Having recently had to update all sorts of coaching qualifications for orienteering, I was excited at the thought of a ‘refresher’ weekend with my ‘class of 2015’ and others from QigongTAUK. With Samye Ling being slow to reopen post covid and going through an organisational makeover, only a few of us had managed to stay in touch but the choice of Glasgow city centre was, hopefully, accessible for most people. Continue reading “C.P.D.”

Caledonia, Here We Come

As someone who operates as something of a taiji orphan, with no other members of my school in the vicinity, I always look forward to a week at Tai Chi Caledonia, where I can meet and mix with people from many different schools.

This year, I also had the privilege of interviewing Harriet Devlin for the Tai Chi Union magazine. Harriet is the daughter of the legendary Gerda Geddes, who was the first person to bring taiji to the west. Stationed in Shanghai with her husband at the time of the communist takeover, she spotted an old man practising slow, careful moves one morning. As a dancer herself, she was fascinated, but it wasn’t until she escaped to Hong Kong, that she had the opportunity to learn more about the art she had witnessed.

She found a teacher and despite there being a complete language vacuum, “Missy watch, Missy see,” being the extent of verbal tuition and of course a taboo on touch, even for correction, she learnt the long yang form. On returning to England she tried to keep up her practice but had to send for a recording, which she diligently followed until she knew it well.

From there she combined her other skill, psychotherapy, and helped traumatised victims of war, as well as dancers and musicians, to use their bodies to express their emotions. I can not imagine the single mindedness she needed to reach this stage. And then she began to teach taiji for its own sake, though still only the long yang form. She wrote a book called In Search of the Golden Needle, in which she describes the allegorical journey she created to explain the taiji moves. Her biography, by Frank Woods, is called Dancer In The Light and details her truly extraordinary life.

This set me thinking about the contrast between those who have the opportunity to practise with others, either on an equal basis or under a caring teacher and those who have to go it alone. At Tai Chi Caledonia, as well as international teachers, we worked with international students, Italian, Spanish, French, Canadian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Irish and Greek (I think) almost outnumbering the Brits. Do you go with what you know, going deeper into the practice, or do you explore something new, to see what can be applied to broaden your knowledge rather than deepen it?

The weekend offers a dizzy mix of 45 minute taster sessions in a choice of styles, Wu, Chen and Yang, with less well-known variations such as Lihuebafa, from James Carss, to spice things up.

During the week, however, you choose two teachers and subjects to work on in depth. For me there was no hesitation in choosing Paul Silfverstråle, from my style but based in Sweden. Paul was teaching martial arts which normally I avoid because I can’t continue the partner work, but Paul is such a great teacher and applies the teaching to everything, that I went for it. So deeper.

I also chose Chiara Vendettuoli, who taught the Swimming Dragon qigong form. I had no particular desire to learn another qigong form, but the opportunity to work with a student of Franco Mescola who saw the significance of the spiral form in our energy work, was irresistible. And broader.

By the end of the week you feel a peculiar mix of gratitude, rejuvenation and exhaustion, there is much hugging and exchanging of contact details and, usually, determination to keep up the good work.

Sincere thanks to the dynamic duo, Al and Aileen and their army of helpers.

Roll on next year and keep July 12th free.

Interesting Times

here’s a well known Chinese curse that says, ‘May you live in interesting times’. We certainly are, all of us, now affected by something that feels as though it has come right out of a science fiction novel.

We’re seeing a lot on television and social media about Chinese doctors and nurses who are practising taiji and qigong with their patients. Let’s dispel one myth straight away: this is not a cure for the coronavirus.  People in China use qigong all the time to strengthen the immune system.

While Ba Duan Jin (8 Fine Treasures or 8 Pieces of Brocade) seems to be the most common, I’d like to recommend a practice that was devised by Professor Zhang Guangde at Beijing University, It’s called Yiqi Yangfei Gong, Qigong for the Respiratory System and is part of the Daoyin Yangsheng Gong system that Professor Zhang Guangde created. There’s one for the heart, one for the stomach and so on.

