There is no other book I return to more for my qigong practice than Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body by Bruce Frantzis. It’s the one I consistently recommend to students and anyone who emails the school to inquire about starting a qigong practice before they have access to a teacher.
Here’s how to get the most out of it, whether or not you have someone who can give you regular feedback on your practice:
Whenever my students are getting ready to study with Bruce for the first time, I tell them, “he teaches in chapter headings and book titles. It will be up to you to go back and write the paragraphs, sentence by sentence, as you do your own personal practice over the weeks and months after you study with him.”
The Energy Gates book isn’t actually that different. As you can see from the video, there’s a lot more in there than you want to practice initially. Here’s how I recommend that you follow through on a personal practice, based on the information in the book.
Build a Solid Foundation
To help you get into a good rhythm with your standing practice (because I know how hard it can be sometimes), I created these guided practice mp3’s.
As you go through the posts in the series, you will find 5-, 10-, and 20-minute practice sessions. Start with whichever one feels comfortable. Eventually you will find that your internal speed will slow to a rate that might require 30 minutes or an hour to complete one full head-to-toe scan. There’s no rush to get there and no one will hand you a trophy when you do.
Follow the Energy Gates Schematic
The logic of Energy Gates, from an energetic perspective, is that the standing practice clears stagnant energy out of your system. Think of it as an internal flush of whatever is stuck.
That means that after you complete the sinking into the feet (or below), you need to move. You can make a gradual transition into movement using Cloud Hands.
For now, Cloud Hands will be enough movement to get everything circulating strongly again. Eventually, adding the Swings builds up your internal connections in a more powerful way, but these are really hard to learn without a lot of ongoing feedback.
Finally, complete the clearing and circulating process with one final release: the Spine Stretch. As you learn to feel more and more of your back muscles, deep and in toward the spine, you will gain better control over the moving pieces. What this allows you to do is set up more full releases of any sense of holding in your nervous system. It can be a strong experience, so go slow and limit yourself to 2 or 3 each time you practice.
Learn More When You Can
If you practice Sinking, Cloud Hands, and the Spine Stretch on your own as a regular practice, then you’ll be in great shape for meeting with an instructor. Live and in person, you’ll be able to:
- Get feedback on the dynamic alignments you need to maintain for the swings
- Be guided through the more subtle releasing techniques that allow you to dissolve energetic blockages
- Understand the importance of the gates for more precise movement and standing work
Still, when you compare Energy Gates to any other set, the depth you can get out of these three exercises on your own is tremendous. Good luck in your practice!