At the Shaolin Temple we’re required to study sutras and books written by our spiritual ancestors. Many of these teachings are focused on how to increase health and longevity.
“Your body is a treasured gift from heaven and earth. It’s your job to take care of it and nourish it through the practice of Shaolin Qigong. If you make an effort you will definitely see effects: your body will become stronger, you will be free of disease, you will lengthen your lifespan, and enjoy your life.”
Today, scientists are also studying health and longevity. Latest research shows that those who age the slowest have the best organ function and are the least likely to die. This demonstrates how important our internal organs are. Aerobic exercise has been shown to prevent memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. Weight training stops our muscles from shrinking as we get older. But what about our internal organs? Because we can’t see them, we tend to only think of them when something goes wrong. But it’s the internal organs that govern the body.
Shaolin Qigong is the only exercise I know that stretches and exercises the internal organs. Kung Fu doesn’t do this, yoga doesn’t do this, and meditation doesn’t do this.The 8 Treasures Qigong is 8 of the most effective movements that the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (Damo) taught to his disciples. These deceptively simple movements keep our body internally strong which is the key to keeping our mind strong and living well into old age.
I will be 43 this year and I still train as hard as I did when I was 14 because I practice Qigong and do the Instant Health Massage. If you’re a martial artist, MMA fighter, boxer, runner or you simply love to work out, you’ll find that Qigong increases your stamina, power and strength. Qigong optimizes your mind and body.
All you need to do is keep a regular practice of at least three times a week. And finish with the Instant Health Massage. The Instant Health Massage acts as a natural battery charger for our body and increases the effectiveness of our Qigong practice.
“You must temporarily put aside work that is not important and make time for Qigong. Taking care of your life is the most important job you have as a human being.”
Most people realise health is the most important thing but how many people live by this belief? We usually make the excuse of having no time like a friend of mine who called to say he was unwell. I asked him to come and visit me so I could teach him Qigong, he told me he didn’t have time, I said to him, but when you are sick you will have time to go to hospital because you have no choice. The next day he came and studied with me for seven days.
We need to start today. In order to help us stay on the path to health I have translated an extract from one of the Shaolin Classics. Written by a monk who was a great martial artist and scholar, here he gives advice to lay people as to how to stay young and healthy.
Ten Tips From A Shaolin Monk On How To Stay Young
1) Don’t think too much. Thinking takes energy. Thinking can make you look old.
2) Don’t talk too much. Most people either talk or do. Better to do.
3) When you work, work for 40 minutes then stop for 10 minutes. When you look at something all the time, it can damage your eyes and also your internal organs and peace.
4) When you are happy, you need to control your happiness, if you lose control then you damage your lung energy.
5) Don’t worry too much or get angry because this damages your liver and your intestines.
6) When you eat food don’t eat too much, always make sure you are not quite full as this can damage your spleen. When you feel a bit hungry then eat a little.
7) When you do things, take your time, don’t hurry too much. Remember the saying “Hasten slowly you will soon arrive”
8)If you only do physical exercise all the time and you never do Qigong this makes you lose your balance and you will become impatient. You lose the Yin of your body. Exercise balances the Yin and the Yang.
9)If you never exercise, just peace, meditation, soft training, Qigong, then this doesn’t give you Yang energy so you use up your Yang energy.
10) Shaolin Gong Fu gives you everything. The purpose of our training is to balance our Yin and Yang. How many hours is not important. It’s down to knowing what your body needs.
There’s an ancient Buddhist story about a wrestler who wore a precious jewel in his hair. During a match, he received a blow to his head. Without him realizing it, the jewel dropped into his wound. When the wound healed, the jewel was covered by a scar. Every day the wrestler looked for his jewel, never realizing that it was inside him all the time.
This is the same for all of us. Peace and enlightenment are not and never have been outside our mind. All we have to do to access this great peace is come back to our natural state of being.
Just as the wrestler lost his jewel through acts of violence. We lose connection with our natural peaceful state when we give into anger, aggression and other emotions that don’t increase our or other people’s happiness.
