In my first blog on Qi Gong (pronounced: chi gung), I talked about its ability to reduce and even alleviate stress. But as in most eastern methodologies, it has a much deeper, spiritual, side.
With its beginnings in China some 3,000 years ago, the effectiveness of Qi Gong has been proven through its benefits to the health of millions of people over several centuries. Qi Gong Develops the life force, or chi, which is the focus of Taoism, purportedly China's original religion/philosophy. According to Taoist legends. Taoists are the same people who not only brought Qi Gong to the world, but who brought acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bone setting, and the concept of yin and yang.
I’m only interested in the beneficial physical effects of Qi Gong, as I imagine most westerners would be. But Qi Gong is said to also be useful on the spiritual level. The ultimate aim of all inner Taoist practices is the alchemical transformation of the body, mind, and spirit, leading to union with the Tao.
In Taoist philosophy, the Tao is the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order. The interpretation of Tao as it was interpreted in the Tao-te-Ching then developed into the philosophical religion of Taoism.
According to Taoists, feeling the energy of your body makes it possible for you to understand the energy of your thoughts and emotions, and this leads to comprehending the energy of the spirit. From here it is possible to fully understand the energy of meditation or emptiness, and through emptiness it is possible to become one with the Tao.
According to Taoism, every human being contains "the three treasures"—jing (sperm/ovary energy, or the essence of the physical body), chi (energy, including the thoughts and emotions), and shen (spirit or spiritual power). Wu (emptiness) gives birth to and integrates the three treasures.
The Taoists use the all-pervasive life energy as the basis of spiritual investigation. The ultimate goal, becoming one with the Tao, has been called many things, such as "enlightenment," "meeting with the Father in Heaven," "reaching Nirvana," and "ultimate understanding." Taoists feel that it is best for one to begin with the energy of the body, then progress through emotions and thoughts to spiritual power, before going for the ultimate.
Popular opinion has it that once you have reached a state of emptiness, you stay there, but according to Taoists, this idea is false. You merely become increasingly familiar with this state and learn how to spend more and more time there. As long as you live in a physical body, physical needs continue to exert demands, and dwelling completely in emptiness is not possible. Taoism has developed advanced techniques to work with the energy of wu.
All that being said. I just want a way to relax, center, and calm the demands of my mind, my body and my time. I’ll leave the spiritual enlightenment to others. I practice Qi Gong to become physically healthy. The psychological or spiritual pursuits don’t matter. From my research into this practice, I’ve learned that for generations Qi Gong has been used by martial artists, many of whom, like me, remained unconcerned with spiritual development. Nonetheless, I’ve learned that all Taoist spiritual practice begins with Qi Gong practice, no matter what level of attainment one ultimately wishes to achieve.