The Garden of Hesperides

Journey to Heaven
A Ch'i Kung Exercise for General Health


Movements with Story

Please note:
* This ch'i kung (ch'i gung, ch'i gong) exercise can be done sitting or standing.
* Each move is separated by the resting position – palms pressed together at heart height.
* You can switch the order and number of repetitions without a problem – just do enough repetitions to have an effect.

Our intention is to make a journey to heaven, but before starting out we will prepare ourselves with an exercise called Zan Zhuang (pronounced jahn jawng). While doing this preparation we can remind ourselves of the benefits of heaven and why we want to make this journey. We may think of the peace and harmony we will find there, how strengthening it is to be there, or how refreshing and enlivening it can be.

The Preparation
Stand with hands at sides, knees unlocked, tailbone dropped, breathing diaphragmatically, eyes closed, watching the ch'i fill the entire body, intending that stress and negative things drop away and move out of our bodies. We can spend as much time as we wish in this preparation for the journey.

After we have prepared ourselves inwardly by quietly and peacefully standing and breathing, anticipating the wonderful benefits waiting for us, we cannot yet leave immediately. We must first be summoned or given the approval to proceed. Without this blessing we may not achieve what we hope for. Heaven does not use email or the telephone; it has its own way of communicating – drums. Before we can start our journey we must listen for the heavenly drums.

Listening to the Heavenly Drums
Tap lightly on the Jade Drum (also called Jade Pillow) with our fingertips, while using the heels of the palms to firmly cover the ears; nine times flutter and rest, flutter and rest, etc. The Jade Drum is the back of the head where the neck meets the skull. (good for relieving tension headaches)

Having received the go-ahead, the first thing to do in approaching heaven is to climb a long ladder.
Climbing the Long Ladder
With opposite hand and foot, reach up as if climbing a ladder, then pull down; 9 times each side.

Now we may be in the vicinity of heaven but we are not there yet. We walk for some distance until we come to narrow bridge made of rope. Below the bridge is a deep chasm. Some say the bottom of the chasm is where we started from. Others refer to it as an abyss. You can look if you wish. Most prefer not to.

Crossing the Narrow Bridge
With palms together at waist height, thumbs up, turn waist to one side and lift heel on same side, head turns to opposite side; 9 times each side.

We have at last come to the outskirts of heaven but we notice it is surrounded by a wall. The road comes up to the wall but we cannot find the gate.

Groping for the Hidden Gate
Feet shoulder width apart, hands as if pressing against a flat surface in front of the body; 9 circles left, 9 circles right.

Having found the gate and opened it, we are now inside heaven. We are immediately overcome by the magnificant fragrance.

Breathing in the Fragrance of Heaven
Smiling inwardly, as if smelling the most wonderful fragrance in the world, using second joint of index fingers, rub acupuncture points on sides of nose and under nostrils, then, breathing in deeply through the nose, filling the lungs and letting the hands expand away from body at nose height on the in-breath. Slowly return the hands together in front of the nose on the out-breath; 9 repetitions. (good for colds, asthma, allergies)

In heaven there is an abundance of ch'i, which can be experienced or imagined in different ways. One way is to feel it like a light rain in which we walk, and which is both refreshing and invigorating.

Bathe in Heavenly Ch'i, Rinse off Old Ch'i
Reach high and pull fresh ch'i down over the body in all directions, feeling the stale ch'i wash off like dust off a traveler; repeat until you feel you've accomplished a complete rinsing.

Now being covered with this vital substance, we want to rub it into our bodies rather than just have it on the surface of the skin.

Smooth and Scrub the Heavenly Ch'i into the Body
Rub palms together between knees. When hands are hot, begin at top of the head smoothing fresh ch'i over the entire body from top to bottom, rubbing hands together to heat them as needed. Then, beginning again at the top, use fingertips to massage entire body, taking time and care to hit every inch of skin. Put special attention on ears, palms, soles of feet, kidneys (the gates of life) and any injured spot you may have. Make sure you massage all the hollows and all the projections, all the edges and all the in-betweens. Take your time and enjoy it. This stimulates all acupuncture points on the surface of the body.

Another way to experience the ch'i is in the air we breathe. We breathe as we did before, but we now take it in more abundantly into the region of the heart.

Expand and Contract the Ch'i
Just like breathing in the fragrances of heaven, but this time hold the hands at heart height. (increases lung capacity)

Having already enjoyed the magical ch'i in terms of air and water, we will now experience it in its solid form by eating it.

Eating the Heavenly Ch'i
Gently!! tap the teeth together 36 times in front, 36 times in back. Then, gently!! rotate the tongue around the outside of the teeth, running over the gum-line and inside of lips, 9 times in one direction, 9 times the other. Then run the tongue over the gum-line behind the teeth, 9 times in one direction, 9 times in the other. As saliva builds up throughout this exercise, swallow and with your mind's eye watch the saliva flow to the tant'ien (belly); this saliva is infused with ch'i and has special qualities for health and well-being. (improves digestion; the gentle teeth-tapping can be increased to 48 times, several times a day to treat teeth-grinding or jaw-clenching; the tongue rotations can be beneficial for relieving a sore throat)

Having eaten the heavenly ch'i, we now experience it in our belly.

Replenish Ch'i in the Tan T'ien Circle
Lock thumbs together, right palm over left, and circle the tant'ien (belly), 9 times in one direction, 9 times the other, watching the tant'ien fill with fresh heavenly ch'i. (improves digestion and elimination)

Having fully experienced heaven, we will spend some time with what we have experienced or what we are feeling now.

Zhan Zhuang. Like the preparation, stand or sit for as long as is comfortable.

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Copyright © 2000, Dirk Kelder

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