The energetic body consists of our nervous system, meridians, chakras, and various energetic receptacles and gateways. We address this primarily through intention and movement. The most common ways to train the energetic body are with Qigong, Taiji, Yoga, Gongfu, and meditation.
First of all, these practices do not create Qi, or energy. This is not magic. The first law of thermodynamics applies. However, we can work with the energy that is available to increase our understanding of it, and to nurture and direct it effectively as we become accustomed to the practice. On the other hand, humans are not isolated entities in an environment. We are connected and interrelated with all things. In essence, there is only one energy, albeit manifesting in apparent individual aspects. We are each individual manifestations of the same energy. And when we die that energy leaves our physical bodies. However, as dictated by the First Law of Thermodynamics, it doesn't dissolve, it doesn't disappear. It continues in some fashion. As we live we are able to experience and work with our individualized internal energy and experience and be affected by the energy of other manifestations, or basically all manifestations. For example, practicing Qigong on a mountain or by the ocean are experiences that are rich and informed by the environment, yet different from each other and even more different from Qigong in the dojo with ten other practitioners, or in your living room alone. We are training our energetic bodies but a major aspect of that is in interacting with the energy around us, whether that is other people, animals, or trees and water.
Without writing a treatise on Qigong, I want to summarize the practice of training our energetic bodies. The best simple explanation is that we relax and intentionally move, or allow the movement of our internal energy. Various energy practices will affect our energetic bodies in different ways. While they are all good for you, there is a lot of difference in the hard style Qigong of Shaolin, soft Qigong, Pranayama, the various schools of Taijiquan, Hatha Yoga, Dao-Yin, and the various schools of Gongfu. The best place for one to start is to find a practice that resonates and go with it. In time, the practice begins to inform the practitioner. If we follow the practice we will find our path.
Qigong practice utilizes relaxed body movements with mind intention. There are specific Qigong practices that address specific conditions. There are simple Qigong practices such as walking Qigong that is helpful with preventing and treating cancer and dealing with chemo therapy. There are Qigong practices that help us connect with nature and the Universe. There is choreographed Qigong, such as Taiji and Gongfu forms that train strength, agility, and the storage and release of energy to be used in martial applications. And there is static Qigong, standing, sitting, and lying meditations that not only train awareness but internal energy as well. As far as that goes, awareness and internal energy are so interrelated they could be considered the same thing. And while intention is important, the mind sets a certain intention for practice and then leaves it alone. There is not a lot of effort in effective Qigong. It tends to care for itself.
In the end, it's all Qigong. Practiced with the right intention, sitting, lying, walking, running, swimming, even sleeping can be Qigong. Unlike most physical disciplines, the key is not in how one moves but in the intention of movement. The overall majority of Qigong practices are really quite simple. Yet, for all its simplicity, Qigong is still a deep and mysterious practice. There really are no gauges for Qigong practice. Yes, it gets deeper and more mysterious the longer we practice, but it is impossible to measure and even harder to articulate. The best way to practice is to just do it till you become it. Let it be. The best indication of effective practice is improved health and spiritual awareness. Which leads seamlessly to the next section in the Triad of Training: The Spiritual Body (next blog post).