Very often Qi Gong and Taiji Quan are just performed as physical – kind of gymnasic – exercises. Xinfa, the method of systematically applying the power of consciouness in posture and movement, is rarely taught. But all postures and movements of the internal arts have to be understood merely as containers to be filled and made alive through specific intent and awareness. It is not the outer performance that is Qi Gong or Taiji Quan but rather what happens inside the visible act. A crucial part of xinfa are the qi lianxi, the „seven unities“, which are all about the harmony between yin and yang:
Yang & Yin
1) above & below
2) back & front
3) right & left
4) extending & loosening
5) outer & inner
6) mind & body
7) action & stillness
1) a. Uniting the upper and the lower
The foundation of Qi Gong and Taiji Quan is the perfect alignment of the body in the gravity field of the earth. Only on this foundation the further basal needs like grounding, relaxation, and integration become possible. But besides mere biomechanical improvements the „uniting of the upper and the lower“ also means establishing the perfect energetical equilibrium between the upper and the lower body. For example the qi has to sink first through the feet into the ground (yin) before it may raise healthily and easily back to the top of the head (yang) to nourish the body. The upper body should be „empty“ or insubstantial (yang), the lower body „full“ or substantial (yin). Only then it is possible to achieve stable health and smooth but powerful action.
b. Uniting arms and legs
This maxim is a continuation of the former one. The arms and hands belong to the „upper“ (yang) the legs and feet to the „lower“ (yin). This implies that arms and legs have to be well coordinated in any action, but it also means that the power of the arms and hands is routed in the legs and feet, as it states in one of the classics: “With its root in the foot, emitting from the leg, governed by the waist, manifesting in the hands and fingers – from feet to legs to waist – complete everything in one impulse (qi).”
2) Uniting front and back
This principle is strongly related with the first one. If front and back do not unite it is hardly possible to establish the right balance of the upper and lower body. On the other hand if the crucial alignments for the integration of „heaven“ (the upper) and „earth“ (the lower) are not established properly then front and back can hardly come together in harmony. A hint of what it means to unite front and back is given in the advice of the classics as „hold in the chest and slightely round the back“ or „the chi stick to the back“ for the power comes from the spine and the back (yang) not from the front of the body (yin). However, energetically it means also, that the „small heavenly orbit“ (the qi flow through dumai and renmai) is promoted in its function and not hindered.
3) Uniting right and left
Both arms/hands have to be well synchronized. This may be easy if both hands perform the same action but proves difficult when right and left fulfill different functions, one becoming yin, the other yang. While moving left and right separately both still have to act together in perfect harmony. Thus „uniting left and right“ also implies „separating empty (yang) and full (yin)“, a maxime that when applied to the legs and feet is crucial for shifting weight and doing any footwork. But there is a deeper meaning of this principle still, for it refers also to the harmony of the right and left primary energy channels.
4) Uniting extending (fang kai) and loosening (fang song)
Loosening (song) is morbid without extending (kai). Extending (kai) is not possible without loosening (song). That is why it is called song kai, that means „extending in loosening“. This becomes more clear if you clench your fist. When you loosen up and release the tension stored in the fist your hand will open and extend automatically. When performing yang actions – straightening arms and legs – pay deliberate attention to constant loosening; in yin actions – bending arms and legs – do not allow any slackness to occur at any point. Only through engaging both loosening (yin) and extending (yang) simultaneously any posture and movement can become smooth, alive and healthy.
5) Uniting the outer and the inner
The „outer“ means the surface and the endings of the body and thus the expansion of energy (opening). The „inner“ (yin) means the core and centerline of the body and thus the condensing of energy (closing). But if you expand and lead energy to the surface (yang) you also have to condense and connect to the centre simultaneously (yin). And when you condense you likewise have to expand and not to collaps. Only then any posture and movement can be filled with inner power and vitality.
6) Uniting mind and body
The mind (yang) leads the body (yin), the body influences the mind. Only when we become aware of this mutual dependence we can use it for our behalf. For in Qi Gong and Taiji Quan, any movement should be initiated by conscious intent (yi), as a maxim of traditional chinese medicine states: „The qi follows the intent (yi), the body follows the qi.“ If this is correctly understood and practiced, eventually body and mind merge and any action is performed solely from inside as a direct expression of the conscious intent of the mind.
7) Uniting action and stillness
Stillness does not mean either stagnacy or absense of noise. Stillness designates a state of inner calm, poise and awareness. So there is inner stillness (yin) and external action (yang), or action in stillness, stillness in action. That implies also that in outer stillness (for example when practicing pole-standing-exercise) there is still incessant inner action. This principle is truly fulfilled when there is nobody who does the action and nobody who is silent, for all personal ambition has vanished. The consciousness of the performer is empty of personal self, routed in pure being and bright awareness and thus being in accordance with the very moment. Then wuwei, the highest but mostly misunderstood maxim of Daoism – „accomplishing without action“ – becomes possible.
Copyright © Torsten Schiz 2018