Archive for the ‘Nei Gong’ Category

Taoist Meditation Lesson #9, Nei Gong Lesson #1, The path of Inner Alchemy   1 comment

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Announcing NEW Nei Gong Class at Kaunoa Senior Center
Thursdays at 12:30 PM

Nei Gong
Taoist internal qigong. All levels of students can enjoy these simple therapeutic Dao Yin sitting exercises, and learn the secrets of the sages, embryonic breathing, microcosmic orbit, internal alchemy, Taoist Zouwang “sitting and forgetting” meditation. Find an inner peace and openness, freedom from emotions and evaluations, access internal energies, transform your body and your mind.

The Taoist creation story reads like this, first came the One, from the One came the two, and the three, thus were created the “ten thousand things.” To unite with Tao, is the path of return, return to the primordial… From the ten thousand things, find the three, and then the two, then return to the one. Only the One can return to the source of all things.

A long time ago in a land far away, great sages lived long and happy lives. Seeking immortality, many Chinese people have lived to be well over one hundred years of age. One man, Li Ching Yuen, is documented to have lived to the ripe old age of 256 years. There are undoubtedly many such individuals that lived that long before the government started keeping any records. Blessed with herbs, spices, silk, art, and abundant natural resources, the Chinese people had most of their needs met by nature. While Europeans were busy building ships and exploring the world in search of such things, the Chinese devoted their time to the quest for longer lives to enjoy their blessings.

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Li Ching Yuen, the oldest (documented) human known

 

The quest for longevity and even immortality was sort of a national past-time in China. Leading the way in this adventure were the Taoists, although they were not called that in the beginning. Taoism is not so much a product of Chinese thought as Chinese thought is a product of Taoist philosophy. The ancient Taoists were experts in all the sciences, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. They knew that all the really important answers could be found in nature. Living to at least one hundred years of age was considered normal, using herbs, certain diets, Daoyin exercises, meditations, and philosophy, they developed longevity techniques that have not been improved upon by any modern science.

Modern science sometimes seems to be used against us, by deceit and unethical people, for example the United States government still recommends an unhealthy diet that was forced upon us by politicians. There is no money in giving people free information that can extend their lives. Instead, pharmaceutical companies can sell you a pill, and the government tries to force doctors to deceive patients as they often are unwitting accomplices plied by “scientific evidence”.

Modern humans, it seems need to look elsewhere for their health; heal thyself. The best place to start would be to go back in time to before the days of chemicals and agriculture, a time when we lived long healthy lives. Living close to nature is the Taoist ideal. If you could live in such a way, you would wake at dawn, sleep at night, eat a natural diet of real food, and spend time meditating, and doing moderate exercise.

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Taoist health and medical practices and inventions, such as Qigong, Herbal medicine, Tui Na massage, and Acupuncture, are the four branches of traditional Chinese medicine. Longevity is so much more than “health and medicine” however, yet unfortunately that is the mind-set in western societies. I dare say, you cannot live to be over 100 years old with just health and medicine. It takes something more, another level of health, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Most of the suffering I see is caused by emotional excess and this leads to mental instability, and when the mind and emotions are in turmoil, your spirit suffers. When these things happen, and it may or may not make you “sick,” but you will live a shorter, less happy life. Being angry, always evaluating every situation to the point of emotionality, holding resentment for supposed past wrongs, and over-thinking, all lead to hidden stress that shorten your life on Earth.

If there was a philosophy, where you would stop judging others and yourself, allowing you to enjoy the beauty around you, and if you could avoid the thinking/feeling/reacting feed-back loop that leads to slow self destruction,  if you could learn to forget, you could share your gifts with all the world.

If there was a way of viewing yourself as a divine creation of Heaven and Earth, and to visualize nature’s grand design, you could see how your hormones, emotions and mind can combine to jerk you into altered states or take your spirit to heaven while your’re still in your body!

If you could eat a healthy natural diet full of healthy fats and low carb vegetables, avoiding grains, and getting the right amount of protein and 8 hours of restful sleep, your mind would be clear of the glucose induced brain fog, and your liver would be free of toxins, and your moods stable.

