Learning From a Book vs. An Embodied Qigong Practice
An embodied qigong practice needs several factors for success, such as dedication and openness to the application of new principles. You can learn some things from a book, but some things require pondering and experimentation to understand. Sometimes, going to a workshop is needed to help in understanding the depth of the methods. Many people read qigong books and related books on developing self-realization really don’t understand them. I view qigong books as supportive tools for active contemplation of meditations and movement forms that you learn from a competent teacher.
As Eckhart Tolle recommends in this book, The Power of Now, it is important to stop and allow yourself to go beyond the immediate images that come to mind. Ultimately, qigong and Tai chi practice are about embodying the principles.
For instance, take the “string of pearls” image for doing Tai chi, as set forth by Master Chang Sang Feng, where he said: “In any action, the entire body should be light, alert and coordinated, like a string of pearls.” Can you experience this continuity and connectivity in your movements? Can you make all of your movements act as an integral whole with coordination? If not, can you find the points at which the string of pearls is interrupted, dissolving blockages and opening up the blocked connection? Some blockages take time and dedicated practice to overcome or work through. The sequential opening and closing of joints (arms, legs and vertebrae) is an example of what is needed to be realized to embody the string of pearls in your movements. Take your time and practice with tranquility, not striving, and maybe you will embody the “string of pearls.”