In their most complete and comprehensive form the ancient traditions of self-applied health enhancement and personal development include:
The preliminary level of self-applied health practice, however, requires only:
- breath practice
- gentle movement
- reflex stimulation (self-applied massage, stroking, thumping, pressure).
- emotional resolution
- attitudinal harmony
- toning, sounding or chanting
- Breath Practice
- Relaxation Practice
- Gentle Movement
- Self-Applied Massage
These are easy to learn, easy to apply, require no special knowledge or training and can be practiced by all people (sick or well) daily with very little impact on time or energy. In fact, they actually give the individual, both time and energy-time, because there is less fatigue and forgetfulness, and energy, because the function of the organs and glands is enhanced and regenerated. Every minute spent applying these methods is returned to the practitioner in a need for less sleep. Every unit of energy spent brings forth an internal ability to generate an even greater amount of energy.
Concentration, focus, intention, meditation, visualization, affirmation, emotional resolution, attitudinal harmony and toning are more advanced aspects of the practice of self-applied health enhancement. These self-applied tools generally serve to support the practitioner in moving beyond the first layer of the quest for greater health and comfort. Beyond the preliminary practices one might still be seeking improved health, but, in addition, areas such as self-esteem, personal empowerment and spiritual growth may also be enhanced. Such advanced methods are very common in the daily practice of the men and women in the monastic aspect of many spiritual traditions.
The preliminary methods of Qigong can be learned and practiced as individual techniques. However, integrated into a singular practice they become even more powerful. This integration of breathing practice, relaxation techniques, gentle movement and self massage, saves on time which is so precious to most people in Western culture. Traditions of this type of practice from both China and India have integrated the four preliminary methods for thousands of years into systems that are highly refined. The preliminary methods are profound in effect and yet extremely simple to learn and apply. Especially in the Chinese arts of Tai Chi and Qigong, the methods are merged into a singular practice which is sometimes called moving meditation or meditation in motion. In China, literally millions of people practice these methods daily. Children in schools, industrial workers in factories, elders in the parks and patients in hospitals all apply the preliminary methods faithfully on a daily basis.
Each of the following "how to" sections are offered to give the reader the preliminary methods of self-care in the simplest of terms. Most reference to Asian traditions, while wonderful and fascinating, have been removed as these practices are completely universal in their application.
There are several guidelines which will help to make these new aspects of your life most effective while keeping your interest and not taking up too much of your time:
- Do some of these practices every day. Put them at the core of your life. Consider them as central in your day as you do rest, bathing and tooth care.