How Qigong Calms & Strengthens Your Focus?
Have you ever wondered how Qigong “works”? Well…if you ever wondered, here is the post for you. Recently I have been contemplating how to improve my own Qigong forms, technique and results. In my reflections I’ve discovered some interesting findings. Further understnading the changes that can happen from Qigong physically and the effects of Qigong practice outside the “session."
Qigong is like second nature to me, I often forget that beginner’s perspective on HOW and WHY qigong practice works the way it does. So let me circle back and explain the mechanics of it from an energetic, physical and mental perspective. Here we go!
Can You Feel the QI?
Qigong is generally translated as “energy cultivation”. (or circulation of Qi) In a traditional context, the whole focus is to work with qi. Keeping this in mind, qi travels along the meridians or channels which is the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are 12 Meridians, 8 Extraordinary Meridians and Three Levels (san jiao) in China’s understanding of energy work. Not sure what I'm referring to? Read my post on meridians, channels and the San Jiao.
However, don’t worry too much about the technicalities of what each meridian does etc, just keep in mind that in Qigong, we work with meridians and the jiaos, predominantly the lower jiao also known as the dantien or hara. The reason being we store our energy or qi in the dantien so in Qigong we work on expanding its capacity.
How does Qigong physically work?
Generally in Qigong practices we are opening the meridians via stretching them out so “qi” can flow through them more smoothly. By increasing the flow of “qi” your body will then regulate itself with a fluid flow. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we equate a smoother flow of qi with better blood circulation. It is often said in TCM that “Qi is the commander of blood; blood is the mother of qi.” With increased blood circulation you can nourish the tendons, muscles and organs which in turn affects your mental state and emotions. Resulting in a healthier, more relaxed mind, body and spirit.
Qigon and Your Emotions
So how does qigong affect your mind then? Well, the body is circulating blood and qi, which improves the mental functionality since the “Shen (meaning spirit) lives in the blood." What does this mean? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we view each of the 5 “full” organs (known as the zang organs) each house a spirit or psycho-emotional archetype. Shen in particular relates to your heart, which in turn is your consciousness. So if your Shen is rooted in your blood and you’re increasing the circulation and flow via qi, the trickling effects of circulation helps to calm down and feel more relaxed during a Qigong form.
Taking this further, by increasing the blood flow, contracting and stretching the muscles and tendons you’re giving your body an internal massage. Think of it like you're giving your internal spirit (shen) a nice massage. All your other organs are getting a massage – meaning your liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs are being taken care of. And yes, you're right! All the organs listed have their own “spirit”, its just that the heart is seen as the “emperor”.
Correspondences of 5 Zang Organs
- Heart & mind (Shen)/ Emperor- Fire
- Liver & ethereal soul (Hun)/ General- Wood
- Lungs & corporeal soul (Po)/ Prime Minister-Metal
- Spleen & thought (Yi)/ Official of Granary- Earth
- Kidneys & will power (Zhi)/ Official of Waterworks- Water
So going back to how this increases your focus, well…if your mind being the Shen is being circulated throughout the body through blood- it helps to improve the interactions with all the "spirits". In particular the Yi and Zhi, Yi refers to your thoughts, Zhi your willpower.
But WAIT! There's More... Stay tune for Part 2 and the shocking conclusion of Qigongand how it really works with your mind...