Staying Motivated in a Body/Mind/Spirit Practice

[Ask Dr. Lu]

Staying Motivated in a Body/Mind/Spirit Practice

by Nan Lu, OMD, L.Ac.

Question: I have been practicing Qigong for almost half a year. At the beginning, I was very motivated, but now I feel it’s getting repetitive—I do the same postures and movements day after day, month after month. I know Qigong can do some pretty amazing things for my health, yet sometimes I really don’t feel like practicing and have to force myself. What is your advice on keeping motivated to do this kind of practice?

Answer: How can you continue to wash the same body—your body—for thirty or forty years? Why do you brush the same teeth day after day? It’s the same concept: it’s for yourself; it’s for your health. Doing these things help maintain your health. However, with Qigong, if you don’t go to the next level, then you are just doing the same maintenance day after day. If you don’t find the benefit, then you won’t do it. So the key question is, Do you get a benefit? If you don’t see a benefit then you have to ask yourself this: Do you practice Qigong well enough?

You think Qigong is good, but bottom line, you don’t want to do the homework. What the Chinese call “Kung Fu” means discipline and time. You need to have discipline; you need to have time, an accumulation of time. Discipline and effort—doing the practice long enough so you might catch something.

It’s just like fishermen—they go fishing. Yet just because they go fishing, doesn’t mean they catch something every time. Every day you take a shower. It doesn’t mean that you have to meet someone afterwards—it’s for yourself, so you are clean. With some things, you see the result immediately; with some things you don’t see the result immediately.

However, if you don’t see the result, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a result. It just doesn’t have the result you expected. Because you think Qigong is something miraculous, you expect that because you practice a miracle thing you have to show a miracle result. However, a miracle result has to meet the miracle requirement.

The Universal is always true. Everything has a requirement. If you want to buy a mansion, you have to give a big down payment. If you want to go to the best school, your SAT scores have to be high. Everything has a minimum requirement that has to be met. A miracle has a miracle requirement. Prevention has a prevention requirement. To heal a health problem, there is a requirement to heal that problem that has to be met. If we talk about the physical level, everything is about energy. Different conditions require different amounts of energy to heal. Then how much energy can you create? How much energy can you save? People never look at things this way.

Everything goes back to the same principle. The basic principle is this: you use Qigong for what purpose? There’s always purpose. When you are practicing Qigong, what is your purpose? You have to ask yourself: When I am doing this, what is my purpose? Just like you sign up for a membership at a gym. You sign up for a purpose. Is the purpose to look good? Or is the purpose to find a new friend? Or to have a conversation with someone because you feel bored. There can be different purposes. With a different purpose, your effort will be different, and the result will be different.

Why do people sign up to exercise at a gym? That’s more boring! How can you do the treadmill for forty-five minutes? Every day you are running on a machine! It’s much more boring. Think of this concept. The most boring thing is to be willing to allow a machine to train you. Why are you willing to challenge your physical body and not willing to challenge your crazy mind? It’s simple. You have to ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to achieve something on the outside—visible reality—or do you want to challenge your inner peace? It’s all about the purpose. When people ask these kinds of questions, you have to ask what the purpose is. Why do you do this? For what purpose? Once you know the purpose, the question has an answer. Qigong can create a miracle result; however, a miracle result has to meet the miracle requirement. Can you meet this requirement at the body-mind-spirit level?

Also, you have to understand what you are doing when you practice Qigong. You are doing energy exercise. But don’t think of energy exercise—let’s change the model to a business model. Let’s say you are starting a new business. Think of this concept: You start a new business, and this business might help you make tons of money. However, at the end, the profit is based on your expenses, on how much investment you make, and also on how much debt you have. It’s a simple business concept. Right away, people think, O.K., I’m starting to make money. But making money doesn’t mean you have net profit. For net profit, you have to take out your expenses—maybe there’s a loan you owe. If you have a lot of debt, you have to pay it off, so you don’t really have a profit. Maybe the first couple of years of the business you have no profit because you have a lot of debt. This is a simple concept.

When you are doing Qigong, energy exercise, you are building up energy—that’s true—but you also have debt for your own body. You carry a lot of debt. This debt is your original condition and also how off-balance your body is. That’s what you have to deal with. Everybody has debt, just different levels of debt. Why? Because we’re all getting older. “Getting older” means you have some kind of debt. Otherwise, you would be forever young. It’s a simple concept. Also, you have to look at your daily expenses: your emotional expense, your physical expense. That’s energy expense. All of these things you have to look at. The basic thing is you are doing Qigong to build energy. It’s the same thing as a basic business model. This business will help you make money, but you have to look at your skill, how you are running your business, and your business achievement. And in addition, you have to look at how much debt you have.

Then you have to look at how much effort you really put into making energy—to make money in our business model—and try to pay back debt. Look at the money model to understand. Even with the best model of business, you still have to put in the effort; you still have to work hard. Let’s say you have a bagel business. Think about it: Generally speaking, with a bagel business you always see people start early in the morning. At 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. you already have opened the store. You don’t open the store at 10:00 a.m.! With pizza, you can open at 10:00, but a bagel business you have to open earlier. It’s a basic concept. A different kind of business has a different kind of requirement.

With Qigong, a miracle can happen. Yet even Qigong is not the best; God is the best. God has unconditional love. How can Qigong compare to God? How can Qigong compare to the sun, compare to the moon, compare to the ocean? It cannot! They have more power. Why is it, when the full moon is out, you don’t get the total energy of the full moon? It would be much easier. You wouldn’t have to practice; you’d only need to wait for that evening, once a month. It’s the requirement, see? You have to meet the requirement to connect to the moon. Therefore, even though the moon has that kind of power, you wouldn’t get it. The moon, once a month, can make 70 percent of the Earth change: 70 percent of the Earth is ocean—water. The full moon makes the tide change, all the water change, the whole Earth change. With the huge power from the moon to effect water and taking into consideration that your body is around 60 percent water; why don’t you get all that power once a month from the full moon? You do, a little bit. If you were really open, you could increase the amount of energy you could take from the full moon.

At a certain level, it’s not even about debt; it’s about how much you can really open, how much you can meet the requirement of the connection. In essence, it’s the requirement of the connection. If you have a good connection, you can connect to incredible things, and you’ll wipe out all your debt. All you need to find is a good connection. Talk about business, talk about money—it’s nothing to do with how much you can make, it’s about how much you have a good connection. If you connect to a really rich guy, he will pay all the debt, right? One connection—boom!—it’s done. It’s the same concept. The “connection” meaning that at the body-mind-spirit level, you match the requirement 100 percent. That’s it! Then you have a miracle.


Dr. Nan Lu, OMD, LAc, is the founding director of Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation and its sister organization, Tao of Healing, both based in New York City. He is clinical associate professor at the School of Social Welfare, State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Lu holds a doctorate from Hubei College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hubei, China, and is a New York State-licensed acupuncturist. Classically and university trained, he is a master herbalist as well as an internationally recognized Taiji expert and Qigong master, and is a best-selling author of three TCM books published by Harper Collins. Dr. Lu’s specialties include women’s health, cancer and immune system disorders and he frequently partners with doctors of Western medicine using a complementary approach. He advises and lectures extensively on TCM, preventive and integrative medicine and has been an invited speaker at major conferences, including  American Academy of Pain Management, Integrative Symposium, Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, among others. (;; 

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