“Which Qi Gong exercises should I practice?” I can’t tell you how often I get this question!
However, after more than 3 decades researching and practicing the ancient world’s top methods of spiritual development, health maintenance and martial arts, I’m convinced you have to know what results you personally want to see before you can answer this question. For purposes of this article, I’ll assume your primary interest is in enjoying superior health and longevity, feeling strongly energized every day and achieving a deep sense of inner peace. So if that describes you, read on…
1. What Qi Gong CAN Do For Your
As you may already know, various Qi Gong methods – and there are thousands – were developed mainly with 4 different purposes: 1. to improve your health and fitness, 2. to improve your spiritual life, 3. to improve your martial combat skills and 4. to train you to heal others.
And they use a huge variety of methods, including various breathing techniques, postures, movement, percussion, massage, visualization and much more. Broadly speaking, though, if we get down to basics and talk about the immediate benefits Qi Gong was designed to offer, we get this:
- Improve your circulation of Qi, blood, lymph fluid and spinal fluid
- Detoxify your organs, tissues, blood, bone marrow and joints
- Fill your tissues with healthy Qi
- Clear out blockages in your 12 energy meridians and fill your 8 “Extraordinary Vessels” with healthy Qi
- Reunify your mind and body in order to return you to your “natural state”
2. Sounds Wonderful! But How?
There are thousands of distinct Qi Gong practices out there and no real standardization, so for the newbie to separate the wheat from the chaff is nearly impossible. It took me a great many years to do it and during that time I ran into all kinds of Qi Gong practices, literally from the sublime to the ridiculous. Lots of instructors are teaching partial or incomplete systems out of ignorance. A very few teach things that are downright dangerous. And it’s important to understand that this isn’t just a North American problem; the same thing happens even today in China itself.
Simply put, there are 5 classic Qi Gong systems that deliver the greatest possible health benefits and can be learned by anyone with the desire and commitment. Here’s a list of these 5 systems and what they do:
The Self-Massage Set (Promotes Qi, blood and lymph circulation)
Muscle-Tendon Changing (Detoxifies soft tissues and joints, building extraordinary toughness)
Bone Marrow Cleansing (Detoxifies bone marrow, blood and builds bone density)
Iron Shirt (Detoxifies organs and fasciae, filling them with Qi)
Energy Circulation (the Micro-Cosmic Orbit – Clears the body’s primary energy circulation pathway, regarded as essential for longevity)
3. How Long Do I Have to Practice Every Day?
Yes, we’re all in a time crunch! Fortunately, practicing all 5 over the course of a week doesn’t take a lot of time. One round of each of these takes only 5-15 minutes, and some of these systems can be broken down into their constituent parts and practiced at odd moments throughout the day to give you greater energy, clarity and focus. So time is not a serious issue with Qi Gong practice. The important thing is to set up your practice schedule and stick to it, whatever it is.
Naturally, there’s a learning curve in the beginning, but that quickly disappears as you gain confidence in your own practice.
To learn more about these 5 critical Qi Gong systems, you can go to:
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
“Which Qi Gong exercises should I practice?” I can’t tell you how often I get this question!
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Naturally, the older I get, the more interesting it becomes!
1. Taoist Longevity “Stats”
There’s no doubt that the most advanced longevity / anti-aging science ever developed in the ancient world comes from Chinese Taoist tradition. Although no hard and fast “statistics” in the modern sense have been preserved, it’s quite certain that Taoists developed a holistic approach to longevity that regularly and predictably allowed its practitioners to sail past their 100th birthdays in great health.
The mysterious case of Li Ching Yun, who passed away in the mid-1930s at the reputed age of 250 is a case in point. The Chinese Government had sent Li congratulatory telegrams every 50 years since he turned 100. Could they have made a mistake? Possibly. But even if the authorities were off in their calculations by a full century, Li Ching Yun would still have been an outstanding testimonial for the science of longevity.
