Movement and stillness

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Following this principle, if we accept that movement is good for the body, we can accept that stillness is also good for the body. Therefore, if we want to be healthy, we must know how to move and also how to be still. Qigong is Yang, as it is moving. Meditation is Yin, as it is still.

Meditation is a resting for the body and mind. When we get tired, we need to rest or sleep. Resting can recharge energy, but in ancient times, people found that the best way to rest was to be somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness - neither too awake nor too sleepy. Closing the eyes helps the body and mind relax better and helps to exclude outside stimulations and let the mind be at rest and empty.

For many people, though, this was difficult. So different methods to help people forget the active mind and to focus their energy began to develop. Some of these included concentrating on breathing or the Dantian (the place in our body where Qi is stored), or mentally chanting a special phrase or poem, all aimed to empty the mind so that a person could become one with nature. (See Chapter 12 for further information.)

When a person is in tune and balanced with nature, it means nature can recharge your energy and help to restore harmony to the body and mind. When the mind is calm, it is very good for the health. With a calm mind, you will become very clear about everything around you and you will see not just what is in front of you, but will know your direction for the future. Meditation can help you to become a wise person.

When the ancient Chinese people practised both movement and meditation, they found that there was something moving inside their bodies which made them feel good and strong. This was Qi. The more they practised, the stronger and healthier they became. So Qigong began to include meditation as well as movement.

Movement released the negative energy from the body, gathered fresh new Qi from nature and opened the channels for this fresh Qi to circulate. Meditation was for storing the newly gathered Qi so that it could be used later as the body needed it. Therefore, working with Qi is Qigong, but the main aim for doing Qigong is to be healthy. Movement without gathering and storing Qi is not Qigong, because this just releases Qi.

When people run or do aerobics or fitness training, they are using energy and releasing negative energy. But this kind of exercising does not help them recover and replace sick Qi with fresh, healthy Qi. Releasing negative energy is vital to good health, but you also have to gather and store new Qi. This is what makes us healthy, and this is what makes Qigong special.

Qigong can help you live longer by making you healthier. If you are ill, it can give you strength to fight the problem, just as a friend can help you when you are in trouble it can help make you well, so you can have a better and happier life. Meditation will calm your mind and make you relaxed. It will allow the Qi to settle and be stored in the Dantian so that you will be stronger and have more positive energy.

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