Question: What advice and guidance do you have regarding developing a personal Qigong practice, largely for health and self preservation? Along the same lines, when one is pressed for time and can't do a full practice what is the essential thing to practice? Thanks!
This is a very good question.
The notion of being on the mountain top in a deep meditative state is very appealing to the ego, but of course very unrealistic for most people. In that environment, it is much easier to achieve a desirable Qigong practice, because the feng shui and elements that surround you will support your training.
However, I believe that you can truely see how developed one’s practice is when none of those elements are working for you, and that person is still able to maintain a fulfilling practice of whatever modality, be it Qigong or Gongfu, or any such thing.
The difference between the two people is easily apparent. The second person must involve their practice in everything they do, not just in the space carved out especially for training. Of course this is much harder to acheive: training in the fire. Although the reward is much greater.
The result is that integration of the energy and direction into all things involved in your life will create transformation in all things involved in your life.
This can be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning with qigong integration: be aware of your body, your hands and your feet, your fingers and your toes. Start by engaging them one-by-one. Feel the blood and energy rush to those areas. This should be your most YANG state of the day. The strong Yang energy rushes to your brain to wake it up, and you have the most rest you will have within the 24hrs, so you system is at the top-end of energy storage. Start you day with more Yang energy movements, and taper off during the day to more Yin at night. Involve energy and direction and transformation in everything you do, no matter how simple, or how complex.
There is no essential practice, only that you DO practice.
Also understanding that Qigong practice like anything else has a foundation. So if you do practice, make sure the foundations exist. Such as breathing, movement or stillness, inward and outward.
Then you will have successfully integrated Qigong into your life, and you will practicing all day and all night. There is no greater achievement than transformation.