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Chi Kung / Qi Gong

History and application

Chi Kung is said to have developed over more than 5000 years having its origins from ancient shamanic meditative practices in China. These practices were applied to various fields and eventually  evolved to become part of what we now know as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In modern practice, chi kung typically focuses more on health and meditation and is used to build strength, increasing mobility, heal chronic medical conditions, calm the mind and emotions by balancing the energy, develop breath control, and increase vitality (life force/energy).  It is however also used for martial application, moral training, to expand one's lifespan and access higher realms of existence.

Tai Chi vs. Chi Kung

If you can imagine that your internal self is represented by the organs, fluids and the merging of Heaven and Earth energies in our body-mind connection, the extremities and muscles are relatively external. External Chi Kung usually means that the methods include movement of the muscles and extremities, where Internal Chi Kung focuses more on the organs. 

Martial arts practices, which often have a Chi cultivation component, express the power of the Chi in the muscles and extremities, but this Chi stems from the organs. So, these external forms of Chi cultivation, like martial arts, can have an internal component as well, one of the principles of Kung Fu. Tai Chi therefore, is considered an internal form of martial art, but an external form of Chi Kung.

Personal Experience

Annelie doing chi kung in a mountain temple in China

Annelie started her initial training in 2010 with Healer, Zen-Buddhist and Movement Master, Konstantin Pavlidis for 7 years.  In 2012 she was initiated into the Mongolian/Tibetan Vajrayana path, and still following practices from the Tibetan Trulkor Yogic system, guided by Kung Fu Master, Lama Gevi Jampa Rinpoche.  Her training expanded further during her journey to China for an intensive 6 month training by a Buddhist Shaolin Kung Fu Master as well as a Taoist Kung Fu and Chi Master in 2019.  

Chi Kung, Yoga, Meditation and Tantric healing practices is the basis for many other applications she has been trained in, which includes Tai Chi, Xing Yi, and Bagua, practices of the Iron Shirt, Shaolin Kung Fu as well as various forms of Healing. 
 During competitions in China in 2019 she was awarded: 
- 1 silver and 2 gold medals for Hard Chi Kung, 
- 2 silver and 1 gold for Chen style Tai Chi 
- 2 silver and 1 gold for Shaolin Kung Fu.

She has been teaching the principles of Kung Fu, Healing, Movement, Meditation, Tantra, Zen and Buddhist lineages through various forms of Meditation, Movement and Healing practices Internationally since 2018. Her teaching style focuses more on "Wuji" Chi Kung, also known as the dancing within chaos, spontaneous, formless or primordial Chi Kung. Since the same principles applies in how we relate to the world around us, her students include Yoga Practitioners, Martial Arts students, Business people and Leaders from various industries including Political, Economical, Environmental, Medical and the Entertainment Industry.  

Interesting facts about Chi Kung

* The most advanced practice generally contains little or no motion, also called "Iron Shirt" Chi Kung, which helps to prepare and protect the body and mind from strong impact. For martial artists, chi kung training is credited as the basis for developing extraordinary powers such as the ability to withstand blows and the ability to break hard objects.

* In some medical systems, a Chi Kung master uses non-contact treatment, actively guiding chi through his or her own body into the body of another person for healing.

* Traditionally these practices are passed on from a Master to a Disciple through a lineage.  Therefore the essence of the accumulated wisdom gained through experience is passed on, rather than just movements or theory. 

Basic Principles

Whether viewed from the perspective of exercise, health, spirituality, philosophy, or martial arts training, several main principles emerge concerning the practice of Chi Kung, which I copied from Wikipedia and edited slightly from my own experience.

Intentional movement: careful, flowing balanced style
Rhythmic breathing: slow, deep, coordinated with fluid movement
Awareness: calm, focused meditative state
Visualization: of chi flow, natural law and appretiation of beauty
Chanting/Sound: use of sound as a focal point

Additional principles:

Softness: soft gaze, expressionless face
Solid Stance: firm footing, erect and light spine
Relaxation: relaxed muscles, slightly bent joints
Balance and Counterbalance: motion over the center of gravity

Advanced benefits:

Equanimity: more fluid, more relaxed
Tranquility: empty mind, high awareness
Stillness: smaller and smaller movements, eventually to complete stillness

Health and other benefits

The effect of chi kung practice is very subjective depending on a person's life state, previous experience and level of development energetically and spiritually.  Most people tend to exprerience feelings of calm, peace and well being, where other learn to heal themselves through the practice in order to  to eventually cure themselves from chronic medical conditions.

For those who practice Chi Kung as part of their journey towards self-enlightenment, miraculous powers, visions and out of body experiences are common among both Buddhist and Taoist practitioners. Whatever the exprience of the inidividual, it definitely increases recovery time after training and help to regenerate energy in the body which is needed for healing as well as a sense of general well-being.

In China, Chi Kung is commonly prescribed to treat a wide variety of conditions as part of their Traditional Medical system.  Chi Kung can treat conditions like hypertension, atherosclerosis, chronic pain, stomach ulcers, chronic liver problems, diabetes, obesity, menopausal symptoms, parkinsons, chronic fatigue, insomnia, tumors and cancer, lower back, shoulder, neck and leg pain, cervical spondylosis, and eye problems.  Outside China, Chi Kung is used to complement or supplement medical treatments as part of rehabilitation and relaxation which sometimes form part of and Integrative Medical approach. 

Mental Health

Chi Kung has the ability to improved mood, decrease the reaction triggered by stressful experiences in the body, and is known to bring more balance to those who suffer from anxiety and depression. Although most medical research studies generally examine psychological factors as secondary objectives, many studies showed that the practice of chi kung has the ability to decrease cortisol levels that comes from stress.

Chi Kung is a movement practice that focuses of slow, stable and co-ordinated movements. But it is not only the movement that is important, but the harmony of the movement with the breath, as well as the calm relaxed focus of the mind.  A big part of the practice of chi kung is to also learn how to bring the mind inside the body, instead of focusing on aspects external to oneself.  

Due to this co-ordination required to bring all the aspect of one's being in alignment, it can also lead to what is called a zen state, where thoughts disappear and the only thing that exist is this one moment, here and now.  By creating this aligned, relaxed yet focused and clear mind inside the body, a person can respond to life from a more grounded perspective and movement comes from a less "aggitated" energy flow, which helps to teach the body how to flow in movement.

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