Qigong works through the meridians which mainly relate to the organs of the body and this particular one focuses on the lungs and the large intestine.

The lung is said to be the master of qi. It connects to the throat and to the openings of the heart and liver. It controls breathing, taking in fresh qi and eliminating stale qi. Breathing, in turn, controls the autonomous nervous system, which is why breathing is the basis for meditation and qigong and forms a bridge between the body and the mind.

Physically, the lungs sit on top of all the other organs, keeping them in check and pushing materials down into the large intestine, hence this connection between these paired yin and yang organs.

Taijiquan and Qigong teachers can no longer run face to face classes so a fair few are making videos or running classes by live streaming.
Ruyi School of Taijiquan & Qigong in Aberdeenshire is one of these and Tina Faulkner Elders actually studied with Professor Zhang Guangde at Beijing University and is a graduate of the university so, rather than watch me doing it, I recommend you to Tina, a direct lineage student, as she goes through this form in detail over the next few weeks.

If you’d like to watch the whole form, here is a link to Professor Zhang Guangde himself going through all 8 moves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw851rvFBj0

I hope you’re keeping virus free, or if you do catch it that you recover quickly and don’t pass it on. By taking care of ourselves, we look after the community. By taking care of the community, we look after ourselves.

Other things you can do, I’m sure you know anyway, Eat good food, get outside every day, not just when the weather’s nice, and try to do something interesting with your extra time at home. 

The Wisdom of the Willow

It was Ben Morris’s workshops that attracted me at Tai Chi Caledonia this summer. Ben is an experienced martial artist with a background in Kyushindo Judo,  Xing Yi and Bagua as well as Taiji. And what makes his take on things so special is the fact that he is a lecturer in Health Psychology at Leeds Trinity University – in other words, someone who combines modern and ancient healing arts. I thought he might offer some unique insights and I wasn’t disappointed.

His called his workshops ‘Translating the tai chi classics through sensing hands’. I rarely have the opportunity to practise partner work so this was a gift not to be ignored. The workshops were carefully built up, exploring the 8 energies or 8 powers of taiji. This is like practising scales on the piano, a chance to put everything you know into something uncomplicated, thereby working without the distractions of trying to remember a form (or melody, to continue the analogy).

We learn from day one in taiji, ‘Wait until your partner moves, then move first.’ This is great advice for everything in life – don’t waste energy and effort if you don’t have to. And make sure you know as much as possible about the nature of the threat so that you can counter it efficiently.  


If you watch two people engaged in sensing hands, they will appear not to be moving, not to be doing anything, just standing holding each other’s shoulders. But there is a focus. In Chinese, the character ‘ting’ used for ‘listening’ (as opposed to ‘hearing’) means ‘attending to the other person with your eyes, ears and heart’.

This act of patient and deliberate listening is seen as a sign of generosity, and an acknowledgement that you are taking the other person’s needs seriously. Here it is applied to listening to your partner to see if you can sense the point at which he or she makes the decision to move, or if you can find a small place of imbalance that you aggravate.

But you can also use it to listen to yourself. 

This is where we come to the wisdom of the willow. Each morning as I practise standing meditation, the view from my window is of our wild crazy runaway willow hedge and the message is reinforced.

Yield and dance

The willow doesn’t try to fight things it can’t overcome. It moves with the wind, it bends when a bird alights on its branches. At times it seems to even enjoy the dance. I don’t think I have ever seen a willow break, not while it is rooted into the earth and drawing nourishment from the soil. Only when it becomes disconnected and dried out and brittle, might it break. 

As human beings, we can be resilient and strong and kind in our responses to all manner of kindnesses and injustices that we receive for as long as we are rooted in a nourishing environment. When we don’t have that, and we feel threatened, we are weakened in energy, in strength, in confidence, in our ability to think before we speak or act. Therefore the ability to sense that something is happening is something we should all cultivate.

