**This article originally appeared as “Happy Fun Qigong.”Qi Journal, Vol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**
By John Voigt
Learn to laugh deep inside, feel that the laughter is vibrating tremendously inside you. When you do this, the blood, the chi [qi], the energy are all moving. So the stagnant chi is gone, and the most important pump, the heart, can work with less effort. Mantak Chia. Wisdom Chi Kung. Destiny Books, 2008. pg. 64.
With a big smile and without saying what you are about to do, go up to people in the group and slowly and softly start making “Ha” sounds. When someone joins in, show your approval with grinning nods and thumbs up gestures. Wave your hands inviting others to join in. When you have as many folks conscripted into this as you practically can get, increase the tempo and volume. Once they catch on they have been tricked into laughing, they will laugh even harder. After a minute or so of this stealth hilarity, signal them to stop. Some should still be giggling or at least smiling. Most of them should be feeling good all over. Now you may want to give a mini-lecture along these lines: “As an old great qigong master of the past said, Laughter is not only the best medicine, sometimes it can be the best qigong. [Note to reader: actually I made that one up, but I like the way it sounds and anyway it isn’t totally wrong.] I continue with, “Much of the so-called “civilized” world that surrounds us is just plain nutty, and has the ability to creep behind our eyes into our minds with its worries, fears and negative judgments—and that can mess us up. Laughter helps prevent that from happening.”
Five Organ Laughter for Emotional Wellbeing.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five major organs, but these organs are not exactly like the body organs of western medicine. Rather than being like something seen in a display case at a butcher shop, the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney are interrelated profound energetic forces. That is why they are capitalized and not written as plurals. Even though understood as being in part physical, in traditional Chinese thought these organs are more like active verbs than stationary nouns. The way they function is the basis for all life, including physical and mental health or sick- ness. For our purposes sending laughter into any organ enhances its well-being.
Have the group begin with some deep belly laughs. A minute or so is enough. This should bring qi into the dan tian located in the center of the lower abdomen; this is the place where qi is gathered and stored for future use. Carefully monitor the group so that no one laughs too hard. At times you may need to lower the volume to a quiet or medium laughter so no one hurts themselves. Finish with a clockwise rub- bing of the lower belly. Cats and dogs like their dan tians rubbed this why. Why shouldn’t we?
Next laugh gently into each of the organs in the order given below. Silent laughter and even humming into the chosen organ seems to help break up negative emotions. Simply smiling into an organ might even produce good results, as long as a full but comfortable abdominal breathing is maintained throughout this gymnastic.
Liver (on the central right side of the torso).
When the qi flow is harmonious in the Liver a person feels empowered. When the flow is disturbed a person may suffer from personal frustration and feelings of being too vulnerable. Laughing into the Liver can function as a way to change feelings of anger into a sense of relaxed self-assurance.
The Chinese traditionally conceive the Heart as being the center of both mind and emotions. It is located in the upper center of the torso, in much the same place as the heart chakra, or the Middle Dantian. When the flow of Qi is disturbed or if there is an excess of qi in the Heart, a person may become mentally hyperactive, even hysterical. Laughing into the heart will not only increase the healthy circulation of blood in the arteries, veins, and capillaries, it is said to smooth out and reduce excessive emotions; and the over-thinking of what the Chinese call, “too many monkeys in the head.”
This organ is on the lower left side of the torso and governs digestion. In TCM it often includes the pancreas and stomach. (Mantak Chia tells his students the importance of owning an anatomy book and study at its pictures so you know where to look inside yourself when doing qigong). Disharmony here triggers worry. Harmony here helps create a state of clear calm mindfulness. Laughing aloud or silently into your lower left abdomen seems to drive away worrisome thoughts and replace them with feelings of clear happy confidence.
Lung. (upper torso).
It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic
It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic functions, and not simply a physical organ on both sides of the chest. Here disharmony, stagnation, and depletion of qi can create – or be created by – feelings of isolation, grief, and depression. (It’s the same in all the organs: the emotion effects the qi and the qi effects the emotion.) The Chinese saw that when a person was in a state of intense grief and or depression they would seem to stop breathing, and often bend over so much that they could hardly breathe at all. If we understand the word “qi” can also mean “breath” it makes sense that laughing into the Lung can bring about feelings of courage and victory. I like using the image of the Tarot card The Chariot, as a visual metaphor of this positive state of being, with the breastplate of the Charioteer signifying the ribs of the chest.
As mentioned above, the Kidney is a singular term in Chinese traditional thought. When a person is very frightened they may “pee themselves.” Therefore the Chinese posited that the Kidney relates to the energy element Water, and when the qi is not right in the Kidney the bad emotion most likely to appear is fear. To create harmony in the Kidney, access it by laughing into both sides of the lower back, and into both sides of the lower front of the body just below the belly. Breathe in, and with short staccato repeating exhalations, laugh into the Kidney. As with all Happy Fun practices be relaxed and don’t force anything. A minute or so of this inner laughter can help in dissolving the emotions of fear into feelings of joyful personal power.
If the group would be comfortable with it, here is a way to close the Laughter gymnastics. It comes from http://www.laughteronlineuni- versity.com/150-laughter-exercises/64. Heart to Heart Laughter: (Intimacy Laughter) Hug each other and laugh by feeling the vibrations in each others’ bodies; alternatively, you can hold hands and laugh. The participants come closer and hold each other’s hands and laugh with compassionate eye contact. One can shake hands and hug each other while laughing if convenient.
Ending The Happy Fun Qigong Session.
