I probably practice this simple Qi Gong exercise more frequently than any other. For better or worse, our lives can be fast-paced and stressful, and, as the Chinese say about westerners, we have a tendency to live in our heads. This can cause too much energy to rise up and may lead to insomnia and inability to simply switch off rampaging thoughts. This is a wonderful exercise to descend that surplus energy through a simple combination of movement, breathing, and focus, and as a result to get that energy working more productively in maintaining our bodies.
First of all, knowledge is required of areas of the body refereed to as the Dan Tiens. There are three of these, all on the vertical midline. The upper Dan Tien is between the eyes. The middle one is in the centre of the chest. The lowest (and most important) is in the lower abdomen approximately two finger-widths below the umbilicus.
To start, stand comfortably with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing forward and arms relaxed by your side.
Breathing in, bring your arms up in a big sideways arch to meet above your head so that the tips of each middle finger lightly meet.
Breathing out, with finger tips still touching as they point towards each other, bring both hands down in front of the body, palms facing down. At the same time, imagine them drawing energy down from the upper Dan Tien to the middle one and then down to the lower one.
Once your hands are level with the lower Dan Tien, breath in as your hands come apart to repeat the whole movement.
Repeat this nine times. On the ninth repetition, as you finish exhaling keep your hands, one on top of the other, over the lower Dan Tien and spend a few moments inhaling into that spot with your eyes closed. Try to let all your consciousness converge there. This is a part of the body less concerned with thoughts and preoccupations and more closely related to our essential well-being.
After a few moments, slowly open your eyes and carry on with your day. In fact, you might find this a nice exercise to do later in the day as you (hopefully) start to unwind from the day’s activities.
One important tip – as with all Qi Gong exercises, please don’t take deep, exaggerated breaths. Breathing should be normal and relaxed with the movements timed to match your breathes.