You’re a good student, right?
Whether you’re new to qigong, or you’ve been practicing for years — you want to be a good student and avoid making mistakes.
And you definitely want to avoid making the #1 mistake, right?
If so, then you’re in the right place.
By avoiding this mistake, you can not only save time and money, but you can get on the fast track to healing.
The good news is that this mistake is simple.
The bad news is that simple doesn’t mean easy.
But it’s worth it! Once you correct this mistake, you’ll immediately start seeing better results.
Immediately. Not 3 months later, and not even 3 days later, but immediately.
Don’t take my word for it. Read on, and see for yourself…
The #1 Mistake
Without further ado, here’s the #1 mistake that people make when practicing qigong for healing:
Students pay too much attention to the physical aspect of qigong.
When it comes to maximizing your results, there is a simple equation that will help:
- The physical aspect is responsible for 10% of your results.
- The breathing aspect is responsible for 30% of your results.
- The meditation aspect is responsible for 60% of your results.
I like to call this the 10/30/60 Rule.
The Physical Aspect (10%)
The physical movements and postures — like Lifting The Sky, Pushing Mountains, or another qigong exercise — are only responsible for about 10% of your results.
In other words, even if your physical form is absolutely perfect, you only get 10 points max!
The Breathing Aspect (30%)
How you inhale, exhale, and pause — and what you feel while doing all this — contributes to another 30% of your results.
In Chinese, the word qi means both energy and air. And this word just about sums up what’s happening here: you’re breathing both energy and air.
If you practice this aspect perfectly, then it will contribute to 30% of your overall results.
Breathing air is easy. You’ve been doing it for years! But in order to breathe energy, you need to a) learn the skill, and b) practice the meditation aspect of qigong.
The Meditation Aspect (60%)
The meditation aspect is the master key that unlocks the healing potential of qigong.
Unfortunately, this aspect is also the most confusing, probably because we typically try to understand it with our intellectual mind.
In the Zen tradition, the intellectual mind is known as the Monkey Mind.
Meditation practice taps into what is known as the Zen Mind, which is totally different. The Zen Mind is a meditative state where the Monkey Mind is quieter than usual, the brain waves are in the Theta state, and the nervous system is in the parasympathetic state.
If you learn the skill of the Zen Mind and practice it, then it will account for 60% of your overall results.
(If you want to learn more about the Zen Mind, then keep reading or scroll down.)
But What About Alignment?!?
Some of you are undoubtedly confused by this 10/30/60 Rule.
Perhaps you’ve been taught that proper alignment is critical in qigong. Or maybe you’ve been taught that the foot must be placed “just so” in your tai chi form.
Alignment does matter. If we’re talking about tai chi, which is ultimately a martial art, then the placement of the foot does make a difference when you’re blocking or delivering a punch.
In qigong, the alignment of the spine and the body also matters.
But when it comes to health and vitality, these things still only add up to 10% of your results.
I’ve taught people in wheelchairs, people with prosthetics, and people with partial paralysis.
In all of these cases, the students got amazing results even though the physical movements and postures had to be adjusted. In fact, many of these students got better results, possibly because they naturally paid more attention to the breathing and the meditation aspects, knowing that they couldn’t possibly perfect the physical aspect.
Mary The Butcher
Let me give you a real-life example. Years ago, in my studio in Florida, I taught a monthly introduction to qigong.
In that workshop, I always taught an amazing qigong exercise called Lifting The Sky. But I also taught the 10/30/60 Rule.
To this day, I give my students permission to “butcher” the physical form. I always see smiles of relief when I tell them this. Students are thrilled at the idea of not having to get the form perfect.
During one of these intro workshops, I recognized Mary. She had taken the workshop 6 months earlier, but was retaking it in order to review. (This was before I was teaching online, otherwise she could have just clicked a button to review.)
When I saw Mary performing Lifting The Sky, I actually chuckled to myself.
Mayr’s form was beautifully awful. I mean it was REALLY bad. It was about the worst performance of Lifting The Sky I’ve ever seen.
Physically, that is.
Most teachers would probably rush to correct her, and maybe even chastise her. But I’m not most teachers, and I did something different.
