Of all the ideas and practices available to us for finding good health, peace of mind and happiness in this crazy world, the Chinese and Daoist internal arts of Tai Chi, Qi Gong and energy meditation are unrivaled in their value in improving overall wellness and catalyzing personal transformation.
Masters of Chi are the stuff of legend, capable of performing amazing feats of healing, concentration, and strength, and their secrets are no longer so closely guarded in the Shaolin temples of China. Many dedicated teachers of these arts have spread throughout the world and share their expertise freely with Westerners, making their teachings available in print and in video, offering an immense body of knowledge and instruction on these practical transformative arts.
Referred to as ‘internal arts’ because they emphasize the inward direction of intention for healing, energy cultivation and physical development, there are an infinite number of exercises, techniques and teachings available for study.
In my personal journey of transformation and self-healing I have found tremendous benefit in many of the exercises, meditations and ideas offered by the 4 modern masters of Chi mentioned below. Their teachings encompass a wide variety of physical movements, forms, meditations, breathing exercises and invocations, and include gentle restorative techniques as well as rigorous and physically strenuous practices. Within their collection of written and recorded materials, they have revealed their secrets for the benefit of anyone.
1. Dr. Yang, Jing-Wing
Dr. Yang is the author of many books and videos including the excellent work, The Root of Chinese Qi Gong: Secrets of Health, Longevity & Enlightenment. He is the founder of YMAA, an association dedicated to preserving traditional Chines Kung Fu and Qi Gong, which publishes books and training materials, and offers advanced Kung Fu training programs at their retreat center in Northern California, including his 10 year program for serious students.
Dr. Yang has produced an impressive collection of instructional videos, including Simple Qi Gong: Exercises for Back Pain which is hands down the most effective program for treating chronic back pain, especially lower back pain, that I have ever come across.
Other excellent training videos by Dr. Yang include his standing and seated series of gentle moving meditations, Qi Gong: The Eight Pieces of Brocade, which is perfect for sunrise and sunset meditations. His DVD series Tai Chi for Beginners with Master Yang is an excellent introduction to Tai Chi, and Five Animal Sports Qi Gong is an outstanding long form qi gong sequence that includes the traditional five element healing sounds from Chinese medicine.
His YouTube channel features segments from his many lectures and instructional presentations and for the more hardcore student out there, Dr. Yang’s traditional Kung Fu training videos are packed with tons exercises and drills to supplement any serious martial arts practice.
2. Grandmaster Hua-Ching Ni
Grandmaster Ni is a living Daoist master and the author of over fifty books in Chinese, and forty in English on philosophy, Chinese medicine, Tai Chi, and Taoist meditation. He is a sage philosopher, chosen as a child to study the wise hermits who lived away from mainstream society, now dedicated the transmission of knowledge from an unbroken succession of 74 generations of Masters dating back to 200 A.D.
Teacher of The Integral Way, Master Ni’s works include many enlightening spiritual books include Workbook for Spiritual Development of All People, and Tao, the Subtle Universal Law and the Integral Way. Master Ni has also published I Ching The Book of Changes: And the Unchanging Truth, one of the best translations available of this classic in divinity.
Similar to Yoga in some ways, Master Ni’s series of Taoist internal arts includes the book and practice, Attune Your Body With Dao-In, a series of invocations, gentle physical exercises, postures and different meditations. I practice this series 3-4 times a week early in the morning as the sun rises, to great benefit.
3. Shifu Yan Lei
Shifu Yan Liu is a real deal Shaolin Monk who has been training, performing and teaching his entire life. He shares his vast knowledge with the world on his website. In addition to producing serious training programs and videos for kick-boxers and fighters, Shifu Yan Lei regularly emphasizes the need for even the strongest warrior to train in the internal art of Qi Gong in order to develop balance, concentration and health.
4. Grandmaster Mantak Chia
Mantak Chia is the author of dozens of best-selling books on taoist energy practices, chi, sexual energy, cosmic energy and healing and also the founder of the Universal Healing Tao System, which offers an extraordinary body of knowledge and practices for the cultivation of personal energy, as well as training in many types of Qi Gong, massage, and detoxification techniques.
The simple meditation principles in Mantak Chia’s book Awaken Healing Energy Through The Tao: The Taoist Secret of Circulating Internal Power, were very effective for me in awakening my powers of concentration and my ability to become sensitive to the subtle energies which enliven the universe in and around us. The techniques found in Iron Shirt Chi Kung are an example of some of the advanced esoteric trainings he offers, and his book Chi Self-Massage: The Taiost Way of Rejuvenation is one his most important healing techniques.
Many of Mantak Chia’s lectures and instructions can also be found on YouTube.
In my continuing journey for health and happiness, the internal arts are a major part of my daily practices in cultivating peace, wellness and abundant positive energy.
Certainly there are many more accomplished teachers that could and should be mentioned here, but these are four that have found me somehow and I regularly incorporate many of their techniques into my personal daily practice. Studying in person with a master is preferred, however, with the instruction and tools made available by these 4 masters and others, anyone practically anywhere can begin to integrate these profound healing arts into their daily life.