2. Taoist Longevity Secrets
This naturally gives rise to the question of what exactly brings about this extraordinary and predictable longevity we see in Taoist practitioners. Is it their diet? Is it their meditation-induced calm? While these may be important contributing factors, they really don’t explain much. After all, the often wandering life-style of Taoists throughout history is not the basis for a stable and predictable diet. And if meditation were the key, we’d expect to see consistent longevity among Japanese Zen masters and Tibetan Lamas, but we definitely do not.
So what did the Taoists do that others didn’t? The only factor left is the careful and detailed cultivation of the Qi or life-force. While it’s true that you find Qi Gong or “energy exercises” also in Chinese Buddhist tradition, with some roots in India and Tibet, it was clearly in Taoist circles that Qi Gong underwent its highest development and was fully integrated into a deliberate system of longevity and anti-aging.
Once you’ve learned about the 7 spirals of disease that develop in every person (you can use the reference link below to do so), you’ll realize that no matter how beneficial a good diet and consistent meditation are, neither one will prevent or reverse these disease spirals. Only proper energy work can do that.
3. Circulating and Refining Your Qi for Health and Longevity
What we now call Qi Gong or “energy skill” is a huge family of exercises that’s grown up over the past 2-3 millennia. Taoists consider it more varied and more effective than most of what passes for Indian Hatha Yoga and, in fact, sometimes express reservations about some of Yoga’s breathing and energy manipulation methods.
The big question for me decades ago as a complete newbie to this was, “what should I practice?” Eventually I realized that not all of what passed for Qi Gong is either authentic or useful. I’ve been taught some Qi Gong methods by people who had clearly not received the “whole enchilada” and were missing vital aspects to their exercises. Other systems claim to produce this or that benefit when it simply isn’t true. The existence of so many mediocre systems and so many systems using the same venerable names makes it well-nigh impossible for the uninitiated to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Then, of course, there are advanced systems you can’t possibly learn without mastering the basics.
4. So, What Qi Gong Will Get Me to 100 in Great Health?
Sorting out all this took me years and years. In the end, though, I verified there are 5 Qi Gong systems that are critically important, both because of their incredible health benefits and because you can’t progress further without them. And they are:
The Self-Massage Set
Bone Marrow Cleansing
Energy Circulation (the Micro-Cosmic Orbit)
Of course, there are numerous versions of each, and not all are equally effective. Some are plain fraudulent. Others are artificially and needlessly complex. And a lot has to do with exactly how you perform the exercises. Do them right and you’ll enjoy great health. Do them wrong and you’re just waving your arms.
So if you’re seriously interested in cultivating longevity and enjoying suppleness of body and mind into deep old age, these are the 5 Qi Gong systems that deserve your attention. To learn more about how these systems work and how they reverse the 7 spirals of disease, you can visit the link below.
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger
Monday, 22 June 2009
After three decades researching and practicing the personal development systems of the ancient world and about half that long doing coaching, counseling and pastoral work, I’ve come to realize there are some fundamental reasons why our physical and emotional lives are such a mess and why our attempts to “fix” them seldom work. So if self-improvement books aren’t doing it for you, you’re not alone. There are good reasons why you’ve failed to transform your life so far…
Obstacle One: Your Culture
As someone brought up in a Western (or westernized) culture, you’ve been taught a specific way to relate to your physical body, to your mind and to you own thoughts – you see your body and mind as separate and you identify your Self with your thoughts. And you’ve been thoroughly but subtly indoctrinated into interpreting the world around you according to the defunct paradigm of Newtonian physics – meaning you see the world around you as solid and real, and you give your physical senses a monopoly on providing the information you build your interpretations on.
This particularly dangerous combination gives rise to the unprecedented rates of neurosis you see around you (and perhaps within you) every day.
Obstacle Two: The Mentality of Specialization
Your culture has taught you to assume that every “problem” needs its own solution. If you look at your own life and start to list these problems - the things that aren’t working the way you want - you could easily come up with a list of twenty or thirty such “problems”. Of course, taking the standard “self-improvement” approach is great for the industry because it means you’ll be buying twenty or thirty new titles in a vain attempt to fix your life!
