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Out and About 12: Guigen Qigong

Guigen means ‘returning to the root’

Qigong means to cultivate (Gong) energy (Qi)

It seems to me, that if one wants to postpone the need for knee replacement surgery, or to continue sitting on a zafu on the floor with good posture in one of the more culturally-attuned traditional styles of sitting meditation, such as the seven point posture of Vairocana (वैरोचन) perhaps, then maybe, just maybe, also practicing a form of dynamic meditation might help.

For me, it’s Qigong. The form I practice is medical Qigong, initially developed by Dr Xu Hongtao, who worked in the Qigong Department of Xiyuan Hospital, a very large Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital in the Taocheng District of Hengshui in Hebei Province, China. This style is now practiced all over the world.

The major difference between this kind of medical Qigong and Tai-chi for example, is that, unlike Tai-chi, medical Qigong contains no martial art fighting applications. Instead, it is just used to nurture one’s own good health and a wholesome sense of wellbeing.

Like sitting meditation, the “movement arts” require

Single-pointed and other forms of concentration

The Guigen Qigong form, for example, can be described as a series of graceful movements with mindful breathing and intention. The purpose is to restore one’s vitality back to an experienced (and observable?) sense of harmony and naturalness. In this form of dynamic meditation there is an opening sequence, followed by four other phases that relate to Earth, Metal, Water and Fire.

The form is made up of fluid movements as well as held postures … like punctuation, in the flow of words … in tandem with their respective visualisations.

For example, the Guigen Wood Phase begins with the arms slowly floating up to shoulder height, just like in Spring, when the sap begins to rise up the trunks of trees. The arms and palms then turn upward, with the whole body now poised, ready to grow … like a seed in Spring, sprouting upward. In Winter, the seed lays dormant, waiting for the Sun to generate its warmth into the Earth. This signals the beginning of growth, upwards and towards the light.

In the next movement of the sequence, the arms slowly reach upwards, and the heels lift off the ground with the whole body now stretching towards the Heavens. Dr Xu describes it as being like the first shoot of Spring bursting though newly-melted snow. Matthew Sincock continues to explain:

Internally, in Chinese medicine, the Wood Element relates to one’s Liver (Yin) and Gall Bladder (Yang). It relates to the season of Spring, when nature wakes up from the depths of Winter and starts growing with vitality again. There’s lots of movement!

Like Spring, in Chinese medicine, your Liver loves your body-mind to move forward, to flourish. Your Liver definitely does not like you to stay still and stagnate!  In Chinese medicine, melancholy relates to stagnation of the Liver. So the movements of this particular Wood Element [medical Qigong] sequence, trace the pathways of our Liver and Gallbladder meridians so as to disperse any blockages and tone any deficiencies there.

This Wood Element sequence also connects to the sense organ of your Liver – the eyes. Our eyes help us to focus and plan our goals for personal growth into the future, and move towards them from here. I genuinely feel that performing the movements of Guigen Qigong can help to improve our overall health, and mind. There are now many scientific studies regarding the benefits of medical Qigong (see below).



Meditation is a discipline of the mind, yet it also engages our body in such complex ways. There are so many different meditation positions and traditions: sitting, standing, walking and dynamic forms such as medical Qigong, even lying down!  Each of these can help manage pain and/or drowsiness. And so, to my way of thinking, a suitable position together with good posture can support not only good health, but our inner experience of a relaxed body with an alert mind. Now, how good is that?

GIFt from a friend


By Catherine Pleteshner and the

Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Matthew Sincock.


Further Reading

Ya-Peng Zhang, Rui-Xue Hu, Mei Han, Bao-Yong Lai, Shi-Bing Liang, Bing-Jie Chen, Nicola Robinson, Kevin Chen, Jian-Ping Liu, Evidence Base of Clinical Studies on Qi Gong: A Bibliometric Analysis in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Vol. 50 (2020) ISSN: 0965-2299.

If you found Out and About 12: Guigen Qigong interesting, then I suggest: Letter from Mongolia 05: poetics



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© 2024. CP in Mongolia. This post is licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions.   Posted: 11 May 2024. Last updated: 11 May 2024.