Tag Archives: energy

taoism and dzogchen

while taoism originated in China (during the 4th century) and the dzogchen tradition emerged from ancient Tibetan teachings, both share very similar methods and goals. These paths of practice are designed to awaken the practitioners to a direct experience of being present in the moment, to allow them a direct experience of a state of awareness.

trulkhor

Dzogchen teachings emphasise a primordial open awareness as the base for practice, this awareness is centred around the state of rigpa which can be described as ‘nondual awareness’. Rigpa practices contain many different meditative forms, including both stationary and moving practices.

The equivalent of energy or chi in the dzogchen tradition is called ‘tsa lung’ and a number of movement and energy development systems have been developed and are often referred to as trul-khor or kum nye.

tai chi classics

The foundational principles of tai chi were written in a collection of writings called the tai chi classics. Some of these pages were found in a corner of a salt store near the Chen village in China in the nineteenth century. The tai chi classics are the historical wisdom of the old masters that in a very cryptic way tell us what we should include within our practice.

scrolls

Nowhere in the classics, beyond the 13 postures, are the names of the various tai chi techniques, movements and methods mentioned. We are only given generalised taoist chi gung principles, philosophical concepts, and fighting strategies. Even the original 13 postures mentioned in the classics are not presented as specific how-to instructions; rather they refer to general internal energy principles.

Some examples of writings contained within the classics include;

in motion the whole body should be light and agile, with all parts of the body linked as if threaded together.
~ t’ai chi ch’uan ching (attributed to chang san-feng c.1279-1386)

tai chi comes from wu chi and is the mother of yin and yang. In motion tai chi separates; in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to wu chi.
~ treatise on tai chi chuan (attributed to wang tsung-yueh)

when moving, there is no place that does not move. when still, there is no place that is not still. first seek extension, then contraction;
then it can be fine and subtle.
~ insights into the practice of the thirteen postures (wu yu-hsiang)

pay attention to the waist at all times; completely relax the abdomen and the chi rises up. When the tailbone is centered and straight, the spirit goes through to the headtop. To make the whole body light and agile suspend the headtop. Carefully study. Extension and contraction, opening and closing, should all be natural.
~ song of the thirteen postures (unknown)

tai chi alignment

Tai chi progressively develops gross and subtle physical coordination, and it is one of the most sophisticated methods of integrated whole-body movement. Tai chi training can be as strenuous and invigorating as aerobics, even though it can look deceptively easy and relaxed. Often those starting to practice tai chi use muscles that they didn’t know they had, and before you really learn to relax and soften your body, the habitual tension stored in your legs and shoulders may make your body tremble and ache during initial stages of practice.

tcalg

However, you don’t have to be an expert to benefit from learning tai chi – even when done poorly, tai chi fosters vibrant health from deep within your body. As you grow in experience and are able to pay more attention to your body alignments and the energy mechanics of tai chi, you’ll find you gain more and more from your practice.

A core principle of tai chi practice is that of alignment – making sure all parts of the body are in an optimum place in relation to each other; this includes the position of the head, spine, knees, elbows, arms, hands and legs, as well as a number of aspects of the body below the skin. When the body is relaxed and in alignment everything that moves through it can do so in a less impeded way, helping to ensure a free-flow in the energetic system, oxygen, blood and nutrients as well as increasing the overall ease of movement.

chi gung

Chi gung is a Chinese term that describes a wide range of physical exercises, these are typically composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how energy moves through the body.

When you learn a chi gung exercise, there are both external (physical) movements and internal (energy) movements, and in China these internal movements or flows are called nei-gung (or internal energy) – it is these internal movements that differentiate chi gung from most other forms of exercise in the West, which often emphasise cardiovascular development or muscular strength.

Chi gung was primarily developed as an exercise system to keep people healthy and it is practiced by people of all spiritual and religious persuasions. Although the origin of chi gung is Taoist, there is no necessity to learn or understand its philosophy to practice Chi gung.

Chi gung is a Chinese term that describes a wide range of physical exercises, these are typically composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the energy moves through the body.

When you learn a chi gung exercise, there are both external (physical) movements and internal (energy) movements, and in China these internal movements or flows are called nei-gung (or internal energy) – it is these internal movements that differentiate chi gung from most other forms of exercise in the West, which often emphasise cardiovascular development or muscular strength.

Chi gung was primarily developed as an exercise system to keep people healthy and it is practiced by people of all spiritual and religious persuasions. Although the origin of chi gung is Taoist, there is no necessity to learn or understand its philosophy to practice Chi gung.

pushing hands

Pushing hands is a two person tai chi practice, which complements the individual practice of the tai chi form. When you practice the tai chi form, you are exploring how energy moves within your own body, but with pushing hands you have the benefit of understanding the interplay of your own energy with that of a partner.

At a superficial level, the objective of pushing hands is to attempt to affect your partner’s balance while simultaneously doing your best to prevent your own balance from being affected. At a more significant level, you are developing many aspects of your mind while understanding how energy and form relate to one another.

Some of the purposes of tai chi pushing hands include;

1. To maintain continuous contact with your partners arms/hands until one of you unbalances the other.
2. To learn to relax under pressure.
3. To neutralise a partners force and speed and use it to your advantage.
4. To be able to remain calm, centred and alert in the face of physical pressure or mental force.
5. To develop the ability to detect subtle movements, energy flows and changes in speed, direction and pressure.
6. To enable the mind to focus on the present moment and increase its awareness.