Meditation is a great way to calm the mind, release stress, and center emotions. With a consistent practice, meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits for both mental and physical health.
Similarly, physical exercise is widely recognized as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It’s obvious that moving your body is important, and most of us make it a priority to get out and exercise regularly.
Since it’s clear that both meditation and physical exercise are important, why do we often view the two activities as separate? Why aren’t there more activities that combine both meditation and exercise? Qi Gong is a practice that exists at the intersection between the two; this blog post will discuss why that’s important.
A Wandering Mind and Restless Body
Meditation is an amazing practice that can heal us in innumerable ways. Returning to center, remembering what’s real, and letting go of tension are all key benefits to a regular practice. As Qi Gong practitioners, most of us have a consistent, stable meditation routine that helps us to process our lives.
Sometimes meditation is effortless and easeful. At other times, our body or mind just doesn’t want to sit still. Isn’t it frustrating to sit on your mat and realize that your mind just keeps spinning out of control? Sometimes, sitting still and meditating almost seems to make it worse. Although humans are intellectual creatures with immensely powerful minds, we’re also physical beings. Our consciousness lives not just in our mind, but also in our body.
It’s well known that movement and exercise causes a release of dopamine and other endorphins that affect our thoughts and emotions. Haven’t you noticed how after a long run or engaging work out that your mind feels more clear and able to focus? Movement causes our Qi to awaken and flow throughout our entire being. However, if we just continue on with our day after our exercise, we’re not going to be able to harness the full effects that exercise brings us.
Qi Gong is a practice that invites us to bring the consciousness of meditation into the art of physical movement. By moving with mindfulness and intention, we can truly tap into the energy and Qi that is in all parts of our physical body. When we bring our attention to what is taking place in the body, both our mind and body flourish as a result of the synergetic union.
Mind and body are naturally predisposed to work together. However, unfortunately, the modern way of living brings a disconnect between the two. Qi Gong is an effective and natural way to reestablish that connection and bring integration of your full being.
Mind and Body Supporting One Another
Mind and body influence one another. As conscious beings, we can use each to nurture the other.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb, “it is through movement that I know stillness.” In Qi Gong, we use the movements of the body to bring stillness and focus to the mind. When the mind can become fully immersed in the movements of our Qi Gong practice, there is a unification that occurs throughout our entire being. Because the mind is grounded in the movements of the practice, trivial thoughts and worries fade from view and we sink deeper into reality.
As Isaac Newton famously pointed out: “[An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.]” The same is true of our mind, and Qi Gong movements can be the “outside” physical force that helps the mind find peace and stillness.
In meditation without movement, it can be harder to find the inner peace and connectedness that Qi Gong allows. Of course, all things are possible, but Qi Gong provides us with a multi-layered approach that is both somatic as well as psychological.
Once our mind has found stillness and integration, we can begin to bring greater intention to working with our mind through meditation.
In movement Qi Gong, our body is active while our mind is still. In meditation Qi Gong, our body is still while we bring our awareness on an intentional journey of mind consciousness. Unlike some other forms of meditation, in Qi Gong meditations, our mind is usually not blank and at complete rest. Often, Qi Gong meditations are practices with an intention for emotional clearing, physical nourishment, or emotional balancing.
Many Qi Gong meditations use visualization to cultivate the physical qualities that we’re seeking in our body. For example, the “White Light” meditation brings cleansing Qi to all parts of our body for health and vitality. Just as we use physical movement practices to nurture the mind, we use meditation practices in our mind to cultivate the body.
Yin and Yang are always alive within us, and Qi Gong is one of those rare practices that bring mindful awareness to both mind and matter within us.
Cultivating Your Regular Practice
It’s important to be consistent with your Qi Gong practice in order to fully experience its benefits. Qi Gong isn’t the kind of thing you can do every once in a while to feel good. It truly does take practice, support, and guidance to progress and grow.
At Holden Qi Gong, we offer classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings from 5:30 to 6:45pm. Most of these practices take place live in Santa Cruz, California, but students can follow along online from the comfort of their own homes. Unlike pre-recorded lectures and classes, each lesson is designed for the individual day and is practiced by other members all around the country.
Lee’s classes focus on both physical movement Qi Gong, and well as various meditation practices. There’s something truly magical about participating in regular, individualized classes with other like-minded practitioners. Also, it’s always quite a bit easier to stay committed and on track when you have the support and encouragement of a dedicated group.
Lee’s subscription service is a great way to stay connected to Lee, the practice, and everything that Holden QiGong has to offer. You already understand the value of cultivating both your mind and body, so click here to check out our subscription service today.
By Ian Drogin