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Aligning Energies

About Qigong

Although I’ve taken many classes in qigong from outstanding teachers, I consider myself an independent and somewhat self-taught practitioner and teacher.  This very much goes against the norm, since qigong comes to us from a very patriarchal and hierarchical cultural tradition that emphasizes the disciple-master relationship.   While, I deeply appreciate the value of good teachers and mentors, and the idea of focusing on one system to learn it well; I’m too much the rebellious, free-thinking and impatient American child of the ‘60’s to hang around long, learning just one system.   My own learning style has always been eclectic and synthetic, taking ideas from many sources and putting them together in my own unique way.

I’ve also developed my own philosophy of qigong, which contributes to my impatience with other approaches.  Here is a bit of that philosophy:  I definitely recommend that anyone interested in qigong begin with some good face-to-face instruction in the basics of qigong postures and movement, complete with critical feedback. It is important that you learn how to position yourself and move in a way that supports open and easy energy flow.

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Most other forms of exercise make a regular practice of building skill through "effort" and pushing limits.  Qigong is very, very different.  Less is more.   Qigoing movements are supposed to be relaxed and easy, with minimal effort.  You want to be mindful that your moves are open and flowing and do not pinch off energy in any way, especially in your lower back.

Once you get a solid grasp of the basics, I think it is possible to learn wonderful qigong moves and sequences from books and videos and use them to good effect.  Certainly that has been my experience.   The important thing is feeling into your own body, staying present to your immediate energetic experience, noticing what works and doesn’t work for you, and adjusting accordingly.  Seems to me that most qigong instruction places entirely too much emphasis on minute details of correct form, and not enough emphasis on feeling into your own experience and really enjoying the process and the flow of energy. Also, when you are highly focused on your own experience of the energy as you do qigong, you will know when a particular exercise is really making a difference and when you might need  to try something else to meet your immediate energetic needs.  Instead of learning and doing the same routine all the time, I recommend learning a variety of routines and individual exercises so that what you do on a particular day can be customized to your immediate needs.

Another qigong soap box issue of mine is the frequent neglect of the importance of doing this work in beautiful natural outdoor surroundings whenever possible.  Qigong is a process of moving energy back and forth, in and out of your own energy field and the environment around you.  It really matters where you are and what you are looking at when you do qigong.

And one more thing, don’t hesitate to turn on some music and really enjoy dancing your qigong. Try qigong dancing to music in the privacy of your home and in the middle of the dance floor, improvising or just doing whatever moves you know.

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