Zhan Zhuang Qigong: Developing Your Energy Intelligence
Updated: May 8, 2021
'Crazy Person' at the Park
You've never practiced Qigong or have not been exposed to it much. You happen to be taking your morning stroll and you suddenly see someone in the distance, standing in a private corner of the park by a tree. Their body movements intrigue you because they are unusual; You've never seen anyone move like that and you could almost think the person might be a little crazy. You even wonder if this crazy person might be worth reporting to the authorities...just in case.
But as your walk takes you closer you continue observing and it seems like these useless flailing movements have a purpose. They look useless because when regarding 'normal' exercises the muscles are being worked or there should be some kind of difficult effort involved but in the current situation the person is waving their arms around bearing no semblance to hard work yet resembling exercise. There is a kind of soothing focus applied in the movements and you walk past satisfied that at the very least this person is no danger to anyone.
The Qigong practitioner sees the curious 'morning stroller' walk past and smiles to himself for three reasons; firstly because what he is doing cannot be seen from the outside; the real 'work' is happening inside, within the movements. Secondly because he is enjoying himself; he has been practicing for many years and every moment of Qigong is a delight and thirdly, because he wonders if the police will be called again and he may have to explain why someone reported seeing a person at the park "moving around strangely and looking lost and aimless" (True Story!).
This is the dilemma of the Qigong practitioner; When he practices Qigong, when he looks inside, he sees secrets and joys the body will reveal only with committed practice. How to share this with others? It cannot be seen in the movements from the outside. It must be found inside. At the very least, the Qigong practitioner will continue to practice every day, at the park, delighting in his own inner radiance until someone approaches curious enough to find it for themselves. This 'inner radiance' is not a statement of self-superiority. Neither is it a sensationalist claim of something supernatural and yet the mundaneness of what is being referred to is nothing short of extraordinary! What is more extraordinary is that everyone has it yet not everyone is aware of it.
Learning how to sense and work with this radiance is a form of intelligence. The reason it is being explored as a form of intelligence in this article is because in modern society this form of intelligence is severely neglected in favour of other forms of 'intelligence' which are required to excel at 'modern life' and thus the capabilities and potential of the human being are often framed in a particular light which doesn't encompass the complete beauty of the human Body, Mind and Spirit in all its wild tamed and untamed Glory.
What is intelligence? According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary intelligence is defined as:
(1): The ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : REASON
also : the skilled use of reason
(2): The ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (such as tests)
The most commonly known type of test which measures "intelligence" is the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) Test. According to verywellmind.com: "An IQ test is an assessment that measures a range of cognitive abilities and provides a score that is intended to serve as a measure of an individual's intellectual abilities and potential. IQ tests are among the most commonly administered psychological tests."
So is that it? Is a test that you can take online or on a piece of paper the final verdict on your intelligence or is there more to it? Of course, these tests are based on tested data and statistics gathered from the general population and thus they do provide - a method - to measure intelligence but this is not the complete picture.
In more recent times, the term "Emotional Intelligence" has become more recognised. According to helpguide.org, Emotional Intelligence (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) "Is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict."
Is a person with a high IQ more smart than a person who has a high EQ? Who will be more successful in life, and is it better to be more balanced and have both developed equally? In general, we can also surmise that the situation isn't always so simple and whilst one can strive to develop one's inherent personal faculties that are not as strong as others, an individual also tends to be steered in life according to their personal talents. A Cheetah is good at sprinting but should it strive to become a slow, long-distance runner? As an intelligent being, or rather more generally, as a living, breathing being with innate intelligence, the choice and the direction that your fate will move toward is in the hands of your ability to apply and develop your own intelligence. More poetically speaking, the inner radiance; that which animates all things and that which one cannot describe with an exact word, but of which you are a mysterious, magnificent expression of, IS the intelligent expression of Life living its own particular expression of itself! Your life is in your hands should you take the challenge to master yourself but at the same time we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Part of the purpose of this article is to introduce and discuss a new term: Energy Intelligence.
Speaking broadly, "energy" is the foundation of your life activities; It is the collection of what you are made of, what you do and how you do all of the things in your life and how you use and apply your personal resources. This includes how you think, how you relate to others, what you eat. Every choice you make or thing that you do is a result of your own personal resources; your inner personal power. Thus, the ability to use your personal power is Energy Intelligence.
You may have a high IQ but you cannot get yourself out of bed in the morning and apply your intelligence to do anything. You may have a high EQ but your awareness of other people's feelings and emotions overwhelms and exhausts you. If IQ and EQ are the ones steering the horse cart, ENERGY Q is the powerful horse pulling on the strings attached to the cart. keep the horse well fed and healthy and it's powerful legs will move you places!
How can you effectively apply your intelligence in your life if the very fuel that feeds your life is not being nurtured? Some people are born with strong bodies and lots of energy, so much that they do not really need to consider it most of the time. Some people have less energy and need to be more careful with their health. Either way, both can benefit from better harnessing the raw power inside all of us.
How Qigong can Develop your Energy Intelligence: Zhan Zhuang Practice
When we practice Qigong we need to let the mind relax; we shift from one way of functioning to another. Thinking about the exercises will not help you to work out the exercises. FEELING your way into Qigong is the approach required for effective practice. If your mind is full of thoughts, ideas, opinions and worries, this will take you away from the vitality of the body. The inner vitality of the body is what we explore with Qigong practice. Upon getting better and better at 'tuning into' the body, the more we learn about how to develop and use our energy and personal resources effectively.
To give an example, Post Standing Qigong (Zhan Zhuang) is an exercise whereby we stand still for a long time and we bring our attention inward (inner work) by closing the eyes. Normally in everyday life we are used to putting our attention to the outside world or giving our attention to thinking and problem solving. When we practice Qigong, and in this particular example, Zhan Zhuang (Post Standing), we bring our attention IN-ward. The power of attention should not be underestimated! What you give your attention to grows! By directing their attention outward, humans have been able to erect huge buildings and achieve wonders. Don't forget the power of - Your - attention and the changes that it can create when you turn it in on itself and into the body!
Some of the results of Zhan Zhuang practice are increased energy levels, clarity of mind, stronger immune system, stronger body and increased sensitivity to the internal workings of the body. The list is too long to state here. Summarising the results of Qigong practice and relating them to the topic of this article, Qigong is a wonderful tool for developing Energy Intelligence which is also the foundation for a healthy body and mind and thus supports and develops all other types of intelligence and faculties that Nature Gifted you as a fully functional, living, breathing Human Being!
The Meaning of Intelligence
We have explored the meaning of intelligence, the different types of intelligence and discussed how intelligence relates to Qigong. So what does it mean to be smart? Is being very smart at one thing enough? The answer depends on how you look at it. If your environment is stable enough in a certain way that being very, very good at one particular thing gets you by, and not exploring the full spectrum of your faculties is not detrimental, then that is enough!
But if enough is not enough and you would like to explore yourself; your being, in a way you never thought possible then consider Qigong Practice! When you can appreciate the life inside of you, you will see intelligence everywhere and in everything and you will consider the very cells that are the fabric that stitch together your body as intelligent and intelligence is something that comes in different forms and shapes. Who are we to be the final judge of what intelligence is? Any experienced Qigong practitioner will tell you that to tune IN-to the infinitely fascinating world that is YOU is definitely an intelligent move!