Buddhists call this mindfulness. It’s an early awareness that something is happening and we should sharpen our senses so as not to miss the point at which that something requires us to act.

Giving the Finger

One of Ben’s exercises was to simply use one finger to apply pressure to the partner’s chest. At first the pressure was not a problem but, as it increased, it became irritating, then painful, then dangerous, as the receiver lost balance and fell. As Ben pointed out, this might apply in a work situation, when under stress. A little stress might be exhilarating but there comes a point at which you can lose your balance and it’s good to be able to recognise that. 

Your reaction may be to ask the other person to stop or you might choose to step away but all too often people don’t like to be seen not to be coping and so they keep going and keep going until they fall over.

If we can train ourselves to be like the willow and to enjoy the dance of interaction with the elements of life, we might be better placed to recognise the times when we need to say Enough. Even if we don’t feel we can simply walk out of the situation, or desert the people we care about, we can still ask for help, or time, or space before we lose touch with our roots and our ability to care for ourselves and others.



“How was China?” people keep asking me.

3 weeks on Wundangshan, the holiest of mountains, home of Taiji, home of Daoism, studying at the school of Master Chen Li Sheng, really can not be summed up with a blyth “great, thanks.” But that’s really all I tend to say.

When people asked me why I was going, I had two answers. One was “to find a quiet mind.” And the other was because I had always wondered what it would be like to have absolutely nothing to do but taiji. The luxury of total immersion in details of form, hand or sword, of practising bagua until I wore away the floor, of having time to go through all the qigong forms I’ve learnt is virtually impossible for any length of time at home. Bookending all this with a bit of meditation at the beginning and end of the day in an inspiring setting was to be the cream on the cake.

So how was China?

Anyone who has travelled to a country where the alphabet is so different that you look at a word and see abstract art instead of text, where everyone has black hair and dark brown eyes and where hardly anyone can make the slightest attempt at your language, will understand how much one needs to adjust to survive. The air is different, the food is different, the toilets are different…

Hotel reception

I went with a group from Master Gordon Faulkner’s and Tina Faulkner Elders’ schools in Inverness and Aberdeen. Having met and trained with Master Chen during his visits to Scotland I was happy that the work would be interesting. I was also glad that the three weeks on the mountain were not to be interrupted by sightseeing and that I could go for the total immersion approach in order to reset my habits and focus.

Two groups took part, six of us forming the first group and another eight who came for just one week at the end. Although we didn’t all know each other we quickly gelled into a self supporting unit, helped by some previous experience from three of the group.

The school itself catered for 8 or so semi-permanent residential students, boys of school age who fitted a normal-ish school curriculum around gongfu training and girls who undertook office work in exchange for board, lodging and some training. In addition there was our group and other groups or individuals who could ‘book in’ for a weekend or up to 6 months.

Wudangshan is a World Heritage Site, a place of great beauty and cultural history. To protect it from pollution, only electric buses are allowed on the mountain, on two roads that go to either Nanyan or Qiongtai, from where a cable car ascends to the Golden Summit temple, home of the God Zhenwu, protector of Wudang and of the whole of China.

Master Chen has the use of the third floor of one of the hotels at Qiongtai. He also has a kitchen above the row of shops where visitors bought incense and souvenirs. The boys ate there all the time but we ate in the hotel cafeteria for breakfast and evening meal to give us more variety.

Training began with standing meditation at 6.30 a.m. During the winter timetable, which we caught the end of, this took place in the hotel corridor. Although our rooms were heated comfortably, the corridor was cold, so we wore jackets, hats and gloves. At the end of the hour, Master Chen’s alarm would go off and a lovely piece of music, which we later enquired about and copied, was used for a warm-down. Not everyone managed the full hour and various alarms would go off from time to time. Workmen and cleaners tramped up and down. This was mainly a period of strength training, building up qi and expelling stagnant qi (or, as you and I would say, farting!).

