What is Qigong (Part 3)?
A SURPRISING DIVE INTO DEPTH
As we have seen in the previous parts of this blog, conscious Qi Gong practice is the art to intensify, purify, and direct our attention – attention being the force that mobilizes Qi.
Our essence ís attention. And this attention, we found out, is always intentional. Where all intention finally aims at, is the theme of this last part.
Our mind longs for connection
When I pay attention to something, wholeheartedly, I am in what I perceive, and what I pay attention to, is in me. Attention reaches out – and its ultimate intention is connection.
This reaching out and connecting may be called by two names:
- Religion. It is the literal meaning of the word – the Latin word religare means to (re)connect. When we are born into this world, into our material bodies, we naturally are thrown into separation. Religion – in its original intention, not in its often problematic forms – wants to reconnect to our common source, to feel that all material beings – stones, plants, animals, humans, earth, moon, stars, and planets – are energetic and spiritual beings and mutually connected in that realm: they are all manifestations of Huan Yuan Qi.
A Hasidic story puts it that way to underpin this unity in diversity: A girl asked the Rabbi: “If there was nothing before creation, what did God take to make the world?” The Rabbi smiled at this astute question and answered: “He took himself.” Religion wants to experience and live that knowledge. How does Qi Gong practice it? By attention – as in attention, moment by moment, our Self dissolves into the Whole – not by losing itself, but by winning its true dimension and source. The Whole is not abstract and impersonal; if the whole wants to be the whole, it needs to incorporate you. It is – to use Martin Buber’s wording – the communion of Me and You. In our attention reaching out and coming home, Qi Gong reconnects us with nature in ourselves and nature around us. So Qi Gong can be a spiritual practice; any exercise could be seen as a prayer.
- Love. To reach out in longing and to connect in bliss: we all know that. It is what we experience when we love.
Be aware that this experience is not limited to romantic relationships. Parents love their child, a carpenter can love his work, a mathematician his/her intellectual challenge, we can love an animal, plants, a hobby, sunlight twinkling on water… and a mystic loves God.
Love is comprehensive and omnipresent, love is our essence, and if it is allowed to rule the world, healing takes place.
The core of healing is love
There is a simple logic in bringing Qi Gong practice home to this core: love. What else intensifies and purifies our attention in such a way as love does?
Love, however, in our culture is a charged and slightly distorted concept: it is considered an emotion. A nearly inevitable misunderstanding: we fee love, and love does generate emotions. However, it is not emotion itself – it is intention. In essence, love is the will, longing, and endeavor to be connected with someone or something – and it manifests in complete attention: body, mind, and soul resonate with each other, united in dedication to the beloved.
In love, intention comes home: it loses any instrumental direction. Love does not use an object for its own sake; who loves, surrenders him or herself to an encompassing whole – to bring in her/his own wishes, needs and longings, embrace the beloved’s ones, and witness how they can match.
Love is not feeling, but engaging. It is not interested in pleasure or comfort. Parents who bring up their children, will also do what is unpleasant – lovingly. And a mountaineer loves his uncomfortable business. Love mobilizes energy to do what needs to be done with a certain lightness and a subtle joy.
Do not wait for the feeling of love. Live love, invite and explore it by acting: give whatever you do or are in your full attention – and you will learn quickly where your love wants to go..
Remember how in moments of love your body relaxes, your movements get a different, fluent quality, how your mind comes home, and how the world lights up.
Imagine how Lift Qi Up Pour Qi Down can unfold when you connect to heaven, earth, and nature with love, letting unfold what wants to unfold: life and death, degeneration and healing, you being part of this holy whole.
True healing is not something you work for, like exercising for fitness. It would keep you in the same state of mind. Healing needs to transcend our patterns in both mind and body, and it tends to happen by itself, rather as a side effect, beyond our focus, in its own time and in unexpected ways.
The crucial question is: Do you reach out for connection to what surpasses you?
The core of healing, the essence of Qi Gong practice is love: this is what master Li Hongshi, throughout his workshop, shared as outcome of his retreat (the years before, he had withdrawn from teaching and been diving into practice again). It is the key for a beneficial Qi Gong practice as well as for generating mental and physical health in our life’s ongoing Qi Gong. As simple as the initial question was, so is this answer to the question how we can practice and live best:
Do what you do in a way that you can love it – or do not do it.
Your heart knows what love is and can be. Trust that.
Let me close just with two simple practical recommendations how to enter loving practice:
- Just do what you do more slowly – so that you can feel it.
- Relax – to allow space for love to emerge, take over, and work – yours and the universe’s.
Thomas de Neve