Human Beings - A Living Reflection Of The Living Cosmos
We usually think of our bodies as complete in themselves, separate from the air we breathe and the ground we walk on. It is true that the body is a whole universe in itself. But it is part and parcel of the total universe in which we live and to which we are connected every minute of our lives.
When we look at the clear night sky, we see thousands of stars all suspended in space in our own galaxy, and we know that our galaxy is just one of millions reaching to infinity. Within our own bodies, we too have galaxy upon galaxy.
The energy of the stars we see outside exists inside us, so that the internal space of the body is organised on the same principles that govern the whole universe.
Imagine a set of Russian dolls, each one having a smaller, identical doll inside it!
The galaxies all spin. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is like a giant dinner plate spinning round and round. Positioned near its edge, our solar system is itself revolving. Now, think of the double helix of our own DNA. Where does this shape come from? Our planet also spins around its axis, having a geomagnetic field with a north and south pole. This same magnetic force field is present in every living cell, each with its positive and negative pole.
The human body as a whole has its own force field. In Chinese Medicine its called 气 Qì (pronounced chee). Qi is made up of energy that is in constant motion, though mostly we are not paying attention to it. But Qi is more than energy as we usually think of it.
What is the difference between the dead and living body? The answer is ‘Qi’!
Have you ever stopped to wonder how a galaxy keeps its shape? We know it isn’t just a mass of stars haphazardly floating around in space. Rather, its a gigantic system composed of millions of stars all moving through the operation of the invisible force of gravity, which maintains its existence.
Every part of the system relies on every other part for its position and behaviour.
In the miniature universe of the human body, the unseen force that maintains it is the Qi. It is a remarkable information system. It doesn’t communicate in words, but we can learn how to read the messages it sends and find out what is going on inside us.
Qi is energy, information and consciousness!
Qi possesses another striking characteristic.
Inside each part can be found a reflection of the whole.
In Chinese medicine we refer to this phenomena as the macrocosm-microcosm theory. Scientists call these structures holograms.
Think again about the DNA, one of the smallest units of our physical existence contains the information of the whole living system.
The principle of the hologram lies at the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The most important saying in Chinese medicine is 天人合一 Tiān rén hé yī – translated as ‘heaven and humans are one’ or the ‘unity of humans and nature’. This is a statement to say that we are a reflection of the heavens, we come from the same source, we cannot be separated.
Tiān rén hé yī is the Chinese Medicine mission statement, it is the profession’s DNA at the core of this healing art. This core assumption gives Qigong its power!
Deep in Chinese Medicine theory, we are not only a reflection, but each part of us is also a reflection of us as a whole, a hologram or a microcosm. This is what I refer to as a core metaphysical assumption in Chinese Medicine and subsequent theory and methodology is constructed from this framework.
In the Chinese calendar there are 24 solar periods (each 15-days) within a year. In a reflection, our own spine is made up of 24 major joints. Within the body there are considered 365 main acupuncture points. The year has 12 cycles of the moon, we call months, which give us 12 main organs and meridians – 6 solid ‘yin’ organs and 6 hollow ‘yang’ organs. For example, the Liver-Gall Bladder, Spleen-Stomach, Kidney-Bladder etc. The nine orifices of the human body reflect the 9 major planets. 三才 Sancai means the Three Sources. In Chinese the number 3 is San, written with 3 horizontal lines 三 to represent the 3 layers of the universe. Heaven, Man and Earth. To understand the number 3 is another way to understand the Dao. This is no coincidence and is why we have 3 main energy (Qi) channels (Left, Right and Central) and 3 energy centres, the Dantiens. The number 3 itself has many important connotations. from a Daoist perspective 3 is the number for creation and accomplishment.
Chapter 42 of the Dàodéjīng (The Book of Way and Virtue) states:
The Dao gives birth to the One,
The One gives birth to the Two,
The Two gives birth to the Three,
And the Three gives birth to the Ten Thousand Things*.