We’ve all imbibed this mentality of “specialization”. In other words, if you want to develop your willpower, fill your wallet or reduce your waistline, you assume the person most qualified to help you is someone who thinks about and writes about nothing else. Unfortunately, this blinds you to the fact that each of those problems is just a symptom and that until the root cause is dealt with, those problems or similar ones will simply recur. Know anyone who’s tried to lose weight several times?
Obstacle Three: You’ve Been Educated!
You’ve come through an educational system that also sees your mind and body as very separate realities. This system is based on the faulty premise of classical liberalism that if you feed people all the facts, they’ll make good choices in life. Alas, if only it were that simple!
In contrast, the best educational systems of the ancient world, from North America to the Mediterranean to the Orient, all focused on the acquisition of character development, values and integrity rather than just facts. And they all understood that the only way to master your mind is through your body, so their educational systems were very physical. And, unlike people who went through these ancient educational systems, you’ve come out mentally and emotionally fragmented and probably predisposed to making dozens of choices per day that make you weaker instead of stronger.
The ancient world’s top traditions of spiritual life, health maintenance and martial arts all knew something we’ve long since forgotten: until a person develops physical, mental and emotional resilience, he or she will live a fragmented life of “coping” and low personal effectiveness. This will inevitably translate into feelings of powerlessness and victimization, failed relationships, poor health, financial problems and non-stop stress, among other things.
Fortunately, these traditions – all of which still exist, by the way – had a solution. They taught an approach we would call “holistic” (and they would call “bloody obvious”), an approach that gives those who practice it a deliberate, powerful and stress-free life of continual inner and outer achievement.
All of this rests on their understanding of how your mind-body organism was designed to function and what it’s really capable of – which goes far beyond what you’ve been taught to believe. And, paradoxically, that’s an understanding that modern science, with its recent forays into the study of consciousness, sub-atomic physics and genetics is more and more likely to support.
Acquiring resilience is the basis of personal power, which in turn is the basis of transforming your life. Until you have resilience, you can read all the self-improvement books you want, go to workshops, go to church, go on a diet, go to the gym and more, and none of it will transform your life in any significant way.
You see, all those nifty self-help techniques you learn are like seeds – how well they do depends on the quality of the soil you plant them in. And in this case you are the soil. So if you want to become soil that produces phenomenal results, you’ll need to adopt an entirely different, holistic approach to your life and acquire resilience.
Next time, I’ll talk about what you can do to acquire this resilience for yourself, so that your many of your challenges in life will dissolve on their own.
If you want to get off to a running start, just pop over to this address and grab a copy of my Special Report on resilience for free:
- Dr. Symeon Rodger
Friday, 19 June 2009
And my personal committment this week was to double my usual "maintenance" regime of physical training and do 1000 Oriental push-ups and 500 Squats over the space of 5 days. Have I followed through?
Well, it's like this. It's before noon on Friday and I've got just 50 more push-ups and 75 more squats to do! So yes, I'm right on schedule. Okay, I'm 25 squats behind, but that's easy to make up before I get to the finish line at midnight tonight ;-)
What did I get out of this? So far, I've experienced the following benefits:
- I plan to make this into my new "maintenance" regime - that's how much I've loved the resulting increases in strength, endurance and even flexibility.
- A few weeks back I injured a knee - stretched some tendons - and it really bothered me for several days. Doubling my squats has really strengthened all the surrounding tissues and made the knee seem just about as good as new.
- Yes, it feels really good to have decided to accomplish something tough and actually done it. Whenever you do that, it's a deposit into the bank of your self-esteem ;-)
Your life will improve to the extent that you take massive and focused action - there's not other way to acquire Personal Power and self-mastery. So what have you decided to focus on for the next 5-7 days? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know!
~Dr. Symeon Rodger
Warrior Coaching International - "Transforming your mind, body and spirit into SOLID STEEL... wrapped in cotton" ;-)
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
...every so often, train just one thing really hard for a week.
This week, for example, I'm focussing on something very physical - strength training. In concrete terms, that means I'm going to double my usual "maintenance" regime and do one thousand push-ups and five hundred squats this week.
