Print this page

Search whole site

Qigong

Category: Mystic groups and systems


 
 

Chinese Qigong also called Chi Kung, is a complete system of spiritual living, a self contained set of methods to live one's life linked to the spiritual world and its benefits. 

It is one of the pillars of Chinese mysticism, the others being Taoism, the arts and Confucianism.  

Taoism is based on the Way - the Great Work and Destiny. Thus once one knows one's Destiny, one uses Qigong to keep fit and to keep healthy so that you can play your part, to defend the spiritual values of which you are a part and to gain spiritual experience when you need it - wisdom, inspiration and so on.

You follow the plan - the Great Work - by going with the flow [the Tao] and not opposing the path that has been mapped out for you, and you follow the plan by being as fit, healthy and open to input from the spiritual world as you can.  Qigong is thus a means to an end - the end being the execution of your destiny.

Main activities in Qigong

Qigong consists of three main complementary activities: –

  • Techniques for healing oneself or being healed and thus keeping healthy, these include
    • exercises - which serve the dual purpose of keeping you healthy and fit, and thus help if you are a martial artist defending the system
  •  
    Martial arts - which are intended to be used to defend the whole system

the latter are, of course, of particular interest if we are on the spiritual path. The methods for healing and martial arts are called 'External Elixir' methods and those for spiritual mechanisms 'Internal Elixir' methods.

Many of the techniques are used for multiple purposes. Acupressure and acupuncture, for example, can be used to heal, and for gaining spiritual experience.  The herbs and minerals used for healing also play a role in some practises as support mechanisms in their own right - opium to prevent premature ejaculation, for example. 

Longevity and its role in Qigong

One of the apparent aims of Qigong is long life - very long life - hundreds of years, not just reaching one hundred.  But the objective of this is not just to enjoy a long life.  The Chinese recognise that up to about 40 you are making a living, looking after a family and spiritually finding your feet. 

 

Spiritually much time may be spent in understanding your destiny - why you are here. Up until you are in your 40s or even late 50s you are not actually on the spiritual path.

Only after your 40s or 50s are you launched on the spiritual path and each of the stages of the path can take some considerable time.  In effect, although you may be making wonderful progress spiritually, you may end up failing to get to the end, simply because you die!

Thus all the emphasis on health and longevity is intended to help you get to the end of the spiritual path, no reincarnation, a completion of your destiny and a chance to incarnate on a higher plane in another realm.

Main activities used for spiritual experience

 

The main practises for spiritual experience are:

 

There is evidence that most of the actions used in the suppression section were in use at one time. 

There was a certain amount of discussion around the best methods to use, with those who used neither sex nor plants calling themselves the 'Peaceful Cultivation' school.  The school that used both plants such as opium and cannabis as well as sex [like the alchemists] called themselves the 'Plant and Graft Division'.  The name Herb Picking outside of the Dao was then a euphemism for sex or plant based drugs.  Dan Ding Dao Gong - Dao training in the Elixir crucible, referred to the partnering with women to get the result, - furnaces, ovens and crucibles being alchemical terms.

In the end, apart from the mind control method - contemplation and detachment -  all the main methods used the meridians and trigger points used in Chinese medicine for everything in the system. 

The trigger points are manipulated like the finger holes of a pipe instrument, or the dams in a hydro system to get the 'wind' or water flows to go in specific directions. 

Various combinations of 'notes' - dams - either heal or produce ecstasy or a kundalini experience!

History

-BEFORE-THEY-PASS-AWAY-BY-JIMMY-NELSON

The origins of Qigong martial arts, exercising and healing practises can be traced back to systems already in place in China.  The martial arts practises evolved from the type of dancing practised during the Qin and Han dynasties [255 BC - 220 AD].  Through this style of dancing the body was exercised and by matching movements with music, the practitioners learnt how to control their bodies.  Qigong dancing passed to Japan in the Han dynasty and became a very elegant slow and high class style of dancing in the Japanese Royal Court.

The methods for spiritual experience, however, came from India.  The techniques themselves are used in Yoga,  but the practises actually spread via Buddhism.   If you like to think of it this way, Qigong is the Chinese and Taiwanese equivalent of yoga. Basic methods arrived sometime around  58 AD and the new methods were adjusted to fit in with existing concepts used in the healing and medicinal as well as martial arts practises.  The ideas were very slow to spread, however, because of the problems of translation, communication across such a vast area, transport and the lack of teachers.

This changed with the help of a Buddhist monk called Da Mo, who wrote the two classics Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain washing.  He was based in the Buddhist monastery - the Shaolin Temple, this site has since become a place of pilgrimage.  We then see a melding of Yoga and Tantric techniques, as well as the healing and prophecy practises that were already being used.  It is worth mentioning that Tibetan Buddhist practises were not added until much later - around about the Qing dynasty in 1644.

