When you change the flow of qi in the physical body through practice of qigong, tai chi or bagua, you create a shift from stagnancy towards vibrancy. If the blockages are minor (e.g. daily stress), the shift can be permanent; if, however, the blockages are old and lodged deep in the body, any shift will be temporary (at best) as the energetic pattern of the blockage will pull the body back into the closed or distorted state. If you practise regularly, eventually the balance tips and the shift can become permanent.
Blockages in the emotional or mental bodies require meditation to clear out as qigong practices alone are not refined enough to elicit lasting results. Oscillating between sitting and moving meditation practices allows you to undergo a series of shifts, until your practice becomes resilient enough to make these temporary shifts permanent.
As an example, tension from work accumulates daily. When you get home and practice, you can release that stress and thereby restore some level of balance to your system. If it’s just the mechanics of your working life, then when you have a proper holiday from work, your stress levels would drop. However, if the stress is the result of a blockage in your mental body (rather than only superficially affecting your mind-body-qi energy matrix), when you take that break the stress will continue to generate itself from the energetic pattern rooted in your mental body and you will consistently experience the same stress, regardless of the situation.
Now meditation becomes critical in dealing with the blockage as meditation practice—specifically the Inner Dissolving technique—has enough power to shift the gunk in the emotional and mental realms. Going back to our example, meditation practice can, through diligent and regular practice, release the energetic pattern that generated the stress in the first place and therefore yield greater peace of mind. If, however, the root of the blockage goes deeper than the mental body and is, for example, the result of a psychic contraction or larger karmic flow, then you must refine and deepen your meditation practice yet further by entering into the realm of shen (or spirit), and looking for resolution at this level.
This is quintessential Taoist methodology, or at least that of the Water tradition. Initially, you might be aware of discomfort or pain in your physical body, so you look for resolution through qi gong. Although some issues might be cleared through sustained practice, others will not. This is the point at which meditation becomes relevant and can take the baton. Over time, the most dedicated students will follow their blockages in through the layers of their being—into their core—to uncover their essence, where emptiness can be discovered.