A lot of people find qigong because they want or need more energy. Maybe they feel tired most of the time, they have chronic tension or pain that depletes their energy, or they need more energy to deal with a stressful job or home life.
A 'Golden Exercise'
There are certain qigong exercises that are really good for restoring energy. One of these is Carrying the Moon. It is known as one of the 'golden' exercises of the 18 Lohan Hands (a set of 18 qigong exercises passed down from Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Temple). Carrying the Moon is a beautiful exercise that helps to release tension, reset the nervous system and restore emotional balance.
This video takes you through the form of Carrying the Moon:
Mind and Energy Skills
Doing Carrying the Moon at the physical level (just doing the movements without using any skill of mind or energy) will have some benefits. But qigong becomes much more powerful when you include mind and energy skills, including:
- Entering a Qigong State of Mind, also known as entering Zen
- Generating an energy flow
- Allowing energy to circulate
- Coming to stillness
Relax, Release, Restore
In classes with Fully Alive, you will learn these skills step by step, to supercharge your movement practice. You then only need a short 10-15 minute qigong practice to release unnecessary tension and restore your energy.
Once you have the foundation skills of qigong, you can use any of the qigong forms you know to rebalance your mind, body, energy and emotions. You can start to explore the ways they affect you, and the different outcomes they have.
Spread and Depth
In qigong classes, we talk about spread and depth of practice. You might only ever practice a few different forms, and find they are all you need. Your practice continues to deepen as you refine your skill.
You might wish to broaden your practice to include more techniques, as you increase your skill level - bringing in spread as well as depth. What isn't recommended is spread without depth. This is when someone may learn lots of different forms, but without knowing the mind and energy skills that would take their practice deeper.
Coming Back to Basics
It is also useful come back to practicing qigong at the form level now and then. We don't want to get into a habit of always practicing the same way, and that includes always going into a deep state.
Practicing at the level of physical form can increase our body awareness and relaxation, as well as allow the mind to focus. This can prepare the way for deeper levels of training including
- Cleansing (letting go of stress, tension, old habits and conditioning)
- Building (gathering or increasing the amount of energy you have available to you)
- Nourishing (increasing the quality of energy)
All our weekly classes include mind and energy skills along with physical practice to improve your health and increase your energy levels. Beginners are always welcome.
Or you might want to try our Level One online course, which takes you through the techniques and skills of qigong step by step.
And you can find more form video clips on our social media channels:
In qigong and meditation practice, thoughts, feelings and physical sensations will come into our awareness. It is sometimes described as holding up a mirror and seeing ourselves more clearly.
Often simply becoming aware of something will allow it to change. What comes up can pass easily, like clouds on a windy day. But some things seem to stick around, and may appear to get in the way of our progress.
People are drawn to qigong practice because they want to clear old thought patterns, stuck emotions and physical tensions. When someone is new to the practice, the changes that happen may be obvious, like a sudden jump from one state to another. There can be moments of profound understanding and sometimes blissful feelings. Later it can be difficult to remember what has already changed, and deeper patterns might start to emerge that don’t clear as quickly. So what do we do when this happens?
First, we aren’t trying to get rid of any thoughts and feelings. It’s more about relating to them differently. By coming to a place of stability and stillness in every practice, and developing a felt sense of the physical body, thoughts and feelings automatically become less consuming. Over time the sense of stability grows. We start to see things more clearly and some things naturally stop bothering us as much. But some ‘stuff’ may keep coming back. And that’s ok, and not a sign you are doing anything wrong.
Relax, don't worry, enjoy!
As Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit would often say, it is important not to worry, to relax, and enjoy the practice. These are principles that are built in from your very first lesson. Sometimes it is easy to be relaxed and to enjoy what you are doing. Sometimes less so. Ideas can start to come in that we are getting it wrong, or maybe there is something wrong with the practice itself. There has to be an element of trust: if you do the practice and follow the instructions without adding anything extra, then things will change. Whatever is coming up will clear in time, like changes in the weather.
It may help to remember that the practice is time-tested, and people have been using the same principles for hundreds of years in the Shaolin and Zen traditions. And as things do shift and change, trust will start to develop in your own capability and in the practice itself.
Having a teacher and a community of other students is so valuable, because when you reach a difficult point in your training (which you will), then you get the support you need to go beyond it. If you only practice on your own, it is much, much harder to overcome the challenges that arise, and so you may stop making progress or give up altogether.
