Chi Gung

In Lesson 4 of Living Well and Shaping Up for the Hustle, Emma Rice shares with us the practice that helps her find calm and enables her to pick up on intuition and inspiration.  Emma brings four strands of the course together, and reveals that we’ve been working toward building up and ancient energy that will help us achieve our goals.

Read on for this week’s lesson and join the chat in the wellness community forum.

Toward Certainty

So I wonder how you’re feeling? Pretty damn awesome I reckon.

You’re exercising and you’re eating really well.  I imagine you’re beginning to turn the corner and see that you are totally capable of doing whatever it is that you put your mind to, right?

You’ll be starting to gain total certainty about launching yourself into the next stage of your life – even if you don’t know exactly what that new stage of your life is, yet.  Exercising, a  positive exercise mantra, and all the good food you’re now eating will help to raise your energy and confidence levels.  Soon you’ll be be running out of excuses to delay that project.

Let me just take this time to tell you that I think you are doing so damn great.  Hopefully you’ve taken the time to celebrate some of those achievements, yourself, and your exercise mantra may have started convincing you that you can do all sorts of different things.  Let me delight in telling you, that you’re right.  You can do it.

Inspiration

So let’s try and get some details about how you’re going to get things moving. I’m talking about those wonderful flashes of inspiration about your next project, and the steps needed to get there. Often inspiration knocks very quietly.  Sometimes it knocks at unhelpful times, like at 2am. Inspiration is most likely to hit you when you’re at your most tranquil. Unless you’ve started a practice to quieten your mind, you might just miss those million dollar ideas. How awful would that be?

If you remember back at the beginning of the course, I said you were going to need to be two things to switch up your life. One, Totally pumped.  Two, to have the Courage of your Convictions. We’ve got pumped, now we need to tune into your natural intuition and allow yourself the confidence to follow it.

Quiet your mind

Quietening your mind daily is the key to this. As you can probably tell I’m a fairly high octane kind of person.  After a turbulent and eventful childhood it was in my early 20s that I discovered Tai Chi. My Wednesday afternoon lessons were a total eureka moment.  It was the first time I felt totally truly relaxed and present. As I stood in the student union performing the series of wonderful flowing movements, I felt my mind quieten and all the chaos begin to abate.  

But despite the calm, I found it very difficult to practice Tai Chi.  I found it very difficult to learn the ‘form’. Hence I would have these wonderful hours, but the rest of my week would be, well, chaos, as I didn’t seem able to find a way to practice outside my classes.  Consequently I never got very far with the ‘shaping up’, until many years later. It was then that I discovered ChiGung, the sister practice of Tai Chi. In Chi Gung (aka Qigong), you repeat a very small sequence over and over again. Thus gaining the meditative qualities and the energetic qualities without spending a considerable amount of time scratching your head and wondering what shape you are meant to be making with your right arm.

So I bring you the wonderful Qigong Tao Form.

Qigong Tao Form

This beautiful little exercise can be squeezed into even the tightest schedule.  I also find Qigong is an easier way to introduce relaxation into my day than strait up meditation, and way, way, simpler than Tai Chi.  I find the movements bring my ever busy mind into a state of calm and tranquility without really even trying.  It just happens automatically through the act of doing.

As a beginner, I recommend focusing on three elements: Ritual, Breathing and Tao Form.  The ultimate objective of Chi Gung may seem a little mystical, but what ever happens, if you practice regularly, you will feel more calm, more in control and more capable.  Call it what you like, but you’ll be generating something brilliant.

ritual

Like meditation practice, it’s nice to have a Chi Gung ritual.  I find that what I wear, and where I practice can influence the quality of my experience. Loose clothes (perhaps just stay in your PJ’s) and a place in nature (like your garden) are the best.  The great thing about a ritual, though, is that you don’t have to keep it completely identical every day. If you’re travelling for work, or taking a holiday, you can have a new temporary ritual.  The temporary ritual will be inspired by your most perfect and best experience. Maybe your clothing stays the same, maybe the time of day is similar, too, but the place will obviously differ. Finding the best way to re-create your ritual will form an important part of the pleasure and success of the practice.

breathing

Don’t get hung up on it too much, but aim to slow your breathing.  Your breath will be happening automatically, but if you can think about breathing into your belly that’ll be great. When you breath in, let your tummy expand.  When you breath out, pull it back in. It might seem awkward at first, but in reality it’s completely natural. It’s how we all used to breath, when we were children.  Belly breathing is a more efficient way of breathing because it uses more of the diaphragm, and reduces tension in shoulders, neck and upper back muscles.

