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Spontaneous Chi Kung

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Modalities: Qi Gong
Conditions: preventative medicine, maintaining good health, living long

During chi kung practice it is quite common for the practitioner to feel sensations of chi moving through different parts of the body. Sometimes involuntary physical movements will occur as a result of this chi movement. Such involuntary, spontaneous movements are a natural by-product of correct chi kung practice, especially when practicing standing meditation (chan chuang) or when in the presence of a person who has cultivated a powerful chi field. Common spontaneous movements include muscle tremors, twitching, unusual breathing or vocalisations and gyrating movements. Other types of spontaneous movements include unconscious massage of acupoints, the adoption of yogic-like postures (even if the practitioner has never seen or practiced such movements) or movements that could not normally be performed due to the practitioners' physical condition.

The Five-animal Play

The most well known of the spontaneous chi kung exercises is the Five-animal Play, invented by the famous Chinese physician, Hua Tuo, who lived in the late Han dynasty. This set of exercises is well known in both China and abroad, however it is not so well known that, according to Wong Kiew Kit, it is actually a spontaneous chi kung practice and not intended to be practiced as a set of prescribed movements. The various postures of the Five-animal Play are related to the five elements & their corresponding solid organs, so a person who spontaneously assumes the tiger posture is unconsciously regulating the energy of the lungs (metal), for example.

The Five-animal Play has five movement types, each named after an animal:

1. 'Xian Men' Tiger Style

2. 'She Cheng Qi' Deer Style

3. 'Geng Sang' Bear Style

4. 'Fei Chang Fang' Monkey Style

5. 'Kang Cang Zi' Bird Stlye

As has been mentioned previously, the Tiger is related to the lungs and the element metal, the other organ/animal/elemental correspondences are as follows:

The Deer is related to the liver and wood, the Bear to the kidneys and water, the Monkey to the spleen and earth; and lastly, the Bird is related to the heart and fire.

Observation of those practicing spontaneous chi kung can be used as a diagnostic tool, so that if a patient begins pulling monkey-esque faces then it may be an indication that the spleen needs work. However other diagnostic tools, such as pulse or tongue, should be used to corroborate this evidence.

Five-animal play is also an excellent form of preventative medicine and was used regularly by Wu Pu, one of Hua Tuo's main disciples. As a result Wu Pu lived into his nineties with strong teeth, good sight and excellent hearing.

How to practice Spontaneous Chi Kung (Zi Fa Dong Gong)

1. Begin by standing with the feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, head erect and the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. For weaker patients the exercise can be performed while sitting or laying down.

2. Breathe in a deep and relaxed manner for five minutes, calming the mind and emotions. Gently close the eyes and think of pleasant, natural scenery (such as the beach, rainforest or a beautiful sunset) and feel a wave of relaxation move from the crown of the head (Bai Hui, Du 20), down through the third eye (Yin Tang, Extra 1), past the heart and down into the Huang Ting (the yellow court), a region of the abdominal cavity between the Dan Tien (Qihai, Ren 6) and Mingmen (Du 4).

3. Once the energy is sunk to the Huang Ting, keep the mind focussed here until spontaneous movement occurs. Let yourself move as your chi directs, go with the chi flow. Avoid physical or mental resistence to the spontaneous movement as this may inhibit the therapeutic value of this exercise. After a short time the movements will become involuntary, this is normal so just let it happen. If the movements become too intense then simply concentrate on regulating the breathing or open the eyes slightly.

4. After 10 - 30 minutes of this exercises tell yourself that the movements are coming to a gradual stop. When the movements lessen, massage the face and ears gently and open the eyes. Walk around slowly for about thirty seconds to reorient yourself to your physical body.

There are many other versions of inducing spontaneous chi flow, most use relaxation and concentration on energy flow within the body. Others use concentration on major acupoints of the body that correspond to the nerve plexus' and/or chakras (energy centres). Practice of this exercise daily will help reduce stress, energy imbalance and may prevent illness.

By Bryn Orr


Kit, W.K. 1993 "The Art of Chi Kung".

Housheng, Lin. 1994 "300 Questions on Qigong Exercises". Guangzhou: Guangdong Science and Technology Press.

Last Updated Friday, 27 January 2012 06:13
This article was written by VitalityLink Finder
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Julie SEOL 2016-10-08 18:43
I had experienced the spontaneous Chi Kung after 1st 4 days Chi Kung seminar. My body wanted to move like Kung Fu movements. It was a strange sensation like instead of I move my muscle. It was like my joints move like waves. The initiating energy is like a feeling of desire to yawn, You can stop it but also let it happen. Then the next day I started to make sounds with spontaneous movements. I sang with tunes I had never learned. I got more and more stunned. The following day, my hands moved to give acupressure massage or some sort of kinesiology treatments. It just all happened. I was in awe. It was confusing. "What is happening to me?" I asked myself. My body felt much better anyway. I straight away realised it's very healing to me. I wish I knew about this article then. I asked about it to my instructors but didn't get many answers. If I had known this information, I wouldn't feel alone or puzzled. It was about two years ago. It doesn't bother me if anyone understood me or not. I still attend the Chi Kung seminars. It's a two years course. But I enjoy my spontaneous Chi Kung the most. I feel my body knows what I need. You can set your intention before, after and while you are doing spontaneous Chi Kung. It affects your Chi Kung. To me, I completely surrender any ego-oriented desires and just center myself. That's my intention. And I open completely to the in and out flow of Tao at every level. No struggles or attachments. I think it's might be an idea to avoid the side effects of biuld-up Chi in particular areas. It's almost like meditating with a full awareness in many levels. The other day one lady asked me about the side effect of Chi Kung, energetic pain. I used an analogy of a dam with a full of water. If you had only a little amount of flow, the pressure of the water in the dam will be high. Quite strong. Maybe painful. The more open the flow of water by opening more gates the water flows gentler. Rain fills the dam. Let it flow. You can see the need of in and out flow in everything. Open in every level within and without. This is my answer. I'm not sure if I had described my short experience of spontaneous Chi Kung clearly. To me, it'a such a beautiful way of meditating and being connected with all. Open and be. It's my key practice. I appreciate many healings the spontaneous Chi Kung brings to me. I know there are many more gifts waiting. Body, mind and the environment. All together. Happy Chi Kung!

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