Consistency Over Intensity
One of the reasons Qigong is so effective is because it works so fast. Almost anyone who tries a decent class will inevitably feel better at the end of practice than they did at the beginning. What first-timers don’t know is how much better the results get.
When Qigong is practiced consistently over time, the energy continues to get stronger and more tangible, the peace of mind deepens, the positive emotions increase, and the health benefits multiply. Qigong practice becomes the tea that steeps peace, calm, and clarity into the rest of your day and life. Practicing Qigong regularly creates a powerful snowballing effect, where your practice yields greater and greater results over time.
Unfortunately, the willpower, motivation, discipline, or passion just isn’t always there to make that consistent Qigong practice happen. Life, family, kids, work, travel, and varying energy levels all create obstacles and challenges to practicing consistently. Sometimes, keeping to short and simple practices is a good strategy during busier times, but, as Lee Holden likes to say, “Who has time NOT to practice Qigong?”. It’s true, Qi Gong creates a sharper mind and more energized body, thereby helping you meet more challenging times with vigor and clarity. Despite this, it may not always be easy to stay motivated to practice.
Below are suggestions for creating your Qigong lifestyle based on the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These elements are metaphors for five basic patterns of energy that manifest through nature, our bodies, and our personalities. Each of us has all five of these elements within us in varying quantities, but often have one or two that show up dominantly in ourselves. Our bodies and personalities may have different dominant elements. The suggestions below are based on your Five Element Personality Type. If you don’t know yours, read these suggestions and see which ones resonate with you. Your favorite one might just be your Type! Although one of these may resonate with you the most, feel free to use or discard any of these tips.
Set challenges and challenge your limits! How long can you sit in meditation daily? How many days in a row can you hit? What’s your high score? Set goals. Compete with a friend (or enemy). Track your progress, post your goals and results on social media. Warning: Make sure your goals are worthwhile. Don’t fall into the trap of practicing purely for self-punishment to see how much pain you can endure, or how far you can push yourself. Your determination is your ally, so long as you apply it to noble goals.
Wood types like to compete, push themselves, and set ambitious goals!
Plan a detailed training schedule based on practical goals. Keep track of your progress in a chart of various statistics. The more well thought out your training plan is, the more inspired you will be to follow it. Adjust your plan as you progress, and don’t hesitate to change it completely if your goals change. Create a clean and quiet sacred space to practice in. Seek advice and information from a qualified Qigong Instructor, or have them create a training plan for you. Metal types are Alchemists, and like structure, order, cleanliness, and clarity. They clear away what is not useful and strive for purity, efficiency, and pragmatism.
Practice with friends, family, pets - anyone who will make things more fun and social. Use DVDs to practice with a teacher, or join a class in your area. Make up your own moves and sequences. Keep lots of variety in your practice so you don’t get bored. Film yourself practicing in beautiful places outdoors and post to social media to inspire your peers. Practice for enjoyment, practice for fun, practice in public, practice on a plane, in a tree, in the snow, at a family dinner, anywhere and anytime you feel like it! Let your passion guide your practice. Fire types are playful and spiritually connected. They love to have fun, socialize, perform, and feel connected to nature and humanity.
Host training events at your home or local studio space. Invite friends/family and help nurture their practice with your own. Set up a welcoming and beautiful space for others to practice in and put on DVDs or videos so you can all follow along to the same routine. Other times, see your practice as a time to go inwards and nourish yourself. Take a break from the demands and pulls of the outside world and use your practice as a relaxing vacation to take care of YOU. Set up a space that feels comfortable and nourishing for yourself. Earth types are nurturers and peacemakers. They feel best when everyone around them feels good, but sometimes need reminders to take care of themselves too.
Make your practice a ritual. Create an altar or shrine in a sacred place. Bring in meaningful items from nature or spiritual symbols that resonate with you. Begin your practice with ceremony. Perhaps lighting sage or incense. Perhaps brewing, pouring, and drinking a tea or herbal infusion with mindfulness, or reading a passage from a spiritual or philosophical text that is important to you. Find music and natural soundscapes to deepen your practice. Balance your deep inward journey by discussing your practice and experiences with like-minded friends. Water types are philosophers who value truth, discourse, knowledge, and deep insight into reality.
Whatever element holds dominion in your personality, the most important thing to remember is that Qi Gong is meant to meet you where you are, and leave you feeling better than when you started. Don’t feel like your practice has to be perfect. It can be short, it can be done in almost any clothing, and almost any place. Create ideal conditions, but remember that a consistent practice is more important than a perfect practice. Do the exercises that leave you feeling the best, and leave behind the ones that don’t work for you. Then simply watch as Qi Gong becomes an effortless habit that leads to ever-increasing levels of health, happiness, and peace of mind.
If building a habitual/consistent Qi Gong practice is important to you, a good place to start is the Holden Qi Gong 30 Day Challenge. It includes 30 unique routines that are just 7 minutes each, shot in 6 gorgeous locations along the Central Californian Coast. It’s a simple way to build a strong habit and train your energy system with a very small daily time commitment, and is only $27. Best part is, I was one of the guys behind the camera that made it! Check it out here: https://7mins.holdenqigong.com/video-practice