After breakfast we returned to our rooms to clean and tidy them before going up to the school for practice. Our first week consisted of an hour of sitting meditation and an hour of walking meditation before lunch. We could also go up early and do our own practice, running through forms we had learnt previously, or bagua.

Andrew with his flute teacher.

After lunch there was time to rest or wander about and a favourite walk was to the local temple, still lived in by Daoist monks. One of these is a master flute player so Andrew bought a flute and took lessons. When I say bought a flute, his teacher cuts down bamboo to make flutes and sell them. He is a famous player who is in demand in all the temples on the mountain. If you went to visit while Andrew was having his lesson, no end of tea had to be drunk, often sweetened with red dates and accompanied by water melon seeds. (The monks were given the offerings left by visitors. Nothing is wasted in this climate.)

We were invariably stared at as the only westerners with white, brown, red or blonde hair and people wanted to be photographed with us as though we were celebrities. As long as we wore our suits when we walked round the shops, we were relatively safe from the shop keepers’ attentions. They would let us go, knowing we were not just there for the day.

Keeping warm in our meditation hoodies

After lunch we had an hour of standing meditation and another hour of walking before evening meal. Practice finished with a final hour of standing meditation in the corridor at 7.00 p.m.

So our day did not offer quite the variety of movement that I had anticipated. It was what Master Chen called Basic Training. If I was a little disappointed it wasn’t for long. I came to love that opportunity to recover from the journey, adjust our body clocks and find the stillness.

The second week, basic training progressed to the beginning of the 18 step Form which we would learn when the others arrived, but only in place of walking. For these two weeks, our teacher was Shaohai (not sure how to spell that, sorry) a quiet, modest, ever smiling mature student who seemed to be at the beck and call not only of Master Chen but of any other student who needed to know something. On the higher terrace the boys were taught by another senior student who scowled and scolded them through their energetic drills.

Watching the others practise in the temple
Musician monks

Occasionally we would be marched down the street to the temple to train. If there was a service we could listen to the music. There was a lovely atmosphere and it offered a bit of publicity for the school. The boys would carry cushions and warm meditation cloaks for us.

The third week saw the arrival of the rest of our party and Master Chen himself took over, with the help of Tina and her student Matthew. Shaohai was assigned to another group. There wasn’t room for us all now on the terraces of the school, so for anything other than meditation, we would go down to the terrace outside the hotel or the large square outside the access to the cable car. This of course attracted the curious Chinese, who had no qualms about squeezing in to copy us and get themselves photographed in the process. Master Chen chased them away when he wanted Shaohai to take photographs and videos for his website, but otherwise he welcomed them with a smile and even taught them as much as they wanted.

A very special occasion

A highlight of the trip was Tina’s birthday. It proved to be a very special occasion which was a great honour to attend. Everyone attending the school was invited. We crammed in to the classroom, where cushions were placed round the room behind tables with fruit, seeds and packets of nuts. At a special table in the middle Tina and her father Gordon sat. I should explain that Gordon is of the same lineage as Master Chen, a 15th Generation Disciple of Wudang Xuanwu  and student of Master You Xuande. Tina had studied with various teachers throughout her career but if there was any expectation of where she would go next it was probably as her father’s successor. Nevertheless, after respectful discussions, it was announced that she was to become Master Chen’s 16th generation disciple. It was a very emotional moment for a very proud father as Tina accepted the scroll with her new Chinese name.

Several people played instruments or sang songs, a huge birthday cake was cut and we finished with a Wudang wave. This took several attempts before everyone caught on when it was their turn but it was the best fun ever and Master Chen sat and giggled merrily as he joined in. I wonder if it will become a ‘thing’ for them.

