While most people will have heard about Qi Gong, Nei Gong is still a relatively unknown subject on our side of the planet. Qi Gong, meaning ’energy work’, often refers to various sets of exercises with specific aims—e.g. improving health, developing martial power, etc. As the name implies, Qi Gong works with Qi to achieve its aims. Nei Gong (‘internal work’) has a wider scope than Qi Gong. The most fundamental difference between the two is that Nei Gong does not refer to any specific practices or exercises; nor does it have any predetermined aims. Rather, Nei Gong is a process that works with transforming your inner being. While Qi Gong can be taught through exercises—by telling you how to breathe and move, for instance—Nei Gong requires transmission from an experienced teacher who has been through the process themself.
Nei Gong is essentially a tool to awaken our energy system and take us backwards through the process of creation. Thus, we start working with our acquired mind so we can eventually lead it back to its original or congenital state of being. Classically, Nei Gong was the practice that manifested the philosophy of Daoism into something tangible; as such, it provides strong foundations for other practices like internal martial arts (Nei Jia) and Nei Dan Gong (internal alchemy). If we consider it in terms of how far it can take us on our journey from the acquired to the congenital mind, Nei Gong sits halfway between Qi Gong and Nei Dan Gong. Because it contains various elements from both disciplines, Nei Gong can be tricky to define. Also, the fact that it is a process, rather than a defined practice or set of practices, means that it can be taught in very different ways. In a few words, Nei Gong could be defined as the philosophical art of change.
Nei Gong is taught in a very systematic way within Lotus Nei Gong. Damo Mitchell has put together specific sets of Qi Gong and Dao Yin exercises to take beginners through the early stages of the process. These notably include Ji Ben Qi Gong (fundamentals of energy work) and Dragon Dao Yin (pulling and guiding moving sequences) exercises. By triggering reactions similar to Kriya in Yoga, these exercises help the students clear any major energetic and physical blockages. These energetic exercises are only used as tools to facilitate the Nei Gong process. At more advanced stages, the focus progressively shifts towards standing postures and sitting practices. What distinguishes Lotus Nei Gong from most other schools is the extensive use of transmission to help the students through the process. This is how Daoism was taught traditionally and Lotus Nei Gong is committed to this way of teaching.