Interoceptive Practices for Generic Tai Chi & Chi Kung Postures
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.D.
From The Eleanor R. Liebman Center for the Study of Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
These practices will require either knowledge of Tai Chi/Chi Kung postures or following pictures of the same postures. Be prepared before you begin to practice. In this post we will practice postures so that we can concentrate on (be fully aware of) inner feelings of moving chi energy. It is recommended that you do some brief warm up exercises before beginning the Tai Chi and Chi Kung movements. Interoceptive skills are highly important for emotional self-regulation; these skills help us to feel sensations in the body just before they activate as words, emotions, and behaviors.
Important! Do these movements ONLY if you are healthy enough to do so.
1) Standing in wu, wu ji or horse posture simply focus complete attention inwardly. Build attentional power so all other mental activity is replaced by standing still with full attention on inner feelings of your chi energy. Stand quietly in deep inner awareness of body feelings.
Practice for 3-5 minutes; do your best to stay focused inwardly.
2) Gather chi by slowly scooping up imagined chi energy from outside of your body. As you bring up your arms from scooping low near the ground, imagine that the whole body is covered by healing chi – and that the chi is entering the inside of your body. Scoop for 3-5 minutes, and pay close attention to feelings inside your body. Feel it all now.
3) Build chi awareness via calm energy breathing. In standing posture while breathing-in, bring your hands (palms shoulder-width apart facing each other) up to your shoulders. Turn palms down and breathe-out slowly bringing your hands back to your hara level. Repeat this practice for 3-5 minutes. Remain focused on your body’s energetic feelings. Attend to the chi; allow it to be your awareness.
4) Place your right foot out in front of your body (yang) with about 60% of body weight on that foot and hold your left foot at a 45 degree angle (yin). Extend your right hand out palm facing out up to your shoulder level. Remain in this posture for 4-5 minutes. Focus attention on the feelings on chi energy moving through your body. Notice the feeling of chi energy. Concentrate your mind so it is the chi energy.
5) Repeat the same posture with the same instructions – but now place your left foot out holding your right foot at an 45 degree angle.
6) Standing stable with both feet shoulder-width apart on the ground, breathe in deeply and calmly. Now place both hands palms out at shoulder level and push out with some force. Repeat then hold for 5-6 minutes. Being in full awareness feel the chi energy moving in your body. Allow the awareness to be your mind’s only object of attention.
7) Complete several, slow energy ball movement. Hold your hands palms facing but not touching, and imagine that you are holding a chi energy ball between your hands. Now while breathing in and out at a steady rate, make circles with your hands. Bring complete awareness to the chi energy moving in your body as you make these circles. Practice for 3-4 minutes. Pay close attention to the feelings in your body. Now speed up the circles (be certain you are making circles). Practice more rapid circling for 3-4 minutes; notice the energy in your body. Be sure to breathe fully. STOP! Be aware of your chi now.
8) To end simply stand silently, breathing in and out slowly and deeply – Welcome to the healing qualities of Tai Chi.
A. R. Quintiliani, Ph.D., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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For more information refer to Master Kam Chuen Lam (2014). Qigong Workbook for Anxiety: Powerful Energy Practices to Rebalance Your Nervous System and Free Yourself from Fear. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.