Those of us who had been there for three weeks were particularly sorry to leave. We had got used to climbing up and down stairs to class, to meals, to practice, to meditation, passing the boys scurrying between their lessons, their meals and their practice, with sabres, cushions, food bowls or whatever was required. By the third week we had progressed to smiling and saying Nǐ hǎo , while they would grin and say Hel lo, a brave attempt at cultural exchange. I have no idea what they made of us weird westerners. They seemed very happily dedicated but we couldn’t speak with them to ask how long they were staying, whether they had asked to come or been sent by their parents. Some of the girls could manage a few words and there was of course Ellie, who had come as translator while we were there.

Wudangshan is a quite magical place. Twice, members of the group got up at 3 a.m. to walk up the path to the Golden Summit temple to see the sun rise. (I confess I preferred to go at my own pace and during daylight.)

Matthew Knight, Master Chen Li Sheng and Tina Faulkner Elders

Standing on the terrace looking across the valley towards the mountain, riddled with caves, was an amazing experience. During the last week, it was mild enough to do our final meditation out of doors. For two evenings, we stood around in the dark after we had finished, watching a light, clearly a torch of some kind, on the mountainside. The first night it was away to our left, the second night it was almost straight in front of us. Master Chen said there were still monks who lived in the caves for periods of time. He himself had stayed for 2 months in one on the other side of the mountain. This must have been someone on his way to the big cave along the valley. We never saw it again so assume whoever it was arrived safely.

We were also treated to displays of shooting stars and on two occasions, thunder and lightning that rolled and flashed around the mountain.

When I arrived, I had barely attempted any standing meditation. Now it is part of my daily routine. I rise at 6 and begin at 6.30, sometimes imagining myself lined up in the hotel corridor, with Shaohai knocking on the doors of those who hadn’t appeared then checking our posture before Master Chen emerged from his room to inspect us. Sometimes picturing our group members in their homes, also trying to maintain an important new structure to their day. Sometimes just doing it.

Did I find the quiet mind that I hoped for? It wasn’t hard. It was always there. What has surprised me is that I found a stronger mind and that was probably what I meant.

So that’s how China was.

Is Shibashi Qigong or Taiji?

The honest answer to this question is that it has elements of both. Let’s start by making sure we know the difference between taiji and qigong.

Taiji is a martial art that is recognised for its softness, slow yet powerful movements and therapeutic health building properties.  It can be described as moving meditation and sometimes shadow boxing. Students learn a series of movements known as a form, which can be a hand form or a weapon form. There are several schools, which have variations of the moves, depending on their applications and forms are often known by the number of moves e.g. Long form might have 119 moves while there are shorter 37 step forms or even 18.

Qigong is a system of, literally, energy exercises. There may only be 5 or 8 moves, as these are generally designed to work with the meridians, which work with the organs of the body. These are repeated 4, 5 or 8 times. This makes qigong moves easier to follow, to learn and to practise for those who don’t wish to make a series study or practice. It is often described as health qigong to emphasise the different purpose from the martial element of taiji. Massage and herbal medicine are also associated with qigong exercises.

Shibashi offers a bridge between the two. There are 18 moves, but as these are repeated usually 4 times and as none of them is physically difficult, it is a very accessible short taiji form, suitable for all ages.

As with all qigong forms, the exercise should leave you feeling relaxed, cleansed and energised and with a big smile on your face!

Because the qi energy will be moving through your body, bringing energy and pushing out toxins, we recommend drinking a lot of water to help eliminate the toxins.

What Shibashi Means to Me

I was first introduced to Shibashi by the late great Ronnie Robinson at a taster workshop during Tai Chi Caledonia.

“I’m not going to say anything,” he announced, waving us into a circle on the grass. “Just copy me. I’ll repeat the moves about four times. If I keep going, one of you isn’t doing it right and I’ll keep going until you do it right so pay attention.”