Naturally, that may mean some other physical training items take the week off, and that's okay. The value of this type of focussed training far outweighs any potential downside.
I should emphasize that you can do this with ANY element of your usual training - your meditation, any aspect of your spiritual life, your interactions with others, etc. Your imagination's the limit!
The next two weeks happen to be a fasting period in the Orthodox Church, and fasting periods have been used since ancient times for more demanding spiritual training. What most people don't notice these days is that this "spiritual" training usually involved more physical work too. So it's a nice coincidence for me.
Using a week to focus on a single aspect of training yourself (and PLEASE remember, every single thing you do IS training you for better or worse!) has some huge benefits:
- You improve dramatically in one area in a very short time (yeah, you may be a bit sore, but you'll still be light years ahead at the end)
- You'll often find it hard to go back to your usual regime once you discover what you're really capable of
- You'll feel dramatically better about yourself and what you can do when you put your mind to it.
- You'll have lots more energy to burn and less stress to deal with
This kind of training gives you a victory over yourself and I can't say often enough that in the world of self-transformation, you have to experience frequent victories. They're vital to your progress and to your morale.
So why not pick something over the next few days and just do more of it than you're doing now? Give yourself that victory you deserve. Take a week to test yourself and enjoy the benefits!
~Dr. Symeon Rodger
Friday, 5 June 2009
If you want energy for the first half of your day, just head outside first thing in the morning - the earlier the better - and take some deep breaths. I'll tell you how in a moment.
Deep levels of inner peace and harmony are not just emotional states unrelated to your physical body and your place in the cosmos. They're not just the result of attitudes and they can't be produced simply by mind games, as some people are telling you.
This deep inner peace and harmony is the direct result of you inserting yourself in the currents of harmony that blow through all creation all around you at every moment. You want to feel these currents? Good. Then go outside first thing in the morning and to this:
1. Put your hands on your hips, bend forward keeping your back straight and exhale through your mouth, totally emptying all the stale air out of your lungs.
2. Return to an upright posture, inhaling through your nose. You'll find you really don't have to inhale - your lungs will fill up again automatically. Repeat steps 1 and 2 three times - don't hyperventilate.
3. If the sun is up, feel its warmth on your skin and gently "breathe in" its warmth.
4. Do some light stretching, enjoying the crisp, clean air.
The early morning air is first of all the cleanest air of the day, if you live in a city as most of us do. It's also thoroughly charged with Qi, according to Chinese medicine and ancient Taoist research. And that explains why parks throughout China and in Chinese communities abroad are often packed with people doing Tai Chi, Qi Gong or related exercises at dawn.
Of course, you can and should get outside anytime you can, especially to places where you can be in a more natural environment. I realize that can be tough if you work downtown in the concrete jungle. I'm very fortunate in that there are two sets of woods within walking distance of my house, woods thick enough that when you're in them you can't even see the rest of the city! It's a great place to do Qi Gong.
Whenever you can go for walks through a park or even through your neighborhood, do it. Just follow your breath with your mind and bathe yourself in the harmony you feel. This will calm your mind, calm your nerves and, from a physical point of view, give you some natural vitamin D and fresh (non-recirculated) air.
As you pursue inner peace and harmony as goals in your life, you'll find yourself spending more and more time outdoors. This is one addiction you don't want to put off!
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger
Thursday, 4 June 2009
~ Okado Torajiro
We could also add "stress", "anxiety" and "fear" to the list.
Everything I've shared with you over the past week has been to prepare you for today.
If you've been practicing this stuff daily you can't help but feel a whole lot better. That would be impossible. Our problem these days is that nobody will practice anything consistently and diligently. Instead, they just dabble, and dabblers don't get results in any area of life.
Okay, so we've already talked about your breathing and how you need to learn Normal Abdominal Breathing in order to stop creating stress accidentally.
When you're practicing this kind of breathing during meditation, you want to bring your breath down into your "lower dantien". Dantien means "elixir field" and it's your body's main energy storage area just below your navel. This will help you to put strength into your dantien, as Torajiro says above.
