It starts with awareness…I like Steven Covey’s ‘sharpening the saw’ analogy where you maximize your internal resources. One way peak performance is made possible by becoming aware of and cultivating your Qi (energy or life-force in Chinese medicine), such as by practicing tai chi…which refreshes, re-energizes, and rejuvenates you.
In qigong and tai chi, there is what is known as the Three Intentful Corrections:
1. Posture and movement
3. Mind and Consciousness
In a nutshell:
1. Posture and movement – cultivate a very straight spine, lower back flattened so pelvis tips forward, abdomen tightens; shoulders relaxed, elbows slightly bent, and almost as if you have a ping-pong ball under your arm; tip of your tongue rests on the roof of your mouth; if standing, your knees are slightly bent and about shoulder-width apart.
2. Breath – as you breathe in let your abdomen expand, feel the cooling of the air on your nostrils. Sense how you are gathering oxygen and Qi (energy or life-force). Continue breathing into your chest and through your skin. Feel or visualize the Qi [or breath] circulating throughout your body. As you exhale, envision the stale and stagnant Qi [breath] and waste air leaving your body, feel the warmth of that air on your nostrils.
3. Mind and Consciousness – there is a Qigong proverb that says: “When the mind is distracted the Qi scatters.” Roger Jahnke in his book The Healing Promise of Qi, writes “Without the cooperation of the mind…only conditioned responses can come about. Little or no choice or creativity can occur in the absence of the intentful mind.” We are using intention when we adjust our posture and breathe deeply. The highest level of Qi cultivation depends on the advanced capacity to manage our mind. When we seek to achieve the capacity to control, focus and direct the Qi through control of our mind and consciousness, we are practicing the highest level of Qigong.
Living Joyously Tip for the Day:
References & Resources:
Roger Jahnke, The Healing Promise of Qi.
Arthritis Foundation – to find a Tai Chi class near you