Creating Freedom In Confined Spaces

There’s a simple, 5-minute qigong exercise that’s uniquely suited for the challenges of sheltering in place. Called Radiance Qigong, it reduces tension, slows the heart, calms the nerves, and creates a deep sense of connection.

It’s traditionally done while standing, but can also be done sitting down. I’ll describe the standing version first, then explain how to adapt it for sitting in a chair.

Start by standing with your feet together. Keep your joints soft and loose, muscles relaxed and resting on your bones, spine erect. Throughout the entire exercise, this posture (“as if suspended from above by a strand of pearls”) should be maintained. Your movements should stay relaxed, the tempo slow and steady.

Place your tongue at the roof of your mouth, with the tip of your tongue touching the back of your upper front teeth. Throughout the exercise, your breath should stay relaxed, slow, and steady.

There are five segments to the exercise.

The first segment is called:
OPENING TO ONE’S PLACE IN THE CIRCLE
Inhale gently and slowly raise your arms out to the side, heart-high, with your palms facing up. Exhale gently.
Stand in this position, breathing easily, for several moments.
Imagine opening to your place in the circle of all life.

The second segment is called:
INVITING THE HEART TO OPEN
Inhale gently and slowly bring your arms in toward the center of your body, turning your fingers to point in toward the heart.
Exhale gently and bring your fingers in to your chest until your fingertips rest lightly on the breastbone.
Stand in this position, breathing easily, for several moments.
Invite your heart to open, without judgment.

The third segment is called:
HONORING THE HEART OF ALL LIVING THINGS
Inhale gently and rotate your hands until they touch palm-to-palm, fingers pointing up, in front of the heart. Exhale gently.
Stand in this position, breathing easily, for several moments.
Think of honoring the heart of all living things, without judgment.

The fourth segment is a variation of the first:
OPENING TO ONE’S PLACE IN THE CIRCLE
Inhale gently and open your hands, turning them palm up in front of your heart.
Exhale gently and slowly extend your hands straight out from your heart and then out to the sides, palms facing up.
Stand in this position, breathing easily, for several moments.
Imagine opening to your place in the circle of all life.

The fifth segment is called:
BALANCING HEAVEN AND EARTH
Inhale gently and slowly raise your arms over your head with your palms facing up.
When your hands reach over your head, turn them palm down with your fingertips nearly touching.
Exhale gently and slowly press your hands down the center of your body until they release, arms fully relaxed at your side.
Stand in this position, breathing easily, for several moments.

The seated version of Radiance Qigong is virtually the same. Start by sitting with your feet fully contacting the floor, shoulder-width apart. Again, keep your joints soft and loose, muscles relaxed and resting on your bones, spine erect. Throughout the entire exercise, this posture (“as if suspended from above by a strand of pearls”) should be maintained. Your movements should stay relaxed, the tempo slow and steady. Your breath should also be relaxed, slow, and steady, with your tongue resting lightly at the roof of your mouth, and the tip of your tongue touching the back of your upper front teeth.

All the breathing and arm/hand movements are the same.

Practicing Radiance Qigong on a regular basis—in the morning and evening, for example—can have a measurable effect on your mood, resilience, and clarity. It does so without force or effort.

This goes along with one of the oldest axioms in taijiquan, another form of qigong:

A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds.

Enjoy.

4 thoughts on “Creating Freedom In Confined Spaces

  1. Hi,

    Thank You so much for posting this. Both Joan & I found it extremely helpful in lifting our spirits! Blessings to you!

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  2. Dear Colin,

    I am still teaching taiji over at the Edmonds Senior Center. I have wanted to ask if I could share your tadpolejourneys blog with my fellow students. And now it seems even more important. “Creating Freedom In Confined Spaces” is a gift to all of us. Michelle Burke, the program director, has asked for tips and advice from fellow instructors. Would it be all right to include contact information to your blog with reference to “Creating Freedom In Confined Spaces”? Edmonds Senior newsletter is printed as well as (I think) online.

    What wild times! I lost my wee mother last May, her 100th birthday was in March. I was fortunate to be with her and her last breath. Your candid words about your folks were very much appreciated. I feel so fortunate that you share your words as well as the game of taiji. My best to you and Elizabeth, Ann Blanch

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  3. Dear Ann: Yes, of course, share the blog with anyone you think would benefit. I’m so glad to hear that you’re still teaching. And sorry to hear about your mother. One of the piercingly poignant moments in life… Thanks for reaching out, and for being you. Blessings. Colin

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