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    According to Taoist and Buddhist philosophies, pain and suffering are inherent in the human condition. Buddhists say birth, old age and death are the main causes of pain and suffering, and the root is based in ignorance, attachment or greed, and anger or hatred, and the ultimate root is ignorance.  If this is thoroughly considered, it can be found to be true: as they say ignorance of the law is no defense, and so it is with our bodies.  If we are ignorant of the laws of physiology, and we don't take care of our health properly because of that, then we will suffer and look for superficial remedies.  Attachment to that which we like can cause emotional as well as physical pain: fear of losing that which we love, over-eating out of greedy desire for that chocolate dessert also cause sickness. Excessive emotions cause chemical imbalances or lead to poor health habits which lead to nutritional and ultimately chemical imbalances.

 The Taoists developed a system of health based on living harmoniously with the cycles of nature.  The early practitioners developed the idea of the Immortals: beings who were said to attain extreme longevity and health through 'self - cultivation.' Taoist cultivation includes proper diet, lifestyle and exercises called 'qi gong.' Qi gong simply means 'energy discipline.' It is the development of a wide range of exercises that can be performed standing, sitting, moving, or lying down, but all have 3 aspects in common: posture, breath and attention.   


In qi gong, the body is considered an antennae, so posture is important. If you consider what posture represents, how well the structures of the body can perform their functions, then it makes sense that correct posture is essential to any exercise.  Depending on what one is trying to cultivate, postures vary greatly. In order to rejuvenate and conserve energy, exercises are performed sitting or lying down, or moving in specific ways. More active and upright postures increase mental alertness and kinetic energy.


Just as specific postures influence the way our body operates and what we want to achieve with qi gong, so does breath. Very simply, breath can be influence us to energize or to relax, to expel excessive nervousness or emotion, or to consolidate and build.


 What we focus our awareness on is primary to achieving our outcome with qi gong.  We set our intention before we begin an exercise. We do this somewhat unconsiously anyway when we exercise. If our intention is to build strenght, we know this as we choose the exercises for our workout.  However, if we then let our minds wander and rehash events of the day, we are less focused and more likely to injure ourselves during our workout. 
The attention and intention in qi gong is quite meditative in order to maximize the results of the exercises, which can be very short in duration.