Are you ready to tap into the hidden powers of neigong, or internal gongfu, for improved health, performance, and beyond? These ancient practices, which involve cultivating internal energy (qi) through various techniques such as qigong, tai chi, and meditation, can offer a wide range of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
In this post, we'll explore the 7 surprising benefits of neigong and how these practices can help you find inner peace, optimal health, and even spiritual enlightenment.
Neigong Benefit #1: Improved Stress Management
One of the most well-known benefits of neigong is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. These practices involve focusing the mind and calming the nervous system, which can help to create a sense of inner peace and balance. Many neigong techniques involve deep breathing and relaxation techniques found across the domains of meditation and breathwork, proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Some neigong practices that are particularly effective for stress management include qigong, tai chi, and meditation. These practices involve slow, gentle movements and a focus on the breath, which can help to relax the mind and body. While movement isn't required for qigong practice, it often involves a series of slow, flowing movements that are designed to improve circulation, reduce stress, and cultivate inner calm.
Tai chi, a martial art that involves slow, graceful movements, has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve sleep quality and overall well-being. Meditation, a practice that involves focusing the mind and quieting the chatter of the ego, can also help to reduce stress and promote inner peace. The crossover or core similarities between these, for those unfamiliar with one or both practices, is attention to physical sensation (including coordination and movement), and depth and pace of the breath. These are integration practices, where the mind is actively attentive to, and at one with, happenings of the body.
Neigong Benefit #2: Improved Flexibility and Balance
In addition to stress management, neigong practices can also improve flexibility and balance. Many of these techniques involve stretching and moving the body in a variety of ways, which can help to improve range of motion and prevent stiffness. But even without specific stretches, flexibility can be enhanced merely through relaxation, which reduces physical tension in the body, and consequently facilitates greater muscular length.
Regarding stretching, qigong and tai chi both involve a series of movements that involve stretching and rotating the joints, which can help to improve flexibility and balance. Yoga, another popular neigong practice, also involves a variety of stretches and poses that can help to improve flexibility and balance.
As I mentioned above, movement isn't necessary for neigong practice, but mindfully moving through a range of motion, and coordinating one's breath with it, dramatically improves proprioception, sensitivity, and mind body connection. As such, movement and flexibility training are often better entry points to internal work, because attention to movement helps still the monkey mind and cultivates mind body connection.
Neigong Benefit #3: Improved Cardiovascular Health
Neigong practices can also improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow and circulation. Many of these techniques involve movement and deep breathing, which can help to improve heart function and lower blood pressure. Qigong, tai chi, and yoga are all examples of neigong practices that can improve cardiovascular health, as they involve gentle movements and deep breathing that can help to improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
Neigong Benefit #4: Improved Mental Clarity
Neigong practices can also improve mental clarity and focus by quieting the mind and increasing awareness. Mindfulness meditation, which can help to calm the mind and increase focus, can rightly be considered a neigong facilitator, though we may run into a bit of definitional trouble (they are on seperate ends of the meditation spectrum - one receptive, one willful).
For example, qigong and tai chi both involve a focus on the breath and present moment, which can help to increase awareness and clarity. As such, they can be considered mindful practices. But the components of directional intent, and willful movement make them broader, qigong practices.
Neigong Benefit #5: Improved Sleep Quality
In addition to improving mental clarity, neigong practices can also improve sleep quality by calming the mind and body. Many of these techniques involve relaxation and deep breathing, which can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation by triggering the parasympathetic healing response. Qigong, tai chi, and meditation are all examples of neigong practices that can improve sleep quality, as they involve gentle movements and relaxation techniques that can help to calm the mind and body. These signal to the body that you're under no threat, and to downregulate adrenaline and cortisol release.
Neigong Benefit #6: Improved Immune Function
Neigong practices can also improve immune function by reducing stress and improving circulation. Stress is known to weaken the immune system, especially when it's chronic, so practices that reduce stress can help to improve immune function. In addition, many neigong techniques involve movement and deep breathing, which can help to improve circulation and boost immune function.
This shouldn't be seen as a replacement for heavy strength training, which, in addition to building fast twitch muscle, enhancing connective tissue, and imroving structural balance and stability, also has direct and measurable benefits toward immunity. In a perfect world, you practice both - applying tagetted stressors that strengthen the immune system through overcompensation, and neigong, which helps reduce stress and tension. This is discussed further in Neigong Vs Waigong.
Neigong Benefit #7: Spiritual Enlightenment
In addition to the physical benefits of neigong, these practices can also offer spiritual enlightenment by quieting the mind and cultivating inner peace. Many of these techniques involve mindfulness and meditation, which can help to cultivate a sense of inner calm and awareness - a connection with the world around you and a silencing of the egoistic judgments that separate you from your immediate experience.
In addition, some neigong practices, such as qigong and tai chi, involve a focus on cultivating inner energy (qi) and aligning with the natural flow of the universe, which can lead to a greater sense of spirituality.
As you can see, neigong practices offer a wide range of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Whether you're interested in reducing stress, improving flexibility and balance, improving cardiovascular health, increasing mental clarity, improving sleep quality, boosting immune function, or seeking spiritual enlightenment, there's a neigong practice that's right for you. The key is to find the right practice for you and commit to a consistent practice. With dedication and consistency, you can tap into the hidden powers of neigong and find inner peace, optimal health, and even spiritual enlightenment.