Yuan Gong & Yuan Tze Ren Xue
Yuan Gong is one of the fundamental tools that Ren Xue offers us to improve our health and wellbeing. Beautiful, effective, and easy to learn, Yuan Gong helps to improve overall health while Ren Xue offers the theoretical base and practical tools to transform consciousness. Together, Yuan Gong and Ren Xue provide a comprehensive system to transform the whole of life.
The Background and Rationale for Creating Yuan Gong
Qigong practice has been used as an important tool on the basic level of Ren Xue because it can effectively help people improve their Qi condition. A better Qi condition is the base for better physical and mental health. For life improvement, it is a good place to start. Over the years of using a borrowed system, it became clear that Ren Xue needs a Qigong system that is highly compatible on every level. For example on the theoretical level, the Qigong system used in Ren Xue should share the theoretical foundation of Ren Xue. On the practical level, the Qigong practices should also reflect that. This consistency is essential for the integrity and efficacy of Ren Xue.
Ren Xue is a comprehensive system for life improvement. It is intended to reach and benefit as many people as possible. Because Qigong is the beginning of Ren Xue experience, it is therefore important to have a Qigong system that is highly accessible. Furthermore, this Qigong system should be reasonably easy so that new practitioners can build a consistent practice, which will then allow them the opportunity to further explore Ren Xue. In other words, giving up soon after starting Qigong practice will not allow them to the stage of getting to know Ren Xue and using it to improve their lives. It also became apparent that modern people do not find it easy to commit to a Qigong practice that is difficult to practice, hard to enjoy or too time-consuming.
All in all, Ren Xue urgently needed a Qigong system that complements it on every level and the natural outcome of this need was the creation of Yuan Gong, a system of forms and practices that is:
- easy to learn and perform
- easy to fit into the busy lifestyle of our modern times
- most importantly, effective
The Theoretical foundations of Yuan Gong
Yuan Gong shares the same theoretical foundation as Ren Xue, with three main theories: theory of Qi, theory of consciousness and theory of totality.
In Ren Xue, Yuan Gong is the main method used for working on Qi. Therefore a good understanding of Qi and how Yuan Gong works is essential for the practice to be effective.
What is Qi?
Qi has always been part of traditional Chinese culture; the ancient Chinese recognized Qi as the most basic building block of everything in the universe. This understanding of Qi has been the cornerstone of many traditional disciplines, including traditional Chinese medicine and Qigong. In English ‘energy’ is often the term used to convey the concept of Qi. However, Qi is far more than a form of energy and far more complex. It is a fully integrated form of material, energy and information that has many forms and qualities. It is everywhere and in everything and every physical object. Physical objects, even atoms, are concentrated forms of Qi.
Change is intrinsic to Qi and everything in the universe is in a constant state of transformation from physical to non-physical and vice versa. Dao, or the law of the universe, is a description of how Qi operates in the universe. Dao manifests as the information that Qi follows for its transformation.
Yuan Gong works mainly with original Qi
Yuan Gong works mainly with original Qi (Yuan Qi). This is Qi at the Taiji (Oneness) stage, before dividing into Yin and Yang. This original Qi has no specific quality and is everywhere in the universe. It is the origin of everything in the universe and is in everything. It has no form, no image, no colour or no odour, and it has a very fine and smooth quality.
In Yuan Gong practice, when the consciousness expands out to the infinite void, it is good to connect with this original Qi by visualizing that it is everywhere in the universe. This is a process of integrating our consciousness with the Qi. When the consciousness draws back to the body, the visualization is the same. In this way the universal Qi can be brought back by the consciousness directly into the body. When this original Qi is in the body, it can be transformed into Qi of different qualities, depending on what the body needs. It can automatically balance Yin and Yang, regulate Qi in the channels and strengthen the functions of the organs.
Qi on this level has been called various names, for example, Yuan Qi, Hunyuan Qi, Taiji Qi. We call it original Qi or simply ‘Qi’.
The relationship between Qi and health
Qi is also the key for good health and a healthy life. For life to be healthy, the body and mind need to be well nourished by abundant Qi flowing freely and smoothly. Anything that depletes or disturbs this Qi will affect our health, mind and emotional state. Conversely, improving Qi levels and removing Qi blockages will improve health and the consciousness. Ren Xue therefore focuses on both of these, building Qi and improving Qi flow with Yuan Gong and avoiding the depletion of Qi through changing our behaviour and working on the consciousness.
Totality of life: Jing, Qi and Shen and their relationships
Everything in life is connected and in Ren Xue, reference is often made to Jing, Qi and Shen, the three elements which form the totality of every human being. Jing refers to the physical body while Shen refers to the origin of the consciousness and its manifestations, including the consciousness. Qi is again the key: the building block of body and mind and also an integrated form of material, energy and information. It is the medium by which they are connected. Through Qi every thought or action of the consciousness has an effect on the body and conversely the state of the body affects our Shen. The Shen controls the process, directing the Qi and influencing the quality, quantity, and direction of Qi for example, which is why it is essential to work on our consciousness to heal our bodies and lives. We can do everything possible to keep our bodies healthy, but if we don’t also work on changing the negative patterns of the consciousness we sabotage ourselves every time that negative patterns are transmitted, through the Qi, to the body.
Relationships between emotions and Qi of the organs
There is a close relationship between the organs of the body and our emotions. Strong emotions, for example, can deplete the Qi in specific organs and cause Qi blockages. Equally, learning to stay calm and avoiding negative emotions can benefit the organs. While there are many different emotional states, the main emotional groups are each connected to a different organ; anger to the liver, fear to the kidneys, worry to the stomach and spleen (the digestive functions), sadness to the lungs and ‘happiness’ to the heart. While the association of liver and anger seems logical to most people, it may seem difficult to understand that too much ‘happiness’ can also be damaging. In fact, a feeling of calm joy or wellbeing is good for the heart, but over-excitement or a false euphoria can actually cause damage. Someone laughing uproariously at a party, for example, could be depleting their heart Qi. In Ren Xue maintaining a calm, relaxed, natural and joyful state is essential for keeping Qi of the organs in a healthy state and Yuan Gong is one of the methods used for achieving this.
The focus of the consciousness in life and its relationship with Qi
The Shen or consciousness is all-important in its role as custodian and controller of Qi. It influences the movement of Qi at every moment of our lives. If our mind is focused outside the body, watching TV or shopping for example, our Qi follows the mind out and our Qi level may become depleted. Talking can do the same, unless we keep our focus inside while talking to avoid Qi depletion. The consciousness is also the key to every positive movement of Qi. In Yuan Gong the focus of the consciousness when reaching out into the universe and drawing Qi back to the body determines how well this process works, and our state of the consciousness also influences the quality of the Qi in the body. In an uplifted state, for example, Qi will be light and bright. It is for these reasons that Ren Xue stresses the work on the consciousness and Yuan Gong is designed to work on the consciousness at the fundamental level.
Qigong is one of the greatest achievements of the Chinese wisdom culture. In the long history of its development, Qigong has proven to be an effective tool for dealing with illness, improving health and developing potential and mind power. For any tool that is capable of bringing comprehensive and profound changes to life, it is certainly important to follow and reflect certain laws; to say the least, the laws of life, the laws of Qi, the laws of Jingshen/consciousness and the laws of nature and the universe. The better these laws are understood and embodied, the more positive the outcomes that can be expected. By the same token, if a tool does not follow these laws or even goes against these laws, negative outcomes can be expected. For this reason the foundation upon which a tool is built is vital for its efficacy. This principle applies to Qigong and all the Qigong methods that are created for effecting change to life. In other words, different Qigong theories and methods will yield different outcomes, and safety must be taken into account.
As professional Qigong teachers, and especially as Yuan Gong teachers, we are not only practitioners of Yuan Gong but could also be in the role of teaching Yuan Gong to others. The standards for Yuan Gong professional teachers are set high in order to reflect the high standards that the Yuan Gong system is designed to meet. Yuan Gong teachers are required to have authentic understanding of both theories and methods and to be equipped with knowledge and skills for ensuring safety. This is how we can use Yuan Gong to help ourselves safely and effectively and be truly professional in delivering high quality services to others.