Why do we keep practicing?
The question might then come up, why would anyone choose to step out on this journey when it can be so challenging?
The answer is that it does make life more enjoyable. You feel better, more free, with more energy. You find yourself able to do things and deal with things that you couldn’t before. Maybe opportunities open up that previously you wouldn’t have seen.
Carl Jung said "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate". So we keep doing the practice and keep unfolding.
Practicing qigong for just 10 minutes a day can be a journey of transformation. We can use tried and tested principles to allow positive, useful change.
In qigong and meditation practice, with the right guidance you can easily reach deeply relaxed states of mind that can feel quite profound or blissful. But aiming for these states, and wanting to stay in them, can be a trap that slows down your progress.
Regulating Mind States
In classes with Fully Alive, you learn skills that allow you to be deeply relaxed and expanded. You also learn how to safely come back to a more everyday state of mind. You will practice regulating between a more expanded state and a more ordinary state of mind.
In an expanded state you might be more open to inspiration. Or you might have a direct realization of the interconnectedness of everything and a sense of the bigger picture. But there is no need to go to this place every time you practice.
Getting the right balance
As well as the two extremes of expanded and ordinary consciousness, it is really useful to be able to consciously find a balance somewhere in between.
Being able to adjust mind, body and energy to stay relaxed and open as well as present and focused, moment by moment, makes everyday tasks much easier. And everyday life can become more enjoyable.
For example, being able to maintain a relaxed focus for work or hobbies makes you more productive without feeling drained of energy. In relationships, being able to relax without disconnecting or disappearing makes it easier to resolve difficulties and makes good times more satisfying.
Opening up to new possibilities
Opening up the mind, body and heart creates opportunities for change and new possibilities. Practicing relaxed, open presence in classes can transform our relationship to ourselves and our lives.
But this is not always a completely smooth journey. As you become more aware, you may have to deal with issues that are challenging or difficult.
In classes with Fully Alive you will make progress safely and progressively. With a clear understanding of skills and principles, and guided practices that build gradually on what you learn, you become equipped to deal with what comes up. And there is a supportive space within the classes for this process of transformation to take place.
A student who recently completed Level Two – Developing Skills for Conscious Energy Flow made this comment:
“My whole being feels different. I feel more at peace and, after a long time of not feeling very happy, I feel, in a gentle way, happy. I suppose one could say finding some sort of contentment.”
Another student commented:
“I always need a way of returning to 'Being mode', to return to a real sense of myself, and to the bigger picture beyond. I have found a real home here in these classes where that is understood.”
Take a journey of transformation
If you are interested in starting out on a journey of transformation, why not try one of our weekly classes? You will learn at your own pace, and according to what you want to get out of the class, whether that is change on a physical, emotional, mental or energetic level.
If you are interested in learning the skill of generating an energy flow, which is the foundation skill of all qigong classes with Fully Alive, you might be interested in our pre-recorded Level One course to take in your own time and at your own pace, with support by email from Tim as and when you need it.
In this clip from the Shaolin Arts class, Tim talks about showing up and doing the practice, even if you don’t feel ready, or think you won’t do it well enough.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it ‘right’ in the class. Right is only an idea anyway, which it can sometimes be useful to let go of. What’s important is being as present and connected as we can be in body, heart and mind.
When we allow ourselves to be fully engaged like this, we are practicing Triple Cultivation of Jing, Chi and Shen, body, energy and mind/spirit. This is one of the hallmarks of the Shaolin Arts and Shaolin Cosmos Qigong.
Triple Cultivation practice gives a felt experience of connection and presence. This can take you beyond thought, worry and judgement. When you practice coming from this embodied place in class, it becomes easier to come from there in everyday life.
Alignment of heart, mind and energy can sound like an abstract concept, but in classes you will get a felt experience that you can bring into what you are practicing, whether a qigong form or a kungfu set. It can feel really good to find a deeper connection with yourself. Sometimes it can even feel extraordinary. And some days it isn’t so easy to find, so we keep doing the practice.
This way of approaching things may start to feed into other aspects of life. Work, hobbies, interactions with other people, or doing everyday tasks can feel more rewarding and be less effort. We may find we are naturally showing up more fully to things, and relating to ourselves and to life differently.
