As one of the most powerful ways to cultivate health and vitality, Iron Shirt Qi Gong has attracted practitioners for thousands of years. In our last blog post, we discussed the origin and principles of the unique practice. Today, we’re going to dive in deeper to explore the energies at work in Iron Shirt Qi Gong.
Finding Alignment Within Your Own Internal Universe
One of the fundamental lessons in Qi Gong is about our connection to the universe. In Taoism, we view each person as a microcosm of all existence. Essentially, the same dynamics that are at play around us also exist within us. This means that we can look to the universe to discover important truths about ourselves.
Many of these truths may seem obscure or esoteric at first, but through experience, we can learn how to embody the wisdom that surrounds us. In Iron Shirt Qi Gong, we seek to bring unity and harmony between some of the most powerful forces that exist within our beings.
Previously, we talked about the process of concentrating, or “packing” energy into our organs. In addition to fortifying our body with nourishing Qi, the practice also teaches us how to find alignment between our own energies of heaven, earth, and nature.
In the human body, “heaven” energy is referred to as Shen. Shen is our spiritual consciousness that connects us to the wisdom of the universe. If you’ve ever experienced a feeling of complete harmony with yourself and the world, then you know what Shen energy can do. It allows us to see beyond the individuality that typically separates us from each other and the world.
Earth energy is the physical essence of who you are. Just as the dirt and soil are the foundation that holds the oceans, plants, and creatures, your body is the foundation that allows you to live. Without the physiological matter that comprises your body, you would be unable to experience thoughts or feelings. For humans, we call this earth energy “Jing Qi,” and view it as an important part of who you are.
Nature is everything that exists between Heaven (Shen) and Earth (Jing). In the natural world, nature includes all of the plants and creatures that inhabit our planet. Within humans, nature energy exists where spiritual and physical forces coalesce—emotion.
If you think about it, emotions are the combination of physiological desires combined with spiritual awareness. Of course, these energies don’t always naturally align with one another. Just as a society is weaker when there are deep divisions among its citizens, an individual human is weaker when the mind, body, and spirit are out of alignment. Thus, we seek to practice Qi Gong in order to bring peace and harmony between all parts of who we are.
In Iron Shirt Qi Gong, we learn how to connect the three forces of heaven, earth, and nature. By doing so, we allow our physical, mental, and emotional energies to all work together for the greater good of your entire being. Energetically, this means that you experience a fluid flow of vital energy circulating throughout your body, emotions, and thoughts.
Let’s take a look at a real-life example of how Iron Shirt Qi Gong practices can give you more strength in everyday life. If you reflect on a time of emotional fragility, you may notice that internally something was off. Perhaps, you experienced strong emotions drawing you in one direction, but your mind was pulling you somewhere else. More than likely, this created a state of confusion, reduced confidence, and an inability to move forward with directed power.
Now think of a time when your mind, emotions, and body were all pulling you in the same direction. Perhaps you were in love, or maybe you just discovered a new career that excited you on all possible levels! When things feel clear, you experience a burst of enthusiasm, inspiration, and power that makes all things feel possible. That is the state of being that Iron Shirt Qi Gong helps to cultivate.
How do you go about finding the internal harmony and alignment that we just talked about? Well, there are many ways, and one of these is to work with your body.
Without being mindful of your energy, it’s easy to fall out of alignment with ourselves and the world in general. We just mentioned one example of an internal discord between mind and emotions. One area that we may not always think about is our physical alignment with the world around us.
Have you ever sat in an uncomfortable position for a while and then realized some discomfort in your joints? Or, have you ever worked on your computer in a slouched position and then felt foggy and tired afterward? In both cases, your physical misalignment led to a negative experience that affected your well-being.
In Qi Gong, we seek to find alignment between our physical body and its universal counterpart—the earth. When your body is in alignment with the earth (literally), it experiences its natural state of harmony and peace.
What does it mean to “find harmony” with “earth energy”? Well, part of it is really quite simple. Gravity is the obvious manifestation of earth energy. Therefore, finding harmony with earth energy means finding harmony with gravity.
In Iron Shirt Qi Gong we pay special attention to our structural alignment. By learning standing posture practices that support our body, we seek to exist in harmony with the earth’s energy rather than fight against it. By ceasing to engage in the feudal battle with gravity, we conserve precious energy and protect our joints against unnecessary stress. Energetically, harmonizing with the earth allows us to cultivate its gifts for health and vitality.
Iron Shirt Qi Gong holds a special place in Lee’s heart. At a young age, he started learning these practices from renowned teacher, author, and practitioner, Mantak Chia. Over time, Lee became an expert in his own right, and now he’s excited to share Iron Shirt with others.
On November 17th, Lee will be leading an Iron Shirt Qi Gong workshop in Santa Cruz, California. During the workshop, Lee will teach practices to apply the lessons discussed in this blog post. Among others, Lee will guide students in breathing exercises, moving practices, standing meditations, and postural alignment activities.
While Iron Shirt is a wonderful practice for everyone, it’s especially valuable for those seeking to boost their immune system and preserve their health. This will be a beginner to intermediate workshop, so it’s a perfect opportunity for practitioners of all experience levels to come out and enjoy some Qi.
Click on the banner below to learn more or sign up today.
Written by Ian Drogin