Action of the Five Building Blocks of Qi (Energy System)
In order to achieve a strong energetic system, we must fine-tune each of the five building blocks until fine-tuning is not necessary.
First Building Block: Strength and Flexibility
Starting with the body building block, we balance between strength and flexibility, which is one of the first steps on a physical level to help the energetic system. By finding balance between your strength and flexibility, stagnation will be removed and the system will be one step closer to its full potential performance. The lack of balance between strength and flexibility creates stress on the energy channels and does not allow the mind to flow smoothly through the body, leading to an unbalanced situation within the system.
One other step is massaging the internal organs through movement or through self-massage. By massaging the internal organs, you remove and circulate energy that is stagnant in the organ area; you lead it into the channels and out throughout the extremities. Also, working with the joints allows the energy to move smoothly between the bones and the muscles, and between the inside and the outside. Maintaining flexibility in the joints, tendons, muscles, and ligaments is very important.
Second Building Block: The Breath
Through developing the second building block, the breath, we increase and improve the function of the lungs, allowing more energy to move in. We are supplying every cell in our body with more oxygen, allowing those cells to function and perform better. Moving more oxygen in and more carbon out is a process that also helps you attain a more balanced energetic system. By developing the lungs, you not only take in more oxygen, but also train the mindfulness of your breathing that in turn develops the skill of using the banana to capture the monkey.
Third Building Block: The Mind
The third building block is the mind. The mind is probably the most important aspect of balancing the energetic system. Emotions can create excitement or depression, which leads to lack of balance in the energetic system. If it were only up to the emotional mind, we would not have a balanced system. We are able, however, to monitor ourselves and calm the emotional mind using breathing or other methods. The Taoists refer to this process as "seize the monkey and strengthen the horse." When the monkey is quiet, it will allow the energy to be strong and balanced, which can eventually allow you to connect and harmonize with the energy of the three forces: heaven, human, and earth.
Fourth Building Block: Energetic System
The fourth building block is our energetic system. There are two major schools of thought: the first believes that through fine-tuning until fine-tuning is not needed, each of the other blocks will fall into place naturally. The second believes that all five building blocks need to be fine-tuned, especially the energetic one. The second school of thought is more Taoist than Buddhist. You can find a world of energetic visualizations in Taoist thought that you will not find anywhere else. My personal experience is that both schools have excellent tools so I use the best from both worlds. Some individuals can work and practice every block except the energetic one and will get excellent results, and others will not get results, in which case, focusing on the energetic block sometimes achieves results. That is the reason I keep my mind open and I first try to sense which block will be the most appropriate for each individual to clear.
Fifth Building Block: The Spirit
Through developing the fifth building block, the spirit, we boost our energetic system to places that words cannot describe. Learning to evoke (yang) the spirit and cool (yin) the spirit can lead to abundant energy and great spiritual achievement.
The energetic system consists of two elements, fire and water. The theory is that the system is fiery to start with because of the food we eat and the air we breathe. Because we are more fire than water, we need to constantly cool or calm down the system for the simple goal of achieving balance. One of the methods of cooling the fire is through strengthening and draining the internal energetic baton within the core of the body.
After we strengthen the energy centers, we connect the upper and the lower energy center. This connection creates a baton of energy: two balls of energy in the head and the abdomen and the line connecting them. This baton of energy can become stronger and stronger. The baton is in charge of managing the functions and the operation of the inner body including the immune system. The stronger your baton is, the stronger your immune system is. The Chinese refer to this part of the energetic system as managing qi (energy).
Surrounding the body, we have a bubble or the energy that is about a fist away from our skin, all around us. It is the energy mechanism that deals with forces around us. This energetic bubble behaves as a shield and also as a filter. The stronger your system is, the more efficient this filter is and the better its ability to strain and filter negative forces, as well as deal with positive forces. An efficient filter will allow positive constructive energies to move in and allow negative energies to leave the body. This efficient process is another key element to having a better-balanced system, healthier life, and a stronger performance on a daily basis.
As you can see, once we fine-tune the system, remove the stagnation, build up the center, create a stronger flow, and upgrade the shield and filters, we are one step ahead in dealing with better health. We are now in a state of prevention. Cultivating longevity, and not just health, involves prevention, which requires spending time and energy even when you are not sick and even when you are in your best shape, in order to achieve more success as you age.
Achieving The Balance
Striving for and achieving this balance is a journey that needs to be enjoyed. If you do not enjoy and make the most of this journey, you are defeating its purpose. Building up the system and upgrading it eventually allows you to connect to the other forces around us, the heaven and the earth, or what is considered in Chinese qigong the three forces: heaven, human, and earth. Once your energetic system is strong, regulated, fine-tuned, and balanced, you will be able to fully connect to the other forces. We can all connect to the other forces at certain times in our lives, but by strengthening our own systems, it allows us to experience and sense the other forces at all times, not only when we are deciding to bring our minds into it.
A good example of this mind being in two places, or actually one, is your martial artist mind; it has a strong sense of the lower energy center throughout the day and should have that strong sensation even as you fight and deal with strong forces from the outside. When you can hold the mind in the lower energy center even when you fight, you will be able to have it there throughout the day. If you strengthen and upgrade your energetic system, you will connect to the other forces, experience them, and be one with them at all times.