What does freedom mean to you? On July 4th, Americans everywhere celebrate our nation’s historic break from foreign military control. With independent minds, humans have a natural tendency to value autonomy and self-rule. We don’t like others telling us how to live our lives and are willing to go through great lengths to ensure our freedom.
While most of us think of freedom as the sovereignty from outside physical control, there’s another form which is equally important and often more difficult to experience: mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how Qi Gong is a powerful practice for personal liberation, and share a brief exercise to help you stay true to yourself
Staying True to Yourself
In Qi Gong and Taoism, we view personal freedom as the ability to be in touch with your inner truth and allowing it to guide you. In fact, this intention lies at the foundation of Taoism principles and exists within every Qi Gong practice that Lee teaches. When we’re able to attune our mind, body, and spirit to our deepest calling, we can experience an abundance of energy flowing throughout us.
Even if we’re physically free and don’t have someone else telling us what to do, becoming truly free isn’t always simple. Each of us are susceptible to the opinions and views of the world we live in, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate outside influences from our own core beliefs.
When external values and views start to seep into our subconscious, our orientation toward life can shift away from our inner truth and stifle personal growth.
Sometimes, it’s obvious to ourselves when we’ve deviated from our highest self. An uncomfortable feeling in your stomach or knotted sensation in your chest might be clear signs that you’ve gone off track. If you find that your body is giving you sure signals that something is off, it’s probably a good idea to reevaluate your decisions.
At other times, separating yourself from others’ perspectives and finding the right path may seem a lot less certain. Perhaps, your body is giving you conflicting signals and different energies are pulling your heart and mind in conflicting directions. When this happens, it’s not just important to look carefully, but also to sharpen your vision.
Inner Vision and the Metal Element
In Qi Gong, your inner truth is connected to the metal element. When the metal element is strong within you, it becomes much easier to be in touch with your authenticity and integrity. Instead of feeling muddled about the path before you, confusion starts to melt away and truth reveals itself.
When it comes to your mental and emotional state, following your inner truth always reflects freedom. By really being in touch with your deepest self, it becomes much easier to cast away the confines and limitations that your environment may seek to impose on you. Instead of living by someone else’s values and priorities, you can have the independence and strength to stay loyal to your own path.
As mentioned above, inner truth and clarity is connected to the metal element, which is also connected to the lungs. Therefore, breathing exercises are a great way to strengthen the metal element and reconnect to your most authentic self.
Breathing and Journaling Exercise
Since Qi Gong is all about experiencing wisdom, not just intellectually understanding it, we thought we’d share a simple breathing exercise and journaling practice to help you cultivate mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom whenever the need arises.
This is a powerful yet easy practice that you can use to help with both life decisions as well as your everyday wellbeing. Even if you’re not facing a big, important choice it can still be very helpful to focus on getting grounded and rooted before starting your day.
Like with all of the meditations and practices we share on this blog, we encourage you to read through it a couple times before you begin. This exercise is a great way to either start or finish a moving Qi Gong routine and can be practiced five minutes to thirty minutes (or longer) depending on your own needs.
Meditation: Connecting to Your Inner Truth
Start by finding a quiet place to sit and relax. A bedroom, living room, or out in nature are great choices.
Once you’re settled, start to take slow, deep breaths. Breath in and out through your nose.
Focus your attention on each breath and notice how your body feels. For the first several breaths, just try to become present with yourself and be aware of your own experience.
Once you’ve found presentness with yourself, try to notice how each breath makes your body feel. How does it feel to inhale slowly and deeply through your nose? What happens within your body on your exhale? By attuning your awareness to the subtleties of your breath, you’ll naturally strengthen your connecting to your body and self.
Now, on your exhale, start to imagine yourself sinking deeper into your body. Imagine your awareness seeking into the depths of your body and concentrating within you. More than likely, this will allow you to become conscious of parts of yourself, both physically and emotionally, that you may not have been in touch with before the meditation.
If your intention is to find inner guidance for a decision or way of being, now is the time to bring that into your meditation. As you continue breathing and focusing your attention on your physical existence, allow the thought or decision to enter your experience of your body.
As you hold space for the thought or decision within your body, notice how your body reacts to it. Does the decision or thought excite you and give you energy? Does it create an uncomfortable or repulsive feeling? Just pay close attention to your experience and try not to judge your reaction to the thought or feeling.
Now, while you’re still taking deep breaths, try to continue holding space for your experience and open your eyes. Take out a piece of paper and write down what came to you through this meditation. By writing your experience down, your true thoughts and feelings about a decision or choice will become more clear to you. Instead of orienting toward others’ perspectives, this exercise can help you to base your state of being and choices on your own, deepest truths that live within you.
As mentioned, this exercise can be practiced daily, or reserved for times when you need a little extra boost of personal inspiration for your own true path in life. Remember, that energetic freedom is the ability to remain authentic in your true self in the face of external circumstances that could bring you away from your center.
From all of us at Holden QiGong, we wish you a very happy 4th of July and look forward to sharing more Qi with you soon.
By Ian Drogin