Neigong means “Internal Skill” or “Internal Work” and was the term used to cover all Chinese Internal practices. However, since the 1920’s the term Qigong has become fashionable to describe these exercises. It is a mistake, though, to think that they are one in the same. Qigong was born out of Neigong and adheres to the internal principles of Neigong, but is only part of the Neigong story.
The purpose of Neigong is to bring about change in the body, from the inside out. That is to say, from the core to the periphery, activating the core energy to facilitate the opening, activation and energising of the peripheral (meridians and aura) energies. Qigong works in the opposite direction, starting with the opening, activation and energising of the meridians in order to facilitate the energising of the core.
Within Neigong it is vitally important that the practitioner has the ability to listen, using Listening Jing, to the Qi. Without this there is no true experience of the flow of Qi and with no feedback, from this listening, the practitioner cannot really direct the flow.
At a basic level, in Active Qigong, the breath and body movement is used to assist in the flow/direction of the Qi. In Passive Qigong, the breath is used for the same purpose. However, this can “bind” the practitioner to his/her respiration, partly blocking him/her from appreciating the inner changes.
In Neigong, however, there is no need to tie the movement of the Qi to the movement of the breath and this allows the practitioner to appreciate, more fully, the inner alchemy that is taking place.
In Qigong, with the exception of any Five Element exercises (Where there are a number of movements in the sequence, each causing the Qi to flow in a different meridian pair), the tendency is to work on one primary meridian pair in each exercise, opening these meridians, and then moving on to another exercise.
In Neigong the emphasis is on working from the core in order to access all the energy flows simultaneously. This has a synergistic effect that allows the practitioner to access/experience all of the Qi flow and also, at higher levels, the integration of mind/body/spirit.
Psychologically, Neigong can be used to “let go” of hurt and trauma from the past. These can include things that we have bottled up, deep inside us, as both physical and psychological inflexibility and pain.
Spiritually, Neigong can bring about heightened states of awareness.