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Meditation & Nei Gong

“Small movement is better than a large movement, and no movement is better than a small movement.” This is a common saying in the internal martial arts, both Master Qian and Dr. Wang have repeated it many times. Its meaning becomes clear when we practice the different forms of Qi Gong and meditation. The smaller the movement of the physical body are, the greater the movement our energy and mind.

Qi Gong, Nei Gong and Xiu Dao are three different terms for the same category of activities. Gong means to work, or the skill that comes from work; and so Qi Gong means to exercise one’s Qi, or vital energy. Nei Gong means to exercise the internal aspect of one’s being. In Chinese thought the Qi and the mind are considered internal when compared to the visible outer form of the body. Xiu means “to repair” often by pruning off what is excess. For example, one way of talking about getting a haircut in Chinese would translate as “repairing” the hairstyle by cutting off the excess hair. Xiu Dao then would be the way of repairing oneself, or restoring oneself to the Dao (the Way). It is a way of talking about Buddhist and Daoist practice of meditation and Qi Gong.

There are many ways to go about restoring ourselves to the Dao. There are moving practices which are generally done slowly while focusing the awareness on the Qi rather than on the physical body. There are also standing practices where one doesn’t move the body at all for several minutes at least, and up to an hour or more. While standing the mind is focused on relaxing and opening up so that the energy can flow strongly and smoothly.

Sitting meditation is also a form of Nei Gong. By sitting completely still in meditation we can have the greatest range of motion of the mind and the energy body. Meditation focuses more on dissolving the blockages in the mind which lead to blocks in the energy body and stiffness in the physical body. Finding peacefulness and tranquility in the mind is the most subtle level of Nei Gong. Having a healthy meditation practice is an important aspect of the internal martial arts practice because it is able to help bring about the deep physical relaxation, energetic openness and the bright Spirit that are the hallmark of the internal martial arts.

My teachers each have their own approach to the practice of Nei Gong. Master Qian prefers moving practices, although sometimes he moves so slowly in a Qi Gong exercise that he seems to be standing still. He says that Qi Gong and Chan Si Tai Ji have improved his Xin Yi immensely. In fact he refers to the Chan Si Tai Ji as a form of Qi Gong, and says that Xin Yi is best practiced as if it is a kind of Qi Gong as well.

Dr. Wang uses both standing Qi Gong postures and sitting meditation in his Nei Gong practice. In complete stillness he seeks to dissolve all hindrances to the flow of energy and to become more and more open to the energy all around him. Dr. Wang uses Daoist practices to help understand the activity of the energy body. He also studies Buddhism very deeply to help resolve the routine habits of the mind, allowing the mind to become free. Tai Ji Nei Gong and Meditation are all ways of dissolving your self into your Spiritual Self.

I have been studying and practicing meditation for many years and since 1993 I have been studying meditation with Swami Tayumanuvar (aka Larry Shippen). His teaching focuses on Advaita Hinduism. Advaita means “non-dual” and it means that there is no true separation, no distinction between the atman, one’s innermost Self, and Brahman. Brahman is an utterly transcendent Consciousness. Many people think of Brahman as God, but it is not a personal God. Brahman is the energy that looks through the mask of a personal God, just as that same energy looks through the mask that is you.

More on Swami Tay can be found at