Mind and Body Exercises: Lesson 3 of 4
In my last two posts on creating and using space in your body (review Lesson 1 or Lesson 2), I took you through two individual and distinct processes for increasing your body’s capacity, and releasing stress and tension. Once you’ve practised each thread separately and regularly for some time and with good result, then you can integrate the two streams into one exercise to upgrade potential health benefits.
Energy Exercise to Create + Use Space in Your Body
In the progression that follows, be sure to stabilise what you learn in each layer before moving on to the next, more complex layer that encompasses what you have learned in all previous layers. If you move on too soon, before you are ready, you will not achieve real benefit from your practice and could cause yourself bodily harm. Spending money on a product you don’t use is one thing, but investing your time, effort and energy with little or bad results is far worse!
By now you should have some idea about how many repetitions or how long you can practise any given movement or form. Be sure to choose a simple exercise, such as the first movement in your tai chi form or Circling Hands Qi Gong—an exercise you could repeat 30-50 times without strain.
Split the number of repetitions you will do into five equal parts, so between 6-10 moves in each section or set.
Qi Gong Exercise, Layer 1
For the first set (of 6-10 moves), apply the methodology you learned in the instructions on making space, opening the body as best you can without using force. Remember the more space you create, the more space you can use, and the better results you will achieve. That said, forcing the body creates tension and thereby closes down your body, mind, qi or any combination of the three. So don’t try to spring forward too soon, and take a step back if you find your practice starting to unravel.
Qi Gong Exercise, Layer 2
After completing the first set of repetitions and without stopping, smoothly transition into the second set of reps, this time focusing on softening your eyes and nerves as much as possible. Use your range of motion (within two-thirds of what is ideal for your nerves) to relax as much as possible while you continue to practice.
Qi Gong Exercise, Layer 3
Next, transition back into making more space only this time don’t stretch so much as you did in the first set yet more than you did in the second. During this third section, try to keep the nerves relaxed with the intent of making more space in the body.
Qi Gong Exercise, Layer 4
In the fourth set, once again return to using the space you have created by fully releasing the nerves. Use the feeling of your eyes (or any other indicators you noted from Lesson 2) as an indicator of how relaxed your nerves are during each point in the exercise.
Qi Gong Exercise, Layer 5
The last set of reps is about finding a smooth blend of qi energy between making and using space. Although you don’t want any hardening of the nerves, your intent is to allow the body to open up to whatever degree possible. Of course, this level of practice requires you to play a fine line, and it may take some months of training to strike a satisfying balance. This is especially true because the line can change from one day to the next! So you may find it easier some days than others. Tune into your body and as you do so more often, you will find it easier to catch the flow.
After a couple of weeks of regular practice, gradually reduce the number of reps in layers 1-4 while increasing the number of reps in the last section (maintaining the same number of reps overall). This process will give you a visceral understanding of the two extremes, slowly integrating them for the greatest health benefits.
Continue on to Lesson 4 when you’re ready, which includes methods for using breathing to go even deeper inside to release bound tension and use the space you have created in your body with energy exercises for a healthy body and mind.