If you could do simple enjoyable exercises that tone your internal organs as well as the “superficial body,” you would be making neural transmitters and life sustaining hormones. If you could find and open all the areas that hold stuck energy, and open the blockages on your spine, you could open the path to the spirit as well as lower your blood pressure without raising your heart rate.

What if you could let go of your own mind, perhaps you could comprehend all things…

Welcome to Inner Alchemy, the ancient tradition of Nei Gong. Start by laying a foundation of Dao yin exercises, focused breathing and building your body’s internal medicines such as hormones. Then you could see how you are connected on the inside, energetically, from the bottom where your earth nature dwells and hormonal chemistry supports your basic essence. Learn to connect the energy centers from bottom to the top. At the heart center, where we have our heart-mind, emotions and such, there are mechanisms that can control our hormones and neural transmitters. Learn to feel the energy that connects the lower regions with the brain, your spirit center.

There can be no direct explanation of where we end up. That is the great mystery of all mysteries. Developing coping strategies for life will help us lead a longer happier life; these same skills give us the patience that allow us to appreciate all of life and prepares us for the unknown.

Nei Gong is a way of life to guide you back to the source of creation, and yet it is very simple. It is a progressive transformation that is totally natural, and if followed with vigor and passion you may attain Tao itself.

The great Taoist sage Lao Tzu said, “My way is simple, but no one can follow it”.

Imagine returning to a place free of thought, free of bodily pain and emotions. Floating in the womb of the great mother, an embryo, adrift in time upon and endless sea, One with all of creation; a place of infinite possibilities and peace.

Copyright Cory Williams 2017

Get a grip on reality, read “Nature is Reason”

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #8 Heavenly Sojourn   Leave a comment

Connecting the planets

Completing the Small Circle

In the previous lesson, I outlined the basic idea of the Small Circle or Microcosmic Orbit meditation.  Learning to connect your internal solar system will give you much insight into your internal energy. The last lesson leads you through a series of points in your energy system. The point was to bring qi down from the minds eye to the perineum at the bottom of the torso. This involves bringing your awareness to each point along the way for a sufficient length of time that you can feel it at each point before moving to the next one, Basically you were learning the “Yin path“, the downward, relaxing, nurturing and frankly the easy path of energy flow.

If you have become adept at this skill, you are ready to learn the other half of the process, bringing energy up the “Yang path”.  I hope that you noticed how the energy “wants” to flow down the yin path almost as if gravity were pulling it there and in a way, it is. Just to be real about it, there is a mechanical reason for this. By sequentially relaxing downward, your body is allowing blood and lymph as well as the flesh to sag and drain downward towards the earth. Keeping your back straight while this is happening aids the flow by assuring that all the necessary passageways remain open to that flow; slouching or having any misalignment or muscle tension will interfere with this process.

The yin path starts at the tip of the tongue and descends through the tongue, past the thyroid, thymus, heart, solar plexus, dantian, sperm (ovarian) palace, and ends at the perineum. Purists might know that the “Ren” channel ends, and the “Tu” channel starts at the ovarian palace, but the Tu channel “emerges” at the perineum and that is why I start there. These eight places are one-half of the microcosmic orbit, the other seven points are the topic of this article, the “Yang Path“.

In my method, the “Yang Path”  starts just under the skin at the perineum but it is at the coccyx or tailbone where it moves up to the “Ming Men”, gate of life  located just below where the thoracic spine joins with the lumbar spine. It then goes up along the tendons covering the spine, past the kidneys and adrenal glands. From there the path goes between the shoulders at the “Shen Dao”, the path to the spirit, opposite the heart center on the spine i.e.. the third thoracic vertebra near to the thoracic/cervical junction. The next place of wonderment is called “Da Zhui”, the great hammer. Da Zhui is about the C-7, the thoracic/cervical junction, on the spine opposite the throat. From this point, the qi moves upward, goes past the “Jade Pillow” at the top of the spine joining the skull and moves over the skull, up to the Crown Point, and then terminates at the palate just under the minds eye.

When you have completed the yin path and are completely relaxed and all the energy has drained into your hips and pelvis it will coalesce near the premium. You are now ready to bring qi up the spine and recycle the energy via the “Yang path”.

