Interview with Qigong Master Kenneth Cohen


{image from Chinese Medicine Living}

Professor Kenneth Cohen is a world-renowned Qigong Master, a scholar, author and health educator who clearly conveys both techniques and wisdom.  He is a pioneer who established a link between Qigong and Science who speaks fluent Chinese, and his book The Way of Qigong is an important document for any true explorer of the internal arts.cohenk_web

Here is an extract from his recent interview with Clara Apollo of Chi Time Radio about the Primordial Qigong sequence he is bringing to Bournemouth 23-26 June.

Qi is hard to define. It’s like the Dao, the wisdom and way of nature. Remember Lao Tzu says at the beginning of the Dao De Jing that the Dao that can be spoken about is not the Dao. The Dao is an experience beyond words. Dao and Qi are more or less the equivalent. Qi is the breath of life, the life force of the universe; it is the divine breath that God breathes into Adam. Qi is equivalent to the prana of Indian yoga. It’s Num, the “boiling energy” of the Kalahari San of South Africa. It is likely that every language in the world has a word for this life breath. Ancient cultures recognize that people can utilize the life breath to enhance their own health or to treat another person by transmitting healing power through their hands to a patient.

“Gong” means work or skill, especially the skill acquired through practicing a discipline, so Qigong is literally energy skill and it is essentially a system of healing exercises and meditations to enhance well-being.

Qigong has a broad range of applications, including increasing artistic sensitivity, creativity, and expression. In China, artists, actors, and poets are enthusiastic about Qigong. Of course, many people practice Qigong as a way of improving their athletic skill. In China, that implies the martial arts, simply because they have been the most popular sport since antiquity.

I’ve trained swimming coaches, football quarterbacks, Olympic weight lifters, boxers, and many others. By improving posture, alignment, coordination, balance, and flexibility, Qigong can also help prevent sports-related injuries.

Most of the exercises and certainly the ones I will be teaching at our workshop are considered Rou Gong, Soft Qigong: very gentle, like meditation in motion, Qi enhancing, energy- balancing exercises that are at the heart of what some people call “Medical Qigong.”

Primordial (Hunyuan) Qigong is the legacy of the famed Taoist Priest and healer Hu Yaozhen and was passed down from him to Feng Zhiqiang, to Madame Gao, to me, and of course to many others. It is called Primordial Qigong because we are not only clearing energy pathways to improve health but also linking with the primal Qi of the universe. I know that sounds a little abstract or perhaps strange but let me give you one example. Primordial Qigong includes 12 techniques, I’d like to give you an introduction to number one, called “drop the Qi and clean the organs”. It is considered a detoxification exercise.

It begins by standing in the straight but relaxed Qigong posture. Imagine that your mind is expanding into the entire universe, as though your awareness is not limited to what you have physically perceived. Then your eyes open a little bit wider than usual as though you are seeing infinitely far in every direction, perceiving the original Qi of the Universe. Your mind is one with the Universe, with infinite space as far as you can imagine. You are seeing infinitely far.  Then the arms rise very slowly, laterally from the sides of the body as though you are gathering the life force of the Universe. The hands pause over the front fontanel, a little bit in front of the crown, an acupuncture point known as Xing Gong, or Spirit Palace.

As you pause, imagine that the Qi of the universe is blending with the Qi in your body, like fog blending with dew. Your eyes half close, your senses withdraw, turning inwards. Then, as the hands float slowly down the front of your body, the wave of mixed energy—the energy of the universe with the energy in your body—moves slowly through your organs and tissues. It is as if all of your internal organs are permeable. The Qi is washing them, cleansing them of impurities.

Now, store the pure Qi behind your naval, in the Dan Tian, the primary reservoir of Qi energy. Then as you bend over slightly and your hands reach down towards the ground, imagine that the unneeded Qi, the stagnant Qi, the pathogenic Qi is releasing down into the ground, I like to add, as though turning the impurities into compost. We don’t want to create energetic pollution.

That gives you an example of the first exercise. There is a logical progression that makes it easy to learn. We start with a detox exercise – why? Because if you don’t get rid of the old water in the cup you can’t pour in anything new. The second Primordial Qigong exercise teaches you to recharge with fresh energy. The third exercise improves peripheral circulation. Number four primes the body’s energy pumps, that is you increase your body’s capacity to move the Qi where it’s needed.  After all, Qi, like the informational signals that pass through the nervous system, doesn’t do you much good if it doesn’t reach the right target. What good is energy if it doesn’t mend the broken bone, normalize insulin levels, or reduce pain? Then there are further exercises that move the Qi through particular meridians or areas of the body. And the great thing is you don’t have to have any background in Chinese medicine to practice and enjoy.

You can probably tell I’m very enthusiastic about this. I still consider myself a beginner, I’m always learning something new about myself and about Qi. I’ve been practising Qigong for most of my 60+ years and hope I will still be discovering new vistas 30 years from now or longer.

The full interview can be seen here.
For details about the 3 day UK training in June see here.

For more information, visit Kenneth website here.

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