“Mary, you took this class 6 months ago, right?” I asked her during the break.
“Yes, Sifu,” she said. “And I’ve been practicing every day!”
“Wonderful!” I said. “How are your results?”
“Amazing! My arthritis pain is almost completely gone, I’m sleeping like a baby, and I’ve got tons of energy!”
After hearing her answer, do you think that I corrected Mary’s form?
The answer is a firm “no”. I didn’t correct her.
Mary was obviously doing something right. She was getting good results. She was following the 3 Golden Rules. And most importantly, she was practicing regularly.
If I had to score Mary’s qigong performance, it would look something like this.
- 4 (of 10) points for the physical aspect
- 28 (of 30) points for the breathing aspect
- 55 (of 60) points for the meditative aspect
- 87 (of 100) points total
In my world, an 87 is solid B+, which is great! Mary’s form was weak, but her breathing was almost perfect, and she was doing a great job of following the 3 Golden Rules during the session. In other words, her overall qigong performance was excellent even though her form was abysmal.
Don’t Correct That Form!
What do you think would’ve happened if I had corrected her physical form?
If it was as easy as correcting her form and adding 5 points to her overall performance, then I would’ve done it, of course.
But that’s virtually impossible to do. Here’s why: Adding points to the physical aspect almost always involves taking points away from the breathing or meditative aspects.
Instead of relaxing, letting go of worries, and enjoying herself, Mary would have been worrying about getting the physical aspect of Lifting The Sky perfect.
She might even spiral down into negative self talk.
“I’m so uncoordinated! And I can’t believe I’ve been doing it so badly for months. I’m so stupid!”
As a result, the meditation aspect would likely drop by 20% or even 30%.
Once the meditative aspect drops, then the breathing aspect will also drop because the nervous system begins to tense up.
In other words — correcting the physical form often creates a cascade of negative effects.
The new equation, after correcting her form, might look something like this.
- 9 (of 10) points for the physical aspect
- 19 (of 30) points for the breathing aspect
- 33 (of 60) points for the meditative aspect
- 61 (of 100) points total
In this second equation, Mary scored a 61 with her qigong performance.
That’s a failing grade, folks. The difference between a score of 87 and a score of 61, in terms of long-term results, is massive.
For students fighting a serious illness, this could literally be the difference between life and death.
Why Students Make This Mistake
Now that you know about this mistake, now that you understand the theory behind it, you’re good to go, right?
As I said, even my own students, who have heard all of this many times, still make this mistake. Why?
We live in a physically-oriented culture. We perceive the world through our eyes. We notice what looks good.
Qigong is an internal art. This means that the important stuff happens on the inside. In other words, the important stuff is almost invisible!
The 10/30/60 equation highlights this fact.
In America, we’re not familiar with internal arts. We’re more used to external arts, where the important stuff happens on the outside.
Ultimately, the 10/30/60 rule is about focusing more on the internal aspects than the external aspects.
So even if you forget the exact equation, you can remember the lesson behind the equation.
Learning to pay more attention to the internal aspects is an ongoing process. It’s about reconditioning yourself to a new way of thinking. And this takes time.
This is why we have the 3 Golden Rules as a guide for practicing. If you consistently come back to the 3 Golden Rules, over and over, then you’ll naturally be following the 10/30/60 equation because you’ll naturally be focusing on what’s important (i.e. what’s happening inside).
Try It Out
If you’re already practicing qigong, and if you’re new to the idea of this 10/30/60 equation, then I encourage you to give it a try for a few weeks.
The free audio below will guide you through a 4-minute session that focuses on the meditative aspect of qigong.
Try it and you’ll get a taste of the Zen state of mind. Later, you can incorporate this into your qigong routines.
Or if you don’t know any qigong yet, then go grab one of my free or paid online courses here.
If you’ve been practicing qigong with a wildly different equation — for example, if you’ve been putting 60% of your attention into the physical aspect, 30% into the breathing aspect, and 10% into the meditation aspect — then you’re going to see an amazing jump in your results, and very quickly.
Let me know in the comments below how this equation works for you. And if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them. Best regards, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen and a board member for the National Qigong Association, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.