by Roni Edlund
The energetic make up of male and female bodies varies, hence there are different elements in Nei Gong practice that women can use to ensure a steady progression in their internal cultivation process. There are also specific energy centres, areas and Qi circulations that women benefit from spending more time cultivating than men, as well as focusing on their connection to the moon. During the first couple of years of Nei Gong practice, you can add the female specific aspects; however, it is not essential to, because the first stages are the same for both men and women.
When you first start, you need to begin to re-activate the energy system towards the healthy, free flowing state you were at as a child, via an energetic field called the lower Dan Tien. You begin to bring the right focus, gravity, and energy towards this point. After some time the energy begins to flow more strongly. The beauty of this process is that once the energetic engine has restarted, you do not have to actively focus on blockages that needs to be let go of. It will start to re-open and rebalance your body, energy and mind naturally by itself; pushing through blockages of the meridians, physical tensions, emotional hurts, mental hang-ups etc. They all start to shift and free up. It is a surprisingly strong process, which is good because you can be very sure that the re-awakening of the energy system is not happening in your imagination. After you have started to activate the lower Dan Tien you will notice that Qi gong exercises become much stronger and you will begin to be able to tune into your own energy. It is very fascinating coming into contact with this dimension! If you were to practice the Qi Gong exercises in our system without first activating the lower Dan Tien, the effect would not be as strong, as you would not have started the energetic engine prior to trying to drive it, though the slow relaxing movements would still move some energy and undoubtedly be beneficial for your health.
Later on in the Nei Gong practice, women need to use some different exercises to ensure that they move on as efficiently as they can in the process. There are several women-specific exercises that work with the various energetic cycles which are important for the female body and psyche. There is a bigger emphasis on rebalancing the middle Dan Tien and consolidating the Jing storage within this region and the breasts for better emotional health and stability, and a deeper spiritual connection. This is why later on in women’s practice, there is more of an emphasis on the reverse flow of the small waterwheel, which strengthens the natural extraction of essence from the uterus and the menses towards the breasts and the chest region. You do not want to move onto this stage too early, before you have gone through the first stages of the Nei Gong process and started to let go of emotional blockages and been able to start to open the heart. If you do this too early, you would just end up adding to the emotional imbalance and distortions and hinder the process. Men benefit more from spending more time on re-balancing the physical, energetic and mental aspects connected to the lower Dan Tien.
One major difference between female and male bodies is the storage of Jing. Jing is our essence of life; the substance that is responsible for all physiological processes and development, when it runs out you die. In men Jing is stored in the lower back region of the Kidneys. Women store Jing here too, but also in the chest and the breasts. This is why women’s practice often includes exercises that work on the breasts. Doing breast Qi Gong and massage firstly moves the Qi and the blood within the region, preventing pain, stagnation and lumps building up. Secondly it stimulates the Jing and consolidates it within this region. This makes the breasts firmer, stops them from sagging and ensures less Jing leaks out with the menses. Through consolidating the Jing around the middle Dan Tien, heart and emotional center, less Qi and Jing will also be lost through emotions resulting in more Qi rising to nourish the Shen for spiritual work.
Another major aspect for women’s practice is to connect with the energy of the moon. The moon is the most Yin body in our solar system. Women vibrate at a frequency closer to Yin, compared to men who are more Yang. This means that women’s energy resonates more with the energy of the moon and therefore is more affected by it. The moon waxes and wanes on a monthly basis, just like the menstrual cycle. During the dark moon, it has reached its most Yin state; the energy in both the environment and in the central channel of our bodies descends. Another term for the central channel in Chinese medicine is the “sea of blood”. It has a strong influence on our menstrual blood and the uterus. If you are in sync with the energy of the moon, your menstruation should start when the descending of Qi reaches its strongest time. If it does not start during this period there are certain exercises you can do to influence the flow in the central channel, such as Dark Moon Qi Gong, shown in the video at the end of this article and explained in detail in the book, Daoist Nei Gong for Women: The Art of the Lotus and the Moon. Dark Moon Qi Gong should only be practiced around the dark moon. Once you manage to connect with the flow of the moon, menstruation will become regulated and the health of the uterus will increase. Its psychological aspects will also become more balanced such as a woman’s ability to express herself creatively.
For me, good and strong health is important because it means we will have a more solid base to build our spiritual work on. Health is not the end goal of women’s practices; it can go a lot further and have a deeper effect on the spirit and transform the mind. We should start to see health as a platform for spirituality rather than the end goal.
The healthier our physical body is, the easier the energy will flow in the meridians, and the more nourished the Shen becomes. This makes sure we get an easier entry point to work on the deeper aspects of Nei Gong. The deep internal work of internal alchemy (meditation) becomes much more efficient with a strong balanced mind. Doing the first stages of internal work through Nei Gong is a lot easier for most, than going directly from everyday life, where the mind is scattered on so many things, into trying to quieten the mind. It can be very tricky.
I love Nei Gong practice because you can get so much more out of life and yourself through it. Your body, mind and being begins to feel lighter and freer than you can ever remember experiencing before, you feel vibrations in your environment and inside your body, you feel your mind go through big transformational shifts, you come in contact with congenital consciousness instead of the acquired mind, you feel how things influence you and this gives you the internal tools to work with them to help balance and transform yourself. It is very interesting; there is always another subtle layer to find and experience. It adds another dimension to life and enables you to work with a lot more than just the physical world. It is fascinating!
Find out more about Daoist Nei Gong for Women by Roni Edlund and Damo Mitchell below.