Taoist Ziran (Natural) Qigong
Let’s go back a few centuries to ancient China, before the existence of any body-work or breath-work practices, before the existence of anything that involved commanding your body to move in a certain way or to breathe in a certain way.
Empty Your Cup
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a University professor, who came to inquire about Zen.
While Nan-in quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
So let’s empty the cup of our mind, our intellectual preconceptions, so that we may be able to embark on this journey of what the Taoist ancestors practiced, the rare and ancient art of Natural Qigong.
As the Taoists discovered and surrendered to the flow of energy emanating from the universe, they found their bodies started to move. First swaying gently, and then leading to more vigorous flowing movements.
By flowing with this energy, they awakened their body’s natural healing wisdom. They started to receive tailor-made movements directly by the energy emanating from the universe. Each time the movements were different for each individual, the same movement never occurring twice.
Once the energy had sufficiently cleared the energetic pathways of their body, they progressed further by harnessing this energy and gave birth to sophisticated energy arts such as Natural Qigong, Daoist Medicine (Dao Yi 道醫), various high level energetic arts, martial arts that derive their power from harnessing this energy and Shamanism 巫.
The Taoist masters then gave birth to a special formula so that future generations can not only skilfully tap into that energy emanating from the universe, but also benefit from the wisdom derived by the generations of Masters that came before us.
Natural Qigong has three stages of progression
In the first stage the practitioner learns the skill to tap into, surrender and become a vessel for the sea of energy emanating in the universe. The Teacher will transmit the awakening (觉醒) by opening the energy gates of the body and connecting them to the Qi. It is like a flame being passed down that has been nurtured for generations, this will trigger the precious art of Zi Fa Gong (自發動功), spontaneous energy flow. The practitioner will find that the energy starts to move their body, swaying gently at first, then leading to more vigorous flowing movements as the body’s natural self-healing intelligence awakens and the energetic pathways are cleared and upgraded.
Once a vigorous free flow of energy has been achieved the practitioner can move onto the second stage, harnessing the energy. At this stage they will unite their energy flow with their body and the intelligence of the energy flow will be able to perform or move their body through classical forms (wisdom passed down from the past masters). The practitioner will go through many stages of purification, building and expansion of Qi development.
The final and highest level of Natural Qigong is the stage of Wu Wei. At this stage the practitioner will have reached the level to align and flow effortlessly with the energetic harmonics of the universe.
What makes Taoist Ziran (Natural) Qigong one of the best kept secrets of the ancient world?
Today there are two schools of thought in the Qigong world; follow the Qi (Internal/Neijia 內家) and follow the leader (External/Waijia 外家).
More than 90% of modern Qigong practitioners practice “follow the leader” methodology. These are the systems that show you how to move and breathe, and follow a regimented group practice focused on body and breath-work rather than the flow of Qi emanating from the universe.
The methodology of “follow the Qi” was such a closely guarded secret that today only less than 10% of practitioners are aware of its existence.
Natural Qigong belongs in the 10%, the “follow the Qi” methodology. Here the practitioner learns the skill to tap into the energy emanating from the cosmos and to harness this energy. The Qi will then take them on a journey of discovery and awaken all the energetic expressions.
It is the energy flow that performs the classical forms, not the instructions from the conscious mind.
Qigong is perhaps the best known natural practice of allowing the bodies healing intelligence to function at its optimum. Unfortunately it is also the most misunderstood.
A lot of misunderstanding and mystery surrounding Qigong is due to the fact the much of what has been written of these arts has been done by outsiders whose perspectives come from the finite linear mind which attempt to use it as a foundation to understand the Taoist arts. This is limiting as they have no direct experience with the specific non-linear energetics and do not take into account, nor honour the energetic projection based teaching method of the Taoist Tradition.
Taoist spiritual traditions are lived through oral tradition and energetic based teachings. Thus, to experience this ancient tradition face to face training with an authentic teacher is imperative.
Natural Qigong includes 5 pillars of Qigong
Health Qigong: The awakening of spontaneous energy flow allows a practitioner to recover from pain and illness.
Vitality Qigong: Vigorous energy flow allows the practitioner to cultivate strength, flexibility, suppleness and longevity.
Scholarly Qigong: As the energy flow nurtures the mind, the practitioner enjoys fresh sparks of intelligence and creativity.
Warrior or Martial Qigong: Once the practitioner reaches the stage of stabilising and harnessing vigorous energy flow, performance in martial arts or any other sport is greatly improved. New levels of courage, balance, strength, flexibility and stamina are awakend.
Spiritual Qigong: At the highest level, the practice allows the practitioner to go deep within and discover Tao (their way or flow), leading them to discover and fulfil their life’s purpose.
Natural Qigong includes all 3 aspects that all genuine high level Taoist arts are made up of
Stillness: Entering the Qi state to tap into the energy emanating from the universe.
Spontaneous: The energy starts to move the body, swaying gently at first, then leading to more vigorous tailor made flowing movements as the body’s natural healing wisdom awakens and the energetic pathways are opened and upgraded.
Movement: Once the breakthrough of spontaneous energy flow has occurred, then the practitioner can harness the Qi and play with the infinite energy expressions that awaken.
As Natural Qigong is a high level art, only 10 minutes of daily practice is required for steady growth and to reap the benefits of inner peace, joy and vitality.