 

The ideas in Qigong have since spread all over the world.  There are many aspects of Qigong that are shared by other systems for example, Japanese systems like Shiatsu, so again we see a form of harmony of oriental thought that may not at first be apparent to western thinking, but is very clear upon further study. 

Many ideas in Craniosacral therapy [CST] were borrowed from the principles used here – an osteopathic technique.  The rather crude principles found in Zone therapy also have their foundation in the same principles.  The Christos technique also owes some of its efficacy to the techniques here; the principles of Reflexology are based on these techniques, the MORA technique also has its roots here; so we have a core technique found in Qigong and in its sister discipline yoga – a fundamental set of principles upon which a huge number of healing systems and spiritual experience systems were based. 

Qigong, however, is extremely well developed, although it is clear that some of the techniques got ‘lost’ as a result of the upheavals caused by wars and revolutions and are only now starting to be revived again.

Qigong and the Martial arts - the hero’s path

Jimmy Nelson photographs

One of the absolutely key roles in any spiritually based system is to have its defenders.   The role of defender is called variously a 'knight'  or a 'hero'.  In Qigong, the knight was called the Martial artist and the methods of defence were the martial arts.

The term martial arts is rather a good term to use to describe what one is trying to achieve - one is an artist in defence - the methods of defence show an artist's imagination and skill.  Remember that the aim is exactly the opposite of war, as it is an entirely defensive as opposed to aggressive role.  You do not defend until attacked.  Many of the moves in the martial arts were geared towards disarming the aggressor, or making the attack void - ineffective.

Most of the well known Chinese martial arts styles - Shaolin, Taiji, Wudang, Emei, Tianshan, Qingcheng, Kunlun, Kongdong and so on, were all developed in religious monasteries.  At one time the techniques to obtain spiritual experience were a closely guarded secret restricted to the monastic society, however, variations were gradually used by martial arts practitioners to increase their capabilities and it is to these men that we owe the descriptions.  Some of these methods only became known in the last century.

Jimmy Nelson - before they pass away

This has both positive and negative sides to it. The positive side is that many of the techniques would never have become known and may even have become lost if it were not for these men.  The negative side is that the techniques have occasionally become distorted because the aim is different.  The hero’s active path and the monk’s passive path are very different. Some martial artists only tended to seek spiritual experience if they saw the value of getting closer to their higher spirit -  'going with the force' as it were.  So the aims of the Shaolin and Wudang monks and the martial artists were occasionally dissimilar.

The martial arts practises are not part of the aims of this site, but approaches that are used for martial arts, healing and fitness include the slow stylized movements of T'ai chi ch'uan, Baguazhang, and Xing yi; the  graceful movement used in Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi qigong), White Crane, and Wild Goose (Dayan) Qigong; and exercises involving postures held for sustained periods of time, the healing form Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin qigong), for example, is based on a series of static postures.

There is a branch of Qigong that has developed out of the martial arts that would be classified as magic.  Some magic is based on sleight of hand and some is genuine magic in that there are real feats of environmental and bodily control involved.

Extraordinary feats of martial arts prowess, such as the ability to withstand heavy strikes (Iron Shirt, 鐵衫) and the ability to break hard objects (Iron Palm, 铁掌) are abilities attributed to qigong training.

Reaching the final goal of enlightenment/mind methods

Dr Yang, Jwing-Ming – Qigong Meditation Embryononic Breathing
After more than 1400 years of meditation training and accumulation of experience both Chinese Buddhist and Daoist societies agree that in order to reach the final goal of enlightenment or Buddhahood, you must follow four necessary steps:

  • Refine the Essence and convert it into Qi (Lian Jin Hua Qi)  - One hundred days of building the foundation
  • Purify Qi and convert it into Shen (Lian Qi Hua Shen) - Ten months of pregnancy*
  • Refine Shen and Return it to Nothingness (Lian Shen Huan Xu) - Three years of nursing
  • Crush the nothingness (Fen Sui Xu Kong) - Nine years of facing the wall

You can see that the dao of reaching enlightenment or becoming a Buddha requires years of training.  It covers four stages of conversion training, the first of which is the formation of a 'spiritual baby embryo', this is followed by ten months of nourishing and growing, three years of nursing and finally nine years of educating this baby until it matures.

*Pregnancy is not literal pregnancy it is the growing of the 'spiritual baby' the energy needed to achieve the final goal.  Sometimes, however, this can manifest as a very bulging stomach in both men and women - false pregnancy.

Although exercises of the mind occur throughout the phases of the spiritual path, they become much more important towards the end during Purification.  A person using the mind exercises is thus assumed to have gone beyond the Judgement stages of the spiritual path and also the Purgatory stage with its rebirth experience. 