Modern life puts a strong focus on looking outwards at some future time when things will be better. What we want – whether that’s peace or a better life – is always out there and one step away. But what this teaching instructs is: we already are what we want to become. It’s already within us. If we look beneath our hurts, disappointments and wounds, we can rediscover our jewel.
Whenever I feel disconnected from myself or my mind is turbulent I practice Qigong or Rou Quan and it doesn’t take long before my mind goes back to its natural state of peace.
Daily practice of Qigong changes the neural pathways in our brain. The founder of Zen, Bodhidharma gave us a roadmap that shows us clearly how to use Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu as a pathway to Zen. This spacious peaceful state of mind is not only reserved for Shaolin monks but for everyone, those of any religion and those of none.
Habit energy drags us down. So set yourself small reminders that you’re on the path of the Urban Shaolin Warrior. This can be uplifting pictures and quotes from people that inspire you or – like the Shaolin Monks do – wear a Jade amulet or mala so the reminder is with you all the time. And practice Shaolin at least four times a week, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day, this is much more beneficial than a long once a week practice. And don’t forget to share how you get on in the comments below or by tweeting me.
Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout is available as a book worldwide & in the USA & Canada an ebook on apple & amazon.
“Bodhidharma travelled to the East to teach these two Yi Jin and Xi Sui classics. A bird like the crane is able to live long, an animal like the fox can be immortal, a human who cannot learn from these classics is worse than the birds and animals.”
The Mind and Body of a Buddha
Ee Jin Jing makes your muscles and tendons strong, flexible, fast and powerful while building up the health of your internal organs. Xi means wash and Sui means bone marrow. Xi Sui means clean your bone marrow. The aim of Xi Sui Gong is to detoxify your body and cleanse the unhealthy aspects of your mind. The highest aim is to help you reach enlightenment and give you the mind and body of a Buddha. But even if you can’t gain enlightenment in this lifetime (or you don’t want to), the least this Qigong can do is give you a long, healthy, and peaceful life.
Connecting With Your True Nature
It is vitally important that you use your heart to train, not just your body. You can train as regularly as you like but if your heart isn’t present then you will never get the true benefit. Your true nature can only be found in the here and now. Qigong plants you in the present moment. It does not give you anything new; it simply connects you with your body’s internal power and automatic wisdom that already exists within you.
The Power of Concentration
The more you concentrate, the more benefit you gain from Qigong. Every movement of Xi Sui Jing is done from a sitting position. This sitting position helps you to develop patience. When you begin to go through the movements, your mind will be busy at first. This is natural. But as you focus on the breath and the movement together this will calm your mind and you will feel peaceful. This calming of the mind cleanses the mind. With a clean mind, your mind and body work in harmony. Once your mind and body are working in harmony, your body can self-regulate itself; unblocking your channels and preventing disease from building up in your body.
Your body is Your Own Doctor
This is why at the Shaolin Temple, we say that our body is our own doctor. Shaolin Qigong gives us access to the medicine. But this all happens unconsciously. Your body will start to feel better of its own accord without you having to intervene in any way. This has led many people to shun conventional medicine in favor of Qigong or other alternative medicines but I believe we should use the best of both worlds. If a person is suffering from an illness I recommend that they combine Western medicine with Qigong so that it’s not an alternative approach but a complimentary approach blending the best of two worlds.
There’s a famous story in China about a Zen master who was famous for his meditation and a Shaolin martial artist who was famous for his martial arts. One day the Shaolin master challenged the Zen master, as he believed his skill was much better than that of the Zen master. The Zen master chose a narrow ledge at the edge of a high mountain; one wrong step and the person would fall to their death. Because they were both unskilled in archery they decided it would be fair if they challenged themselves in this way. The Shaolin master went first, he stood at the edge of the mountain but when he placed the arrow into the bow he couldn’t stop himself from looking down and he became scared at the thought of plunging to his death. This fear meant that he failed to hit the target. The Zen master took the bow and arrow, stood at the edge of the mountain, and hit the target perfectly. The Shaolin master was amazed and asked him what his secret was so that he could improve his skill. The Zen master said, “No thinking. No reason. Just do.”
