As a practitioner of meditation, I am always curious to try new kinds of meditations. I have discovered a fantastic community center in Oslo called Unity Senter. It offers a whole range of healing, natural and self- empowerment activities such as yoga, meditation, reiki, kinesiology, music and art therapy, astrology, Gestalt therapy, group discussions about absolutely everything, massage, and so on. I love it! It is so informative and practical and I have met like-minded people. Maybe there is a similar center near you?
So, back to the topic…In order to deepen my practice and understanding of meditation, I decided to try a Yi Chuan (or Yi Quan) meditation class.
What is Yi Chuan?
Yi Chuan is a soft, slow and gentle meditation, involving a minimum of physical effort while requiring significant mental effort: concentration, directed attention, patience, persistence, imagination, and visualization. Based fundamentally on Taoist principles, it focuses on the cultivation of vital energy, chi, qi, prana, ‘Breath of Life’, Universal energy, or whatever you prefer to name it. In Chinese, chi means ‘air’ or ‘breath’. If you practice yoga, you are probably familiar with the similar concept of prana.
Chi breathing exercises, chi kung in Chinese, originated in China and were developed over 5,000 years ago by a Taoist priest. It was based on the objective rules of nature with the ultimate aims of preventing and healing disease to achieve longevity.
How does it work?
The various postures were designed to develop the innate ability and strength of each individual. The instructor used the metaphor of a tree. A tree is still outside, yet inside it there is a lot of vital activity happening through the entire organism. Likewise blood and chi circulations heal and strengthen one’s body, while the practitioner is standing still.
We started the class with arm movements in order to disconnect with the outside world and what happened during the day, so that we could bring our attention inwards. We continued with slow, gentle motions designed to awake, move and strengthen the chi. It sort of looked like we were miming a plant growing or as if we were playing with the shape of balloons.
We did a standing meditation guided by the instructor; we had to visualize the sun, and feel its power and its warmth all over our body. If you feel a bit dizzy or would rather meditate sitting down, there is always a chair nearby and you are welcome to sit at any time.
At the end of the class we had a chat to share our experience and learn more about Yi Chuan. I truly felt an increase and a flow of energy, yet I felt very much focused. I also felt a sense of ‘connectedness’ to myself and to my environment. I felt very strong in my own mind and body.
I kept practicing the following days as the exercises we learnt in class were easy to remember. You can just do it for 10 minutes in the morning, and it gives you vibrant energy to start your day. I also felt the increase and flow of energy in my whole body the following days.
What are the benefits?
It does not take long to see the benefits of Yi Chuan. Rapidly and through prolonged practice, one develops a sense of connectivity and unity throughout the body. You will noticeably increase your energy levels and develop deeper concentration. You will develop a very clear, sharp mental capability and a general heightened awareness and ‘connectedness’ with your surroundings. You will improve your health and experience a deeper state of wellbeing.
At its highest level, Yi Chuan is intimately linked with the concept of self-cultivation. Liberating the mind through self-cultivation enables the practitioner to develop a more intuitive consciousness – a central aspect of Taoism and Buddhism.
Who is it for?
It is for absolutely everyone! Young or old, flexible or not, fit or not, you can also practise if you are in a wheelchair! It is especially for you if you don’t like sitting and observing your breath while meditating but rather prefer moving. If you practise a martial art, this kind of standing meditation can help you strengthen martial power and fighting skills.
The practice of Yi Chuan is very approachable. One can practice while standing, sitting, walking and lying down. Through steadfast practice, one can soon experience a surge of vital energy throughout the body.
For those who have poor health, Yi Chuan may restore vitality and better health. For those who are fortunate to be already healthy, Yi Chuan practice can develop immense strength and energy.
This is what it looks like when done properly:
It was a very interesting experience and I really enjoyed it. Obviously one class is definitely not enough to grasp all the movements and the whole philosophy, but I have experienced some of the benefits after the very first class and they persisted the following days. I would very much do it again!
Have you tried Yi Chuan before? Would you give it a go? Share your experience in the comments below.
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