Eight Ways cultivate internal energy over purely physical development. The Chinese word for exercise means circulating chi with movement. Chi is many things, including the circular flow of the river of energy animating the universe, life force, and intrinsic energy. Chi follows awareness. A T’ai Chi proverb tells of a ruler who promised his kingdom to anyone who could thread a nine-tunneled pearl. A sage advises one on the way to try their hand at it, to attach the thread with a dab of honey to the back of an ant that will pull the thread through the nine tunnels. The pearl is the body and the nine tunnels are the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hips, knees, ankles, base of the spine, atlas, and top of the head. The thread is chi. The ant is attention and the honey is the practice of Chi Gong. So, Chi Gong is the practice of using your attention to thread the chi through the nine tunnels of the pearl.
In this work, you place emphasis on the qualities of the movements. Fluidity, poise, power, ease of motion and equanimity are prized along with internal strength to cultivate vitality. When chi sinks down into a relaxed body, called collecting or concentrating the chi, it induces a calm, composed, light-hearted feeling. Concentrating chi, balancing energy, softening bracing, and restoring poise are the primary goals of Chi Gong, acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, and other eastern medicinal modalities.