Much of the early effort in mind exercises is devoted to the early stages of Purification.  The physical exercises, if they are used at all, heal and strengthen the links with the Higher spirit [Shen] or may provoke a kundalini experience - the symbolic birth of the baby.  The latter stages, which are all mind based and generally require no physical stimulation are geared towards more advanced forms of Purification and Relearning.  At the later stages, one can use the suppression based mind exercises [for example contemplation and detachment] as part of the process.

About the techniques that use physical stimulation

Jimmy Nelson photography

All the techniques that use physical stimulation of the body to move the energy around and manipulate its flow, use trigger points and trigger point stimulation to send the energy in different directions and meridians as the channels. 

Both these are spiritual concepts, although they do have physical counterparts in the blood circulatory system, the lymph system, and the nervous system.  If we put this in physical terms we are manipulating hormones and nervous impulses - trying to balance the parasympathetic nervous system with the sympathetic nervous system.  Many of the major acupuncture/trigger points [which line up with the chakras] are connected to the various endocrine system organs.  Thus physically, one is manipulating ones hormones.

  The 'elixir' and 'essence' accumulated in some of the techniques is actually the hormone oxytocin. Functionaly [the spiritual part] oxytocin is only recently being investigated and indeed it promotes all the things recognisable in spiritual enlightenment - empathy, compassion, unselfishness.  Note that there is no point in injecting it because it has to go to the right places at the right time to be effective.  Scientists have called it the 'love' hormone.

The twelve primary channels

The Conception and Governing vessels as well as the
Thrusting vessel play a key role in energy manipulation
and much manipulation is achieved via the
perineum - Huiyin - trigger point

Qigong uses meridians, and the main channels Meridians – the twelve primary channels are called the 'primary Qi channels' or 'Jing'.  In Qigong there are 12 recognised channels considered to be like rivers of Qi.  These basic channels are now recognised world-wide and have become the standard for all systems based on meridians.

The Xue

Trigger points in Qigong are known as 'Xue', translated as cavity because they can often be sensed by a skilled masseur as a sort of depression in the skin.  In Qigong there are a recognised 700 of these Xue though only about  108 are used for acupressure and massage.  The full 700 may be used in acupuncture if they can be accessed [some are inaccessible].

The 8 Extraordinary Qi vessels

The Energy vessels are called the  8 'Qi Jing Ba Mai ' or 'Qi vessels' and are treated as reservoirs for Qi energy, storing energy for when it is needed or alternatively taking up any excess energy. 

Some Qigong methods

The Qigong system employs a number of techniques to help in providing spiritual experience.  In the chart below some of the main ones are shown.  They rely almost entirely on stimulation via trigger points, however, the training should provide a slow build up in order that each trigger point is sensitised and the body gets used to the process.  The common name for the method is provided at the top of the chart below and the Qigong names are listed by the side.  Some notes provide additional detail.

It is worth adding that the system may appear confused, and indeed it is, as it has suffered from all the political upheavals and also the original yoga techniques seem to have been lost.  It may help to refer to the yoga tables to compare

 

Tongue

pressing

Diaphragm

lock

Anal

lock

Perineum

Press *

Neck

press

Eyeball pressing

Nose

pressing

Ear

Pressing

Fore

head pressing

Gau Wan Yunn Dong [11]

     x  x          

 Liann Chi Huah Shen [13]

       x          

SHUAI [12]

                 

Embryonic breathing [8]

 [x] only with care

 

 x

 x

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven's gate [10]

        x        

IEN [9] 'swallowing'

 

x

x

x

         

Kan lii

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qi Huo [7]

 

 x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual breathing [4]

 x

 

 x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Buddhist breathing & Zheng Fu Hu Xi [1]

 

x

 x  x          

An Mo [6]

 

 

 

x

x

 

 

 

 

Reverse breathing [2]

 

x

x

 x

 

 

 

 

 

Shii soei ching [5]

x

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

 

Five gates breathing [3]

                 

Chi Kung [14]

                 

[1] - Buddhist breathing  - is another name for Belly breathing.  Once it has been mastered without any locks, then the anus and the perineum locks are applied.  At this stage the technique can be more properly called Zheng Fu Hu Xi
[2] - Reverse breathing  - is also known as Taoist breathing.  Once it has been mastered without any locks, then the perineum lock is applied.  Sources differ as to whether the anal lock is used as well.   At this stage the technique can be more properly called Fan Fu Hu X, Ni Fu Hu Xi
[3] Five gates breathing  - uses only trigger point stimulation of Baihui [gv-20], the two Laogong [P-8], and the two Yonquan [K-1].  The 'breathing' is of symbolic breath. Whatever physical breathing is used is normal and simply designed to help you relax