This is a new skill and it can be confusing depending on how you interpret what you are doing in the moment. Just to clarify that statement, some teachers will tell you to “pull the qi to the tail bone using your anus and collect it there“. I would say this too, but invariably pulling and pushing qi up the back channel is not the most effective way to do it, in my opinion. It does work, and you can get started doing it this way and yet if there was an easier way, you might want to try it.

Just tuning the breath and “listening” you may be able to sense the energy moving thought the small circle, that would be very nice indeed. Just sitting quietly and observing the energy flow is fantastic. I would say that is a high achievement. “Moving” qi through the circulation is controlling it. Both are valid and have different applications, for example I like to move qi through the body with my mind so that I can learn how to feel it moving when I’m not moving it!

Before any practice I recommend Tuning the Breath

I recommend that you start to access the back channel (yang path) by first starting at the Crown Point. Just lift up on the Crown Point and feel the head lifting off the shoulders and the spine lengthening and this will pull the tailbone into a vertical alignment, which also opens the pathway at the rear of the anus towards the back. Ah, see now the whole channel is open and now you can pull the energy to the anus and it will be sucked up the spine all the way to the top!  In the beginning, you may still need to coax it up by using your breath and muscle contractions, but as you get better at it, you can reduce the effort and concentration that you apply and spend more time enjoying the results. Each time the qi is at the bottom (Hui yin), open the crown, and allow the qi free access to the top.

From the bottom of the torso, pull up the PC Muscle (this muscle runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone) and you will feel a rush of energy there; this is a simple way of developing perineum power.  This is when you want to gently pull up around the anus and feel the energy go around the anal sphincter muscle to the rear of the anus. The energy is now at the tip of the tailbone. Learn to feel your internal musculature here and you can very gently contract the muscles there and actually create a wave of qi that will move up the sacrum to the lumbar spine and it will collect at the top of the lumbar region at a place known as the “Gate of Life”.

Bring qi up the Du Meridian

It may take a few tries to do this but keep at it and soon you will feel qi gathering at the Ming Men. You may need to rock your hips slightly to open the lower gate, this will help avoid stuck energy there.  Some say it is like “sipping through a straw” each time you take a breath the energy descends some being pulled back up on the next breath. By using a combination of first pulling the spine up from the top, and then going through a series of muscular contractions and breaths you can apply mental energy to move the qi up, up, and up…

Over time, you will feel the energy moving up through the kidneys, and the Shen Dao,  Da Zhui, through the jade pillow and up to the crown.  When you get used to bringing the energy to the Ming Men you will find it has enough inertia to just rather shoot up through the other points.  The yang path may flow fast as the qi rushes up to the top or, hopefully in a more controlled way. This can be a beautiful and rewarding release of energy that can thrill you when you feel it. Remain calm, and enjoy this energy release as you might enjoy a sexual energy release as it its related to that same feeling.  This is also do to the Chong Mai or thrusting vessel (that is another story) that runs deeper directly through the center of your spine.  Once you get used to these types of experiences you may never be the same again, you are gaining control over your energy.

I would not try to analyze this or focus on each individual point on the back channel at this point in your training. These skills can take awhile to acquire, and unless you have been doing this for some length of time, it may be meaningless for you to get too esoteric about it. It is not how much you know, or think you know about “meridians” and all that, what really matters is that you practice often and you keep it simple.

Many of these spine points can be blocked by accumulated postural  stress and may require qigong movements to open them, particularly prone to being blocked are the Shen Dao and Da Zhui. Come to class, or find a good teacher in your area for help with these two places. You do not want a blockage in “the path to the spirit”!

Even though you can now complete the circle, you are still just at the beginning of a new journey. Do not be in a rush, just work on these new skills for a while and get good at “circulating the microcosmic orbit”. You will find that as you get to know this skill you will be able to use this all the time, like when you are doing sitting or standing meditation or while doing moving soft qigong, or Taiji or even use this skill during sex. This is a start of a new level of qigong training, truly “going internal”.  While all forms of qigong training effect you internally, learning the small circle is the beginning of what we call “nei gong”. You are now moving into a higher level of meditation, where meditation and qigong come together and move your mind and body into the realm of pure energy, yet another step on the path of “Spiritual Alchemy”.

