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We spend our lives fulfilling two basic physical needs to maintain, nourish, revitalize, and prolong our lives:

  1. Consumption (eating, drinking. etc.)
  2. Motion
    1. Mind "movement" (thinking)
    2. Body "movement" (breathing and other functions of the internal organs and external limbs)
    3. Sex

Life will cease if either of the two basic conditions is not fully or properly satisfied. Without consumption of nutrients, life is expected to cease within ten days. Without proper consumption of nutrients, life will shorten. Without motion, the body will atrophy. Without proper motion, the body will weaken. It was with these considerations in mind that the ancient Taoists created the Tao of Revitalization, the philosophy and method of thinking, breathing, and moving.

Tao of Revitalization is a system of many balanced mental and physical movements, called Internal Exercises. The Internal Exercises heal and energize the internal organs the proper function of which is the key to youth, immunity against disease, and true health through deceleration, smoothness, quietness, precision, naturalness, and an internal emphasis. In these respects the Internal Exercises differ vastly from the "external exercises," which include sports, martial arts, bodybuilding, Hatha Yoga, aerobic dancing, and other activities that primarily emphasize the external figure. The stress, strain, pain, contortions and injuries associated with external exercises deplete the body of its energy and disturb the delicate functions of the internal organs. In this weakened state the body cannot fight off invasion by viruses or other disease-causing agents and regenerate or repair itself, leading to any number of illnesses and premature aging. Furthermore, building strong external muscles is now impractical, as our society no longer requires hunting skills or the ability to excel at physical combat. Muscular bodies do not protect the body against disease-causing agents; internal organs do. That is why, in Tao of Revitalization, the emphasis is upon motions that are natural to the inclinations of the body and that energize, heal, and regenerate the entire body through "exercising" the internal organs. But if one must do external exercises, one must also do internal exercises to recover what is depleted.

Tao of Revitalization has a six-thousand-year-long history of success. Upon realizing its enormous medicinal potential, the Yellow Emperor gave the Tao of Revitalization the title "The Foremost of Therapies." In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze called it the "best therapeutic method for promoting and prolonging life." Its reverent and faithful practitioners are multitudinous. And it was effective even when its expansive teachings were fragmented and disarranged.

Many versions of the Tao of Revitalization exist, each with appropriately descriptive names. These names, however, do not reflect the true meaning and function of the Tao of Revitalization. One version is Tao-Yin, which means the utilization of thought, tools, and certain body movements to guide the flow of energy to heal ailments of all kinds. The form of Tao of Revitalization that is popular in China is Chi-Kung, also called Nei-Kung. The term Chi-Kung translates to Breathing or Energizing Exercises. The term Nei-Kung translates to Internal Exercises. In the hospitals, clinics, and health organizations of China, Chi-Kung therapy reigns supreme above other treatments. Its effectiveness was found to lie in its ability to prevent disease.

Prevention, a principle of Tao of Revitalization is one key to the Internal Exercises' efficacy: if minor health problems do not develop, major health problems do not develop; and if major health problems do not develop, we will not die. So the primary purpose of Tao of Revitalization is to help people increase their lifespan.

In the Tao of Revitalization, the emphasis has been lifted to internal rather than external development. Initially the Tao of Revitalization involves physical movement, but as one's practice gradually becomes refined, one's concentration upon physical movement will be reduced and one's concentration upon internal movement will be increased. One will become still externally, but alive and active internally. Anything that does not meet these principles is not Tao of Revitalization. Its strength also lies in its flexibility. Anybody, regardless of age, health, or condition, can practice the exercises of his or her choice anytime, anywhere. No equipment is necessary. The most basic of metabolic processes, breathing, can be transformed by the appropriate Tao of Revitalization techniques into a powerful therapy. The conscious state of mind and body movement are also potential therapies.

The heartwarming and life-changing benefits so immediately reaped from a sincere and selfless application of any of the exercises are enough to instill within us a kind of fervor which of itself will move us forward along the path of greater understanding, longevity, and spiritual development.

When you do external exercises,
you must do internal exercises.
When you do internal exercises,
you may forget to do external exercises.

The Complete System of Self-Healing: Internal Exercises

By Dr. Stephen Chang
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