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立気功 Qi Gong:
"Standing Like a Tree" 

Cameron Bishop DAOM. L.Ac.

Qigong, or Kiko, is an ancient practice of mindfulness while working with Ki (Qi) of the body with the end result of deep awareness or simply better energy, health and well being. The incorporation of a daily Standing Qi Gong routine can greatly benefit your health including reduction of pain, stress reduction, lower blood pressure, better breathing and other improvements. You become what you cultivate.

Ancient hunters and warriors perhaps developed this art to mimic the stance of predators. Imagine your dog or cat waiting frozen, completely aware for the moment. Ready to pounce, breathing smoothly, eyes fixed. Intuitively they knew that they were completely attuned to the environment and to themselves.

Breathing is the first and last thing you do in life. It begins with your first breath with a slap on your butt, and ends with your last breath upon death.

To begin "standing", breathe in your nose keeping your "in breath" and "out breath" the same length, evenness, and calmness. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth so your breath can move the Qi, and the Qi can move your blood. The Qi will move most freely when you have clear intent, calm breath, and have no attachment, power or force.

Practice barefoot if the ground is comfortable, or wear flat soled footwear. It is best to begin standing posture put your feet shoulders width apart and your knees slightly bent, or at least not rigid. Imagine every pore in your soles is melting and connecting to the earth. Envision each joint opening, and holding space as this sensation spreads to your foot bones, your ankles, your knees and your hips. Allow your hips to rotate slightly forward, and keep your ears centered over your shoulders and hands gently at your side. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your eyes slightly closed and fingers loose. You can imagine your body is suspended from a string that is suspended from the top of your head, as every vertebra in your back slowly opens, and allows the tension from your belly to melt.

Should your mind race, bring your attention back to your breath, or incorporate a word to repeat with each time you take a breath. [It can be from any religion ("Om", "Jesus", "Shalom"), or simply say something like "Peace", "open", "joy", "love".] You can also incorporate an existing mantra from yoga or other meditation traditions. For the truly busy mind, it may take days of unwinding to quiet it. ‘Once the spring is done releasing, the monkey mind sleeps.'

Simple is best in the beginning. Start with five minutes a day for the first week (If you find yourself wanting to look at the clock, count breaths). Continue for 80-100 breaths. Then add five minutes every week, until you reach a total of twenty.

When properly done, Qigong will lead you to better health. Poorly executed Qigong can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea or temporary aggravated pain. Significant results are often seen in three months. In the USA, we are often impatient to obtain quick results and quick understandings. If you keep in mind that to obtain a certificate in any art in Japan requires minimum of ten years of practice, it will be able to keep more of a perspective of your progress. Qi gong is best learned slow, consistent and mindfully. If your are intellectually expecting great spiritual results, they will most likely be chased away. Patience is the key, for and it is best to go back to the concentrated breathing exercise described in the paragraph above.

There are a few levels of "standing". If your Qi is moving correctly, it feels easy, although in the beginning, there may be discomfort due to weak muscles. Working through the discomfort and building the strength leads to a stable position where you will be able to evaluate your own Qi flow and blocks.

Some people are born with in innate ability to feel Qi. Like any ability such as singing, music, art and writing, some learn it, and some are hopeless. Consistency and sticking to your breathing exercises is key. As you progress, the blocks, once observed, can be left alone, and released by breathing in and out; or imagining them crumbling like a sand castle at the beach. You can even visualize them falling through your feet, and into the ground.

This second stage of releasing blocks can involve many events that are stretched over a few days, or months. Standing, breathing should be natural and second nature. Successful navigation leads to nothing special. Undistracted by pain and thoughts, one can concentrate on beauty of the stillness. The mistake is to move on to some other new form of entertainment. ‘Standing like a tree in a forest is when the magic comes out. If expected it hides.'