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Qigong Lesson #5 Harmonizing Yin and Yang   Leave a comment

This is Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do Symbol                                          “Using no way as way” & “Having no limitation as limitation”. The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin

The focus of the last qigong lesson was to introduce the properties of Yin and Yang in the human energy system as it pertains to Qigong practice.  One of the first things qigong students learn is the difference between the way yin and yang manifest during practice. This basic understanding is the starting point to getting to know your energy. Eventually this awareness of yin and yang will be discerned in all of your energy systems.

There are many different “energy systems” in the human being and all of them have yin and yang elements. For example in basic qigong practice the most obvious energy system in the physical body are things like muscles and bones; pneumatic (breath) and hydraulic (blood and lymph) but there are others such as mental, emotional, spiritual, electrical (nervous), and chemical, like hormones and neurotransmitters.

The reality of life is there are no absolutes; energies are always in ebb and flow.  In the last lesson I used a diagram showing the separation of yin and yang, this is only to get a basic understanding of the rise and fall of the energy; this symbol could be called Yin AND Yang. The Taiji symbol is sometimes called the Yin/Yang diagram. Do see the difference between the two? Yin and Yang or Yin/Yang, the difference is the first one defines yin and yang as distinctly different and separate things; the second one shows the harmony between the two.

In the title to my web site, I say “Balance and Harmony for a better life.” Balance and harmony is a common phrase; some people reverse the two words however saying “harmony and balance.”  To my mind though, you need balance before you can have harmony.  This is an important point for you to realize in your training as qigong and Taiji works on us to first balance our energy so that we can harmonize with reality. Again this is true whether we are talking about emotions or our bodies…. For example, if we have balanced emotions then we can harmonize with others.

Harmony is what we get when we have all our energy systems working together in a synergistic way. Synergy is a good word, it is when the sum is greater than the parts; you know, sort of like one plus one equals three.  Now while some of our energies may be “Yang” there will be others that will be “Yin.”  For example, my mind may be yin while my body is yang, while at the same time my legs may be yang while my arms may be yin and my emotions could be yin while my spirit is yang!

Yet it all works together in harmony. When the thinking mind is softened and yin, the spirit fills with energy and could be considered yang. When I am moving my body upward there is energy coming up from my legs which could be considered yang at that moment yet I keep my hands soft (with my mind) making them effectively yin. Yang leads and yin nurtures. For example my intention (yang) tells my body to relax (yin) the relaxed body attracts energy to flow into it, yang.  Lets say for example, the energy (in the form of blood pressure) is down in the legs, (yang) then, when we relax the hands (yin) the energy will flow into them, and back and forth filling and emptying.

While doing qigong notice how you can control the flow of energy when doing the movements by sequentially relaxing and expanding. As you are alternately flexing and relaxing different groups of muscles, you can lead the qi through your body. Remember, the energy wants to flow into emptiness just as electricity seeks a ground or water (and air) flows from high pressure towards low pressure.  In the great source book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu tells us, “The sage leads by following, by putting himself beneath others they all flow towards him.”  Can you see how the philosophy of Taoism teaches us how to be better people?

Learning to be both yin and yang at the same time (yin/yang) is like bringing together the two halves of who you are. We all have yin and yang elements in play in every part of who we are. Proper qigong and Taiji is all about learning to first balance our energies and then to harmonize all these different energies so that we can find the reality that we need not be so polarized in life as to lose sight of the “big picture”

Like two horses…. The mare and the stallion, named yin and yang…
The stallion leads the way with the nurturing mare just behind him, giving him encouragement and moral support. She wants him to lead, and he enjoys doing the hard work of blazing the trail and such. The clever mare knows how to get him to lead where she wants to go by using her soft nurturing way, and he is glad to go where she wants him to. The two move in harmony due to the balance of their complementary energies.

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Taoist Meditation Lesson #7 Finding Heaven   Leave a comment

“The sage sees the universe without going out the door”

 

Small Heavenly Circle (Microcosmic Orbit) Meditation Part #1

Attaining Tao is to merge with the wonders of heaven. In the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao”. What he is saying is the greatest of all things is beyond words, and once we attempt to name it we have defined the indefinable, which obviously is not going to work.  So then, how do we merge with the undifferentiated source of all things? Simple, start by just letting go of your desire to be or do anything and focus your energy into heaven.