It's easy to feel the breath filling the dantien because your abdomen is actually expanding as you inhale.
We've also talked about how you can learn to integrate your mind, breath and physical movements into one. The next part of that equation is to learn to move from the dantien. In other words, you should feel every movement you make coming from the dantien, as if it moves a nano second before the rest of your body.
That kind of movement may seems strange to you, but keep in mind that all of Tai Chi (and other internal martial arts) and most of Qi Gong are performed just this way.
Go "play" with these approaches and you'll soon experience a world of difference!
~Dr. Symeon Rodger
Disclaimer: This material is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, nor toreplace the advice of qualified medical practitioners. You should not engage in any of the exercises suggested here without consulting your physician, particularly if you have anychronic medical issues or have reason to suspect these exercises could cause injury to you. If you are pregnant or think you might be, do not attempt any of these breathing or movement exercises without the express permission of your medical doctor and a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Okay. I’ve spent the last few days giving you some concrete strategies for greatly increasing your sense of inner peace and harmony.
And, from what I’ve been hearing, that’s really helped you.
My real purpose, though, my “hidden agenda”, has been something a little different:
I’ve been trying to get you to engage your life in a different way, to sense a new possibility within yourself by rebuilding your lost mind-body connection.
Authentic Ancient Traditions all over the world have done this for millennia, with amazing results. The Taoists have called this overall process “self-cultivation” or “self-refinement”.
Look at it this way: your mind-body organism is meant to function in a certain way. When you use it in the proper way, it naturally stays healthy and functions optimally, so you’re physically healthy, emotionally happy and “in the zone”.
When you abuse your organism through your thoughts, your emotions, your diet, your physical movement (or lack thereof), you suffer the consequences.
Millennia of research have gone into figuring this out all over the world. Contrary to the modern “religious” idea that everything comes down to what you BELIEVE, ancient traditions knew – and still know – that the mind and body are interdependent.
They realized that if your energy or Qi (to use the Chinese medical term) is weak, dispersed or blocked, then your thought processes will be effected too. So you don’t have a hope in hell of governing your thoughts and emotions if you ignore your body.
The process of “combining energy and spirit” is a miraculous tool to help you enter into a whole new world, the world of self-refinement.
In the world of self-refinement, we do what makes us stronger. In the mundane world of the everyday, people do what makes them feel better (get pleasure and avoid pain) in the short term.
There’s only one small problem with the latter – it leads to weakness, illness and death. Self-refinement leads to the reverse, and that’s why the Taoists called it that path of “reversal” – reversing all the damage you’ve done to yourself up till now ;-)
When you seriously apply “combining energy and spirit” during your meditation, prayer and as you go through your day, several things start to happen…
- You learn to separate your SELF from your THOUGHTS, which is the key to spiritual development. And it happens naturally, without special effort.
- Your thoughts and emotions quiet down; you become peaceful and tranquil
- Energy (Qi) starts to build up in your lower “dantien” – the area below the navel, which is your body’s main energy storage area
- This clears out blockages in your energy system, so you naturally experience much improved health and immunity
- Your central nervous system switches over from the stressful “sympathetic” circuit to the tranquil “parasympathetic” circuit more frequently and, eventually, at your command
- As you pay attention to your breathing and your bodily structure, you start to experience not just levels of harmony I can’t describe, but also physical processes you never noticed before, trapped tensions and traumas you can release, the presence of energy fields around you, and more.
- As you learn to keep your energy flow even and undisturbed, you become very sensitive to anything that has an impact on it – among highly developed people this could include even events you wouldn’t normally notice, like someone walking on your shadow, the presence nearby of someone you can’t see or the influence of stars and planets.
- You start to rely on your intuition more and it gets a lot more accurate
- You experience increased mental capacity and improved memory
- Warmth and love toward everyone and everything starts to flow through you almost automatically
Self-refinement is the key to everything I’ve been teaching you. Now I’ve given you the key to the door. No one can go through that door for you – you’ve got to do it yourself ;-)
Consider that my challenge to you!
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger