Ilchi Lee’s Qigong for Boosting Energy and Transcending Stress Every Day

[Photo from Dahnhak Kigong by Ilchi Lee]

Eating and sleeping well are not enough to replenish your energy. Build up your internal energy, your qi, through practices such as qigong.

If you’re familiar with the basic concepts and principles of traditional Asian medicine, you’ve heard that we have this subtle bioenergy, or qi (chi/ki), that runs through channels in the body called meridians.

The energy enters and leaves through specific points, the ones worked on in acupuncture and acupressure. It also gathers and swirls in specific places called chakras yet exists in our muscles, bones, and every cell as well.

You may have also heard that we are born with a certain amount of energy and that we acquire energy through eating and breathing. Our bodies process the food and air we take in and transform them into energy it can use.

In the natural course of living, this energy gets spent. There are also circumstances and activities that drain our energy even more. An immune response to pathogens uses a lot of energy, and so does excessive emotional changes due to passion or greed. Rampant, powerful emotions exhaust the energy we get from food and air and spoil the energy we were born with. Mental stress, overwork, and stress in general, hallmarks of a modern lifestyle removed from nature, also use up a lot of energy, ruining our bodies and minds in the process.

To refill our energy and be resilient against stressors and disease, eating and sleeping well and building our muscles are not enough, though they are very beneficial. We need to build up our internal qi with exercises that train the energy flowing in our bodies, like qigong. Qigong combines movements that enable energy in the body to build and flow (body control) with breathing (breath control) and concentration (mind control).

First, Feel Energy

Sensing energy with our minds boosts our ability to gather and develop the energy in our bodies. The following qigong exercise from my book Dahnhak Kigong: Using the Body to Enlighten the Mind helps you do this by focusing your mind and energy on your fingertips.

If you are not used to feeling energy, you may not sense much at first. It can take time. The important thing is to keep an open mind and relax while resting your concentration on your body.

Qigong for Feeling Internal Energy

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel with each other while bending your knees a little.
  2. Extend your fingers with both arms hanging comfortably at your sides. Concentrate on the tips of your fingers. Over time, you will feel them getting warmer, even becoming hot. You may even feel your pulse.
  3. Spread your fingers out like a fan while you continue to focus on them. You may feel a pressure about to burst from each tip, and your hands may feel like they are growing larger. At some point, the energy traveling into your hands may feel like it is pouring out of your fingertips.
  4. Then, turn your legs and knees inward so you toes face toward each other. Extend your arms so your fingertips point toward the ground. Keep your palms faced toward the sides of your body with your thumbs facing the front and your hands spread like fans with your fingers extended. Focus on the feeling in your fingers.
  5. In this posture, take a breath and hold it, continuing to focus on the ends of your fingers. Along with the sense of pressure about to burst from your fingertips, feel the heat spreading to your entire body.
  6. Exhaling to a count of three, straighten your legs and send energy forcefully to your fingertips with your mind. Breathe in and then do it again as you breathe out. Repeat about ten times. You can also concentrate the energy with a yell when you exhale to a count of three.
  7. Afterward, slowly raise both hands above your head as you bend your knees when you inhale.
  8. Holding your breathe, slowly lower your hands with your fingers extended forcefully like spears pointing toward the ground. Now feel your body’s energy gathering in your fingers.
  9. Exhaling, straighten your legs while extending your fingers forcefully, as if they are spears you are thrusting into the ground. As you do this, gather as much energy as possible and send it out through your fingers. At this time, you can count to three and then further focus your energy with a yell. Newsletter signup banner

Building Up Energy through Tension and Relaxation

Use the following qigong flow from Dahnhak Kigong to develop your internal energy. Some important things to keep in mind as you practice the form are:

  • Keep your lower body solid while your upper body is relaxed.
  • Keep your pelvis tucked in so that your buttocks do not stick out. If the lower back is curved and your buttocks stick out, then tension leaves the lower body and energy leaks out of it instead of gathering there.
  • Keep your feet solid on the ground and parallel like the number “11”.

Qigong for Gathering Internal Energy

  1. Starting posture: feet flat on the floor and parallel to each other, knees slightly bent, back and neck straight, tailbone tucked in, both hands held at the lower dahnjon with palms up. A dahnjon is an energy center in the body. The lower dahnjon is two inches below the navel.
  2. Inhale while you raise your hands to chest height, keeping your palms facing the sky. Exhale and lower your hands to your dahnjon, with your palms facing the ground. Repeat this up-and-down motion three times.
  3. Spread your arms up and out to the side to chest height. Point the palms of your hands downward, straighten your fingers, and relax your shoulders.
  4. Independent of your breathing, slowly move your arms together toward the front, bending your elbows slightly. Bend your knees at the same time until your legs form a 90 degree angle.
  5. Then, return to the starting posture. Repeat this sequence of movements several times until your energy feels stronger.

With constant daily practice of these qigong forms, we will develop unshakable physical and mental stability and cultivate hardy physical and mental strength.

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