Basic training at Living Stillness

This text is about the basic training which is part of all genuine qigong, and how we teach it here at Living Stillness. In all complete traditions, whether within qigong, meditation, or the Internal Arts, basic training is the most important thing there is. In chinese it is called jibengong, and good basic training is considered to be the greatest gift a teacher can give a student. You can also read a separate text about basic training in the section What is Qigong: texts, and if you do have the time, we recommend that you read that text first as it will deepen your knowledge and understanding of this one.

Most teachers who teach in the West never teach basic training. Often not even those who were trained in it themselves. This is partially a matter of culture and money: westerners don´t come with the patience to build up the training slowly, and if they don´t have it they won´t stay and keep paying money for the classes. The teachers who believe this to be true (which we do not, here at Living Stillness; our experience is clear in that if students actually are told in detail about why basic training is so important, they stay anyway) like to skip this crucial part of the training to see that the students stay. Which they usually don´t do in the long run. This is partially the explanation to why qigong and meditation is getting completely watered out in the West.

We at Living Stillness have been practicing qigong, meditation, and the Internal Arts for twenty years. We know about 20 qigong-sets in depth, several of which we never teach until students have been training for att least five years. We will now look into why this is so, and how the training needs to work if you want it to work like it was designed to do.

Most old and genuine qigong-sets are not beginner´s material. They give an incredible health-effect, they clean up your system and they make your health grow progressively better over the course of your life, independent of age – but, and an important but – they demand quite a bit of basic material to make them work as planned. Our basic training is, among other things, a number of simpler exercises which are then slowly fit into the old, genuine qigong-sets in the taoist training and lineages we work with. This layering of material is the same with all teachers who have genuine material within traditional qigong, traditional meditation, or the real Internal Arts.

Very few teachers in the West are even aware of this information at all. They simply can´t teach the training the way it´s supposed to, because they were never taught that way themselves. But even some of those who were taught that way do not teach it, for the reasons we just mentioned, but also because they feel that the students will be bored when things take a long time... Which means that no student of theirs ever get close to the skill of their teacher, because none of them are trained the way the teacher was. This leads to that qigong, real, genuine qigong, and traditional meditation and traditional Internal Martial Arts are slowly being erased, because they do not exist without basic training.

The following sections are a short overview of the foundation material that is part of the basic training at Living Stillness. You might view it as tools in a toolbox; you slowly gather more and more tools, but you always want to start off with a small number of them that you are able to use fully. A real painter wants prime colours and the skill in mixing them to create the entire scale: no genuine painter collects only yellows, ”because I don´t like the other colours”.

Here follows now an overview of our basic training. All the techniques in the basic training are tailored after the problems our current society has, and are aimed at neutralizing the specific wear from it on the student´s mind, body, and energy-system.

To land

Basic technique within all traditional qigong, all traditional meditation, and in the Internal Arts. Techniques for how to land allows you to release what is going on in your mind and your nervous-system right now, and allows to land back down in your physical body. Without this level, many people try to skip straight from their current everyday stress straight into relaxation and stillness, which rarely works well. This skip will also program in gaps in your training further on. To land is an incredibly important technique to have, both in your everyday life and in your training.

To have the ability to only practice the physical movement itself, to integrate it and let your nervous-system relax

A necessary training-step to digest movements in qigong as well as in the sitting in sitting meditation-practices. This is the technique where the teacher must have the courage to say ”no” to students, and only let them practice a very small number of movements without adding anything to them. If you immediatly pack internal form into movements, this will tense the student´s nervous-system and program it to transfer stress-patterns from everyday life into their training too. The ability to only practice the physical movement becomes ever more important the more internal form you learn, otherwise your nervous-system will not integrate the training. You can read more about the difference between basic training and fireworks-practice in the text about basic training in the section What is qigong: texts.

Softness

Specific techniques for how to slowly learn how you let body, mind, and energy soften. Soft is not the same as relaxed, and we rarely use the word ”relax”, as most westerners who hear it immediatly tense up... To be more precise, we teach soft to slowly become open, and open is also not the same as soft or relaxed. The basic techniques for softness are taught in the basic training. Without them it´s actually the case that many practitioners, even long-time practitioners, still do qigong quite tensely, because they were never taught softness as a part of the basic training.

