Willow Monastic Academy Forum

Embodiment Practice — Qi Gong

Hi Friends!

So i’ve been practicing qi gong for about six years now, and i think it is a wonderful and powerful meditation-in-movement/embodiment practice—and an ideal complement to sitting practice. A great way to gently loosen and strengthen the body, increase flow and responsiveness, and enhance somatic awareness…

Starting next week, for the next couple of months i’ll be guiding a weekly qi-gong Zoom session, following the Wednesday morning sit (on non-retreat weeks).

The session will generally start with some body-energizing practices and then lead into some slower, more “classic” movements. Very casual, very improv, no experience necessary.

: D

Feb 3–April 28
Wednesday mornings (3x/month — check the Willow schedule, growingwillow.org/calendar)
8:05–8:50am (right after the morning sit)
Zoom Link: https://bit.ly/3kBXQVy

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And here’s some general suggestions and considerations…

Qi gong – Willow Wednesday Morning Sessions

Three+ reasons to do this:

Body: loosen, energize, accept

Mind/Psyche/Energy: cleanse emotions and connect with greater flow of energy (qi)

Spirit: connect with tao, spontaneity (Auto Move/Zen Bounce in Shinzen’s system), source, emptiness, etc.

Four parts in the session (there are no hard boundaries between these—they interpenetrate):

  • rouse/shake/invigorate/loosen (~15 min)
  • cleanse/direct (~10 min)
  • flow/merge (~15 min)
  • rest/integrate (~5 min)

ROUSE – While shaking/warm-up: we’re not stretching per se, but thawing out, moving for sake of movement

– Loosening the joints, twisting and opening the spine, invigorating the flesh, wringing out the organs…

  • CLEANSE – Be aware of how energy is moving through the body, and any blockages
  • Gentle directive pressure, don’t force anything
  • FLOW – Experiment with spontaneous, immersive action (like water in water)
  • Allow rhythms (or the tao) to carry you along

REST – Lying down for a few minutes, allow body to rest completely

General Notes and Guidance Suggestions:

–Invite sense of ease/joy/pleasure/playfulness

–Allow for full and natural breathing

–Knees slightly bent in all postures/movements

–Generally stay rooted, connected with earth, especially the lower body; the upper body has more freedom of expression—like a tree

–As with seated/formal practice, set intention to allow distractions to come, to be, to pass, etc. without pull (grasping) or push (aversion)

–Notice any resistance arise, gently let it go

–Progression over the course of the session from inner to outer, from focused inward attention to expansive/immersive spontaneous awareness: Gradually expand awareness out to include self/others/world/cosmos

–Attempt to find the balance between expressive flowing improv and controlled gentle guidance—the balance between expansive and contractive forces

–Generally, we use the hands to guide energy/awareness—what happens on the outside is reflected on the inside (though we’re also inviting that distinction to gradually dissolve over time)

–Tune into subtleties and complexities of movements, particularly with rhythmic, flowing sequences

–Elastic body, balanced between tension and looseness; experiment a bit with the extremes to find this balance

–Generally, the speed of movements should follow speed of breath (not the other way around)

—Follow the guide to get a sense of pacing and technique, but it’s not always necessary to synchronize completely with others in the group—though it is good to be generally aware of the shared space/field/exchange/collective engagement

–Be aware of momentum from the previous meditation: you can even maintain any formal technique while doing this (especially once the movements are learned)

–Be mindful of transitions between movements; maintain connection with body/world

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I’m SO excited to see this offering, Jeffrey. I have no experience at all and have intended to learn Qi gong for a while. Grateful that you’re offering this and looking forward to practicing with you!

Ah, wonderful! Thanks Renee. Looking forward it! : D