About a year ago I started reading Daoist Nei Gong by Damo Mitchell (an Eastern arts practitioner, acupuncturist and teacher). It is an extremely clear and well-written explanation of its subject, and provides a great introduction to the nei gong (an extension of qigong, literally “internal work”), exercises. Through reading, and re-reading, and my initial explorations of the practices, I believe my understanding of qi is progressing, as I slowly become more familiar with the concept and process of ‘internal cultivation’.
Damo defines nei gong as: “the process by which a person may condition their physical body, cultivate their internal universe and elevate their consciousness (DNG p. 18)”.
Whilst this is true, to me it is also an exploration; of silence, of breath, of movement and even of resilience and endurance. Holding ‘wuji’ (the basic standing posture) for any length of time throws up pain in many guises. These include a very physical burning ache in the feet, calves and thighs as the muscles slowly adjust to a new alignment; as well as uncomfortable thoughts. It’s odd how when stuck in a static posture, you start to notice how much activity is happening within. I have found that issues from the past which I thought I had processed start to rear their ugly heads again when I have no where to go, and am unable to distract myself with other pursuits. In this state you also start to get a sense of where these feelings register in the body – a tightness around the stomach or chest, a lump in the throat…. In some ways I guess it is comparable to meditation, although Damo describes it as a reverse process, training the body to still the mind, rather than stilling the mind to effect changes in the body.
Even though I am aware of the irony in saying this, I now find it hard to believe that it is possible to qualify as an acupuncturist without a strong viagrafreesample.com grounding in, or regular conduct of, this practice. However this is exactly what I did…. albeit consequently with an inablity to shake off a niggling sense that something was missing, that I needed another piece of the puzzle to make sense of the system. It is still early days, but I do believe that part of that lacking was a personal experience of this so-called ‘qi’, tangible and internal and identifiable, which is what practicing nei gong appears to be providing.
In the treatments we give at Yuji, where we are constantly mimicking our patients and trying to copy their stance and gait, this becomes all the more important. I was told once that all we need to do is identify lines or areas of the patient’s body that are static, and help them to move. This is not always obvious from observation alone, but by copying how someone stands and moves sometimes we contact areas that suddenly feel tight or constricted or out of line. If through regular qigong practice you have a thorough familiarity with the connections within your own system then it follows that your interpretation of someone else’s will be more accurate. If you have access to a full range of motion (which is developed through the stretches & exercises of qigong) and can feel the inner webbing connecting your muscles and tendons and bones (fascial network) then it follows that you can predict and anticipate how certain movements or changes will affect another’s system.
I am still very much at the early stages of this internal work, gradually opening up new energetic movements within my body as I am slowly able to access different levels of release and connection. I have found the books and online resources of Lotus Neigong to be invaluable in safely exploring these new experiences. It is an unusual practice, and not something that is easy to explain or communicate to friends or family who are not in the ‘alternative’ zone, but it makes so much sense of everything else and intuitively feels so fascinating that there is plenty of incentive to persevere. It is slightly addictive in that the more you practice the more you feel and the more you want to keep progressing….. It makes you understand how the ancient sages ended up retreating from society to fully realise this one goal. However the challenge for me (and others I am sure) exists in finding balance – apropos of everything Chinese medicine…. – between engaging in daily life of family, friends and work, whilst also finding time to train and retreat and explore in this very personal and ultimately quite solitary pursuit.