If you have read the six prior lessons on Taoist meditation basics and practices and if you have actually tried some of these techniques then it is time to expand your horizons. Be sure to read Tuning the Breath as well.

I hope by now you have had some success with staying “in the moment” and have learned to use some of these tools to dissolve your mind into your body. Learning to control your thoughts is the basic methodology to allow your energy to find a higher calling. In this article, I will give you a little piece of treasure, another tool for your meditation that will help you reach a higher state of consciousness.

Much has been written about the “Small Heavenly Circle” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” meditation; a simple Google search will give you over 5,000 results.  I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here, (pun intended) but instead I will give you my method.  This method of meditation takes the practitioner on an inward journey along the superhighway of energy that predominates within the human body.  My method is a straightforward and simple way to start exploring the universe within.

On the inward journey, the first things we learned were to dissolve our thoughts and get in touch with our energy, something you are getting skilled at if you have been doing the lessons so far. Now I am going to explain how to circulate that energy within your body.

We start with a basic energy circuit that runs up and down the torso in a circular path just under the surface of the skin; this path is called the “Small Circle.”  The vessels and meridians in your body that carry the qi are usually along high conductivity tissue such as tendons  and sometimes muscles. The centerline of both the front and back of our torso is mostly tendons, and this is a good conductor for the qi to flow within.  Learning to follow this path is a major step to moving even deeper into your body, and will give you more insight into the universe within you. My method starts with identifying the two major pathways of energy (that connect into a circle) by defining 15 points along the way. Like planets in a galaxy, we will travel to each one, picking up provisions along the way.  As we get to know each “planet” we will gain an understanding of our inner workings, this is the “Sage seeing the universe with out going out the door”

The two main paths have many names and energy can be moved in a variety of ways. In this beginning technique, we are going to follow the natural flow of energy down the front and up the back. For now, just think of them as Yin and Yang.  The “Yang path” starts at the perineum and then the base of the spine, continues up and over the crown of the head, and ends at the pallet. The “Yin path” starts at the tip of the tongue and flows down the front of your body and ends at the perineum at the bottom of your torso. Technically the “Ren” channel ends at the ovarian palace but since the connecting “Tu” channel emerges at the perineum I start there. Again, there are many resources available online for your perusal. Here I want to give you my method of navigating this “orbit.”

First, let me name, locate, and describe each “planet” along the orbit. Since we have to start somewhere, I start from that place where you “see things” when you close your eyes, a place between the eyebrows that is sometimes called “the minds eye.”

There are many more than these 16 points (that are really bigger than “points” that is why I think of them as “planets“) but I like to keep things simple. Picking these 16 allows us to be clear about each one and later we will apply a breathing technique to help propel your “spaceship” to each “planet”.   As your awareness grows you will feel and communicate with many more places than I have put on this list.  For example, between numbers  8, 9 &10 there are 2 others, the anus for instance, which is actually 6  in itself, front, back, each side, the center and the outer muscle!

My list of 16 celestial destinations within:

Classic texts would have you start at the Dan Tian and “contemplate your navel” for “as long as it takes to feel the qi there“.  I will not refute this method but there are alternatives. While this skill is admirable, I think we get the point; moving on from there, I believe spending a few minutes at each point is a better way to learn this orbit. Of course take as long as you want to explore each world, again the “classics” say to spend as long as a couple of months on each point until you can send your awareness and feel your qi there.

Once you have “opened the channel”, you will notice the qi moves rather quickly around the orbit. I usually do not need to linger long at each place at this point in my training and because I am not writing a book here, think of this as a quick tour through the planets,

The Mind’s Eye (behind your forehead)
The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet)
The Throat, (thyroid gland)
Thymus gland
The Heart
The Solar Plexus
The Dan Tian (just one inch below the navel)
The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel)
The Hui Yin (the perineum)
The Tip of the Tail Bone
The Gate of Life (on the spine opposite the Dan Tien)
The Kidneys and Adrenals (on the spine opposite the Solar Plexus)
The Shen Dao, Between the Shoulders (opposite the Heart)
The Da Zhui, at the C-7
The Jade Pillow (at the base of the skull)
The Bai Hui or Crown Point (at the top of the head)

My planetary journey starts where I already am…

Sit and tune the breath,

Bring your awareness to,

1.    The Minds Eye (behind your forehead); Starting where your mind is already is a good place to start. When you close your eyes, you will “see” or rather “observe” energy actively moving about. Then just let the awareness sink down trough the Yin Path….