Safety and effectiveness are the two core values of the design of Yuan Gong. Those who practise Yuan Gong consistently can experience the embodiment of these values through their practice. Of these two values, safety comes first. This has been true since the beginning of Yuan Gong creation and will always remain so.
Safety has been an issue throughout the long history of Qigong and all activities that fit into the definition of Qigong, and remains so today.
[Note: Definition of Qigong in Ren Xue: Qigong is a self-training method that uses Shen (or consciousness), the body (postures and movements) and breathing* to bring direct change to Qi in order to enhance the health and wellbeing of the body and Shen/consciousness on an ongoing basis. *Breathing techniques are included in some methods of Qigong.]
Yuan Tze has been in the Qigong profession for several decades, conducting research, teaching Qigong and performing Qi therapy. During this time he has witnessed safety-related problems in a large number of people, and these problems have manifested in a variety of ways. He has also worked with many practitioners to try to help them deal with such problems. Safety-related problems were especially rampant during the first ten years after the lifting of the ban on Qigong in China. Frankly, it was horrifying as well as saddening to witness and experience. This prompted his decision to do his best to introduce change. It was clear to him that unless there was a change in direction, the overall situation would continue to deteriorate. Now, with the introduction of Yuan Gong, Yuan Tze feels an obligation to do his best to rectify the situation and an opportunity to do so.
The causes of safety issues are complex; many factors can be involved. Let’s look at some of the common ones:
1. External Factors
There are a few main external factors related to unsafe conditions of Qigong practice. Beginners are especially vulnerable and subject to their influence. However, even experienced practitioners can be affected, as some of these factors are not always easy to recognise.
1) Qigong Methods (including all of the methods that fit into the definition of Qigong)
When the creator of a Qigong method is seriously lacking in Qigong professionalism, the method can be ill-designed or flawed and can therefore pose potential risks for its practitioners. This problem has been around since ancient times, and seems to be getting worse in modern times. What could be expected when practising methods that are ‘sick’? On the fortunate end of the scale, the effectiveness of the practice would be limited. On the other end, more serious outcomes are possible when practising seriously flawed methods.
2) Theory (including the ideas behind the method and the principles/teachings that the method is based on)
As a tool that can deeply impact life, a sound Qigong method should be based on sound theories. However, due to various reasons, very few Qigong methods/systems have a sound theoretical foundation. Even those few with theoretical underpinnings often have flawed theories. When the theories are absent or flawed, the methods can also be flawed. In reality, problematic theories are common and are causing all kinds of safety-related problems. Looking at this from another angle, a commonly accepted traditional idea says ‘The theory is the method; the method is the theory’ (理就是法、而法也是理). ‘They are not two different things’ (理法不二); rather, they are two aspects of one thing. From this perspective, flawed theories constitute flawed methods, and vice versa.
Let’s look at spontaneous Qigong – one of the commonly seen examples of how an unsound theoretical base can cause safety problems. Spontaneous Qigong is actually very complex in terms of its mechanism and practice. One of its features is that only minimal control is exercised during practice. This factor increases the level of risk. Safe practice of spontaneous Qigong requires a sound theoretical base to help practitioners develop good understanding and to ensure that the practice is safe. However, this kind of theoretical base is lacking, and therefore there is a risk involved in practising spontaneous Qigong. There was a time when spontaneous Qigong was very popular in China, and during that time the number of people suffering from safety problems increased significantly.
3) Teaching and Guidance
In the past few decades, Qigong in China has been through a period of flourishing rarely seen in the history of Qigong. Qigong, a special discipline that was once used by a small number of people for life cultivation, was suddenly made available to the general public. Qigong was growing at a faster rate than any time in history. Accompanying this rapid development was the problem of a lack of professional Qigong workers – one of the main causes of many unhealthy outcomes. During the time when Qigong was ‘maniacally popular’, anyone could go through a few days of very basic training and become a Qigong teacher or even a Qigong master. These teachers or masters could immediately start training others to become Qigong teachers or masters. Many Qigong organisations offered short training programmes and issued certificates for the qualification of Qigong teacher. Some of them even started creating their own Qigong systems/methods. Due to the lack of professional guidance from Qigong teachers, many people developed safety problems even when practising methods that were relatively safe. Although this ‘maniac time’ is something of the past, unprofessional teaching and guidance has not died down; they have survived with a tenacious grip!
Some teachers mix incompatible methods or systems and offer these to their students, perhaps to meet their students’ preferences, perhaps to show that they (the teachers) can master a wide range of techniques. Safety can be compromised when doing so. (See below for details regarding the issue of mixing different systems)
4) Qigong as a Discipline
Qigong has been through a long history of development. Countless methods have been created and a good number of them are relatively safe and effective; they can be used to help people improve life safely and effectively. However, this discipline is far from perfect. There is still so much untapped potential for Qigong to be used as a tool for making comprehensive and profound changes to life. This is why Qigong is constantly developing, despite its long history. To make further progress, it has become essential that a systematic approach to Qigong be developed.
Firstly, it is necessary to have a sound and comprehensive theoretical system. This includes the fundamental theories (philosophy) and the theories for application. For Qigong to work on all levels of life, the theoretical system should cover comprehensive information that can be used to understand and change life. Secondly, it is necessary to have a safe and effective methodology. The system should consist of Qigong methods that incorporate all of the useful components that help practitioners work step by step on the whole of life, and in the safest and most effective way. Furthermore, the system should stand the test of time. Therefore there is a need for consistency and coherence in the theories, methods, practices, goals and intended effects. The availability of such a system will mark a new stage in the history of Qigong.
Although many Qigong methods have been created, most of them do not have a sound theoretical base and many of them are stand-alone methods rather than a system. A few Qigong professionals have made an effort to create Qigong systems, which is a big step forward. However, most of them have still not reached the level of a complete system.
With Qigong becoming more and more accessible, most people’s preference when choosing a Qigong method or system is for one that is well-designed, effective, and comprehensive and that has good depth. However, they also want something that is easy to learn and practise, fun and interesting to do and not too time-consuming. It is natural and understandable to have such a wish list. How do the professionals satisfy all these needs? There are all sorts of systems and methods on offer. Therefore, drawing from several of these different methods is seen as an option. When mixing different theories and methods in this way, safety can become a concern. (See below for the details of the issue of mixing different systems)
Yuan Gong is designed to be a comprehensive system. Although the system is still being built, it is clear that in the not too distant future it will become a comprehensive system. Throughout history, there has never been a Qigong system with such a degree of comprehensiveness. It is truly hoped that it can be used to serve humanity safely and effectively, and that Yuan Gong can contribute to the development of Qigong.
2. Specific Personal Situations and Conditions
Some people may not be suited to practise certain types of Qigong. When this fact is not taken into account by either the teacher or the practitioner due to lack of understanding, or any other reason, safety could be compromised. The first four methods of Yuan Gong are designed to suit the majority of the public with very rare exceptions. However, the practice of the Fifth and Sixth Methods is different. These are Jing Gong (Still Qigong) methods and some people may not be suitable for Jing Gong practice. This is the reason for the special requirements for this type of practice. This information is available on the Yuan Tze Centre website. Anyone who intends to begin the practice of these two methods should be aware of this information.
3. Personal Decision
This refers to safety problems caused by a practitioner’s informed choice to disregard the safety measures or principles.
This factor plays a big part in causing safety problems. People choose to ignore safety measures for a variety reasons such as: disagreement or thinking it is not necessary to be so careful, believing that problems will only affect a very small number of people and ‘I won’t be an unlucky one’, curiosity, intention to challenge, or even rebellion manifesting as an attempt to push boundaries. No matter the reason, in the end, unfortunate results can be experienced.
The above are the main factors involved in Qigong practice situations that are potentially dangerous. However, when investigating the actual causes of safety problems, in the majority of cases multiple factors are involved. These factors can give rise to an array of potentially unsafe situations, resulting in all kinds of safety problems.
The Issue of Mixing Practices
Mixing practices is one of many possible problematic situations related to the safety of Qigong practice and it is one of the most common ones. It might take some time before negative consequences appear, and therefore practitioners can remain unaware of the risk. Let’s look at what mixing practices means and why it is not advisable to do so.
