I am so grateful for the teachings of Master Liu He of Ling Gui International Healing Qigong School. Please join me in practicing this meditation to give the gift of compassion and create peace on Earth.
This collage represents a lot of my personal history. I was on the chess team in grade school, making it to the state championships in my 6th grade year. I used to blame my dad for my obsessive game play, but I eventually recognized that while he did introduce me to the game, he certainly didn’t make me play 10 games a day with my brother or team mates. I loved to play. Winning was nice, but mostly, I enjoyed an interesting game. It was my first form of meditation and mental training.
Later, after I abandoned the dreariness of early college science classes for the playtime of Art, I discovered the power of fire through blacksmithing, eventually taking an apprenticeship with Stoker Forge in Santa Fe, NM. This 6 months was a whirlwind of intricate metallurgy and oozing black mucous from the smoke of the coal forge. It was during this time I played and won my final chess game with an overzealous intellectual from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. I say it was my final game because I decided then to abandon zero sum games entirely.
My father bought my son a beginning chess set for his 4th birthday and he pulled it out recently. I showed him the basics of the game, how the pieces are set up, how different pieces move and how captured pieces are removed from the board. Mostly he enjoyed the clacking of the pieces interacting directly and the game quickly devolved into a melee.
Throughout my life, I have always had a deep connection with the Natural Order of life on this small blue green rock floating in space. While I have a deep faith in the powers of human creative ingenuity, I have watched for 4 decades a continuing pattern of destructive decision-making perpetuating suffering for the living beings who dwell in this place. It is troubling and confusing. And yet, with the training of Vipassana Meditation and QiGong, I am able to come into contact with the miracle of peace and love that emerge between the dysfunctional thoughts and actions of my fellow man.
When we play with the spark within our own hearts, we are in perpetual collaborative game of life.
Often at retreats and from students the question arises; “What is the difference between qigong and tai chi?” In this article we will explore this question, understanding that this is a more complex matter than it seems, and cannot be fully answered in a few simple sentences. This is because there are literally hundreds of styles of qigong (chi gung) and ﬁve major schools of tai chi with numerous variations.
This is a lot of tai chi and a lot of qigong from which to make a simple statement. Accurately distinguishing between them is like separating out all the color ﬂows and shadings within a single beautiful but complex painting.
There is another issue that muddies the waters and makes answering this qigong question difﬁcult. Many obtain information on the differences and similarities from a local qigong or tai chi instructor, or from a Chinese instructor who cannot translate from one culture to another easily, or who may not want to share what has been secret, etc.
The trouble is that instructors may only know details about the speciﬁc type of qigong they do, and not other types or its relationships to chi-energy arts as a whole. This is not unusual, just as in the ﬁeld of science, biologists often don’t know that much about civil engineering, and vice versa. As a result, misinformation and half-truths abound.
Anything of truly great value always has great subtlety, whether or not it looks simple and easy on the surface. Some other differences not mentioned here are too technical, and will not be covered as they may confuse rather than clarify. To bypass complex technical issues, just as is done when you want common sense to tell you how computers work, we will look at the four most commonly given simple answers to the original question—what is the difference between tai chi and qigong?
Each answer gives a progressively more complete answer. All are only partial truths, but at least they are the most accurate answers that can be given without going into excessive detail.
This is the most common answer.
The accurate part of the statement is this: the invisible chi or internal power aspects included within the tai chi part of tai chi chuan derive directly from one branch of the 3,000-year-old Taoist qigong tradition, whereas Taoist qigong does not come from tai chi. However, the statement is misleading because it omits Buddhist or Confucian qigong, which have little in common with tai chi’s roots in Taoist qigong or Taoism. Learn more about this in the Five Branches of Qigong.
This answer also involves a common error in logic: since to the Western ear it sounds as if the word energy is contained in both words, they must mean the same thing. Right? Wrong! The qi or chi of qigong means energy, the chi of tai chi does not. In tai chi the chi means ‘ultimate’.
To add to the confusion, the chi in tai chi and qigong are almost universally pronounced by Westerners as “chee,” which is accurate for qigong and inaccurate for tai chi (“gee”) chuan. Those who commonly both see and mispronounce tai chi as chee also tend to assume both mean the same thing, which they do not.