 

There is of course a huge amount more technique than this when it comes to breathing, but we’re all about just getting on with shiz here, and this simple exercise is all you need to get started.

tao form

At first you’ll need to take some time memorising the tiny routine.  It’s super duper easy and after 2 minutes of repeating, you’ll have committed it to memory. Slowly and deliberately perform the routine. Really try to ‘feel into’ the movements. Focus on how each little part of your body is responding to it. Especially your hands.

When I practice Chi Gung, I imagine that the air is like a kind of solid.  When I bring my hands together I imagine I can feel myself pushing the air together. This helps generate Chi.  Chi is the magic energy that flows through us, and it’s the stuff that you have been unwittingly cultivating through the last few weeks of exercise and thought mantras.

Breathing, exercising, using mantras and the Tao Form, all help to cultivate chi.  I told you it was mystical.

Qigong Tao Form - Instructions

  • Hands by your side,
  • Raise your hands up to in front of you.
  • Take your hands out like wings
  • Push your hands back together
  • Push your hands forward
  • Drop your hands back by your side, and raise them up above your head
  • Stroke the air all the way down
  • Stroke down your legs down, raise your hands back up.
  • Settle your hands back to your sides.

Qigong Tao Form - In More Detail

 

  • Sink a little into your ’seat’ as though you were about to sit. 
  • Allow your hands to ‘float’ up in front of you, as though being raised on silken threads. 
  • Allow your hands to float out like wings, as though a golden ball were growing between your hands. 
  • Now squeeze your hands back together as though your were squeezing that golden ball from a basketball, back to a tennis ball. 
  • Now allow your hands to drop at the wrist and float your hands up to above your head, turn the backs of your hand together. 
  • Stroke your hands down, describing a large circle with your palms, all the way to the bottom of your reach 
  • Bring your hands to the middle, in front of your groin. 
  • Stroke the air in front your legs down your thighs and your shins, stay a moment and enjoy the feeling of hanging. 
  • Then raise your self back up till your hands are gently by your sides.

Taoist philosophy believes that no one should be told what to do.  Everyone is free to make up their own minds.  So when you ask, how often should I practice, and for how long, then the answer is really up to you.

Like most things, consistency is key.  5 or 10 minutes everyday will be a terrific way to start.  Put yourself under no pressure, but consider how your practice benefits your life.  Consider what happens when you aren’t practicing regularly.  Brief and regular practice may be more beneficial than a long 30 minute practice that you only manage once a week.

Remember to build a ritual.  You may find it helpful to attach the practice to something else that you do everyday, before or after you shower, for example.

I’d also suggest having a go before you need to focus, or concentrate on something challenging.

I will happily tell you that it will be life changing adding this tiny bit of Qigong in to your day.  Combined with everything else you’ve been doing on this course, you’ll find your energies align with your new goals.  You’ll be up and off.

Listen Carefully. Act Decisively.

When they say “Fortune favours the bold”, I have to agree.

Listen carefully for flashes of inspiration.  When they come, act fast and act decisively.

Now you’re feeling like a hero you are just going to have to start trusting those instincts, because they are actually messages from the universe on how to achieve your goals.

 

If you consistently, positively and with confidence take moves towards your ‘WHY’ that you nailed down all those weeks ago, the momentum will gather. Confident actions lead to confident actions, even if you think you’re faking it to start with, do it, and the confidence will follow. You’ll find you are the unstoppable force you never knew you could be. Before you know it you’ll be opening your shop, zipping up the size 12 dress and letting that brilliant shining light out from under that bushel (whatever the hell a bushel is ?!).

 

Your sails are set and now as the winds of your new life are beginning to blow, you’ll find yourself on whichever tropical island you choose. I’ll be there too, to check you’re still practicing your Qigong!  Remember, there are no fields of wheat on tropical islands, but you can rule your island in which ever way feels best.

I wish you all the best on your travels and adventures, and hope that when you are sitting on your metaphorical beach, drinking your pina colada out of a coconut, you’ll be ever so happy that you shaped up for the hustle.

Enjoy your experience.  Enjoy your new life.  I can’t wait to see what you achieve.

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