A sound Qigong system should, at a minimum, meet the basic criteria of safety and effectiveness. It should also have a solid and comprehensive theoretical base. Important components of such a system should include balance, maturity and comprehensiveness. Only then can the system yield the intended effects.
A sound Qigong system can not only help practitioners achieve basic benefits such as improved health, but can also uplift life and develop potential. These benefits generally stem from sustained work on Shen/Yi, the body and Qi. They are the result of using a series of methods designed to work on these levels consistently and in a safe and sound way. Qi will be impacted by the practice of the methods and will move and change in the way that the methods intend. In this process, Qi gradually develops a new order and a new level of balance, which will manifest as the effects of the practice.
Every Qigong system has its unique way of working on Qi and therefore creates a unique new order and balance of Qi. Two methods can be fundamentally different although they might look similar. A small component in a method or system can make a huge difference in its practice, the change of Qi it can create and the intended effects. An ancient saying describes this aptly: ‘A difference of a fraction of millimetre can lead to a difference of thousands of miles down the track.’ (差之毫厘．缪之千里) In reality, there are usually marked differences that distinguish the various systems. This is why, in keeping with a principle known to most Qigong professionals, mixing different systems and methods should be avoided. Unless the methods are specially designed to be compatible with another system, mixing different systems and methods may not only compromise the effects but also create problems.
What does ‘mixing different systems and methods’ refer to? It refers to using two different systems/methods together in a given time frame. This includes mixing components such as the theories, ideas, mind activity, methods and techniques.
Why not mix different systems/methods? As stated above, different Qigong systems work on Qi and create a new Qi order and balance in different ways. Each person only has room to create one Qi order using one Qi system at any given time. Using more than one Qigong system at a time can cause confusion and disruption to the balance of the original Qi order. The desired new, higher order cannot be created. Furthermore, chaos can develop. It is as though there are two central governments in a nation, both trying to put their own system to work. It is not hard to imagine how conflict and chaos can result. (This may not be the most appropriate analogy but hopefully it can help make the point.) When this occurs to the Qi of a human life, it is unlikely that negative effects can be avoided altogether, although the extent of the effect may vary with the intensity of the conflict and the duration of the occurrence. If one mixes different systems for a prolonged period of time, the possible consequences can range from slow or little progress (on the lucky side) to disruption to the functioning of the body and the consciousness with Qi seriously out of balance.
Everything should be viewed in relative terms. A sound system can only yield its intended effects when it is properly applied. When looking at the danger of mixing different systems/methods, there is a spectrum of seriousness. For example, Qigong methods that have a stronger effect on Qi may pose more risk when mixed. Qigong methods that have little effect on Qi or work more as physical activities will pose little danger.
Yuan Gong was designed with safety and effectiveness as its core components. It is also one of the very few comprehensive Qigong systems that offer methods to work on all levels of life. In the interest of safety, from the outset of Yuan Gong teaching, including Level One Teachers Training when the Three Stages and Nine Methods were introduced, it was clearly stated that Yuan Gong should not be mixed with other systems or methods. The sole exception is the practice of Zhineng Qigong in conjunction with the First Stage of Yuan Gong. Once the practitioner has started learning and practising the Fourth Method of Yuan Gong (Xia Yuan), the two systems should not be mixed.
Why is it all right to mix the first stage of Yuan Gong with Zhineng Qigong, you may wonder. Let’s look at the reason for this. Zhineng Qigong was part of the Ren Xue system from the start. As Ren Xue evolved, the need for a new Qigong system grew, hence Yuan Gong. In order to ensure that Ren Xue practitioners would transition to Yuan Gong smoothly and their progress would not be affected, making the two systems compatible was one of the factors considered during the design of Yuan Gong methods. Looking back, this approach worked very well and no ill effect has been reported. Many practitioners actually made faster progress through this transitional process.
Although mixing the two systems during the transitional stage does not pose any risk, once the practice of the first three Yuan Gong methods is established the mixed approach is not recommended because there is no need for it. Despite the compatibility in the First Stage, the two systems are distinctly different in many ways. The ideas behind their design are different, their styles are different and they have different characteristics. From the Second Stage onward (starting with the Fourth Method), compatibility with other systems or methods was not a design consideration. Therefore, from that point forward, Yuan Gong should not be practised in conjunction with any other system or method, including Zhineng Qigong. Ultimately a choice must be made. If one wishes to practise Yuan Gong consistently, practice of any other system should be discontinued.
Yuan Gong is a self-sufficient and comprehensive Qigong system. It has a unique theoretical base and is composed of a series of methods that form a complete package. Its methods are professionally designed to work on all levels of life in a safe, effective, systematic and comprehensive way. There is strong coherence, connectedness and consistency among all the Yuan Gong methods, in their mechanisms, principles, ideas, techniques, movements, and mind/Shen activities. These contribute to the high degree of unification of these methods. All Yuan Gong methods support, enhance, depend on, complement and balance one another. They have a strong cause and effect connection with one another. This is how practitioners can rely on all the methods in the system to gradually deepen their work on life. In a context where the Yuan Gong system is used properly and consistently and safety and effectiveness are therefore ensured, Yuan Gong methods can be practised in varied ways. For example, a Yuan Gong practitioner who has been practising Ren Yuan properly and consistently can, if need be, break the method down into six sub-methods for working on different parts of the body. It is even possible to further break the sub-methods down to make them 18 single techniques to practise. When taking such an approach to practising, safety and effectiveness will not be compromised. In principle, most of the Yuan Gong methods can be practised this way when they are used in the context mentioned above.
The design and the application of Yuan Gong and Yuan Ming Medicine took into account these three main factors involved in problems of safety, and safety has always been the number one consideration. It is evident that safety is no trivial matter. If we want to achieve, say 1000000 in life, the ‘1’ represents safety. With it, all the other achievements (‘0’s added to it) count. Without it, the many ‘0’s mean nothing.
Some might ask if safety is so important, why did Yuan Tze not talk about it thoroughly until now?
This is actually a very complex issue and not easy to answer by giving a few simple reasons. Even though he is deeply aware of the importance of safety, much consideration has been given to questions such as when is the best time to talk about it, what to say and to whom. In fact, safety measures were in place throughout all the years of using Ren Xue to help people in all sorts of different ways without attracting too much attention or raising alarm. This may not have been the best way but it seemed a sensible way. If he had extensively and seriously discussed safety issues and put in safety measures at the outset, questions and concerns regarding his motives could have been triggered, for example:
1. Is Yuan Tze exaggerating or being overly cautious? Is safety a real issue?
2. Does Yuan Tze do this because he does not want to lose his students to other teachers or because this will affect his business interests?
3. These types of safety measures take away or infringe on my right to freedom of choice and free will.
4. Or, even worse, is Yuan Tze trying to create fear and use it to control people like in a cult?
To avoid being misunderstood and to avoid all the ‘trouble’ that could come with warnings about safety, the easiest solution was to not mention it. However, as time goes on, especially as practice deepens, it may be insufficient to rely only on ‘hidden safety measures’. Not revealing the full truth at this juncture could mean safety is compromised and regrettable things might happen. There is a very well-known Chinese saying, ‘The things that have happened to people before are the teachers for future people’ (前人之事、后人之师). Other people’s unfortunate experiences should be learned from and used in order to prevent them from happening again.
As the creator of Yuan Gong, Yuan Tze offers Yuan Gong to the general public and hopes that the use of Yuan Gong will be beneficial to their lives. He therefore bears responsibility and should do his best to ensure the safety of Yuan Gong practice.
Educating people about safety in Qigong practice has posed a challenge during all these years of working outside China. Doing it too early or too much can make people wary or even frightened. People’s opportunities to use Qigong to benefit their lives may be lost. Even when people decide to give Qigong a try, practising with such fear in the back of their minds can greatly impact the effects of their practice. On the other hand, not doing enough can increase risk. Safety education has now become more important than ever because many people’s Yuan Gong practice has become deeper, and with the introduction of the Fifth and the Sixth Methods the practice of Yuan Gong is now entering a new stage – Jing Gong (Still Qigong), a very special type of Qigong. From a traditional and professional perspective, this type of Qigong practice requires higher safety standards. This is why at this point in time safety education is necessary. Prior to this point, as long as the principle of not mixing different methods (as well as the other safety measures that have been passed on) was observed, safety should not have been a major concern.