Confusion escalates and gets reinforced when you ﬁnd out both tai chi and qigong work with chi-energy (however often in different ways) and have similar beneﬁts. Adding to the potential confusion, although many people may have heard the name, most in the West have only seen tai chi or qigong in still photos, on television, or at the cinema.
When shown visually, if these arts are even named, usually narrators inaccurately call both tai chi, because they don’t know the difference. This commonly leaves the impression that qigong is tai chi or vice versa. The public subsequently has an association that slow-motion movements + Chinese something-or-other = tai chi. Consequently, the public and the media are more familiar with the name tai chi than qigong, and commonly do not make much distinction between them.
The accurate part of this statement is that qigong has speciﬁc techniques or styles that are particularly effective for speciﬁc diseases beyond the ken of tai chi. For instance, there are speciﬁc qigong methods for helping those with cancer and mitigating the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In China one set used for this was Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong.
The misleading part is that although all tai chi powerfully heals and maintains health, only a tiny fraction of participants do any of its practical martial arts techniques. On the other hand, qigong also has within it practices for increasing the power you need to make self-defense techniques effective, even though qigong per se does not include the ﬁghting techniques themselves.
Although the ﬁrst part of this answer can be a little murky, the second part is relatively clear. Both tai chi and some (but not most or all), aspects of qigong do what they do using flowing, fluid, slow-motion movements. To an untrained eye, all regular, smooth, slow-motion movements would tend to look the same, no matter how different they are in reality. Yet a casual observer would be able to clearly distinguish between different kinds of movements done at a faster speed. Nevertheless, slow-motion movements are only fast movements done slowly.
The second part of the answer is this: just because tai chi and qigong movements are done in slow motion does not mean that their movements must basically be the same. There is an exceptionally wide range of different movements, each requiring different kinds of physical coordination. Moreover, although the slow-motion movements of different tai chi styles may be somewhat different, on the whole they are basically variations of the same theme.
In contrast, slow-motion movements in a particular qigong style can look radically different from either tai chi or other qigong systems. Take, for example, two well-respected members of the Taoist qigong tribe—tai chi chuan and Wild Goose qigong. Wild Goose has as many moves as a tai chi long form, yet looks radically different from tai chi. Likewise, non-Taoist medical and Buddhist qigong systems also contain movements not to be found in tai chi or each other.
There are many ways to move the body, as can be seen in the differences in the dance world between styles of ballet, ballroom, tap, disco, and hip-hop. Like dance styles, within the hundreds of qigong schools you can move in other ways besides regular, smooth, slow-motion movements. There are techniques which involve shaking, jumping up and down, vibrating, shouting, alternating speed with staying dead still, ﬂapping like a bird, squatting ﬂatfooted, and even moving freely and spontaneously in ways almost too strange to describe, while making weird, otherworldly sounds.
Above and beyond moving, qigong also has primary methods that specialize in:
Although tai chi may use standing, sitting, and lying down techniques, they are ancillary to the primary technique of slow-motion movements for health, longevity, and stress management.
Why are you doing these movements in the ﬁrst place? From a purely physical viewpoint the body needs to move and exercise to prevent problems. A different perspective is that the movements are designed to speciﬁcally promote the ﬂow of chi within you. Therefore, if you want to generate a speciﬁc chi ﬂow in your body, one type of movement may make it easier whereas others may make it harder.
Tai chi is based upon the potential to fully incorporate all 16 parts of the neigongi system seamlessly into every movement; qigong normally tends to partially utilize some, but not all, of the 16 neigong components in any speciﬁc movement or entire form. In tai chi, although some speciﬁc moves may make it slightly easier to initially learn or solidly assimilate any one of the 16 components, for an advanced practitioner, the other 15 are ideally always present and integrated within each and every move of the form.
Some Taoist qigong schools will teach the entire 16 components initially through a series of short qigong forms, each of which emphasizes two or three speciﬁc parts of the neigong, until the ﬁnal form which encompasses all 16. After this the student has a complete background within which to engage learning the full energetic potential of tai chi. The Energy Arts Qigong Exercise Program, for example, does this in his teaching work, using five very short qigong sets plus Dragon and Tiger Qigong, the ﬁrst ﬁve of which initially emphasize only one to three components of the entire 16 neigong components.
