Meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong

Meditation: even if you’ve never meditated, and even if you don’t consider yourself spiritual, or if you do, and you want to make a real difference to the way you feel about your life, become clearer in your thinking, more compassionate, more resilient, give it meditation a go, even just once….go on.
Qigong and Tai Chi are in their own ways a kind of moving meditation.  If you finding sitting mediatation too difficult, but want to slow your mind down, and you definitley do, try a qigong or tai chi class.
Here is a link to a Mindvalley blog about some of the many reasons why you should consider a daily meditation practice, and here is a link to how I started, and finally a link to the Michael Mosely Just One Thing podcast about Meditation.

Phil is a Registered Instructor with the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain.






Here is a link to the Just One Thing podcast about Tai Chi by Dr Michael Mosely on BBC Sounds.

I continue to study both tai chi and qigong with my teacher, Tony Ulatowski, a 4th Duan International Master Teacher with Zhong Ding Traditional Martial Arts Association. Tony is the the best teacher I have ever met who teaches how to develop your chi. His teaching comes from the Cheng Man Ching school of tai chi.

In the past I have engaged in many studies to develop and refine my own qi (chi). These include numerous tai chi courses, aikido, yoga, and meditation. Currently, along with my tai chi and qigong, I have a daily mindful meditation practice, which I am also teaching

Qigong is a system of exercise that has evolved over about 5000 years from the time of the Yellow Emperor in China. There are several different kinds of Qigong.  I teach 2; Tranquil qigong (meditation) or Jing gong, and active qigong, dong gong.  Everybody has heard of tai chi, and we are all familiar with the pictures of Chinese people doing the slow rhythmic tai chi movements outdoors.

Here is a video explaining in a clear and accessible way, what you may gain from learning Tai Chi.

Here is an interview in 2 parts with a 15th generation Daoist priest Master Yuan Xiu Gang (Wudang Gong Fu Academy). I love not only what this man says, but also the way he says it!  You may also want to look at his Kung Fu on YouTube.

Qigong incorporates all the health benefits of tai chi, but is much easier to learn.  Tai chi has its own rewards. Come and discover both and see which you prefer! 

See article on tai chi from Time Magazine and some evidence-based research on the health benefits of tai chi and qigong.

The more I have noticed the increasing beneficial effects on both my physical and mental/emotional wellbeing through meditation and qigong, the more interested I have become, and I have definitely noticed an increase in my my own energy, and level of health.  I have not seen the impact of a single therapy be so profound for over 30 years, when I first discovered the effects on homeopathy for myself in the mid 1980’s.

My initial thought was that I could teach qigong to other homeopaths and therapists, as I had found it so useful. Now I see it as being something not just for healers, but something that everybody can access directly for themselves. Qigong seems to make one more steady and sure-footed in every way. It is about bringing nature into ourselves, or perhaps just awakening, or becoming more aware of what is already there.

Some elements of wuji posture
Head suspended as if from above
Tongue on top palate
Breathe through the nose
Chin tucked in a bit
Eyes with soft focus on the ground about 3 metres in front of you
Arms hanging loosely by the sides, as if a soft, comfortable ping pong ball under each armpit
The breath should be long slow and fine
Inside of elbows point towards the ribs
Lively hands, fingers spaced, “fair maiden’s hand”
Tail bone tucked
Knees off lock
Outside of the feet parallel, as if a line between the centre of the heels and the 2nd toes would go to infinity
Weight on the yong quan point on the inside of the large ball of the feet

The drop-in class I teach is based around the 18 Shibashi:
Starting position: Standing wuji
1) opening the chest
2) dancing the rainbow
3) parting the clouds
4) rolling the arms
5) rowing in the middle of the lake
6) throwing the ball
7) turn to look at the moon
8) push palms to the side
9) wave hands like cloud
10) searching the sea
11) pushing the wave
12) dove spreads its wing
13) horses stance tigers eyes
14) wild goose spreads its wings
15) turn like a wheel
16) bouncing the ball
17) fusing heaven and earth
18) gathering the qi
Finishing position: hands on dan tien

8 Brocades (Ba Duan Jin):
1) 2 hands support the heavens (interlace the fingers) (triple heater)
2) the archer: draw the bow and let the arrow fly (liver heart lungs)
3) separating heaven and earth (stomach and spleen)
4) wise owl gazes backward over the shoulder (shoulders, clarity and intuition)
5) swing the head and the tail to calm the fire (heart fire, balance and ease)
6) 2 hands climb the legs to strengthen the kidneys (water element, tenacity, inner strength, stillness)
7) horse’s stance: punch with eyes wide (liver – good for helping to let anger out in an appropriate way, and for arthritis in lower arms)
8) shake the back 7 times to eliminate 100 illnesses and settle the qi

Short film about qigong and daoism

“Tai chi chuan, commonly known as tai chi, is an internal martial art. Without a solid qigong foundation, it is just a slow and gentle exercise. At best, you just feel more relaxed and flexible by practicing it that way. Proper breathing and meditative techniques as well as the use of ‘qi’ are the keys to maximize the health benefits of tai chi.

People generally experience the health benefits when practicing qigong faster than when they practice tai chi. Even the world famous tai chi grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang recommends that people practice qigong instead of tai chi to gain health benefits if time is an issue. However, practicing tai chi and qigong at the same time is most beneficial.” Sifu Weng Chung

Qigong is the exercise done by many tai chi players to promote and develop their chi (qi).  The literal translation of qi is breath, but it also means energy; the Chinese calligraphy for qi is a simmering pot of rice. This then is the symbology of qi, that the breath is energy. Gong means work. Qigong then is breath work, where the understanding of breath is energy.

Here is the first in a series of videos, by my teacher, Tony Ulatowski, this one is the opening of the Tai Chi form

Kenneth Cohen
I recently did a 3 day training with Kenneth Cohen all about Primordial Qigong. Here is an interview with Ken which you may find of interest.

There are 4 main aspects of qigong:

  • Healing qigong (yi gong). Healing qigong (sometimes translated “medical qigong”) is the preventive and self-healing aspect of Chinese medicine. Stress affects us all. Qigong is a tool we can use to control our reactions to stress so that life events do not cause such symptoms as high blood pressure, frustration, or anxiety. Healthy people practice qigong to become super-healthy. Healers use qigong to prevent “healer burn-out” and to maintain a positive presence.
  • External qi healing (wai qi zhi liao). Qigong includes a sophisticated system of health assessment and non-contact treatment called external qi healing (EQH). The healer learns to tap into a well of healing energy in nature and “funnel” it through his or her body. Unlike some purely intuitive systems, EQH includes exercises that increase sensitivity to energy fields and efficacy of treatment. The more you practice external qi healing exercises and meditations, the more effective your healing treatment. External qi healing techniques may be used as a stand-alone form of wellness treatment or may be combined with massage, acupuncture, Therapeutic Touch, osteopathy, or any other form of body-work. Because treatment is generally performed at a distance from the body, EQH does not violate psychotherapists’ professional ethics (which do not allow touching the patient) and is thus an ideal adjunct to body-centered psychotherapy.
  • Sports qigong (wu gong). In sports and martial arts, qigong is the key to strength, stamina, coordination, speed, flexibility, balance, and resistance to injury. Qigong exercises can improve performance in any sport, improving the golf drive (I have noticed this), tackling ability in football, accuracy in tennis, and stamina in swimming.
  • Spiritual qigong (fo gong, tao gong). As a spiritual discipline, qigong leads to self-awareness, tranquillity, and harmony with nature. The spiritual aspect of qigong evolved from Taoism and Buddhism.