Living in Rhythm
Think how rapidly the weather can change, from hour to hour and even from minute to minute. The wind, the clouds, the sun, the temperature all combine to produce the climate surrounding us. Likewise, according to TCM, inside the body we have a climate on our own changing from minute to minute, with a balance of heat and cold, damp or dry, and circulation and stagnation in the different organs. How does this internal climate of continual change balance out? Nature has found a way that allows for endless fluctuations of energy yet gives stability to the living system. When we get overheated, for instance, we need water to cool us down. After heavy physical work, we need to take a rest. When we get too emotional, we need to find peace.
These simple examples show that we live in rhythms that shape our lives. Rhythms link nature and humans to the change of the seasons, the sequence of day and night, and the many different movements of the planets against the background of the fixed stars. All of the rhythms and proportions that regulate the courses of the planets in our solar system are reflected in the life processes of plants, animals and humans and reveal the common origin and connected life of all known creation.
The circumstances of modern life and work often encourage us to disregard essential rhythms. This disregard promotes a number of different illnesses or weakened states. Eventually, years of decades of flouting natural rhythms may result in exhaustion and collapse. In contrast, consciously cultivating the most important rhythms through Qigong increases the body’s stress tolerance and prepares it to encounter life’s challenges.
Have you ever had the experience of lying in bed at night with your mind racing, unable to switch off, and then finding that when you do sleep, you wake during the night with disturbing dreams, or in a sweat? Enjoying deep and restful sleep is essential to good health. We know from medical research that if we don’t get enough sleep, the stress on the body leads to lasting hormonal and chemical changes that can cause disease.
The natural rhythm of the body is to rest at least twice during the twenty-four hour cycle, not just at night but in the middle of the day. Consider some of the ancient civilisations of the world, China, India and Greece which all developed a tradition of midday rest, our European neighbours have also embraced the ’siesta'. By contrast, in modern industrialised societies, we tend to work non-stop til evening then we rest. In fact, most of us are over-tired, though not always conscious of it. To keep going, we take caffeine or alcohol and watch stimulating programmes on television while ‘relaxing’. By the time we go to bed, our bodies are profoundly out of balance.
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong consists of a two-part exercise that lengthens all the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia of the body. As layers of internal and energetic components are worked deeper into the body, the fluids (e.g. blood, lymph, interstitial and cerebrospinal) circulate more powerfully. With activation of the pulse (through opening-and-closing nei gong techniques), the nerves release and allow the body and mind to open, relax and let go. It’s no mystery why this 3,000-year-old, pure Daoist Qigong system has prevailed throughout the ages!
Marriage of Heaven and Earth is often referred to as “medical qigong” because of the plethora of associated health benefits associated with ongoing, accurate practice. Dedicated practice of Marriage of Heaven and Earth combines the descending energy (from “Heaven”) and ascending energy (from the Earth) currents to move qi through the micro and macrocosmic orbits. Ultimately, the energies of heaven and earth are joined and integrated into the body through the lower dantien, the centre point of the body, creating fully interconnected body motion.
Developing the Mind’s Intent
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong is practised to smooth the mind and hone the mind’s intent. As layers of internal Neigong content are added to form movements, the way in which threads are integrated and the manner in which you activate each one specifically trains your intent to become present, aware and focused. This space allows you to concentrate your mind’s focus as well as expand and maintain your presence, awareness and focus for prolonged periods.
The name "Marriage of Heaven and Earth" comes from the combination of female qualities of yin, associated with the Earth, and the masculine qualities of yang, associated with heaven. The whole universe (heaven and earth) is pulsating with qi and so is the human body.
Practitioners of both Western and Eastern traditions agree that the spine, joints, organs, blood and indeed all the internal systems of the body pulsate or open and close in a natural rhythm. When the body is healthy this pulsing is even and strong. When the body becomes ill pulsing deteriorates and our bodies and well-being are compromised.
Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong teaches you how to efficiently move qi through the acupuncture meridian lines, joints, muscles and fascia of the body and to coordinate the ascending and descending flows of qi.
The ability of the body to pulse and spring with an elastic quality is a fundamental component of neigong energetic practices.
Less external, more internal content is the powerful combination that makes Marriage of Heaven and Earth Qigong so enjoyable, accessible and powerful.
Join us at the Norfolk and Norwich Taiji Qigong School and lear this beautiful Qigong. New classes start from Monday 18th July 2018.