Qigong also often separates speciﬁc chi functions into separate movements or different forms. For example, while doing a qigong form, during one move you might direct energy through a speciﬁc acupuncture meridian (the lung or heart meridian for example), and in the next move you might direct energy through a different meridian. Or in one move, you might draw energy through a particular acupuncture point in your body, and in the next release the energy from a different one. Or within the same form during one series of moves you could deliberately only exclusively activate and work with one of your three tantiens or centers of energy, and later within the same form, in a different series of moves,deliberately solely activate a different tantien and its functions, or other speciﬁc elements of the Taoist neigong system.
Ideally, in tai chi, an experienced practitioner will not separate these energy practices in this way. So that provides you with four different ways of looking at the question. All have truth in them and help elicudate the difference between qigong and tai chi.
Article extracted from Tai Chi Health for Life Book. To order this book click here.
When Karah Pino first asked me to be part of The Sacred Shadow Self I was hesitant to say yes because I am in a “non-performance state”, a state of creative development, and quiet reflection.
My Mother almost passed away three times in the last several months and I had been doing a lot of advanced grieving, introspection and forgiveness work during that time and to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by my own shadow self and all I wanted to do was escape into the lighter side of things.
I knew I would ultimately say yes though because Karah is a spiritual sister and when she appears in my life there is always a positive lesson attached.
So yes. I will be there, with my veil on, I will be there, hidden amongst the crowd and yet obvious to the eyes of anyone who is present. I will be a shadow of my self, a ghost of sorts, a fraction of who I am. I am not entirely sure what I will be doing but maybe I will see you through the veil. And maybe you will see me.
2206A California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
Part of my great joy in making art is seeing how ideas end up manifesting as they change and adapt to different circumstances. Hope you’ll come play with your sacred shadow self!
media: paper, light, refractions and shadows
performance: mindfulness, qigong, yoga, chanting, singing bowls,
and other meditative arts
~Still looking for QiGong, Yoga and other Meditation Performers!!~
To join in meditation, please fill out the form at the end of the Artist Statement.
“We are all a precious child of creator and as such our shadow is also a sacred part of our selves as the precious children of the holy people our ancestors in the context of the natural order in the universe.”
The results of a research study from San Francisco State University came out in July of 2012 that asked the question: “What is the best meditation?”
The study followed people who learned different styles of meditation and tracked the effectiveness of the meditation program. What was shown is that those who learned a style that suited them tended to follow up with their practice better than those that didn’t particularly like the style they were taught. But the results of the different styles were equally effective, so long as they were practiced regularly. This confirmed what I had noticed for my students over the years. Any technique will help you deal with stress to improve your health, smooth your relationships, and help you enjoy your life.
“A new study just published notes the importance of selecting a meditation method that is most comfortable to the new meditator, not the one that is currently the most popular. Choosing the one you are most comfortable with increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study and a professor of health education at San Francisco State University.” – Read More
This class is designed to give an overview of the types of different techniques to people newly interested in meditation. The four categories of meditation techniques are: Mindfulness, Visualization techniques, Sound techniques and Movement techniques. The types of techniques introduced in the three hour class include breathing techniques, guided meditation, chanting, self observation and QiGong.
The following video is intended to be an educational tool that features tai chi and qi gong as an activity to enhance wellness. These exercise therapies are generally considered safe, self-care approaches used to promote a healthy lifestyle. As always, talk to your health care provider if you are using or considering using any CAM modalities so that they can help safely coordinate your care.
Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness.
|To multitask better, learn to meditate first
Futurity: Research News
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore how meditation might affect multitasking in a realistic work setting," says computer scientist David Levy.
See all stories on this topic »
Fitting meditation into your daily life is a great challenge. At first, it seems as though there is no possible time to meditate! Seems ironic, doesn’t it? As you find a few minutes here and there to fit meditation into your life, you will see that life is so much easier with a clear mind, that meditation makes space for itself. Here are a few recommended places to start.
(A friend of mine learned to always practice on the toilet, guaranteeing at least a few times a day of practice!)
Eventually, when you have enough practice, you will find that you are able to use the techniques in difficult situations: