I would like to start with a series that focuses on the foundations of qigong. Most have heard or read about certain principles attributed to qigong like the three regulations also known as the three intentful corrections, the three adjustments, or the three focal points which serve as the foundation for all forms of qigong. It does not matter if you are practicing a simple arm swing movement or a very esoteric form that you learned from a 115 year old master on Huashan the starting point is the same. You bring mindful attention to the body, breath, and mind, this then allows for you to create the “Heavenly elixir within” which starts the process of health and well-being that qigong is so known for. The beauty of getting intimate with the three regulations is that you can bring this practice with you where ever you go. When your at work it might be hard to just all of a sudden start practicing the five animal frolics. Your coworkers might think you are having a nervous breakdown instead of actually getting rid of your excess tension and stress. On the other hand when you bring conscious awareness to the body, breath, and mind as in the three adjustments you are able to practice any where at any time because it’s all done internally. There are no outward movements with the three adjustments besides maybe the expansion and contraction of your abdomen and slight postural adjustments but nothing that would warrant your coworkers calling security on you.
In this “foundational” series I would also like to discuss the five principles for an effortlessly effective body that is written about by Peter & Laura Ralston in their wonderful book Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace, and Power. When I stumbled on this book at my local shop I didn’t realize how much it would effect my qigong practice for the positive. I thought it would maybe have some “nuggets” of information in it that would make me say “ah” that’s interesting which it did but it also had so much more. The five principles they discuss in the book are relaxing, feeling the whole body, moving from the center, being grounded, being calm. Some of you who have taken Tai Chi might be familiar with some of these principles like relaxing (fang song gong) and moving from the center (dan tian) but in the book Peter Ralston asks that you put your prior knowledge down and investigate these principles with a beginners mind. In the book he asks to not take his word for it but to truly investigate and question these principles in every aspect of our lives, not just during a formal practice session.
Over the following series I would like to discuss the three regulations and the five principles for an effortlessly effective body in depth. These principles can and should be integrated into every aspect of our lives. We should not just be intellectually familiar with these principles we should have a felt sense of them in our bodies. When you are washing the dishes be aware of the three intentful corrections. When your exercising on the elliptical put your intention on relaxing. When your doing your daily qigong wellness workout put your awareness in your body, feel the whole body. When I first started practicing qigong I blew over the principles that I read about and heard from my instructor not because I didn’t think they where important but more so because I thought the movements were where all the “magic” was. Once I had been practicing for a while is when I realized that these principles allow you to deepen your understanding of the movements that we all seem to get infatuated with in the beginning.