1. The Chi (Qi) Story | 2. What Does Yin Yang Mean? | 3. What Are Body Meridians? | 4. What Is A Dantian? | 5. Wu Chi (Wuji) And Other Qigong Principles | 6. Microcosmic Orbit Chi Meditation
Qigong exercises are a powerful ally for long life and good health, when they are done with intention, focus and consistency. All seven qigong principles explored here are equally important. Wu Chi, (or Wuji), begins your qigong practice; and the other principles create the flow.
The qigong principles discussed here are…
1. The State Of Wu Chi (Wuji)
Depending on the form of transliteration used, the beginning posture, standard to all qigong training, is either called wuji (pinyin) or wu chi (Wade-Giles) It is intended to align your spinal column; decompress your joints; and to get you into a state of readiness for cultivating your chi.
To do this it’s important to let go of worries and concerns; to be in a place of no-mind; present in the moment; relaxed in your body, and mentally connected to the Earth and Heaven Qi.
Wu means nothing, nothingness or without.
Chi (ji) means limits, extreme boundary, end, or ultimate. (Note: the spelling is the same as the vital life force ‘chi’, but the meaning is different.)
The two together describe a boundless, or limitless state. An important distinction is the inherent stillness or nothingness in wuji, as opposed to Taiji or tai chi, which is a similar Taoist concept more aligned with motion.
Wu Chi (or wuji) refers to a state of entering the void; the stillness and emptiness of the universe; before yin and yang; before time, and manifestation of the physical. It is about connecting with the ‘oneness’ of all things, or Source energy. You could also think of it as being ‘in the flow’.
In Wu Chi standing meditation, the aim is to fully connect with this higher state of mind.
For Qigong exercise routines, the concept is a little lighter, being partly about connecting to the emptiness and partly about relaxing the body.
Follow these steps or suggestions, for the wu chi (wuji) qigong starting posture.
- Awareness and Focus: Stand with your feet together. Bring your attention to the present moment and empty your mind of worries and concerns. Feel how the Earth supports your whole body.
- Posture: Move one foot out to the side so that your feet are about shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forwards or slightly outwards. Softly bend your knees. Relax your lower back. Drop your tailbone to flatten your lumbar spine but keep your abdomen relaxed. Gently tuck your chin in a little to lengthen the back of your neck, and stand tall. If it helps, imagine there is a large helium-filled balloon attached to the top of your head, holding you up.
- Soften Your Joints – keep your knees bent; relax your feet and toes. Hunch your shoulders up near your ears, hold for a second to feel the tension, and then SLOWLY lower them as much as is comfortable for you. Gently curve your arms a little away from your body and slightly forwards. Soften your elbows, wrists and hands. Spread your fingers a little apart.
- Abdominal Breathing – Relax your jaw. Keeping your mouth closed, breathe in and out through your nose. Allow your belly and lower back to expand, like a balloon, as you breathe in, and gently tuck in your belly as you breathe out.
- Tongue Position: Lightly place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, (it’s where your tongue touches to say ‘l’ as in leg). Start near your front teeth and slide the tongue back until you find the most sensitive spot. It may feel a bit ticklish or tingly. This connects the cyclical flow of energy through the conception and governing vessels, and creates a link with all your major meridians.
- Eyes: Either close your eyes or soften your gaze. This helps you enter the Wu state or the ’emptiness’, and relaxes your mind and body.
- Connect to Heaven and Earth: Imagine you are a giant oak tree with your roots burrowing deep into the ground, drawing on the Earth Qi; and your branches reaching high into the sky, drawing light or Heaven Qi. This way, you’re balanced between Heaven and Earth.
- Place Your Attention On Your Lower Dantian, in your lower abdomen, below the level of your belly button.
- Stand like this for up to 5 minutes before doing your qigong routine, and then carry the posture and awareness on into your exercises.
Optional Extra – For Finding Your Balanced Stance
This is based on a process I learned from the Feldenkrais ® method. You can either do this with your feet close together or after widening your stance. Try them both, and see which is best for you.
- With softened knees, gently sway a tiny amount from side to side, moving your whole body as one unit, FROM YOUR ANKLES. Feel the change of pressure under your feet. Gradually reduce the range (like a pendulum coming to centre) until your weight is evenly distributed on both feet. Then do the same thing forwards and backwards, until your weight is evenly balanced between your toes and your heels. To fix this information in your nervous system, move your body (in the same way as before) in tiny circles around this new point of balance. Do a couple of circles clockwise and a couple anticlockwise, slowly enough that you can make the circle as accurate as possible.
It’s worth taking the time to do this a few times at least, because when you’re even slightly off-balance, your muscles have to work much harder to keep you from falling over. Finding this balance point allows your whole body to relax more completely, and makes standing more comfortable. A little practice will train your awareness to the point where you won’t need to do this routinely; you will naturally stand in a balanced manner, although your body might need an occasional reminder.
2. Postures And Intentional Movement
The art of Qigong contains a perfect balance of stillness or sustained postures (yin); and specific patterns of movement (yang).
Staying still and quiet gives you time to focus on what’s going on inside your body; and makes it easier to visualise desired outcomes, for example healing an injury or illness.
Sustained postures build your qi and develop holding strength in your body. They are as much to do with training your mind to direct your energy, as they are to do with training your physical body.
Wuji or Wu Chi, is one of the most important sustained postures in qigong. As well as being the starting posture for qigong exercises, it can also be used as a standing meditation.
The nature of the movements vary with each of the many qigong styles. The patterns of movement taught will depend on the intention and focus of the qigong form, although they all seek to influence your flow of qi.
Like all specific exercises, Qigong movements are intentional. From a physical perspective, they are aimed at improving muscle strength; joint flexibility; lung capacity; balance and coordination. The intention is to relax and lengthen structures that have shortened or contracted, because tight, compressed areas impede the flow of chi.
For example, when you make a fist, you block the chi. Simply opening your hand, and spreading your fingers apart, will open six main energy channels in your body. These are the lung, and heart meridians; the small and large intestine channels; the circulation-sex meridian (pericardium meridian), and the triple warmer.
External And Internal Qigong
Specific movements are an obvious part of external qigong or what you CAN see happening. But of equal importance is the activity inside your body, or what you CAN’T see happening, during your exercise routines or meditation.
Internal qigong refers to the energy shifts, improved blood flow and other metabolic changes, that result from your movements and attention combined. Awareness of this aspect of qigong is likely to increase over time.
As I mentioned in the first two articles of this series, qigong is also aimed at opening and widening the meridian channels; clearing out any stagnant or blocked energy, and balancing your body’s yin and yang… continued on page 2.
Click Here for Part 2 >> or use the page link (below the recommended articles)
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