In the context of neigong, there should always be a clear sense of progression from the physical realm to the energy realm. Thus, body alignment is a crucial aspect of neigong. Sustained work on structuring our body allows us to build a solid foundation for energy work.
From a practical point of view, neigong relies on the ability to drop our physical centre to the lower-abdomen area. This would be considered the first stage in the process of awakening the dantian.
The process of dropping the centre is a constant work in progress, though. It takes a very long time to effectively learn to drop our centre. However, this can be done in stages; this is where neigong comes into play.
Neigong gives us a step-by-step set of instructions, taking us from the more obvious (or ‘external’) aspects of our body to more subtle or ‘internal’) aspects. Initially, we learn to realign our body so our physical centre can start shifting downwards. This is done through the medium of the kua—a specific area that encompasses all the layers of soft tissue around our hips. We learn to drop our centre by folding our body from the kua.
This then leads us to the next stage of dropping our centre, which takes place on the energetic level. This stage relies on the ability to sink our qi. In order to sink our qi effectively, there needs to be a high level of connectivity between the physical and energetic aspects of our body. This connectivity can be developed through daily neigong practice.
In order to enhance this connectivity, we need an interface. From the point of view of neigong, we use the soft tissues as an interface between the physical and energetic aspects of our body. Operating from the soft tissues requires that we move away from the skeletal and muscular systems from which would normally operate. This usually takes several years of daily practice.
Chinese medical theory gives us a model to help us understand the function of the soft tissues in the connection between physicality and energy. The soft tissues act as riverbeds for the meridians of the body, which carry our qi. This tells us that we can affect our qi by realigning the various pathways of soft tissue (known as ‘jingjin’). Realigning the soft tissues will inevitably impact the flow of our qi—both in terms of quality and direction.
The idea is that, if we can stand for long enough while engaging the layers of soft tissue, our body will start reshaping itself on a very deep level. On the energetic level, this will cause our qi to start sinking, as a result of this new shape imprinted directly onto our soft tissues.
This is a very long and slow process, though; it requires patience and dedication.
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