Some people may wonder if Yuan Tze is exaggerating or even making a big deal out of nothing. In fact, even traditionally safety was treated as a serious issue in Qigong practice. Much wisdom has been passed down on how to prevent safety problems. This wisdom can be found in traditional classics and in the teaching of the methods, and is commonly accepted by mainstream Qigong professionals. As mentioned previously, Yuan Tze has seen many people who suffered from safety-related problems. This year alone (2015), three people came to him out of desperation asking for help. Two of them developed problems after mixing different methods and one of them after attending a weekend workshop learning to do an unusual type of healing. All of them experienced extremely strong symptoms on the physical, Qi and mental levels, and their symptoms were extremely difficult to deal with.
Since ancient times there have been unprofessional practices in the field of Qigong that have manifested in different ways at different times. This is not something that one or two people can change. I can only make a plea to Qigong teachers and masters to cherish and protect the valuable assets our ancestors have passed down. They have left us with a precious heritage of the wisdom culture. When we engage in any Qigong activity, we should uphold professional standards and take a responsible attitude toward society.
Since there are so many Qigong methods available, some of you may still want to know “Is it all right to use some of the better methods to supplement my Yuan Gong practice in order to maximize the benefit?” Here is what Yuan Tze has to say:
1. The answer to this question is very clear: Yuan Gong should not be mixed with other Qigong systems or methods. The single exception is a Yuan Gong practitioner who is still at the initial stage of practice and feels a strong need to incorporate some Zhineng Qigong. Yuan Gong teachers need to take the issue of mixing different systems/methods seriously. In the future, we will also look at safety issues when using Yuan Ming Medicine and Ren Xue professionally.
2. Yuan Gong has absorbed the essence of what has been achieved in the long history of Qigong, including excellent theories and methods (both the popular ones and the ones that have been secretly passed down). The creation of Yuan Gong has the support of in-depth practice and authentic understanding. It is an innovative system for this era. Its methods are comprehensive and can help practitioners make change to all aspects of life safely and effectively. Generally speaking, there seems to be no need to use other methods to supplement or support Yuan Gong practice. However, this does not preclude the future possibility of developing new supplementary exercises that are integral to Yuan Gong to deal with specific problems.
3. The main feature distinguishing Yuan Gong from other Qigong Systems or methods is its comprehensiveness. Doing Yuan Gong cultivation properly and consistently can bring comprehensive benefits to life. If Yuan Gong is used in conjunction with Yuan Ming Medicine in the context of Ren Xue life cultivation, comprehensive progress in life can be expected and health, happiness, a sense of wellbeing, realisation and wisdom can become a reality.
Yuan Tze has tried to provide comprehensive guidance about safety. However, it is up to each practitioner to follow the guidance. There is one more thing to be aware of: safety is of the utmost importance, but it should not become a source of worry or even fear. There is no need to over-compensate. Otherwise, it would be as though you decided not to go anywhere because you were worried about car accidents. The safety measures can be likened to traffic rules. As long as we follow the rules and exercise care, safety can largely be ensured. When we take a proactive role in minimising risk, we can feel safe and free and focus on making progress in our practice. This is also how we can fully enjoy the practice.
Introduction to the Nine Methods of Yuan Gong
External Transformation (to work on the Body & Qi)
Internal Transformation (to transform Qi on deeper levels and develop the consciousness)
Xin Shen Transformation (to develop the consciousness & Shen and work on Qi)
Overview of the nine methods of Yuan Gong.
First Stage – External Transformation to work mainly on the body and Qi
The First Method (Tian Yuan) is the beginning of the first stage, the External Transformation Stage. This method works by using the consciousness to guide Qi with the help of physical movements in order to expand the internal Qi out and to draw in external Qi. This can facilitate the exchange of Qi and information with the universe. A large amount of Qi can be gathered effectively and efficiently which in turn can improve the flow of Qi and blood as well as the functions of the body.
The Second Method (Di Yuan) is a standing form. Almost all traditional and modern Qigong systems emphasize the importance of the standing form as a practice on the foundational level and this is also the case for Yuan Gong. The Second Method is a ‘Three Dantian Standing Form’.
The Third Method (Ren Yuan) is also a method on the foundational level. This method embodies the Qigong principle of ‘unifying Xing (the body) and Shen (mind)’ and ‘working on Xing and Shen simultaneously’. This practice can activate and promote the flow of channel Qi in the body. Qi and blood will flow more smoothly and harmoniously, which will not only make us feel refreshed and light but also improve our health. It can also strengthen the physical structures such as the skin, muscle, tendons and extremities.
- The method is uncomplicated and straightforward.
- It feels smooth, natural, light and is pleasant to practice.
- Movements are used to stretch the body, with different parts of the body moving as one.
Second Stage – Internal Transformation to transform Qi on deeper levels and develop the consciousness
The Fourth Method (Xia Yuan) serves to improve the health of the organs. Sustained practice of this method can benefit health and lift it to a higher than average level. After all, the organs play a vital role in our health.
The Fifth Method (Zhong Yuan) is designed to develop the Central Channel. The Central Channel does not naturally exist. It is a channel that can be developed through persistent practice of methods designed to achieve this. Because of its importance, most established traditional Qigong systems and important Qigong figures in history have tried to develop the Central Channel in a variety of ways.
The positive effects of developing the Central Channel include:
- The integration and connection of different types of Qi such as channel Qi and organ Qi in the body
- The improvement of special abilities
- Deeper unification of Shen and Qi and the raising of one’s Qigong level
The Sixth Method (Shang Yuan) is designed to work on the Central Line. This method consolidates what has been achieved through the practice of the Fifth Method and brings it to a deeper level. This method therefore promotes the transformation of Qi, and the unification of Shen and Qi on a deeper level. This practice also helps with the transformation and elevation of Shen and the consciousness.
Third Stage – Xin Shen Transformation to develop the consciousness & Shen and work on Qi – Seventh Method (Tong Yuan), Eighth Method (Ling Yuan), Ninth Method (Ming Yuan)
These constitute the Xin Shen Transformation Stage of Yuan Gong. The practice at this stage aims to promote the transformation of Shen. It is designed to support practitioners’ work on their Shen and inner nature by helping them to see the consciousness more clearly and effect change. The practice at this stage works as reliable technical support for the development of awareness, realization and wisdom.
The design of Yuan Gong follows the principles of working on life step by step, from the basic level to deeper levels, from the external to the internal. From the beginning it takes care of the whole of life, and has different focuses at different stages. For example, the first stage focuses mainly on bringing change to the body and Qi. The second stage focuses primarily on the transformation of Qi on a deeper level and also on Shen and the consciousness. The third stage focuses primarily on the elevation of Shen and the consciousness and also on Qi.
Six Verses of Yuan Gong
- Awareness inside the body, feel the emptiness and spaciousness within.
- Expand this awareness out, becoming one with the universe.
- Draw the awareness back to the body, calm and peaceful.
- Open to the universe with reverence and utmost Gongjing.
- Let the bright universe nurture the heart with compassion and love.
- Feel relaxed, free and joyful, Qi flowing harmoniously and smoothly.
The Six Verses are used for building the qifield as part of the preparation for practice, a very important element of Yuan Gong practice. This is done primarily by using the activities of the consciousness, and includes other measures such as language as a prompt to actively involve the practitioner in a positive way. Through the activity of building the qifield, the Qi of nature can be brought into the qifield and special information can be created by the consciousness. A purpose-built qifield such as this can facilitate the desired changes.
The Six Verses are also very important for the adjustment of the consciousness and Qi so people can shift from a ‘usual’ (non-Qigong) state to a more unified and more harmonious (Qigong) state. When this preparation is done properly the practice will be much more effective, and it is therefore worth putting a good effort into making this adjustment.
The Six Verses can also be used effectively to adjust the state of the consciousness even when not doing Yuan Gong practice. What can be achieved can only be experienced and understood by the sustained use of this practice.
The First Method – Tian Yuan
Main Features and Benefits of Tian Yuan
This method facilitates a comprehensive exchange of Qi and information between the practitioner and the universe. A large amount of Qi can be gathered effectively and efficiently.