No thinking. No reason. Just do.
This is exactly what you must apply to our practice. EE Jin Jing makes your body like stone. Xi Sui Jing turns your body into a Buddha. But you need to practice and find this out for yourself.
Bone Marrow Cleansing Massage
As you advance in your Qigong you will advance in your self-massage by moving from the bamboo brush to the metal brush. This heavier brush creates vibrations in your bones and helps to cleanse them so even though you are still doing the Instant Health massage it is having a much more powerful effect. This is where the name “Bone Marrow Cleansing” comes from.
As you age, not only do your bones and muscles shrink unless you exercise to prevent them but also your blood cells produced by your bone marrow slow down. This is because your marrow becomes dirty. Through using the metal brush you cleanse the marrow and stop this reversal. Once I was in my thirties, I started to do this massage alongside my Iron Shirt. I’ve found it to be incredibly powerful and have seen a similar result with my private students who do this massage.
I can describe to you what a piece of chocolate cake tastes like but unless you eat it you won’t experience it. This article is just a menu, you need to experience these two Qigong’s through practice and gain the benefits for yourself. Break it down to ten minutes five times a week, and within a month you will feel and see a noticeable difference. Comment below to let me know how you get on and share your experiences with other students on my Facebook page that I’ve set up for Shaolin Warrior students training around the world with my teaching.
The world of traditional physical exercise is beginning to catch up with what Shaolin martial artists have known for thousands of years. Fitness is not just about burning calories and sweating. It’s about being healthy from the inside out. Here our 7 super-effective training tips from the Shaolin Temple.
1. Skip stretching before your workout, your ligaments will thank you.
Stretching before a warm up has no benefit and doesn’t bolster performance. Start with a gentle warm up and when the muscles feel warm and loose do two types of stretching: static and dynamic. If you already train with my DVDs, downloads or books then you’ll be already doing it this way.
2. Your body is smart already
Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu helps you go beyond your small individual self and find a connection with the fabric of the Universe. It doesn’t give you anything new; it simply connects you with your body’s internal power and automatic wisdom.
3. Not all workouts are created equal.
A person can look strong but this doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Body builders may be inflexible and internally weak. Yoga practioners may be flexible but ask him or her to perform a martial art’s kick and they have no power or speed. The Shaolin Workout is a full body workout which addresses every single body part and integrates flexibility and strength with power and speed.
4. Balancing Yin and Yang is the key to health and longevity.
A bird can’t fly with one wing. You can’t be 100% healthy and fit without a balance between Qigong and Kung Fu. This is the two wings of a bird. Qigong is your Yin training, which melts the barrier between your mind and body while kung fu is your Yang training, which pushes your limits and raises your awareness of your unlimited capabilities
5. Self-massage matters.
The Shaolin Temple has a long tradition of self-massage, which is one of the oldest healing practices. Massaging with the bamboo rods of the Instant Health Massage Brush combines sports, acupressure and deep tissue in one massage. Because the self-massage is convenient and cheap – it’s just the cost of a brush – you can do it on a daily basis after you’ve finished your training or if you’re pushed for time, a few times a week.
6. What you give, you receive.
Food is medicine and fuel for your body. What you give to your body, you receive. You give it fast food, you receive energy slumps, sluggishness and sugar drops. You give it wholesome food, you receive high energy, vitality and stable sugar levels.
7. No Mud, no Lotus
Lotuses grow from mud. It’s the same with you. All of your problems, all of the stuff you don’t like about your life make up the mud so that your lotuses can take root and bloom. Beautiful lotuses can only grow from the un-beautiful. Everything you experience can help you to become a happier person. The Buddha said, “It’s your mind which makes the world, speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow as your shadow. ”