The way in which we respond to adversity has a profound effect on all aspects of our lives. It’s inevitable that we’ll encounter negative energy and experiences, but at every moment we have a choice about how we deal with the challenges that come our way.
One of the reasons we practice Qi Gong is to become better equipped to handle difficult situations. By working with our thoughts and emotions we can cultivate strength in the face of hardship. One practice that is especially effective for cultivating resilience is called The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade.
Last week, we discussed the origins of the practice and its fundamental qualities. Today, we’re going to dive in deeper to explore the specific movements, as well as how we can use mindfulness to protect ourselves against unwanted energy.
The Eight Movements
As mentioned in our previous blog, The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade was developed by General Yue Fei about 1000 years ago in China. It was originally created to help warriors become stronger for battle, but soldiers soon realized that it was effective far beyond the battlefield.
The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade allows practitioners to find harmony within themselves, which can then be extended to their external environment. As the name implies, the practice often contains eight separate movements (or pieces) that practitioners use to work with various energies and meridians. In some versions, there are twelve specific movements, although fundamentally there are just eight. While each of the movements is separate from one another, we always seek to blend our practice together in a smooth and silky way.
Here is a basic overview of the movements included in the practice. This isn’t intended to teach you how to do the practice (we’ll let Lee do that), but rather, to explain the energies we work within The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade.
The first movement is called Two Hands Hold Up the Heavens. Through the slow, raising and lowering movements of this practice, practitioners seek to activate their Qi in the Triple Burner and circulate it to the rest of their organs. This is a great activating exercise and allows you to get your energy flowing for the following movements.
Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Hawk is the next movement and is great for strengthening the kidneys and waist area. The kidneys correspond to the water element, so this exercise is very helpful for cultivating the flowing qualities that water teaches us.
The next movement is called Separate the Heaven and the Earth. This exercise helps to regulate the spleen, liver, and stomach. It also activates key meridians to ensure that your Qi is flowing fluidly throughout your entire body.
The Wise Owl Gazes Backward is great for flexibility and is great for addressing ailments caused by emotional injury. It also helps to boost your Yin organs and balance your Qi within each.
Next, we move on to Sway the Head and Shake the Tail. This exercise helps to relax the muscles in your lower body as well as reduce excess heart energy.
Two Hands Hold the Feet and Strengthen the Kidneys and Waste is the next exercise. It’s an excellent practice for strengthening your overall muscle health as well as the kidneys. It also increases strength and flexibility around the waist area.
The next exercise is called Clench Your Fists and Glare Fiercely. This practice is aimed at lifting your spirit and increasing your overall vitality. It’s the most outward of all the exercises and also helps to increase overall muscle strength.
The last exercise is called Bouncing on the Toes. It’s great for smoothing out the Qi and helping you integrate all the energies you just cultivated. After this exercise, practitioners usually stand quietly for a few minutes to fully absorb their experience.
From the Battlefield to the Office
While most of us aren’t wielding a sword or spear, we all have our own personal battles that we encounter in daily life. These may include conflicts at work, frustration with your kids, or arguments with your spouse to name a few.
While we fully realize that nothing compares to the very real, traumatizing experience of war, we also recognize that the lessons of resilience can apply to all of our life’s endeavors. Even when our lives may not be in danger, adversity around us can have very harmful effects on our wellbeing and happiness.
The Eight Pieces of the Brocade teaches us how to redirect harmful energies that come our way. Instead of letting hurtful words or actions strike us at the core of our beings, we can learn to allow things to move past us. Mindfulness is an essential element in this process.
In The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade, Lee teaches students how to view the world in a thoughtful and discerning way. If we reflect on many of our experiences of pain, we’ll notice that often our focus in such situations is directed towards the external reality that we experience and not the actual origin of the harmful action. For example, if someone says a mean comment, a natural reaction may be to view the speaker of the comment as a force against us. However, if we step back and view the situation mindfully, we’ll likely notice that the speaker is only the carrier of negative energy. Further, we’ll see that the speaker is suffering from an inability to channel that energy in a healthy way. In other words, the real origin of the hurtful comment is misunderstanding and misdirected negativity. In many cases, if we view the situation mindfully we might even experience compassion for the speaker of the mean comment. Behind every negative action lies pain, so someone who commits harmful actions is only trying to process their pain, albeit in a very dysfunctional way. Understanding the source of someone’s negativity doesn’t excuse it, but it can allow us to be less affected by it.
This is just one example. Life is full of negative experiences that just require a bit of mindfulness in order to transform them in a positive way. The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade expands on this wisdom to offer many actionable practices to embody resilience.
The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade Workshop
As you know, Lee is passionate about helping individuals learn more strategies to cultivate strength and resilience in all ways. As a practice to do just that, Lee has decided to lead a workshop on February 9th called The Eight Pieces of the Silk Brocade. In addition to teaching about mindfulness, Lee will also guide students through the movement practices that help cultivate the qualities we’ve been discussing.
One of the wonderful things about this practice is its far-reaching impact on all aspects of wellbeing. It helps us to build strength, emotional resilience, and physical vitality. Many students may choose to integrate aspects of this workshop into their daily routine, or use these practices whenever a tough situation arises. Click the banner below to learn more and sign up today.
Written by Ian Drogin