Zhuang Zi - The ancient truthful people use the soles to breathe while the laymen use the throat to breathe

[4] Spiritual breathing - uses only the trigger points.  Trigger points can be stimulated using needles or finger pressure.  The technique is principally used to heal and free energy flows, however, it is possible to stimulate any of the points to direct flows as  needed.  Thus acupunture or acupressure can be used.  You need a highly trained practitioner to help here
[5]  Shii Soei Ching (Marrow Brain Washing) -  involves sexual stimulation of the penis and testicles followed by promotion of the kundalini [or similar] experience using trigger points.
[6]  'An Mo' – 'an' meaning 'press' and 'mo' meaning 'rub' is the complementary massage technique to acupuncture.  All Chinese massage is constructed around the two simple techniques press and rub with variations on these two themes. There are four types of massage used in Qigong massage. 

  • Pu Tong An Mo – general massage, used to attain relaxation, recover from fatigue, prevent illness, enjoyment and readjustment
  • Tui Na An Mo – push grab massage, used in treating  injuries, but also illnesses in small children who cannot be given acupuncture [because they are too young to have needles stuck in them]
  • Dian Xue An Mo – cavity press massage; acupressure using the 108 or so accessible pressure points to cure illness
  • Qi An Mo – Qi massage does not tend to involve any form of touching or massage in reality, instead it is achieved through 'qi correspondence'.  If the patient is touched, it is a simple touch not a rub or press.  It is the most esoteric form, as energy transfer between healer and patient is meant to occur
 

[7] Qi Huo - another name for Bellows breathing.  Interestingly there is a theory that the movement generated by this technique actually generates 'bioelectricity'and as it encounters resistance from the fasciae layers it turns into heat and from this we get the heat of the mystic - tummo!  There is more.  "One of the possible causes of increasing hormone production through the abdominal up and down exercises is the stimulation of islets of Langerhans in the pancreas".  So there may be a positive knock on effect for diabetics.
[8] Embryonic breathing - a complex method involving front back movement to stimulate the Yinjiao (CO-7) and the Mingmen (Gv-4) trigger points, and the perineum and anus - Huiyin (CO-1). 
[9] IEN swallowing - often misinterpreted literally as swallowing air - which will do you no good at all, - combines diaphragm breathing with use of  the perineum and anus
[10] Heaven's gate - neck stimulation between the 'two pillars'.  Should only be done by a trained professional Qigong masseur
[11] Gau Wan Yunn Dong - Qigong penis and ball stimulation.  Regarded as essential if you are using sex magick, but also needed in martial arts and other meditative exercises as it builds up energy supplies.
[12]  SHUAI - also called 'hanging' and widely misinterpreted, is an eye watering exercise using the testicles.  Regarded as essential if you are using sex magick but may also be helpful in martial arts and other meditative exercises.
[13] Liann Chi Huah Shen - the means by which a kundalini experience can be provoked and thus highly dangerous unless you are with a trained Qigong helper.  In the old days the helper was female - the equivalent of a Geisha.
[14] Chi Kung - energy sharing, equivalent to yoga shaktipat.   

References

  • Chinese Qigong Massage - Dr Yang Jwing-Ming 
  • Muscle Tendon changing and Marrow/Brain washing Chi Kung – The Secret of Youth - Dr Yang Jwing-Ming 
  • The Root of Chinese Qigong – Secrets for Health, Longevity and Enlightenment - Dr Yang Jwing-Ming
  • Dr Yang, Jwing-Ming – Qigong Meditation Embryononic Breathing
  • Classic of Embryonic breathing - the author of this text is unknown, but it is regarded as a classic work on this area.  The translation used is by Dr Yang, Jwing-Ming but the Chinese text is also provided.
  • Original truth of using no herbs - Wang Yang, written around 1682 A.D. during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 A.D., ). The objective of the book is to provide exercises for obtaining spiritual experience without using drugs [herbs means drugs].  Most of the exercises described are a mixture of physical breathing and mind exercises combined and owe a lot to yoga.  There are examples of tongue pressing and gentle breathing, but the need for perineum or other trigger point pressing appears not to be known. 
  • The Secrets of Spiritual Applications of all Veracious Holy Embryo - a compendium of texts by, for example, Xiao Yao Zi, Liu Zhen Ren, Hai Chan Zhen Ren, Lang Ran Zi, Li Shan Lao Mu and Yan Meng Zi,  which is about the spiritual and not the physical exercises to obtain enlightenment; with helpful but guarded comments on the Shen, Qi, Po, Kan and Li as concepts that one has to manipulate with the mind.  It is essentialy about Embryonic breathing as mind exercises.  Of mixed quality, as one would expect given that there are numerous authors.

All these are in English

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.