The coordinated use of the mind and the physical movements can benefit both the mind and body, and promote the unification of Jing (the body), Qi and Shen on a deep level.
This method can effectively open Qi gates in the body, for example in the shoulder and neck area. Most adults have blockages here because of stress. This area carries a lot of tension, which may affect not only physical health but also have a negative impact on mental wellbeing.
Although Tian Yuan is the introductory practice of Yuan Gong, it is designed to create profound effects on Qi by:
Focusing on two aspects:
- Improving the Qi condition of the whole body
- Improving Sanjiao and organs directly and indirectly
Taking care of two other areas
- Beginning to open the channels and promote the flow of channel Qi in the whole body
- Beginning to improve the clarity and sensitivity of Shen, which helps to lay the foundation for the future development of special abilities
The length of the practice can vary according to different needs or intended effects. The practice of this method can also be varied to create effects of different depths. Sustained practice of Tian Yuan can improve health and have a positive impact on various health problems. It is also a way to build the foundation for improving our Qigong level.
The practice of this method can help build the foundation for performing external Qi therapy and building a qifield for group healing.
Guidance for Tian Yuan Practice
- Mind calm and Shen bright, free and vibrantLightly imagine that you are a giant bird, soaring freely in the universe in a lively and natural state.
- Opening big and closing big, Qi and mind connected and flowing without interruptionWhen the movements and especially the consciousness are opening out, send the consciousness out to fill the infinite void of the universe. Visualize the refined, pure and original Qi everywhere in the universe and connect with this Qi. When the movements and especially the consciousness are drawing in, focus on the deepest place in the body. Imagine the body is an empty space and transparent. Try to feel the deepest place in the body and the healthy, normal, bright state inside, and the change of Qi there.
- The whole body moving as one, flowing like worms and snakes in a circular and rounded wayThe movements in this method are simple and distinctive. When doing the movements, the whole body should move as one; the upper body and lower body move in harmony. The upward movements and downward movements work together, as do the forward and backward movements. The root of the movements of the upper limbs is the feet, the axis is the waist. The shoulders lead the elbows, wrists, palms and fingers, all in circular movements like worms and snakes.
- Moving like drifting clouds and flowing WaterThe postures and movements should be as unrestricted and relaxed as possible to express a sense of freedom, serenity and total presence, and a feeling of being completely comfortable with ourselves. Floating clouds and flowing water move smoothly and steadily without disruption.
The Second Method – Di Yuan
Main Features and Benefits of Di Yuan
The required standing posture, along with the specific use of the consciousness, can strengthen the physical body and bring about improvements on the muscular-skeletal level.
Di Yuan serves to activate and gather Qi effectively in all three Dantians. They are worked on together in a systematic manner in order to strengthen them and activate transformation. It is designed this way because the three Dantians are the main Qi gathering places for the Qi of the physical body (Lower Dantian), organ Qi (Middle Dantian) and Shen and the consciousness (Upper Dantian). They can be seen as Qi storehouses or distribution centres. This design reflects the Ren Xue principle of ‘respecting and observing the nature of totality and the laws of life’.
It uses Dantian Breathing creatively to make the practice safer, more efficient, effective and manageable. Using Dantian breathing properly in standing form practice can help improve one’s focus. It is also helpful for keeping Shen and Qi inside the body, and for unifying Jing, Qi and Shen. This way Qi gathered from the universe can be further processed and transformed so that the Qi in the Dantians will be imprinted with the practitioner’s own qualities and become more nourishing.
Di Yuan can help open the shoulders, neck, lower back and hips.
Like Tian Yuan, it can also be varied according to the conditions and needs of the practitioner in order to achieve effects of different depths.
Di Yuan can be practiced on its own or in combination with Tian Yuan. It is also a method that prepares for the subsequent methods in the Yuan Gong system. The practice of Di Yuan can help make other methods more effective and sustained practice of this method can help raise the level of Qigong practice.
Guidance for Di Yuan Practice
- Follow nature to facilitate transformation; simple practice to reap a direct benefitThis method is designed with the nature of human life as its basis in order to create a balanced relationship between the method and the practitioner. For example, instead of adopting the difficult postures often seen in standing forms, this method works with the physical and physiological structure of human body in a more natural way. The result is that beginners can easily learn and practice this method. Not only will they not develop a negative attitude to the practice, they can actually enjoy it. This makes consistent practice possible, which is essential to reap the real benefits of standing form practice. Apart from the physical posture, other elements such as breathing and mind activity are also incorporated with the same intention – to follow the nature of human life. These elements help improve the quality and increase the depth of the practice.
- Three forms combined to improve Shen and Qi; strengthening the whole body and establishing a good foundationThis method uses physical postures to promote Qi flow in the whole body and to strengthen the whole body. More importantly, it also focuses on building up the three Dantians.Lower Dantian Form Strengthening the gathering of Qi in Lower Dantian – beneficial for improving overall health and physical functionsMiddle Dantian Form Strengthening Qi in Middle Dantian – beneficial for health and the functions of the organsUpper Dantian Form Strengthening Shen and Qi in Upper Dantian – beneficial for the stability, clarity, and strength of Shen and the consciousness and for the further development of the potential of ShenThrough the practice of Di Yuan, the three Dantians as well as Jing, Qi and Shen can be improved and strengthened from the very beginning of Qigong practice. This will provide the solid foundation required for deepening practice, achieving optimal health and elevating life as a whole.
- Still practice well-complemented with moving practice; a good balance between working on Qi and nourishing QiAlthough this method has both moving and still elements, it is mainly a still practice method. It is therefore more effective to practice some moving Qigong such as Tian Yuan prior to the practice of this method.
- Dantian breathing completely naturally; focus and unification for deep calmness and LingWhen practicing this method, Dantian Breathing is used to help draw the consciousness back to the body and unify it with the body, breathing (including Qi) and the ever-improving good state. This also helps to turn thousands of thoughts to one, which lays the ground for a deep state of calmness and Ling (see The Meaning of ‘Yuan Tong Ling Ming’).
The Third Method – Ren Yuan
Main Features and Benefits
1) The design of this method draws mainly on traditional and modern Qigong, along with a wide range of disciplines, including traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts and exercise and sports science. As with all Yuan Gong methods, the laws of life (especially the laws of the consciousness and of Qi) are the foundation for Ren Yuan. Although it draws upon various sources, much innovation is brought into the creation of Ren Yuan, making it an unprecedented method.
2) Ren Yuan is in principle a Xing-Shen unification method. Traditionally there are various ways in which Xing-Shen unification practice can be done. They can also be seen as different levels of practice. Where they differ is mainly in the so-called ‘xin fa’ (mind method). Ren Yuan has selected a traditional ‘xin fa’, which has long been kept secret and almost completely lost. It is adapted into this special ‘mind method’ that goes: ‘Shen being extremely calm, consciousness coming alive, Qi moving itself, body following Qi movement, all unified and becoming one’. In Chinese, it is summed up in 15 words: ‘神静极．意灵动．气自动．形随动．合为一’.
3) Through the practice of Ren Yuan, the channels in the body can be opened so the Qi and blood can flow smoothly and reach every part of of the physical body, including the skin, muscles, tendons and sinews, organs, bones and marrow, even the cells at the level of the nuclei and genes.
4) Ren Yuan has a clear structure and is made up of a variety of techniques. Let’s look at this further.
I. It is a comprehensive method.
Ren Yuan is designed to work on every part of the body (all the joints, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and organs). The important parts are especially emphasized during practice. The channels of all levels (main channels and branch channels) have the opportunity to be unblocked and Qi of the whole body gets a thorough workout.
II. It has a clear and sound structure.
Ren Yuan is made up of the opening, five main segments and the ending. The opening is to help the practitioner get into the state of unification in which she is unified with the universe and her Jing, Qi and Shen are unified. This is a necessary preparation for the five main segments that follow. The five main segments work through the five main parts of the body one by one, from head to toe, bringing the work of Qi deeper and deeper as the practice proceeds. The method provides the opportunity for every part of the body to benefit directly from the change of Qi that occurs in it and indirectly through the positive changes of Qi in other parts. The ending is to consolidate the positive changes that occur through the practice and conclude the practice by regulating Qi in the whole body.