2.    The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet); When I put my awareness here I feel saliva welling up from the bottom of my mouth and pooling around the base of my tongue encouraging me to swallow.

3.    The Throat; This spot sends the flow downward along the yin channel. Here lies the thyroid gland a tiny little gland that controls the rates of regeneration for your entire body.

4.   The Thymus gland is a very sensitive gland that is an emotional regulator, sensing the heart and breathing rates, etc.

5.     The Heart; When my mind travels here I feel my heart moving a little bit, not so much an increase in speed, but sort of a warm gentle thumping.

6.    The Solar Plexus; This is a major nerve gathering center in your chest, at this location I feel a lump that seems to radiate out in all directions.

7.    The (Lower) Dan Tian (one inch below the navel); This is the home planet for your Qi. When qi gets stuck in your head (Upper Dan tian) it can cause rampant thinking, when the qi is at your Thymus or Solar Plexus, (in the middle Dan tian), you might feel emotional, but when the qi is here it will feel at home. After my first few years of practice, I began to feel a rotational sensation here.

8.    The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel); This space is connected to all of your glandular systems and placing my mind here, brings me a sense of being connected internally.

9.    The Hui Yin (the perineum); When here, I feel a pulsing feeling as though there is a warm current flowing through my perineum moving towards the back of my body. This is the bottom of the torso and it is full of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The Hui Yin is sort of the launching pad for the next part of the orbit, the Yang path.

To keep things simple just do this for now…

First Tune your Breath and then just work on putting your awareness on each spot until you notice it; just like when you were using your hands; remember, “listening” for the tingling sensation there? If not re-read the other lessons. The point is, if you can send the energy to your hands it is a logical step to move to these orbit spots here. Just do this a little bit and see if you can feel the flow of energy coming down from your head to your perineum.

In the next lesson, I will lead you through the rest of the orbit.

Soon you will see that Taoist meditation and internal qigong are similar. You are now starting to learn the fine art of “Nei Gong” or “internal qigong”

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Qigong Lesson #4 Discerning Two Qis   2 comments

Yin AND Yang separated

In the first three lessons, I discussed how we align our physical bodies with the forces of Heaven and Earth. This lesson is about learning the difference between the two main aspects of our Qi using the concept of Yin and Yang.

Realize that there are two major forces acting upon us at all times, the first and most obvious is the force of gravity, we all understand what that is. There is however another, balancing force in play as well, that of centrifugal force.  As the earth spins at about 6000 miles per hour trying to throw us off it, we are at the same time held fast by gravity. (Physicists would disagree,  but I’m just illustrating a point)  In another way of viewing it (the Taoist way), we are suspended between the two forces of Heaven and Earth.

Think of “Earth” as the pull of gravity, pulling directly towards the center of the planet. Know it is Yin and, elemental, sinking and compressing downward, everything heavier than air flows towards it. The only way we know which way is up is because we know which way is down!

Think of “Heaven” as that centrifugal force that is lifting us directly away from the center of the Earth; in Qigong parlance, “the golden thread from Heaven” this force is Yang, and ethereal. Lifting and expanding upwards, everything lighter than air, including electrical energy floats weightlessly.

Beginners on the way of Qigong first learn to feel and understand these two different aspects of energy, adepts move beyond the understanding of discerning yin and yang to get to a point where they harmonize yin/yang.

To better learn how to feel Yin and Yang, consider two main types of qi, Yeng qi and Wei qi. Yeng qi is all that stuff that sinks down through our bodies as we relax and let it sink, things like blood, lymph, muscles, organs, a thick viscous downward flow of all our soft tissue.
Think of Wei qi as all that stuff that floats like our electrical signals our nervous system releasing neutral density neurotransmitters into our system like endorphins… our emptied muscles and bones and our breath.

After you understand this concept, you are ready to apply the knowledge to Qigong exercise.

