A big thanks to Joan for asking a question on how to overcome the trouble she was having setting up a regular chi kung/qigong practice session. I decided to write an article on it, and here it is:
Many practitioners of chi kung/qigong exercises have difficulty setting up and maintaining a regular daily practice. Especially when we begin. I know I did! So here are 10 methods I’ve used over the last decade to help me start up and maintain a regular daily chi kung practice.
- SET A TIME – Set a time each day for your chi kung practice when you know you are unlikely to be disturbed. Negotiate with family and partners if necessary. Set a time and STICK TO IT – i.e. ‘right, it’s 8pm time for my chi kung practice’.
- GET OUT OF BED EARLIER – We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Getting up 15 minutes earlier or going to bed 15 minutes later is easy to do. Set your alarm and when it goes off, don’t think about it – get out of bed and do your chi kung. Set your clothes up and get everything you want ready the night before, so that when your alarm goes off in the morning you can just roll over, get dressed and get out. You’ll feel glad you did and it really sets your day up right. Trust me, that irrisitably gorgeous, warm, cosy ‘I can’t get out of bed to do my chi kung’ feeling evapourates as soon as your feet touch the floor. It is then replaced with a delightfully satisfied feeling, knowing that you did the right thing.
- MAKE A CONTRACT – I recently wanted to get up at 6:00 am every morning to go swimming (I love swimming) at my local swimming baths. Experts on human behaviour say it takes 28 days to install a new habit, so I told my wife what I was doing and I said that for every day I didn’t get out of bed at 6am I would give her £10. I also made a pact with myself that if I did get out of bed at 6am every day for a month, I would treat myself by going for a massage. I had made a contract with myself and my wife that was as binding to me as any legal contract. 28 days later – I didn’t have to pay my wife a single penny, the thought of having to give her £10 was enough to get out of bed on those days where discipline was lacking. And the massage was even more wonderful – because I had earned it.
- Message – get yourself an accountability partner. Agree what you will do if you don’t do your chi kung practice once/twice a day and agree what you will do if you maintain your chi kung discipline for 28 days.
- INCREASE YOUR UNDERSTANDING – The main enemy to overcome when we are starting out on installing a daily chi kung practice is DOUBT about the effectiveness of what we are doing. You can reduce doubt by increasing your understanding of chi kung. Review the materials you have been given during any chi kung course you have taken, write and ask me a question, do research on the Internet – get involved.
- BE REALISTIC – I have repeated time and time again, that chi kung is not a 30 day miracle cure. It is powerful and you can feel effects immediately, (especially if you have learned directly from a qigong instructor) but to experience major change takes regular, correct practice. You didn’t get into the state of health and happiness your experiencing now over night. You will not achieve the state of health and happiness you want over night either. You’ve got to work at it.
- GET CLEAR – Remind yourself WHY you decided to invest in chi kung training. What will be the pain if you don’t continue your chi kung practice? What experiences and joys will you miss if you don’t give the skills and techniques you are learning a chance? There are two main motivation strategies: Carrot and Stick or Pleasure and Pain. Which drives you the strongest? The idea of rewards in exchange for putting in the effort, or the thought of what you might lose if you don’t? Think about this.
- YOUR SACRED “ME” TIME – Many successful practitioners of Chi Kung view their practice time as their special sacred time. It is not open for negotiation. If the phone rings or the door bell goes, too bad. You probably dedicate a lot of your time to the well being and happiness of others. Doesn’t it make sense that if you are happy and well you can do this even better? You are the most important person in your life, you are with yourself every single day of your life and no matter where you go, you are always there. So make your health and well being a priority.
- LIKE MINDED PEOPLE – Chi Kung practice performed regularly with a group of like minded people is enjoyable, helps to sustain practice and it’s great to be able to discuss our practice with people who know what you’re talking about! Find a chi kung class and practice with people who feel the same about chi kung as you. Because if you stopped 100 people on your local high street, I bet 99 of them have never heard of chi kung! And slightly off topic, I’ve discovered that the best ‘quick’ explanation you can give to people about what chi kung is, is to tell them it’s Chinese yoga =)
- START AGAIN – every time you find your practice has stopped. Start it again as quickly as you can. Forget feeling guilty about it. If you enjoy your practice you are more likely to keep it up. If you’re forcing yourself to do it, don’t do it. But never give up. Erratic practice patterns will not give you the results of chi kung, but who knows, the next time you start may be the time that it really sticks for you. I’m reminded here of a slogan used for people giving up smoking: “Never give up, giving up” and one of my fathers favourite sayings “If you fall off the horse, get back on it again as quickly as you can”. The Chinese define success as this: “Fall over 7 times, Stand up 8”. Never give up on anything that is important to you. If it isn’t important, let it go and focus on the things that are. Enjoy your life, don’t waste it on feeling bad about things you know you should do, but aren’t doing. Deal?
- SOME TIMES YOU’VE JUST GOT TO QUIT – Listen, I believe that whilst everyone can benefit from the practice of chi kung, chi kung is not for everyone. One size does not fit all and if anyone ever tells you that their ‘way’ is the only way, or the best way – then I suggest you walk away. Chi kung is the art of energy and I think it is better than Reiki, Yoga and Tai Chi all put together. But that’s just my opinion, and opinions are like belly buttons – everyone’s got one. So if you find yourself having to really force yourself to do your chi kung practice and you’re hating it. Then quit. Find something else that is a better fit for you. Life is too short and precious to waste it doing things you don’t want to. We all get 24 hours a day so make sure you are investing your time wisely.
If you’re currently struggling to maintain you daily Qigong practice I hope you find this article helpful.
To learn Qigong the way we practice it at Qigong15…