The Pathway to a Healthy Body and Mind: Part II
Bagua is a form of low-impact exercise and meditation for fitness, health and stress relief. It allows us to attune to Nature and replenish our energy quickly. In this article, Meditation Grandmaster JinBodhi explains the basic movements, precautions and benefits of “Bagua internal kung fu.” Grandmaster JinBodhi’s instructions allow us to commune with Nature and receive physical and spiritual health and happiness.
Energy Bagua, a health-preserving method of internal kung fu, quickly replenishes vital energy and improves the immune system. My master first learned Bagua from a Taoist. He practiced for decades before he taught me in his 70s. This method is very good for health. Unlike sporty kung fu or exercises that make you perspire quickly, this one allows the sweat to be excreted slowly. Sometimes you won’t even sweat. In cold weather, it would take a lot of practice for one to sweat. When I was on the Tibetan Plateau, I walked Energy Bagua in winter when the temperature was -15 degrees Celsius. I was in my teens. I walked Energy Bagua wearing only a tank top. I was too hot if I wore a jacket. This is the manifestation of energy.
I Am One With the Universe
Taoism tells us that the lower abdomen below the navel is the storage depot of energy in the human body. When we practice, energy is mainly stored here. So when we start Energy Bagua, we face the sun and welcome the rising sunlight. Hands stretch deep into the Universe. Visualize gathering the energy between Heaven and Earth and compressing it into the abdomen. Make sure not to think about how energy comes into your body, whether it’s through the nostrils or the crown of the head. Don’t worry about these things. Just visualize the energy coming into your abdomen.
“Qi flows to four tips.” The concept of energy is not easy to convey; it is called “qi.” The “four tips” represent energy flow from the arms to hands, to fingers, to the tips of the fingernails, and down the legs to feet, to toes, to the tips of the toenails. It also flows to the ends of the hair. The energy also flows to the teeth. So our mouth is closed, teeth gently brought together. If the teeth don’t fit together well, that’s okay. Our facial expression should be calm and at ease. We practice for health with a peaceful gaze, unlike the ferocious stares of most practitioners of kung fu. This is a key point to remember.
Do not straighten your limbs. The limbs are gently bent, symbolizing the completeness of Heaven and Earth. We walk in a circle. This is the key technique. The arms are stretched in a circle with the shoulders as the center. When we turn, our arm still moves in an arc, with our body as the center. You are a small Universe, a small space, a small Earth. This small Universe connects with the big Universe and the two become one. Thus, Heaven and Earth are one; when we practice, we think about being one with the Universe.
Whether we reach such a state is shown in the result. It is achievable. If we see a good result, it means the state has been reached.
From a practical point of view, it is beneficial to our health. When you first wake up in the morning, don’t go to the bathroom unless you must. First practice and then go to the bathroom. There is a reason for this. It helps us to better store the energy. Storing energy doesn’t mean zero discharge. Instead, it is about the order of discharge. This part is very important.
Balance for Good Health
Usually we change direction after eight rounds. This is to balance the left and the right. Balancing the left and right side is the basic way to health. If one side is too strong and the other side is too weak, we will become ill. Besides balancing the left and right sides, we should balance ourselves vertically. Instead of energy flowing only up and down, it should spread out and flow to our head, feet and limbs.
Another key point: Don’t use force. No matter how powerful the movement may look to others, we don’t add any force. After walking Energy Bagua for a period of time, say one year, I can stand in one position for an hour and a half. No matter how advanced a kung fu master claims to be, how long can he hold one position? No matter how strong a person is, how long can he hold out his arms? Try it. Not many can hold them out for 15 minutes. So those who can hold their arms for an hour can defeat people with just one movement. Such a state of energy is rarely achieved. It’s not a struggle; instead, it’s a relaxed state. When applied to kung fu it can be extremely powerful, an explosion of energy. When we use that energy to improve our health, the results are compelling.