Use Of Tai Chi And Zhan Zhuang In Daily Life As Qi Gong

Carrying Over into Everyday Life

Training sessions rejuvenate and restore balance. However, an important aspect of this training is that it can be carried over into everyday life; in fact there is not much point in doing it unless you do. It should eventually, in your own natural way, become integrated throughout your day so that the free, unblocked circulation of energy can be sustained providing continuous benefit to you. It becomes part of your moment to moment living, so that you are doing qigong constantly. Merging these principles into everyday life amplifies the benefits.

A basic formula of all forms of qigong is known as the three regulations or three adjustments:

  1. Regulating and adjusting the body
  2. Regulating and adjusting the breath
  3. Regulating and adjusting the mind

They have been traditionally referred to as a formula for making a healing elixir within our bodies. They are also sometimes rendered as the three intentional corrections. In other words, if you are constantly intentionally correcting your posture, breathing and mind along the lines taught in standing training and Taiji, you are constantly creating the conditions for a healing environment within – you are creating a situation of internal coherence or optimal function in your body-mind. This intentional correcting is part of practising mindfulness.

Regulating the body. One very valuable aspect of this training is that it instils into the practitioner (eventually) the ability to self-monitor tension building up, and poor posture, in the body and to take corrective action, more or less continuously. Releasing and letting go of your unconscious physical, bad habits of tension and bad posture has great ramifications for your brain, mood, and general approach to life! When they are removed so that the qi is flowing more freely you will feel more refreshed and focussed.

Posture is fundamental to everything we do whether we are sitting at a desk, watching TV or driving a car, or standing in a queue at the bank or bus stop, walking, lying down, et cetera, these principles can be applied. If you think about it there are a myriad of ways these principles learnt in standing training can be brought over into the day-to-day postures you adopt.

Regulating the breath. This is simple, just spend a few minutes making sure your breath is deep, abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing – if it is not, intentionally correct it. These regulations are interrelated – to take a deep breath you need to adjust your posture. To adjust your posture it helps to take a deep breath.

Regulating the mind. This of course is more difficult because the mind has a life of its own and tends to wander all over the place. This "scatters the qi". Just observing the mind and noting how you are feeling and thinking in itself already initiates a process of collecting this scattered energy. It is a bit like a magnifying glass that collects diffuse sunlight and focuses it into a strong beam. If you bring your mind down to become aware of the natural rhythm of your breath in the belly and Dantian region this is called "sinking the qi" – this also helps collect the scattered energy. In my experience one ends up constantly sinking the qi, noting when it rises up into the head when thinking too much, and into the chest when tensing up, and bringing it back down to the centre - the Dantian. This is enough to start with.

Later I teach students Buddhist practices for regulating the mind and managing ones mental states. In essence these involve being able to recognise 'unskilful' mental states – ones that are negative and useless – and transforming them into 'skilful' ones – that are positive and useful. The practice of ethics helps this process as well as maintaining a state of mental equanimity.

It is a good idea to stop every now and then throughout the day and tune into these three regulations, checking your posture and whether you are relaxed, your breathing, and the state of your mind. Even if you just spend three minutes doing this it is beneficial. Eventually you will be able to do it continuously.

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