The Qigong Corner – 2: Qigong Walking

By John Voigt


Boston Common 2011. Source: author.

Introduction.

It is common knowledge in the west that walking is an excellent
exercise that promotes general fitness. When walking is practiced as a qigong it
becomes even more effective. For Chinese people throughout the world it is the
most commonly practiced qigong used to promote health and well-being.
Walking becomes a qigong when: The person is fully aware of 1. The gravity of the
earth grounding and supporting them. 2. The air they are breathing deeply and fully
into their lower abdomen (the simplest definition of qigong is “breath work”). 3.
The beauty of nature around them—the trees, flowers, sunrise, other walkers, etc.,
as well as the universal nature above them (sky, clouds, sun, the stars, planets,
galaxies, heaven)—and that they are an integral and living moving part of all of this.
Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.
Thich Nhat Hanh.

Qigong Gymnastic Walking.

There are many styles of walking qigong. What follows was synthesized
from various instructions from my teachers, observations
in parks in Chinatowns in the United States and Canada, and from the
sources listed below. A bibliography is attached for further study.

The Simple Walk. Stand straight. Relax your body and mind. Have your shoulders
loose, and your chin slightly tucked it. Breathe comfortably, slowly, and fully
through the nose into the lower abdomen. Now begin walking calmly, and allow
your arms to loosely and gently sway from side to side. When the left foot moves
forward the right arm sways forward and slightly to the left; when the right foot
moves forward the left arm sways forward and slightly to the right. Increase your
awareness of your surroundings, your gentle but full breathing, and the way the qi-
life energy is feeling inside your body. Walking in this way moves health bringing
energy (qi) throughout the vessels and channels (meridians) and organs of the body.
Increasing The Amount of Qi-Vital Energy. Mind thinking nothing. Body relaxed
and tranquil. Inhaling more oxygen than exhaling. (Sheng Keng Yun).

Now intensify your walking this way: have your right hand make a waving motion
up as you quickly breathe in twice. Then as you exhale once the left foot steps out.
Immediately reverse this with the left hand making a waving motion up as you
breathe in twice. Then as you exhale once the right foot steps out. Do this
approximately for five to fifteen minutes. If it feels really good and natural you may
do it for a longer period of time. If something feels wrong or not right then stop
doing it and consult a qigong teacher well versed in such things, or if necessary a
doctor or physical therapist.

Video of Qigong Gymnastic Walking


Carolyn Wilkins – Reiki master, spiritualist medium, tai chi and qigong
practitioner demonstrating
Qigong walking gymnastics.

Walking Meditation.

Walk very slowly, and optionally and if safe to do, with bare feet on clean
naked earth. When stepping out lift the heel first. When stepping down
the toes touch the earth first. Clear the mind of all verbal thinking about what
happened in the past and may happen in the future and be totally mindful in the
present. For a beginner, walk in this manner for ten minutes up to a half an hour at a
time.

If you can’t keep your mind quiet as you walk, then count numbers related to the
rhythm of your breathing patterns, or repeat a single word (e.g., “Peace”).
The walking becomes more spiritual or religious when you add a silently said
spiritual affirmation such as, I feel more youthful, healthy, and beautiful [or
handsome] with each step I take. Or a short religious prayer; e.g., Heal me, O Lord,
and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise. – [Jeremiah
17:14]. For believing Christians, silently chanting the name Jesus contains enormous
power. From a Daoist perspective, by observing your oneness with the movements
of interacting yin and yang energetic elements around you as you walk, you may be
brought to a place that offers the quietude of a deep seated mediation. This qi-
energy harmonizing is said to extend all the way to the stars, planets, and galaxies of
the universe to the divine forces in heaven.

A more simple practice as you walk is to repeat to yourself the word Dao; which may
be understood as “The Way” – (as in the path, the proper direction, for spiritual
progress).


Buddha’s Footprint. A symbolic representation of the presence of Gautama Buddha.

Practical advice.

  • When you step don’t mindlessly drop the foot down, instead feel as if you are
    gliding above the earth. One of my qigong masters over the years never needed to
    have his leather shoes resoled.
  • Use a walking cane if needed. Excessive pressure should never be placed on any of
    the body’s joints or bones in walking qigong. Correctly done walking is one of the
    few exercises that will strengthen the joints and aid in preventing arthritis.
  • Most qigong exercises are best done at the break of dawn, in good weather among
    the civilized nature of a large well cared for and secure park.
  • Qigong walking is best done in groups. But within such groups the Chinese people
    seldom talk to each other in order to maintain a concentrated focus on what they
    are doing. It is after the walking that they usually gather in a tea house and socialize
    with lots of talk, and laughter. Opposite the Boston Common I would gather with
    one such group at a McDonald’s. They didn’t speak that much English and my
    Cantonese was worse, but there was plenty of fun and good feelings and smuggled
    home baked Chinese cookies hidden in purses to go along with the plastic cups of
    coffee and hot water for tea.
  • Knowledgeable Chinese do the walking in circles, usually—but not always—in
    some sort of counter-clockwise way (the left side pointed in to the center of the
    circle). In Chinese communities in the morning you will see this done around small
    ponds, large fountains, or even a tree. From a Southern Daoist lineage that I was
    taught in, this is best done with the people singularly filing after each other in a line
    that curves around in a circle. This is intended to bring peace to the walkers and to
    the world at large.

Disclaimer.

This article is not presented not as a cure for any illness but as a
possible way to help to gain well-being. If any this or any other qigong, or exercise
or activity, hurts or causes discomfort stop doing it and see a medical professional.

Author’s Note.

In this short article I wanted to introduce Guo Lin’s Anti-Cancer
Walking Qigong, but time and space ran out on me. So I plan to write that for next
month’s issue of Chinese Medicine Living. But for now the interested reader could
reference these sites:

Walking Exercise – Persatuan GuoLin QiGong Malaysia
and Guo Lin’s Anti-Cancer Fixed Foot Walking Qigong, by Jim Russo.


Boston Common 2011. Source: author.

Sources & Further Resources.