III. It is made up of a range of individual techniques that can be used in a variety of ways.
There are three sections (techniques) in the combined opening and ending, and three in each of the five main segments. This makes 18 sections altogether. Each section is for working on a specific part of the body, and therefore can be used to address the problems in that part or to strengthen it. The three sections that make up a segment work together in an organic way to make the segment a comprehensive method in itself. In other words, each of the 18 sections and each of the six segments (five main and one combining the opening and the ending) can be used as an individual method and practised in accordance with the needs of the practitioner.
IV. It is an effective method for health improvement.
This method can be effective in making positive change to health problems. It can also work well to prevent illness and improve the overall health condition.
Ren Yuan is also a good method for the practitioner to improve her ability to work with Qi, including experiencing Qi, activating Qi, moving Qi and making positive change to Qi. The practitioner can therefore effect change of Qi on the level that is not easy to reach – the channels. This ability can also be very helpful for conducting external Qi therapy.
This method involves stretching every part of the body on a deep level and so is effective for improving the physical body, including the physique, the flexibility (suppleness) of the body and its ability to balance.
This method is also very effective for cultivating the calm, relaxed and natural state. Practising this method, the practitioner can get into this state within a very short time and experience the interesting changes of Xing, Qi and Shen and the wonderful feeling brought about by their unification. This method is also very useful for developing the ability to maintain balance on the emotional and mental levels.
Sustained practice of this method will yield many positive effects and is necessary for building the foundation for subsequent Yuan Gong methods.
This method is suitable for all. It has the potential to become a method that the general public will use for their health maintenance.
Guidance for Ren Yuan Practice
1) Heaven and Human Being One; Shen Unified with Qi and Xing
In the Preparation and the Opening, the practitioner should actively make herself one with the Qi around the body and in the universe, getting into the state of oneness (heaven, human and earth are one). Shen/consciousness should lead the way for Qi and Xing to follow. The three should always be following one another, watching out for one another, responsive to one another and keeping one another company. They should always be an inseparable unity.
2) Shen Being Ling, Mind Being Calm; Qi and Body Moving Effortlessly
It is essential to actively get into a calm and focussed state so Shen can be clear, calm, ling and ming. In this state, with the unification of Shen, Qi and Xing, movements can be done by the Qi activated by the consciousness.
3) Turning and Circling; Demonstrating Fluidity and Beauty
When practising Ren Yuan, it is important to avoid rigid and straight movements. The movements should be rounded, circular and smooth in order to yield the desired effects. Proper practice of Ren Yuan should manifest the beauty of life, its stillness and movement, its strength and softness and its harmony when Shen, Qi and Xing are unified.
4) The Whole Body Working as One; Making an Effort to Open Guan Qiao
During the practice, although Shen/consciousness needs to focus on a specific part of the body, attention should be paid to the whole body to maintain the unification of Xing, Qi and Shen as a whole.
There are many places (Guan Qiao) in the body that store Shen and Qi and which play a vital role for the flow of Qi and blood, e.g. Dantians, points and joints. Requirements and ‘tricks’ that are especially important for opening them up should be followed properly. This effort is very useful for making the practice effective.
5) Balance Between Relaxation and Tension; Balance Between Movement and Stillness
It is essential to maintain and continually deepen the calm, relaxed and natural state throughout the practice. Even when the body needs to exert force, Shen and the consciousness still need to be relaxed. ‘Keeping the balance between movement and stillness and between working with Qi and nourishing Qi’ is an important principle to follow in the practice of Ren Yuan. The still parts include the time between movements. When moving, the focus is working on Qi; when still, the focus is nourishing Qi.
6) Being Free and Natural; Enjoying the Wonder of Life
The design of Ren Yuan follows the natural laws of human life so the practice should manifest the natural qualities of human life. An example is the natural flow of the movement and especially the freedom, clarity and lightness of Shen/consciousness. The practice of Ren Yuan will also help the practitioner to develop these natural qualities. When it is properly practised, the practitioner will feel uplifted, light, invigorated and totally at ease as Qi flows smoothly in the body. A strong sense of well-being and freedom can be experienced.
To sum up, Ren Yuan is an effective method for improving health and transforming life and the practice of it provides an opportunity to enjoy the wonder of life.
The Fourth Method – Xia Yuan
Main Features and Benefits of Xia Yuan
1) Ancient Methods – Six Sounds
In the long history of Qigong, using sounds and breathing to improve organ Qi or the mental condition can be dated back to 2000 years ago. One of the main methods was the Six Sounds and for a long time in history access to this method was extremely restricted. Records show that in South-North Dynasty (402-581 AD), the Six-Word Qi Sounds were used to activate the Qi of the five Yin organs. In his book ‘Yang Xing Yan Ming Lu’, Tao Hongjing (456-536 AD) says:
‘Breathe in, then breathe out with a sound. Do this with the six sounds: chui, hu, xi, he, xü, si. This is called ‘Long Breath Exhalation Method’.
In the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the highly accomplished doctor Sun Simiao (581-682 AD) reorganized the sequence of the six sounds to xü, he, hu, si, chui, xi and this has been widely practised until today. It is seen as the classic method for using sounds to work on organ Qi, and has long been regarded as the safest, most effective and reliable method.
The six sounds are adopted and incorporated in Xia Yuan method. However, these sounds are pronounced and used in a way that suits Yuan Gong in particular. In addition to the six sounds, there are three more sounds. Let’s look at all of the sounds in detail.
Six Organ Sounds:
Xü – liver; He – heart; Hu – spleen; Si – lung; Chui – kidney; Xi – Sanjiao
Three other sounds:
Tong; Ling; Qi
How To Do the Sound Practice in Xia Yuan
- When making the sounds, natural abdominal breathing is applied.
- Begin with breathing into Lower Dantian, then make the sound when breathing out.
- Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.
- Breathing and sounds should be smooth, even, soft, long and deep.
- Breathe in with little or no mind activity.
- Breathe out with Shen/mind activity.
– Shen/mind unified with exhalation
– When making the sound of an organ on exhalation, the awareness should be on that particular organ, including the change of Qi in that organ.
– Visualize (See ‘Visualiation and Shen Activity’ below).
How to Make Each Sound
Xü – The lips and teeth should be slightly open, with outward tension in the corners of the mouth. The tongue is pointing forward and slightly hollow.
He – The lips and teeth are approximately half open with the corners of the mouth going slightly downward. The tongue is lifted with the tip touching the lower gum.
Hu – Pucker the lips with the lower lip going slightly in. The tongue pulls toward the back of the mouth and is slightly hollow.
Si – Keep the lips slightly open with the teeth lightly touching, the tongue tip lightly touching the back of the lower teeth.
Chui – To make the ‘ch’ part, pucker the lips with the tongue lightly touching the upper palate. For the ‘ui’ sound, pull back on the corners of the mouth and pull the tongue towards the back of the mouth.
Xi – The lips are separated. Slightly pull back at the corners of the mouth. Draw the tongue towards the back of the mouth with the tongue tip pointing slightly downward. The shape of the mouth is as though you are laughing to yourself.
Tong – The lips slowly pucker during the sound. Raise the root of the tongue slightly and draw the tip of the tongue back and down slightly.
Ling – The lips are separated. Slightly pull back at the corners of the mouth. First touch the upper teeth and gum with the tongue, then draw the tongue back with tongue tip slightly lower.
Qi – The lips are separated. Slightly pull back at the corners of the mouth. The back of the tongue touches the upper palate and the tongue tip touches the lower teeth/gum. It’s a nasal sound at the start and a throat sound towards the end.
Three Ways of Making the Sounds
Traditionally, when using sounds in practice, there are three ways to pronounce each sound to turn them into three types of sounds – xing (physical) sound, Qi sound and shen sound.
- Xing Sound
It is done by making vocal sounds and using the vibration of the sound to activate Qi in a particular part of the body, to have influence on a particular organ. In martial arts practice, such sounds are made in a brief, powerful and explosive manner in order to help instantly activate physical strength. When doing xing sounds for healing or health maintenance, the sounds should be soft, even, long and low. This is the way to make sounds, especially when there are health issues in organs. It is also the way for beginners when they are still becoming familiar with the sound practice. This way of practice can have effects on both jing (the physical) and Qi.
