During our recent Immersion Retreat we revisited the Eight Verses. Knowing how to recite them in English and sing them in Chinese, before each practice session, is a foundation of the Zhineng Qigong system. We thought it a good time to share this article from June 2017:
Learning and practicing the Eight Verses is an integral part of the Zhineng Qigong system. Their main purpose is to help students become grounded, centered and aligned with universal energy. They are potent for calming the mind and expanding awareness into the oneness of all things.
The Eight Verses of Zhineng Qigong were developed by Dr. Pang to offer an elegant and concise way for students to prepare for practice. The verses are recited internally or out loud prior to beginning every Zhineng Qigong practice. You may also see the verses referred to as the Eight Preparatory Phrases or Eight Key Ideas.
During our studies in China we spent many afternoons memorizing the Eight Verses in English and Mandarin and discussing their many possible meanings. We eventually learned to sing them in Mandarin with a lovely melody. These are the Eight Verses as I originally learned them.
Ding tian li di
Head touches sky, feet stand on earth
Xing song yi chong
Body relaxes, mind expands
Way jing nai jing
Be respectful, quiet inwardly
Xin cheng mao gong
Mind is clear, appearance is humble
Yi nian bu qi
No distracting thoughts
Shen zhu tai kong
Mind expands to infinity
Shen yi zhao ti
Mind envelops body
Zhou shen rong rong
Entire body is harmonized with qi
The verses become more potent and meaningful when recited before each practice. As you open to the energy carried in the words, new meanings arise. For example, the first line, “Head touches sky, feet stand on earth” may invoke the blue sky and the earth within us. At other times it may invoke the entire universe within us. Just this first verse alone serves as a mantra for many.
I invite you to embark on an exploration of the Eight Verses in your own practice. You can even embrace them as a primary practice. At minimum, always recite the Eight Verses before you begin your practice, whether it is a seated or standing practice. Many students also recite them repeatedly during the day as a way to rest the mind and relax the body.
There are many translations and interpretations of the Eight Verses. The verses become more meaningful as you become more skillful at internalizing primordial qi. Here is a compilation of other translations:
1. Acknowledge and release any physical tension from your head, throat, neck and shoulders as you touch the blue sky. Release any tension all the way to your toes as you step down into earth. Relax your entire body, open the crown of your head, energetically expand into the deep blue sky above. Feel your feet energetically step down into earth, expanding your awareness all the way to the deep blue sky on the other side of the planet.
2. Relax and allow your entire awareness to expand in all directions simultaneously. Turn your awareness inside as you enter the qigong state, beyond the differentiating mind and into ever-present grace.
3. Heart and mind are open, clear and purified. Removed from reactivity, the boundaries of the self expand. Mind rests as the vibration of your heart fills the entire universe.
4. Dissolve all resistance, let go into infinite space. Allow your mind to penetrate into the still ocean of pure energy. Cultivate humbleness.
5. Expand your awareness into the void essence. Individual qi merges and blends with universal qi. Thoughts are like clouds passing through the blue sky.
6. Now return your mind to the sensation of your body. Gather universal qi into your body. Envelope your body completely with qi.
7. The mind’s intention is clear and heart is pure, primordial qi returns home. Qi is in you.
8. Your entire being is filled with the warm glow of universal qi. All is well in the return to oneness. Body, heart and mind are harmonized with qi, harmonized with qi, harmonized with qi.
The Eight Verses are potent for calming the mind, centering the body and expanding awareness into the oneness of all things. They are here for us to experience our practice from a place of humility, grace and equanimity.