Your ability to feel and control energy depends on maintaining continuous internal awareness inside your body. Without some minimal level of continuous inner awareness, you cannot focus long enough on your movements or energy flows to gain most of the wonderful benefits of chi gung (qigong), tai chi and other Taoist energy arts.
The first challenge is to learn how to simultaneously pay attention to your energy, breathing, emotions and how your body is feeling. The second step is to use that awareness to benefit your health and reduce your stress.
Western Education is Outward Oriented
From kindergarten through the university system, Western education focuses primarily on training your intellectual and mental capacities for external tasks and activities. Many intellectually brilliant people—from physicists to lawyers to social thinkers—can maintain focus on the problems at hand and come up with solutions. These same people, asked to focus inside themselves and simultaneously engage with their emotions, energy, breathing and deeper parts of their mind and spirit are unable to do so.
Taoist Education is About Internal Orientation
The primary orientation of Taoist education is to teach people to have an internal orientation. In these practices, you must learn to track the effect of your physical movements on your breathing and emotional moods and gain the sense of your mind being clear on the patterns by which you consciously move energy within yourself. Taoists call it making the body conscious. In an increasingly difficult and complex world, many external and internal circumstances can break your ability to maintain inner awareness.
Chi gung, and other Taoist energy movement practices, train you to look inside your body, mind and spirit. Eastern philosophy has the point of view that until you learn how to feel deeply inside your body and become consciously aware of the deeper recesses of your mind, you will not be able to improve the quality of your life.
Internal Awareness Prepares you for Meditation
Increased and focused awareness will prepare you for the more challenging work of meditation. In the Taoist meditation tradition, spirituality involves more than having health, calmness and a stable, peaceful mind. Meditation helps you take spiritual responsibility for yourself so you can become a relaxed, spontaneous and fully mature and open human being. It helps you reach a place of inner stillness, a place deep inside you that is absolutely permanent and stable, whether you are quietly sitting or doing several things at once.