Root

A crucially important technique in our current society. Rooting is a technique with almost a dozen different layers in it, and several components from different parts of the training in each and every one of them. Here in the basic training you are taught the basics of how good it is for your health to let your body-weight remain in your legs and feet instead of being locked in your upper body and head. You will also slowly be taught how to release locked weight and energy downwards, towards the ground, and how to change your system to see this as a basic programming in your everyday life. Stress and anger will force energy upwards in you. All the basic techniques within the Water Tradition focus on getting a soft flow of energy going down, which in turn will neutralize the huge, unbalanced focus our society has on energy going up. Warning: we would seriously advice you to avoid practicing techniques where you learn to feel your body from the soles of your feet and up. This does not fit into our current society´s problems and effects on your body and mind, and will quite often also make it easier for you to push energy up in your body, either through anger or stress, instead of the other way around.

Stable knees and legs

A quite common mistake, especially if you are taught by chinese teachers, is not to teach the basic training concerning how to stabilize knees and legs. Chinese usually grow up used to spending long hours sitting in a squat. This gives them completely different knees to westerners who grow up using almost only chairs. This makes this part of the basic training the more important. The most common physical injury from qigong and Tai Chi is knee-injuries. Without stabilizing the knees and legs in the basic training, you are programming problems into your training further down the line.

Linking mind to body

Core techniques for how you link mind to body, both in how you feel the body with the mind and link them, but also in which layers you should open your body and at what speed. Also how you use intention in the training, which is crucial to making it work well. These techniques lay the foundations for how to be able to feel qi, life-energy, with precision further down the line, without visualising it. Without this technique all layers in advanced traditional qigong are closed to the practitioner. With the techniques taught from Bruce Frantzi´s qigong-system, for example, this technique should preferably be done for three to five years before learning outer dissolving, as the link mind/body/nervous-system will not be stabilized and calm without it.

Nervous-system

How you learn to feel how your nervous-system reacts, and how you learn how to tailor your training after where your nervous-system is right now, today, not where you would like it to be. The next step of this is how you use the speed of the training to affect it. To slow will tense you up, to fast will stress you out.

Qigong for the back and the spine

En av traditionerna Levande Stillhet ingår i är Bruce Frantzis version av Vattentraditionens träning. I klassisk taoistisk träning inkluderas stora mängder ryggradsqigong. Frantzis lär ut allt mer avancerade nivåer av ryggradsqigong som del av sitt system, och på Levande Stillhet lägger vi alltid grunden till de nivåerna genom enkla qigongövningar som stabiliserar och mjukar upp ryggraden, ger den mer rakhet och bättre hälsa, och sedan lär dig hur du länkar rygg och ryggrad till dina ben. Vill du få frisk rygg måste du ha bra kopplingar från ryggraden till benen (se tidigare punkt om benstabilitet).

Being able to integrate all techniques into everyday life

All techniques that Living Stillness teach are designed to be possible to integrate into everything in your everyday life. This is partially due to our focus on precise internal form (see the text Traditional Qigong in the section What is qigong: texts for a more in-depth explanation). Internal form are techniques you do while linking your mind to your body in specific ways; it is first taught in the training itself, but later put into your everyday life, which means that you can practice while working...without your boss seeing it...which gives you the instant ability to release stress and problems in your body and mind while working. Part of your tailormade qigong and corporate programs is how you tailor specific versions of this after the individual and their job, to counter the unique problems each profession carries with it.


We at Living Stillness always teach the program you just read, for several years, and we never teach students training that is too advanced for them. It is very easy to teach advanced training – and much more fun for the teacher – but incredibly irresponsible, as it will affect the student´s health and stability in a damaging fashion, while at the same time watering out both the qigong taught and qigong as a general subject in the West.

There. Now you have had some insight into what basic training can mean. This is a short overview of how we layer it here at Living Stillness. Further texts that deepen the concept of basic training will become available further on. If you find a teacher who know the basic training within qigong, meditation, or the Internal Arts, thank you lucky stars. If they then also are willing to take the enormous time and patience to teach this to you, be incredibly grateful: few teachers do this these days, and for a teacher to do this in our culture takes huge courage as well as patience. The courage is necessary to say ”no” to students, instead of the teacher taking the easy and ”fun” way out by teaching fast. If you are seriously interested in the training, and interested in keeping stable and good health for the rest of your life, put in large amounts of time into your basic training. It is the foundation all your future training stands on; it will decide how far your training will go, and how safe and effective it will be for your health.

We here at Living Stillness wish you the best of luck with your practice.