“CAW!” comes the long, airy sound following the slow movements of the Six Healing Sounds Qigong heart exercise performed by a group of qigong devotees in the studio of Master Gin Foon Mark. Chinese music playing in the background weaves through their exhalation. Under their skin, hearts are stimulated by the combination of sound and movement. They are being deflected, turned slightly, to squeeze out excess heat and toxins.
“This is Hapku,” says Master Mark, connecting his hands in the space between thumb and first finger, massaging them. Putting pressure on the Hapku points helps improve circulation and breathing. It also reduces the pain of headaches and relaxes the nerves.
The class proceeds through the sounds and movements of the simple but effective Six Healing Sounds Qigong designed specifically to bring healing to the organs of the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, stomach and the Triple Heater (the three energy centers in qigong, the upper, middle and lower Dan Tiens). The teacher, Master Gin Foon Mark, is a virile man in his 80s, a master of Gongfu from a family of martial artists, who began his studies when he was 9 years old at the Shaolin Temple at Chun San, under the tutelage of the Buddhist monk, Moot Ki Fut Sai. He is the fifth generation master of the Southern Praying Mantis Gongfu system, an accomplished Chinese ink brush artist and calligrapher, and has been included in the State of Minnesota’s State Cultural Treasure Program. To his many accomplishments, Master Mark added Six Healing Sounds Qigong, which he learned through a series of visits to the “Old Master of China,” Ma Laitong, on trips to Beijing beginning in 1979.
Why the Six Healing Sounds among the myriad systems of qigong? During his time at the Shaolin Temple, Master Mark learned many internal and external Qigong exercises, including Iron Shirt, Iron Palm and Cotton Palm, in addition to acupuncture healing techniques. Despite all his learning, to this day he remains impressed with how his master, Moot Ki Fut Sai, taught the people in his community qigong, so that they could stay healthy and heal themselves. He observed and studied many kinds of qigong before deciding that the Six Healing Sounds were the most effective.
Six Healing Sounds Qigong combines breath, movement and sound to deflect and stimulate targeted organs and their corresponding acupuncture points and meridians. It works by increasing the heat exchange within the various organs, directing the heat into the digestive system and then releasing it through the mouth. The sounds were discovered thousands of years ago by Daoist monks, who studied them in great depth to discover their effects on the flow of qi. Six specific sounds were found to correspond to the six organs. Postures were developed to accompany them to activate their acupuncture meridians and energy channels.
One of the students, Peter Taylor, explains how this works with the stomach exercise. “Who,” is the sound he exhales as he draws his right arm up his side, the palm facing up. The left palm is down at the left side. This twists the body slightly across the stomach meridian. The combination of sound and movement deflects the stomach so that it makes a similar movement inside the body. This action creates heat and expels toxins. The heat from the organ is transferred by the sound, “Who,” up the esophagus and out of the body. This allows the qi of the stomach and its energy channels to flow more freely, increasing health and vitality.
In Chinese medicine, much emphasis is placed on the internal health of the body, literally, the organs, blood and nerves. Illness is caused by blockage or stagnation of qi, the vital life force that circulates through the acupuncture meridians of the body. The flow of qi links the tissues, organs and brain that function together as the whole person. Blockages and imbalances of qi can be caused by negative emotions like anger and fear or an excess of positive emotions such as joy or excitement. Excesses and imbalances can injure organs and cause disease.
Practicing qigong, combining breath, movement and sound, is a way to stimulate the vital life force of qi flowing through our bodies, keeping us healthy and happy.
Master Mark is author of 6 Healing Movements Qigong, For Health, Strength, Longevity, published by YMAA Publication Center, 1.800.669.8892, [email protected], www.ymaa.com. To learn from Master Mark directly, go to: www.masterginfoonmark.com.