I was intrigued as to how I might learn something that way, but it worked. Not to the point that I could remember all the moves or the order they came in, but I could certainly follow and repeat in a meaningful way. The lack of oral instruction gave me time and space to listen to how it felt in my own body. We all finished with big smiles on our faces.

When I did my two year teacher training course, I was delighted to learn that Shibashi would be on the syllabus and that Ronnie would be teaching it. At that level, naturally, we went into things in greater depth. I have books a DVD and notes galore, but it is the simplicity of the moves that makes it accessible to everyone. I teach it weekly at our over 65s Friendship Club, where some of them regard it as ‘exercises’ and some of them ‘get it’ as qigong or taiji.

When I give a demonstration of qigong at a Women’s Group, School Health Week or whatever, Shibashi is the ideal form to present. Unlike Ronnie, who knew he was teaching people with at least the basics of qigong understanding, I go through each move once. I explain to people that when I ask them to put their hands here, I mean here and not there, because we are activating precise acupuncture points. And I also want to ensure that people don’t try too hard, making big moves. Often western people associate exercise with painful stretching and great effort, whereas eastern exercises are much more gentle and in the case of qigong and taiji, it is internal energy that is being worked.

And then we do go through the moves without instruction, because people are confident enough to follow me and the music. And they pretty well always finish with big smiles on their faces.

When is the next workshop?

There are now nine versions of Shibashi, each with eighteen moves. I shall be teaching this lovely form at Portavadie on Sunday 14th April as part of a me-time day retreat with Di Oliver. Di will be teaching Dru Yoga and when not working in the studio with us, you can enjoy lunch, a glass of bubbly and all the facilities of the Spa.

I will also be teaching a more in depth version on June 8th.

Training for Training

People often ask me how much practise I do a day or a week. I remember my first teacher telling us that if you practise every day in between class, that’s ideal but not everyone can manage it. If you don’t practise for one day, you’ll know, but probably no-one else will notice. If you don’t practise for two or three days, your teacher will notice. If you don’t practise at all, everyone will notice.

But what is Training and what is Practising? 

One difference is the newness of what you are doing. Training might involve learning something new in a class or workshop which may take a few hours to get into your memory. But then you go home and practise. The desire to reach a good standard may require hours of practise, daily, for years.  This applies equally to learning a routine series of moves and practising in order to remember it and learning a technique that you then practise in order to improve.

And then there’s cross-training.

This is where you employ other activities to benefit your practise. A runner who wants to improve doesn’t just run. He or she has to cover strength, speed and endurance, so will use specific exercises for each of these attributes. Swimming, for example, is often used to improve cardiovascular fitness without constantly hammering on the joints.

Most classes and workshops will begin with a warm-up to prepare the body for the work that it’s going to be doing. This consists of a combination of literally warming up the muscles and joints and encouraging flexibility. This could be termed training for training. 

Training for Training?

If you are going to do any longer workshops, for example  a full weekend, or even a month, should you do any additional training for the extra work you’re going to be asking from yourself? It would almost be silly not to wouldn’t it? In the same way as someone stepping up from running 10 km road races to 26 mile marathons  needs to build up to that, you’ll enjoy the experience better, be less likely to overreach and  injure yourself and be more able to benefit from the experience if you make sure you are at a good level of readiness. (This is often as much about the ability to concentrate as about physical fitness.)

I hope I’m listening to myself! Next Spring I shall be going to China for three weeks training at Wudangshan. At this point in time, I don’t know much about the workload or the activities but I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve a lot more than my normal level. For a start I’ve been told there will be 4 hours of meditation a day. 

So to answer the original question, my normal day involves 20 minutes to half an hour of meditation, and one or two qigong sets in the morning. At night taiji or bagua and another 20 minutes to half an hour of meditation. If I have just learnt a new routine, I’ll work more on that. What you learn at the weekend is a dance routine. Only practise turns it into qigong. Similarly if I’m teaching a workshop I’ll do extra preparation on that.  And because I’m a gardener I have a tendency to develop a range of peculiar injuries and sore bits and frequently have to do a number of stretching activities to sort myself out. 

