Around this time of year when we are passing out of the Autumn period (White Tiger) into our Winter Period (Black Tortoise). It is a time of conserving energy within nature and for us Daoist’s we must also be in balance with nature and must be changing our practices has not to unnecessarily waste our vital energy by being to over energetic with our exercise, working to many long hours, not getting enough sleep and of cause developing bad eating habits that can lessen the fuel that our body needs at this time of year to help us maintain and improve our health and wellbeing.
The Black Tortoise Winter Period as Daoist’s recognises this time of year is a time of “Stillness” and our qigong practices must be more concerned about cultivation and storing our Qi to build our strength. The Seated Eight Strands of the Brocade Qigong (Zuo Baduanjin Gong) is a fantastic exercise to practice during anytime of the year, but especially good around the Autumn and Winter periods, as it combines slow and small, gently actions of the body that are all co-ordinated with the breath (Xi) and Intention (Yi) to help circulate the Qi freely around the whole body.
The Seated Eight Strands of Brocade Qigong (Zuo Baduanjin Gong) is also a good discipline to practice as it can naturally lead the individual into Meditation. As each of the eight individual sections of this particular qigong exercise are very mindful in their approach to developing a “Still, Calm and Peaceful” individual. Which will progress naturally towards Meditation (Zuo Wang) Practice. Whereas Meditation practice is purely based upon quieting and stilling the Mind & Body towards storing the Qi. Each of the Seated Eight Strand of Brocade Qigong exercises will gently stimulate the Qi flow, filling the Yin & Yang channels (Jingluo) full of Qi that will help the internal organs (Zangfu) to function properly towards maintain our health.
Due to the shorter days and longer nights during the winter period our own energy levels will reach a low point at this time of year, as we are passing through a Yin period and we need to concentrate more on storing and conserving our Qi levels, rather than wasting and depleting our energy by over excessive exercise. As our health can be effected by many of us catching colds and influenza, or many can also suffer with depression at this time of year due to spending longer periods of time in-doors due to the inclement weather and longer nights. Spending time practicing the Seated Eight Strands of Brocade Qigong (Zuo Baduanjin Gong) at this time of year is a great way to pass the winter period strengthening and storing yourQi levels to boost your health and wellbeing.
For thousands of people who study and practice the Chinese Mind, Body & Spirit discipline of taijiquan all would have come to understand the meaning of cultivating and mobilising the energy known as (Qi) pronounced as “Chee”. All teachers would have explained to their students that the internal energy (Nei Qi) is cultivated through correct breathing, which have to be precisely in time with their taijiquan movements by using their own intention Yi) to connect their breathing and movements together in a smooth, flowing sequence.
Gradually after many months and few years of regular daily practice, each individual will begin to experience certain sensations inside of themselves such as a tingling, sensation within the arms, hands and fingers. Or they could feel heat throughout the whole of they body, at a more higher level the individual could experience a sensation of energy movement (Yun Qi) like flushes, pressure or shaking. Which are all signs of strong energy cultivation and circulation through their practice of. taijiquan.
Another type of energy that a lot of people who study taijiquan might not have come across is the development of various energies or strength (Jing). Within the practice of taijiquan it is said that there are over fifty different methods of developing (Jing), already most individuals would have come a crossed eight of them as they are known in taijiquan as Ward Off (Peng), Rollback (Lu), Press (An), Squeeze (Ji), Pluck (Cai), Split (Lie), Elbow (Zhou), Bump (Kao). These eight energies (Ba Jing) can be found in every style of taijiquan form practice they can only be skilfully developed through the study and practice of the two-person tactile exercise called “Pushing Hands” (Tuishou)
Obviously to learn, perfect and train in the development of the many types of taijiquan defensive and offensive powers (Jing) is to use taijiquan as a method of self defence. It is important that every individual who wishes to study and practice taijiquan as a self defence discipline to help them maintain their own or family and friends wellbeing if they are suddenly attacked must fully be skilled within the many defensive & offensive powers (Jing) that taijiquan practice can develop and offer them.
The Eight Trigram Palms (Bagua Zhang) is a Mind, Body & Spirit exercise that incorporates a series of short, compact forms that are all linked together in a sequence, while walking in a circle, constantly changing direction using twisting, Spiralling and rotating actions of the whole body. Each of the Bagua Zhang forms are short with only eight movements in total that are performed on both sides of the body, but these eight movements demand that each individual develops their ability to co-ordinate, maintain their balance and hold their concentration while performing the form, while walking in a circle.
It is through the intricate movements of a typical Bagua Zhang form that begins to develop the individuals ability to concentrate and calm their mind. This is down to encouraging each individual to concentrate on maintaining the same speed as they perform their movements and of walking the circle, there should not be any sudden speeding up or slowing down of their movements and differently no stopping or pausing of their actions. Secondly the individual needs to concentrate on the timing of using their waist (Yao) to lead and guide the actions of the turning of their feet and hands. So that the whole body the legs, torso and arms are all co-ordinated and connected together as one unit, gradually this will begin to strengthen each individuals ability to concentrate and hold their focus for a long period of time, slowly beginning to tame their minds from allowing thoughts to enter their mind and distract them from their Bagua Zhang Practice.
The Chinese consider the mind to be like a playful monkey (Hou) which allows loads of thoughts to enter and confuse the mind, for-which some of these thoughts can cause the individual to become tense, irritable, anxious. It is through the practice of Bagua Zhang external (Wai Gong) and Internal (Nei Gong) practices that will develop each individuals ability to be able to calm, tame and occupy their own mind at all times, remaining in control of their mind, rather than their. Monkey Mind being in control and causing anxiety and stress issues that can greatly affect each persons health and wellbeing.
As with the practice of Tai Chi which places great emphasis on learning how to breath correctly. The practice Of Bagua Zhang also places the same importance on learning correct breathing in co-ordination with the movements of each of the short and compact forms that will greatly enhance the connections of the mind & body of each person helping them to maintain and improve their health and wellbeing.