Qigong in Everyday Activities
Whether you are emptying the dishwasher, cutting the grass or folding the laundry, any physical activity can be turned into a moving meditation practice. All it takes is a simple adjustment to your perspective and focus and instantly you will begin to find Qigong in everyday activities.
No matter if you are a beginner to Qigong or a seasoned practitioner, applying a few simple principles can help you to discover Qigong in everyday activities that you often do around the house. As with all Qigong practice, the place to begin is with the breath.
All meditation begins with a connection to the breath. It is the simplest method to calm your central nervous system and provide you a physical stimulus that can be used to make a mindful connection to the present moment. Qigong practice employs a specific type of breathing known as an extended diaphragmatic breath.
What is Qigong Breathing?
As you inhale, you allow your stomach to expand. This stimulates your diaphragm to press downward creating a vacuum in your chest cavity. By recruiting your diaphragm, as your body is naturally designed to do, you draw more air into the lower lobes of your lungs. This has the positive effect of not only greater oxygenation but also lowering your PH level creating a more alkaline state.
Greater oxygenation and lower PH mean less inflammation in the body. Not a bad start for simply taking a breath!
As the diaphragm presses down on the abdominal cavity it stimulates peristaltic movement through the digestive tract. This stimulus helps to improve not only motility but also the absorption of nutrients and the eventual removal of waste.
As you breathe in through your nose, you allow your belly to relax outward. As you breathe out through your mouth, you pull your stomach back in. It's really that simple! But as simple as it is, its healing power is virtually unparalleled.
Step #1 - The first step in transforming everyday activities into a Qigong practice is .... "Connect to your breath!"
What is Unified Movement?
Now that you have made a connection to your breath, next is to connect your body. To transform an everyday activity into a healing one, it's important to move the body in unison. To do so, you first need to make a connection to your centre of gravity.
Your centre of gravity is located roughly two inches below your belly button and two inches deep inside your core. This is also the location of the lower Dantian (energy centre). The lower Dantian is one of the three energy centres of the body and also one of the strongest.
To move the body in a unified way, it is important to move from your centre of gravity. Much of the time when we are performing a physical action involving our upper body, the focus of our attention is on our hands. In doing so we often move our body in a truncated or broken manner. This is an easy way to get injured. It might be odd to read, be we really need to move like a tree!
So let's break that habit! Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your knees slightly bent. Relax your body and allow your weight to sink into your feet slightly. Take a moment and focus your attention on the contact of your big toe, pinky toe, and heel of both feet to the ground beneath them.
Imagine that they are glued to the ground. Now shift your weight back and forth from foot to foot without breaking contact or mental focus with those three points on each food. Allow your hips to shift and turn. Feel how your body instinctively moves from your centre of gravity now that your base of support (your feet) is solid and grounded.
Now add your arms. Allow your arms to sway back and forth in reaction to the movement of your centre of gravity pulling against your base of support. Take a few moments and feel the connection of your hands to your core and your core to your feet. Now you are using unified movement.
Step #2 - The next step in transforming everyday activities into a Qigong practice is .... "Connect to your centre of gravity, and then connect It to your base of support!"
The last step is to connect your breath to the movement. There is no hard and fast rule about what type of movements should be connected to an inhale and what movements should be connected to an exhale. What is most important is that whatever the movement is... coordinate it with your breath.
Typically, when we exert physical force, or what is known as concentric muscle contraction, we breathe out. Alternately, we breathe in when we relax and lengthen those contractions, these are referred to as essentric contractions.
These are the simple rules we follow when weight training. But for sub-maximal movements that you would engage in around the house, following this pattern is not so important. But as I mentioned, BREATHING IS!
Simply connect your inhale with one movement and your exhale with the next. This will require you to dramatically slow down your physical movements. But in that slowness, an entire universe of experience and healing will be revealed.
Step #3 - The final step in transforming everyday activities into a Qigong practice is....
"Connect your breathing to your movement!"
The mindful connection to your balance, weight distribution, and breath, will allow you do get lost in emptying the dishwasher, or vacuuming the living room, or folding the laundry. In that moment, your anxieties of the future and stresses of the past disappear, as your mind and body experience the beauty of Qigong in everyday activities.