Harmony of Mind and Body in Qigong Practices

Harmony in qì gong practices is really an extension of having yin and yang both present in one’s self. One mistake that many practitioners make is that their their qigong practice is largely one of “intention based” movements. They say, “I am making the qì move here, or I am cleansing this or that, or I am cultivating my qì, etc.” and then hollowly move their body. Intention is great, but there should be a tangible change in the body while doing qigong or when finished – not just a relaxation effect. There is nothing wrong with relaxation, but it is not the end-all-be-all of qìgōng. One favorite acupuncture teacher once said to me, “Acupuncture should be like thunder and lightening, things should be zipping around the body and the person should feel different when you are done, from when you started.” Qìgōng is exactly the same! Every practice has a purpose and you should, with some practice, be able to feel a change in your body, your mind, your health, etc during and when done with a practice.

This aliveness can be accomplished by first knowing what you are supposed to get out of a particular form. Then, begin to practice the form with that purpose in mind. Next, if yin and yang, aka mind and body in this metaphor, are both present and working in harmony, your results should be quicker and more dramatic. The idea is a microcosmic representation of “not two.” Break this rule and your results will be slow and sporadic. We observe this harmony in many other places in our life. Just try driving home from work with no mental presence operating your car, or try thinking your way home without your body operating your car. Both are impossible.

In most practices this harmony is accomplished by having your body match the mind’s movements. If you are guiding qi into the lower dantian via the central channel, your body should have a sinking dropping feeling and movement toward your belly and your mind should follow that pathway leading the qi. “The mind leads the qi”, it is said, but not without the body’s participation since qi and blood cannot be separated. It sounds simple, but it is easy to let your mind float off to other topics while your body moves unsupervised. When you notice this, simply refocus the mind and body once again. Yin and Yang both present, not separate, in harmony.