If you are interested in exploring ways to become more connected within yourself, or finding ways to approach life with less stress and more engagement, why not try one of our classes for a month and see how you get on?
Many people practice Tai Chi and Kung Fu to reduce stress.
As well as helping to manage stress, practicing an internal martial art like Tai Chi or Shaolin Kung Fu will increase your confidence and to help make life flow more easily.
Tai Chi and high-level Kung Fu are internal martial arts because they focus on training mind and energy. These aspects will inform the way the external physical form looks.
In classes we practice responding with ease and flow, without getting disrupted. This practice will also allow us to change how we respond to situations in everyday life.
We may start to notice that we have alternative ways to respond to things, that reduce our stress levels and make things easier for us.
When something stressful happens and we are disrupted, we can use the tools and techniques we learn in class to relax and release any unnecessary tension. With practice, returning to a state of balance becomes easier and more natural.
Applying what we learn in class to everyday life takes the practice from a fun, relaxing, rewarding hobby into something far broader, that can really change the way things happen in our lives.
So our Shaolin Arts or Tai Chi practice becomes a way of living more meaningfully every day, with the confidence that comes from knowing we have more choice over how we respond.
This is not something we need to work out intellectually. We just do the practice, and things will naturally start to change in our lives more widely. Life can seem easier and we feel more peaceful. We may also find that we have more energy, because we are using it more efficiently.
Learn a practice that really will change your everyday life. Find out more about our classes:
Listen to Tim Franklin, John Millar and Clara Apollo discuss how qigong can support our immune system. There are simple, easy things we can do to reduce the accumulation of stress and allow our bodies to function well.
Our lives can be full of demands.
Overwhelm and burnout are common. How can we save time and increase our energy? How can we make more time in our lives to do all the things we want or need to do?
If you want to make more time for yourself, it's worth thinking about how you spend your time and energy. Maybe you're spending half an hour scrolling through social media every day.
What's nourishing you, and what's depleting you? Can you make any simple changes to save you time and energy?
It's so easy for our time to be taken up with things that don't really add any value to our lives.
If we want to increase our health and wellbeing, we can make that a priority and give less time to something that's less important.
Making time to practice qigong for a short amount of time every day can bring about positive changes - having more energy, being able to deal with stress better, increased balance and mobility, and a clearer mind.
Perhaps you already have a practice, but things aren't changing as quickly as you would like. Regular practice is key.
When you learn how to use your mind, body and energy efficiently, qigong practice only needs to take 10-15 minutes. It can even be for just 5 minutes if time is limited. Daily practice has a cumulative effect.
As our practice develops and our awareness increases, it can become clearer where we are putting our energy. We notice more, so we have more freedom to choose.
Two concepts you will often hear mentioned in our classes are Yu Wei and Wu Wei. Yu Wei translates as intention or action, and Wu Wei as non-action or non-doing.
When you start to practice chi kung, you will have an experience of wu wei, doing nothing. This can be a beautiful place to be, not needing to change anything and being able to rest exactly where you are.
But you might also have aims and objectives that you want to get from your practice. This is yu wei: setting an intention for a specific outcome.
Learning to use intention to direct your energy, then letting go is a useful skill in Chi Kung practice. It's also really useful in everyday life - knowing when to act, what's the right amount of action, and when to let things be.
This is a clip from one of the Friday morning Qigong for Vitality, Flow and Calm classes. If you're interested in learning these kinds of skills, you can book a month of classes for £39. Join live via Zoom, and receive all the class recordings to catch up and review in your own time.
Do you find your energy levels go up and down through the day? Do you find your energy gets depleted in certain situations?
Qigong practice can give you techniques for energy management to use throughout the day, maintaining and enhancing your energy levels.
Sometimes we might want to increase our energy or focus, perhaps if we have something we need to get done. Sometimes we will want to feel more relaxed, especially when we are practicing in the evening before bed. At other times we might want more of a balance between being energised and calm.
It's useful to know how to adjust our practice so we can make it work for what we need at that particular moment.
We can use qigong as a tool for energy management by learning some simple techniques.
This is a clip from the Qigong for Vitality, Flow and Calm class, every Friday, 9-9.30am.
If you're interested in learning some skills to help you manage your energy, you can book a class here, or contact us for more details. You are welcome to join, whether you are a complete beginner or have done qigong before.