1. Total Body Shaking, Twitching and Wiggling.
This is a quick gymnastic to cleanse and refresh the organs and meridians. It should be done quickly and loosely. It should feel good and be fun to do. We start twitching, shaking and wiggling the toes, then the feet, and continuing these nervous wiggle twitching movements in the feet, we move it up the legs, waist, body, head, and still continuing this wiggle twitching in all those places, we move it into the shoulders and down the arms and into the fingers. Now your entire body, legs, arms, and head should be twitching and wiggling like a rag doll in a wind storm. Now reverse the process. As quickly as you can, stop the wiggling in the fingers, then stop it in the lower arms, upper arms, shoulders. Then stop in the head, upper body, lower body, hips, upper legs, lower legs, feet, finally the toes. End by taking a deep breath and carefully jumping up and coming down with a shouted “HA!” Next, pretend you are a collie dog coming out of the ocean after a swim and shake the water off your fur.
2. Flicking the Schmutz Off.
Next, we do some outer gymnastics I have often seen people doing early in the morning in parks around the country. It is a way to get rid of any remaining xié qì! meaning “bad qi.” (For any Mandarin purists out there it is pronounced shay chee. The arrows indicate pitch direction of the words.) Schmutz is a German word, and the similar“ shmuts” is Yiddish; both mean “nasty, filthy, yucky, or xié qì.
The Gymnastic. Bring your hands up and out to your sides and as if they were covered with dirty dish water shake and flick the schmutz off – especially from the fingers. I instruct those in my groups to do it this way. Shake off the bad stuff. Wipe it off yourself, wipe your arms, hands, legs and toss it on the ground. Don’t worry about ecology, this stuff goes right down into the earth like compost.
3. Kicking the Schmutz Off.
Next, I lead the group in kicking their feet forward as if we were getting rid of dog poop on our shoes. Then we kick the heels back. Then we kick the feet out sideways. Having the group move about kicking this way is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to yell out, “Don’t kick that stuff on me!” to really enhance the experience, (and I seriously don’t want that stuff on me anyway.)
This all may seem silly, but nevertheless, it is a valid Chinese technique to get rid of xié qì. If you are doing this gymnastic outdoors and there is sidewalk close by, go to it and wipe the bottoms of your shoes on the curb, the area between the sidewalk and the road. We don’t want to be tracking any bad qi into the house, now do we?
4. Close the session.
You can close the session with any standard smoothing and centering the qi exercises that you might normally perform.
Happy Fun Qigong is practiced to gain feelings of health and well-being. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment for physical or psychological illnesses. Consult your doctor or an appropriate medical professional before beginning this or any other exercise regimen. Otherwise, Fun Happy Qigong is not suitable for people who have physical or mental health problems. This is even more so for anyone who may suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, metastasized cancer, epilepsy, hernia, serious backaches, or psychiatric disorders. If discomfort or pain is felt when doing this or similar exercises consult a doctor immediately. The author and the publisher disclaim any liability or loss, personal or otherwise, resulting from any of the procedures and information presented in this article.
Even though I used the word “visualization” in this article, I really do not like the term; it puts too much of a distance between the individual and what she or he is imagining. “Visualization” carries the idea of internally seeing something, and not actually being it or doing it. As in: You are here. It is there. You are watching it. It is being watched.
Instead of “visualizing” I prefer the terms “active imagination” or even better “inner-imaging.” But most people do not know what they mean. I want the practitioner to internally create an imaginative reality and then actively merge with and become it. However, this is advanced inner-energy work and therefore best studied with an advanced master. I am not saying don’t do it by yourself. What I am saying is that it is mandatory you are able to leave this “inner imaging” state whenever you wish and return to a more normal everyday reality. Otherwise, it could begin to resemble insanity. After all, you are not really Tarzan, Jane, or the ape.
In summary, Happy Fun Qigong uses inner-imagining yourself to become some or all of these formidable characters: Franz Liszt, a hula dancer, LeBron James, Tarzan (or Jane), a tiger, phoenix, peacock, a car lube air dancer. In this qigong you talk and listen to your smiley heart, laugh into your organs, shake twitch wiggle and jump, then flick and kick off the schumtz.
After all that I hope we all return to our everyday lives happier, healthier, and full of radiant healthy qi. BTW: Feel free to keep Tarzan and any of the other creatures alive inside yourself and ready to bring out of hiding and use whenever you wish – as long as you can put them back whenever you want to.
- If you are going to send qi-energy to anyone first always ask and get their permission; not to ask is impolite, improper, and invasive. The same with touching anyone to correct a posture or to show them an acupressure point: always first ask permission.
- Wiggling Fingers A personal note. This practice has helped me heal, or at least eliminate, the pain of arthritis in my fingers. Some of the joints are still gnarled, but now I can move my fingers easily.
- See “T-cell Modulation Group” at http://www.tcells.org/beginners/tcells/.
- “Five Animals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Animals.
- “Phoenix (mythology)” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).
- “Fenghuang” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenghuang.
- The “Phoenix Spreads its Wings” gymnastic presented in this article is a simplification of number 15 of the second set of Taijiqigong- Shibashi created by Lin Houshung, See “Lin Housheng’s Qigong” [at] http://www.lin-housheng.com/products.php.
- After these techniques are learned there is the potential of adding to them other Asian healing modalities such as using mantras, hand mudras, qigong gestures, ritual movements, affirmations and tuina massage. And adding some love into all this increases its effectiveness. Only the safety and security of the group and the presenter limit what may be done. Nevertheless laughing into the organs creates a foundation for any such future work.