Workshops offer us the luxury of extended time for delving deeper into the nuances of the qigong theories and practices. Our recent Lift Qi Up Pour Qi Down Immersion Workshop was no exception with several conversations about not only the nuances of the movements but also the history and intent of the form. This extended time allowed us deeper understanding and integration of the forms’ benefits. So, for those who were unable to attend, we are sharing some of the key points that were covered:
Lift Qi Up and Pour Qi Down (LQUPQD) is the primary form within the Zhineng Qigong system. The practice of LQUPQD uses gentle body movements with meditative visualizations to open the body, mind and heart while simultaneously promoting harmony of internal and external qi (life force energy).
Overview of Guidelines For Practice:
- Be relaxed, tranquil and at peace in body and mind.
- Do the movements smoothly, in an effortless manner. Practice in a soft and uninterrupted way, your mind stays calm so qi can flow freely.
- During a fast-moving practice there are no breaks. In a slow-moving practice there are no interruptions. Adjust speed of each movement to make them smooth.
- Open the mind as far as you can into the universe. When mind returns to body it goes deep inside. It is opening and awakening consciousness. Opening and absorbing is occurring during all movements.
- Lead with the little finger when turning hands. The push-pull movement is very important. Do not bend the elbows too much while ‘pulling’ or qi will be blocked. The shoulders lead the movement of the upper arms, elbows, forearms and wrists.
- When pushing out, keep your center anchored to your energy, as if you are holding the string of a kite.
- During the push-pull movements the arms are at shoulder level. As your practice advances draw small circles with hands for each push-pull and open-absorb cycle. All movements are done in small circles so that qi continues flowing.
- Always allow qi to flow inside even during the times when you are still.
- When pouring qi down, make a dome over your head with your hands. Aim the centers of your palms at the crown of your head. Elbows and wrists are slightly bent to make a circle.
- Practicing LQUPQD can quickly enhance your sensory ability.
- Regular practice will release any blockages in your energy system and all channels will be cleared.
- The smooth, unimpeded flow of qi enhances health and is effective for preventing illnesses.
The Four Levels of LQUPQD:
NOTE: The four levels of LQUPQD are not mastered in a linear way. You will master and merge the levels over time. The most benefit will be realized if you allow your natural progression of the levels to occur without rushing or striving.
First Level – The learning level:
This level focuses on learning the movements and instructions to perform the postures correctly. Eventually you will naturally memorize the movements and be able to do them without being guided. It is NOT important to try to memorize the movements in the beginning. After several months (or years) you will know them. At this stage it is important to relax and allow the instructor/CD/DVD to guide you.
You have mastered this level when you can do the form with the correct movements and speak the instructions with your own words, and when you are able to practice at any pace, fast or slow.
Second Level – Harmony between external and internal primordial qi:
Dr. Pang designed the practice to work for all different levels and within the second level there are 3 stages:
1) External qi: you are mingling with the energy outside of you and qi is at the level of the membranes (superficial). It is easier to feel the sensation of qi.
2) Internal qi: your mind does not go outside of yourself. You feel you are the center of the universe while simultaneously connecting with the entire universe. Keep your focus inside.
3) Central meridian qi: Your practice becomes focused on the 3 dantians (energy centers). Most importantly the opening and absorbing movements are opening your three dantians. At this stage you can effortlessly synchronize and harmonize physical movements, visualizations and breathing. For example, when you pull in, you naturally inhale, when you push out, you naturally exhale.
Third Level – Achieving resonance of the three dantians:
The 3 dantians are the main focus. LQUPQD was designed to enhance the dantians, as well as help with skin, membranes and organs. Do not be concerned about the pace, keep your mind flowing with energy circulation.
Focus first on the lower dantian, then middle and upper dantian. When hands are at a dantian level or when pouring qi down, you can enhance the dantians by chanting the mantra into the corresponding dantian. At this level, the duration of the practice of yang qi (conserving qi) is increased and the precise posture of the limbs is less important than enhancement of the dantians.
Fourth Level – All three dantians are opened:
The three dantians automatically and naturally open and absorb qi with the breath. The movements and visualizations become unimportant at this level. Most important is relaxation and experiencing oneness with nature. Diligent and continuous practice will help you achieve this level. Take time (as much as 20 to 30 minutes) to totally relax your body before practicing this level. The mind, movements and breath are unified without intention. Energy comes to you transversely, not only through the channels. You will attract very fine energy because your consciousness is more receptive. When practicing this way, you can practice for three to five hours and your body will look virtually still, but your mind is flowing.
We offer a Lift Qi Up Pour Qi Down Immersion Workshop every year and also cover the details during most retreats. In the meantime, we hope this material will offer you new insight into your current practice. There are always new aspects to explore and build upon, as it truly is a lifelong study.