- Qi Sound
With a good foundation of the xing sound practice, the practitioner can move on to make Qi sounds. It is done by making quiet sounds only audible to the practitioner herself. This way of making sounds works mainly on Qi. Traditionally it is called ‘Qi chanting’. There are a few ways to make Qi sounds, for example making the Qi sounds without vibrating the vocal cord. Qi sounds can be used as the main way to practise when sound practice is done consistently as a regular practice.
- Shen Sound
When making shen sounds, there is no use of the mouth. It is done with the mind only. It is called ‘shen chanting’ – ‘chanting without making the sound; being silent but making the sound’. To make shen sound practice effective, it must be built up with the consistent practice of Qi sounds.
In Xia Yuan, each of the nine sounds has three ways in which it can be practised – xing, Qi and shen sounds. Practitioners can select the appropriate one according to the progress of their practice. Since each of the three ways has its own advantages, using them properly can optimize the effect of Xia Yuan practice, especially in improving the health of organs.
2) Visualization and Shen Activity – Six Colours
Each of the five Yin organs in its physical form has its own colour. The Qi of each organ also has its own colour. They are:
Liver – green
Heart – red
Spleen – yellow
Lung – white
Kidney – black
We also add Sanjiao for visualization and it is bright transparent light.
These colours are not just plain colours; rather they are lively, vibrant and bright. They are therefore called ‘Qi light’.
Visualization and Mind Activity
When making the sound of a particular organ in Xia Yuan practice, the mind should focus on that organ with two activities. One is visualization. It is essential to visualize the organ in a Qi form radiating its healthy colour. The other activity is to send positive thoughts to this organ and feel the changes there. This visualization and mind activity is to effect change on Qi through inward focus and positive use of the consciousness. However, the Qi that can be changed through this way of using the consciousness is on a relatively superficial level.
Shen is the origin of the consciousness. It is the ‘true nature’ or ‘original place’ of life. Its activity can be seen as deep-level activity of the consciousness or Jingshen. We can call this activity ‘true thought’ or ‘true intention’ and this special activity manifests naturally when a person is in a unified and harmonious state, i.e. the heart, Shen, mind (consciousness), Qi and the body are unified and harmonized. According to the Theory of Consciousness and the Theory of Qi in Ren Xue, this ‘true thought’ has direct, profound and comprehensive effects on Jing, Qi and Shen as well as the whole of life, including the organs and their pure original Qi.
Shen activity can bring amazing experiences to the practitioner when it manifests. However, to make Shen activity a normal part of life, much effort is required; for example, working on the level of human nature by cultivating qualities such as trust, openness, love, gratitude and Gongjing. The positive change on this level will definitely change the activity of Shen/consciousness, which will lead to the change of health and life. Because of its significant impact on life, in Yuan Gong the development and application of Shen activity is highly emphasized.
3) Regulate Pure Organ Qi – Hand Forms
The hand form is used in the Xia Yuan method. Traditionally it is called ‘shou jue’ (手诀) in Daoism and ‘shou yin’ (手印) in Buddhism. Because shou jue and shou yin have been used in the context of religious practice, they have been mystified and consecrated. Looking at the hand from the Ren Xue perspective, the hand form is a way of using the connection between different parts of the hands and their corresponding parts of the body. Through using the hand form in practice, both the Qi of different parts of the body and the connection between the internal and the external can be strengthened. This is how the effect of the hand form is brought about.
In the Theory of Totality in Ren Xue, human life is seen as a total reality or total existence and all parts of this total reality are connected, forming an inter-supportive and inter-dependent relationship. Each part of the total reality is also governed by the total reality. In other words, from the part, we can see the whole or, the part reflects the whole. Take the hand as an example. It is part of the total reality of a human life, so it is also governed by the laws of the life and the hand also reflects the whole of life. The laws that govern human life such as Yin-Yang, Three Treasures (human, earth, heaven), Five Elements, Eight Trigrams, Ten Heavenly Branches and Twelve Earthly Stems can also be seen in the hand. From the hand, the total reality of life can be seen. Through its connection with the totality of life, the hand can be used to influence different parts of life and life as a whole.
In Xia Yuan, the use of the hand form is through following the laws of the Five Elements, or to be more precise, making use of the connection between the five Yin organs and their corresponding fingers. The connections are:
Liver – index finger
Heart – middle finger
Spleen – thumb
Lung – fourth finger
Kidney – little finger
Sanjiao is not an organ per se; rather, it is seen as a force that promotes the functioning of the organs, primarily the six Yang organs. Its effect can also reach the Yin organs through their connections with the Yang organs.
Traditionally, when following the Five Elements laws, there are two main ways to use the hand form: open hand form and closed hand form. In Xia Yuan, the open hand form is adopted because it allows simultaneous work on both a Yin organ (the fleshy part of the first segment of the finger) and its corresponding Yang organ (the root of the finger). Connections between the two organs can be strengthened in this way. In Yuan Gong, a hand form for Sanjiao is also created for connecting and improving all Yin and Yang organs. Another hand form used in Xia Yuan is what is traditionally known as ‘Heyin Hand (合印手) or ‘Heyin Palm’ (合印掌); or in modern Qigong, ‘Hunyuan Palm’ (混元掌) or ‘Hunyuan Yin’ (混元印). This hand form is used in an innovative way in Xia Yuan. All these different hand forms are used in Xia Yuan for the purpose of improving overall health and the health of the organs through working on organ Qi.
4) Ascend, Descend, Open, Close – Strengthen Pure Original Qi
Xia Yuan uses all the effective and reliable techniques for activating and effecting change on the original pure Qi of the organs, including sounds, colours, mind and Shen activity, hand form, breathing and body movement. It follows the principles of ‘using Shen/mind to activate Qi’, ‘using sounds to activate Qi’ and ‘using movements to activate Qi’. These, used in an organic way, can promote the ascending and descending movement and the opening and closing movement of the original pure Qi of the organs (Yin and Yang) and the transformation of this Qi. It also helps this Qi gather in the Middle Dantian, which promotes the integration of the jing, Qi and shen of the organs and strengthens the functions of the organs.
Why Not Use Emotions?
You may be wondering, since emotions can directly affect the organs and each organ has a corresponding emotion, why the emotions are not used in Xia Yuan? Let’s examine this further.
A basic law we need to understand is that emotions such as anger, over-excitement, worry, sadness and fear can deplete and disturb the Qi of their corresponding organs. When this occurs frequently, damage can be done to the Qi and physicality of the organs and consequently their functions can be impaired.
Some maintain that activating a moderate amount of emotion in a controlled way in Qigong practice can help mobilize organ Qi and develop the ability to control emotions. Practically this is not at all easy to do because the arising of emotions is the result of the play of many factors. When practising Qigong, the practitioner usually needs to focus on maintaining a calm, relaxed and natural state and following the requirements of the practice. In such a state, it is not easy to instantly shift back and forth into different states. Even though it is possible to achieve this, the effect of this way of practising has yet to be verified.
In reality, for many people emotions are one of the main causes of their problems, including health problems. Having emotions too frequently has caused the depletion and Yin-Yang imbalance of their organ Qi. Many health problems have their roots in this unhealthy organ Qi. Even when emotions are used in a controlled way in Qigong practice, they are still emotions.
As to dealing with emotions, in Ren Xue and Yuan Gong the approach is to work on the root causes of them, and this requires working on their underlying patterns. Developing the ability to control emotions is not emphasized as this can only work on the superficial level.
In Xia Yuan, all of the techniques that are truly useful for working on organ Qi have been included. Emotions are not used for the above reasons and so unnecessary interference with the practice can be avoided.
Guidance for Xia Yuan Practice
1) Calm, Relaxed, Natural; Consciousness and Qi Unified
Being calm, relaxed and natural is the foundation for a healthy Jingshen and a healthy life. It is also a prerequisite for Qigong practice, self-healing and the improvement of life.
In Xia Yuan, although the consciousness is required to be unified with the body, the sounds and the colours, the base unification that should be present throughout the practice is the unification of the consciousness and Qi. The whole practice should be done with the consciousness constantly being connected with and aware of Qi.
2) Movements, Hands, Sounds, Colours – Fully Infused with Shen/Consciousness
Shen and the consciousness should permeate every detail of the practice and there should be awareness of any change of Qi initiated by the use of the form, hands, sounds and colours.
