Yin and Yang
Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)= A Chinese martial art style based on the theory of Taiji (Grand Ultimate)
The body and your Taijiquan and Qigong training:
Regulating the body in your Taijiquan or Qigong practice will provide you with a relaxed physical body that will carry you through the training without distractions. Many people often have a hard time with a movement or meditative practice because they are constantly in pain or feel cramping and numbness. These distractions will prevent you from ever moving on to the next stages in the process. If you are having difficulties in this area you need to find an educated Sifu/Teacher to help guide you down the correct path. Once the body is comfortable and you can sit or go through your movement practice with no physical distractions and maintain a good rooted structure through your movements you are ready to take your Taijiquan or Qigong practice to the next stage.
The mind and your Taijiquan and Qigong training:
Lao Zi said in the Dao De Jing “the space between heaven and earth is like bellows and pipes”. The Chinese believe a person’s head is analogous to heaven and the perineum is like the earth or sea bottom. This means the body is the bellows and pipes. Through the mouth or nose, oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged and millions of live cells are maintained. All cells have their own life span (e.g., skin cells life time is about 28 days). This means by supplying the body with adequate oxygen your cells will be replaced with healthy cells keeping you younger and feeling better long into your later years. In order to regulate the breath you will need to first relax and avoid any physical distractions. Now we can take our Taijiquan or Qigong training to the next stage and focus on regulating the mind.
It is believed in Chinese culture that we have two minds, one is called “Xin” (i.e., heart or emotional mind) and the other is called “Yi” (i.e., logical and thinking mind or brain). Regulating the mind is using the Yi to regulate the emotional disturbances. When the emotional disturbances are regulated the Yi can be strong. Letting go of any emotional distractions will enable you to have a smooth, even relaxed and deep breath. This will help you move into the next area of your Taijiquan or Qigong training regulating the Qi.
The spirit and your Taijiquan and Qigong training:
The purpose of your Taijiquan and Qigong training is to increase the flow of Qi circulation and improve your quality of life. In order to increase your Qi with your mind you must have a very sensitive inner feeling. The deeper the feeling, the more powerfully your mind can lead the Qi. The Qi should flow harmoniously in the body, smooth and even, and will be greatly affected by your ability to regulate the breathing.
Regulating the spirit, first you will need to know how to activate more brain cells and raise the energy levels in your mind. This will help you to open your third eye, connecting you to nature making you in tune with the vibrations around you. When you reach this level you will regain the capability of telepathy. This level is considered spiritual enlightenment.
This is just a brief introduction on the process of cultivating your Taijiquan or Qigong practice. Please make sure to find a qualified Taijiquan/Qigong teacher to help you on your path. Remember this is not a map. There are many steps that we have not covered that will help you along the way. This is not an overnight endeavor and you should not try to rush your training. It is not about the end goal but more about the steps along the way. Have fun and enjoy the benefits you will receive from this life long journey.