Quality not Quantity

With a view to making the most of next Spring’s wonderful training trip to Wudangshan, everything is gradually being stepped up and focused. I’m training quality not quantity, being more of a perfectionist  and paying attention to the basic details because, as we all know, you can get away with a slightly out of kilter knee once or twice but not a thousand times. I’m trying to find and fix any sloppy habits now!

Why West Coast Wuji?

When you launch a business or a school or simply an event, you require a meaningful name or title. It should also be catchy but without losing sight of the serious underlying purpose of the business/school/event.
So why West Coast Wuji, apart from the obvious fact that I live and practice on the west coast of Scotland?

Doesn’t wuji mean ‘nothing?’ Why would I want to do or practise or become nothing?

Wuji (pinyin) or Wu Chi (Wade-Giles) actually refers to the unmanifest aspect of Dao (pinyin) or Tao (Wade-Giles): It is Dao-in-stillness. It is the undifferentiated timelessness which, in the Taijitu Shuo(a traditional Taoist diagram) is represented by an empty circle.

According to Daoism, Wuji refers to a state of non-distinction prior to the differentiation into the Yin and Yang. This is followed by the ba gua, the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching and finally the ten-thousand-things – all the phenomena of the manifest world that we concern ourselves with and worry about.

Wuji can therefore be seen as a point of potential for movement, which is taiji (pinyin) or tai chi (Wade-Giles). Hence, before we begin our taiji or qigong exercises, we adopt wuji stance.

In most workshops, we begin with 10 minutes sitting or standing meditation for this very reason. Our workshops give you time to do something which will be of real benefit. In order to achieve this, you need to be able to concentrate on the job in hand and not be constantly worrying about the birthday card you have to buy or the iron you might have left switched on. All these things are dealt with (not ignored) leaving you free to make the most of the session.

To practise Daoism, or to follow the Dao, – not that we are necessarily doing this during the workshops – I mention it as an explanation of the choice of word – one takes the “path of return” on which one leaves behind the material possessions and concerns of the world and returns to wuji. (Many of the world’s religions and belief systems follow a similar philosophy but using different language.)

Peace and Harmony
Daoism recognises that things are not fixed but constantly changing so it talks about the constant cycling between Dao-in-stillness and Dao-in-movement: between the unmanifest Wuji and the manifest Taiji, with its flow between yin and yang. Polarised phenomena (yin and yang) come from Wuji and then return to it, via taiji.
The qigong and taiji exercises that we practise are simply part of this search for peace and harmony at every level.

Therapy through the Six Healing Sounds

There is a fascinating world of new (and old) research into the world of sounds and the effects of sound vibration on everything. Sound therapy is an ancient method of healing.
Tibetan monks, for example, have used a method of “overtone chanting” for thousands of years for treating illness. The theory is that since everything in the universe is in a constant state of vibration, including the human body, even the smallest change in frequency can affect the internal organs.

Modern sound therapists consider a natural resonance or “note” that is in harmony for each part of the human body, and for each individual. Therefore, by directing specific sound waves to specific areas, they can affect the frequency of which that part is vibrating and thereby restore it to balance and therefore health.

Shawn Picarsic has been producing beautiful pictures showing the effects of sound on a bowl of water, for example. These aren’t just pretty gimics. Given that the human body is largely composed of water, imagine the effect on a human being of different sounds. 

“One has only one way for inhalation but six for exhalation”
Tau Hongjing of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 – 589)

How Qigong Comes Into It
Qi is often described as the vibratory nature of the Universe. The Six Healing Sounds Qigong uses the exhalation of breath to cause vibrations which regulate and control the rise and fall of Qi (vital energy) inside the body through six different sounds. These affect the five organs, the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys and the triple heater, which balances all the energy systems.