3) Total Focus – on the Organs
When doing the organ sections, Shen/consciousness should be fully engaged in the organ and penetrate the area.
4) Flow Continuously – Free, Natural, Light and Joyful
When practising Xia Yuan, it is important to manifest these internal qualities on the physical level so the body looks relaxed and unrestricted and the movements are free, lively and rounded. When doing the method properly, the practitioner will truly enjoy herself and manifest the happiness, joy and lightness that comes with the refreshed Shen and Qi.
The purpose of Qigong practice is to build up the amount of Qi and to promote Qi flow in the body. When the Qi condition is improved, this will automatically work on the unhealthy Qi and information in the body, transforming or normalizing them and effortlessly improving our state of health. However, sometimes the process can be slightly more complicated. For example, if the amount and the flow of Qi are improved at a rapid rate, and the unhealthy Qi and information are stirred up and worked on very intensively within a short time, the unhealthy Qi and information may react to this process before they are completely transformed. They will then temporarily become active and cause symptoms. These symptoms are referred to as Qi reactions.
During the initial stages of Qigong practice, Qigong reactions can often manifest as a flaring up of the symptoms of existing problems, or the recurrence of symptoms of old problems. Qigong reactions can take place in any part of the body, including the organs. For example, when clearing occurs in the lungs there can be flu-like symptoms or the secretion of phlegm. When clearing occurs in the digestive system, it can cause diarrhoea. All of these are common Qigong reactions.
Qigong reactions can also manifest on the emotional level. For example, we can get angry for no reason. This is because the body holds unhealthy information that was created by previously experienced unhealthy emotions, especially emotions which have been frequently experienced. When Qi works on the organs, which are strongly related to emotions, emotional reactions can occur. Qigong reactions can also occur on the consciousness level, especially when Qi and information reach the patterns of the consciousness. This is relatively rare for beginners unless one is also receiving information for working on patterns in a strong qifield. This type of reaction may manifest as getting stuck in certain negative thought patterns or processes.
Qigong reactions can understandably cause anxiety when practitioners do not understand why they occur. If this worry is not addressed, the reactions can cause some people to give up Qigong, so it is crucial to have some understanding about Qigong reactions from the very beginning of practice. People who have concerns about Qigong reactions should consult their teacher.
Qigong reactions are a normal part of healing, no matter on which level they occur. They signify positive changes and should be viewed accordingly. There is no need to worry or panic when they happen, and they are certainly not a reason for giving up Qigong practice. Sometimes it is not that easy for new practitioners to determine whether a symptom they are experiencing is a Qigong reaction or a symptom of a health issue, but is it really necessary to make the distinction? Let’s look at this more closely.
How should we deal with a Qigong reaction? When a Qigong reaction occurs, transformation and healing are happening. We should try to help with this process of transformation and healing so that it can go as well as possible. Not only that, we also want this process to be as brief as possible because Qigong reactions are not pleasant, to say the least. So what can we do to make this happen?
Be calm and positive
Maintain a good state; be calm, relaxed and natural. Knowing that positive changes are happening, we should feel positive about it. Panicking and worrying will only interfere with the process and disturb Qi. When we speculate that something bad is happening, the unhealthy Qi and information may be reinforced, which will obstruct the transformation and healing. The process can take longer and the Qigong reactions may linger.
Using Qigong Practice to Assist the Process
Qigong practice will continue to promote the transformation and healing, so it is advisable to not stop practicing. Sometimes Qigong reactions may make practice difficult, so the practice can be adapted. For example, if we feel very physically tired and find moving Qigong difficult, we can use gentle methods such as Open-Close Pulling Qi; still Qigong can also help. Sometimes Qigong reactions can occur on an emotional level and we may find it difficult to focus or calm down. In this case moving Qigong is useful in clearing the reactions. Of course if we have an emotional or mental reaction, once this is over we have to work on the underlying causes, especially the patterns.
When a symptom is a real symptom, rather than a Qigong reaction we should deal with it in exactly the same way: stay calm and positive and continue to use Qigong to work on the unhealthy Qi and information in the body. If the way to deal with a symptom is the same regardless of whether it is a Qigong reaction or a symptom of a health problem, making a distinction is hardly necessary.
Please note that we are not saying Qigong is the only way to deal with a health problem or a symptom. When advising continued practice of Qigong, we don’t mean to exclude the use of other modalities for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment.
Results of Yuan Gong Trial Practice
The Meaning of ‘Yuan Tong Ling Ming’
‘Yuan Tong Ling Ming’ is the motto of Ren Xue. You can see the Chinese characters of these words in the Ren Xue logo. These four words are also used in Yuan Gong methods. Let’s look at their meaning one by one.
The word ‘Yuan’ is used a lot in Ren Xue. It is also the name of the new Qigong system, ‘Yuan Gong’. ‘Yuan’ means a ‘circle’ or ‘round shape’. It also has the meaning of ‘complete’, ‘whole’, or ‘perfect’ or refers to ‘rounded and smooth’ or ‘smooth flowing or running’. In the context of ‘Yuan Tong Ling Ming’, Yuan also has the connotation of ‘taking up responsibility’.
In an ancient classic Chinese dictionary, ‘Yuan’ means ‘all-encompassing space’ or ‘heaven’, in other words, the universe. In ‘I Jing, Xi Ci’, it says, ‘The nature of Yi (a kind of grass) is Yuan and Shen’. Yuan here means ‘complete’ or ‘whole’. In ‘Da Dai Li Ji Zeng Tzu Tian Yuan’, it says ‘The Dao of Tian is round (yuan); the Dao of Di is square’, which means that the Dao of the universe is characterized by completeness and free flow, and the Dao of the earth emphasizes the observation of laws and rules. This explanation demonstrates the layers of the meaning of ‘Yuan’. ‘Yuan’ represents both the infinitesimal, as in original Qi, and the infinite, as in the whole universe. In other words, it is ‘so big that there is no room to go further out and so small that there is no room to go further in’. Everything in the universe is inside ‘Yuan’. ‘Yuan’ also represents the circular and curvy movements which are the most basic form of movement in the universe. What, therefore, is the meaning of ‘Yuan Gong’? ‘Yuan’ is the symbol of all beauty and positivity and ‘Gong’ is the work for achieving beauty and positivity. Put together, ‘Yuan Gong’ is a way to achieve a wonderful life.
The following three words are used to name the last three methods of Yuan Gong. The second word ‘Tong’ means ‘flowing through’ or ‘unimpeded flow’. In life cultivation, this can be understood as ‘maintaining the free flow of Qi and blood, the free flow between Xing, Qi and Shen, and an open and harmonious relationship with self, with family, with other people, with society and with nature. ‘Ling’ is a manifestation when one has made progress in ‘Yuan’ and ‘Tong’. It refers to a clear head and the development of potential abilities. This should also manifest as improved ability to help oneself and help other people. ‘?’ is the Chinese character for the fourth word ‘Ming’. The Chinese character is made of two parts: ‘?’ (sun) and ’?’ (moon). This is a state of Yin and Yang being in balance, and also refers to a bright and clear Shen and the wisdom it demonstrates when it continuously comes to new realizations.
Yuan Tong Ling Ming represents the essential values of Ren Xue. It can be seen as the goal of Ren Xue practice and it can be used as a means in itself to achieve this goal.
Yuan Gong Experiences
I have been practicing Yuan Gong daily for about two months now.
I have been practicing and teaching other forms of Qigong for over 30 years and am finding Yuan Gong to be an evolution into a very comprehensive and expansive expression of Qi through the body, mind and spirit.
For me it feels very organic in the way the movement merges inner and outer space through an undulation from deep within, rippling like a wave out through my spine and extremities, rolling freely into the ocean of Qi, and returning to my deep centre in a continuous peaceful rhythm. The waves of movement reach every cell as they travel through, dislodging barriers to Qi flow. In my case, the movements have been pushing through residue from an old injury in my right shoulder.
Gradually symptoms of discomfort are dissipating and my shoulder is gliding more smoothly. I can see how regular practice of Yuan Gong will keep opening me up to greater freedom and expansion not just in my body, but in my consciousness.