I had a young friend inquire about the chi gong the other day. He was wondering if he was doing it wrong - he had only seen me doing it one time, and frankly I don’t recall what I showed him! Perhaps something from a video demo that I used to do with my Bass teacher Glen Moore. I have the DVD somewhere but I’m not seeing it on amazon any more. It’s a good ‘tape’ as Glen used to say, but it’s only the movements.
There are a myriad of approaches - but there are just a few principals. I believe that in any art form - and body movement is an art, each individual deserves and is fully realized by their own unique approach. We are the only ones who truly know what we feel. We know when we feel something that is bad for our bodies. Like when when we over-stretch or have tension in the joints. I might hazard to say that your approach your movements are generally ok as long as you don’t have tension or straining of any kind.
It’s actually meditation. Taking our mind and letting go of the current thoughts and gently pushing it back into ‘body awareness.’ First is the breath. Breathing through the nose as much as possible. Listen, stand in a shoulder-wide stance, knees slightly bent. Imagine someone is pulling you up by a wire from the top of your head. Your back is as straight as possible without straining. It’s a process. Let it happen as you breathe . . . your head is just floating and your body is vertical to the earth.
Your shoulders are relaxed and your arms at your sides with your palms facing the energy center that is about two inches below your naval. Breath gently from here. This is the “Lower Dan Tien” in Chi Gong or in Yoga the Second or Sacral Chakra. It’s often considered the ‘original’ source of all our energy.
Your hands warm the energy at this point and your mind focuses the breath here. Then move your hands forward and towards facing each other until they are holding an invisible ball of energy, like the size of a basket ball, or a little smaller, in front of you, right at the level of your navel. Gently rotate the ball - keeping your hands facing each other, breath. Your back is relaxed and vertical. Feel the energy between your hands.
Keep rotating the energy ball slowly and gently in a larger motion until your right hand is on top, and your left hand on bottom. Remember all your joints are relaxed, - they’re all near the middle of their swing, in a resting position. Roll it softly around the other way now, with your left hand on top.
My bass teacher used to have a picture of a hand - like a side view -of the finger really, but each joint was in the middle of its movement - and it was like and arch! This is the pinnacle of strength - and relaxation!
Anyway, this is how all our joints should be in this exercise, never extended or pushed in any way.
Rolling the ball for a while, gently loosening the hands, moving slowly synchronizing with the breath. Perhaps exhaling when your hands are top and bottom, just softly letting the hand movement and breath come together in a way that is comfortable.
After a while, when we feel the energy between our hands grow and warm, we can slow the movement, and softly, fluidly as always, return to the rest position. This is the position where we started with the palms facing our torso just below the navel. Perhaps you can feel the energy built up in your hands transfer into this vital energy center. Continue to breath through the nose as much a possible.
This is the primary movement and can be used any time to gather energy, focus, or just letting your mind have a break from thinking about anything except moving the body and breathing.
Just go through the principals and breath through the movement:
1. Breathe through nose
2. Relaxed shoulder width stance
3. An energy beam is holding you up by the top of your head, your spine is a straight as is comfortable.
4. Palms facing the dan tien just below the navel.
5. Gently move, hands facing each other, to slowly rotate the ball of energy.
6. Let the energy build as you breath steadily mouth closed.
7. Return to the rest position, relaxed and ready.
Repeat this process a few times - feel free to experiment with the length of the rolling time and with the size of the energy ball, until it gets comfortable and feels right and natural for you. Then you can do it any time you want. This will center your energy, and help to remove tension from your posture.
Next time we’ll add another movement, in fact most of my movements start in this way. Here’s a kinda lame photo of me in the Rest Position - I could probably be more relaxed but you get the idea.
Wichita Arkansas. Cool and grey.