When you relax your body, the blood and lymph and all the soft tissues sink lower into your body; this is the Yeng qi sinking. As this material sinks down, the blood filters through the lymph nodes, and the fascia tissues relax and a curious event occurs. The Wei qi is displaced and it rises up giving you a buoyant feeling. The more you can sink and relax downward, the more you can expand and feel buoyant going upwards.

You are learning to flow all the Earth (Yin) elements (Yeng qi) downward causing the complimentary effect of all the heavenly (Yang) elements (Wei qi) to rise and expand. These dynamics act like an energy pump, sinking down stimulating a return to an upright posture, you are learning to discern Yin and Yang: a major milestone on the qigong path.

More Here: Qigong Lesson #5

 

Qigong Lesson #3 Exploring Wuji   4 comments

One of over 8000 thousand life-size Terracotta Warriors standing strong for over two thousand years

Zhan Zhuang “Standing like a post” Standing Meditation

Standing builds structural integrity in your physique, calms the mind and emotions and it provides a foundation for internal qigong work known as “nei gong”.

As you are learning to connect with your internal energy, many new and intriguing adventures will open up to your awareness.  In fact, awareness is the primary connection that you make as the path unfolds before you.

You can reach your health goals whatever they may be, whether they are physical health, as in posture, flexibility, balance or general strengthening or mental goals such as, improved memory, freedom from excessive thoughts or disordered thinking, or perhaps emotional goals like curing frustration, mania, anger, fear, grief, worry, depression or whatever else.

The one common denominator in almost all ailments is unbalanced energy within you. Even the most devastating illnesses often have their roots in basic problems with your personal energy and many are therefore preventable. Balancing our energies is the goal of all traditional Chinese medicine and Qigong is a basic part of TCM.

In the first two Qigong “lessons” here on this blog, I outlined the first skill you should master, Wuji. As the name implies Wuji is a starting point and it is where we begin all qigong exercises and the Taiji forms, yet there is a whole genre of “Wuji training” that can be explored.

Standing is sometimes called zhan zhuang, which means “standing like a post”, or referred to as standing meditation; it is in fact an excellent qigong exercise all by itself. There are no real ”forms“ per se, instead individual postures are sustained for a length of time as necessary.

The main goal here is to balance out our internal energy by standing still, however stilling your body often encourages thinking to arise; sometimes the thinking can become overwhelming.  Redirect your thoughts into becoming aware of the 12 points outlined in the last lesson and only allow your thoughts to go through the “postural check list”.

Another technique to stop unnecessary thinking, is to simply count your breaths; paying attention to the air moving in and out as you do. When you find yourself caught up in a daydream, just start over with the alignment and then find your way back to your breathing; in this way you will learn to dissolve your  mind and body together.

After we still our bodies, and refocus our thinking, errant energy tends to go into the emotions.  This can be very annoying as thoughts and emotions are linked, often emotional thoughts like: “I feel dumb standing here”, “What are others thinking about me seeing me standing here?”, or “Am I wasting my time standing here?”  Any excuse we can dream up to release us from learning about our true selves seems like a good enough reason to stop our training. Just go back through the same routine and you will find these emotions subside.

While standing in a posture, there are many other techniques that you may apply, such as various breathing practices and a whole host of higher-level skills known as “nei gong“. These skills will be explained in future articles about that topic but the first step into that whole universe of qigong arts starts with zhan zhuang.

To perform zhan zhuang all you need to do is stand, correctly of course, in any one of numerous postures. To avoid an emotional reason to give up, commit before hand to doing zhan zhuang for a certain length of time, say 10 or 15 minutes. You may stand in Wuji, or pick some postures from the Taiji form.  In the beginning I recommend you attempt at least three minutes in each posture, that way you will not get bored so that during the 15 minutes you could manage five postures. Serious zhan zhuang practitioners may stand for up to an hour in one or two postures!

In coming lessons, I will show you some postures that can be used in addition to the ones you are learning as part of a Taiji class. Who knew that by just standing you could accomplish so much without knowing any forms?

Stand strong and you will develop good balance, strength, and energy.

Copyright Cory Williams 2010

More here: Qigong Lesson #4

Taoist Meditation Lesson #5 (Practice Part 2)   2 comments

The Cat's Eye Nebula

First no form. Then form. Then no form…….

In the first three articles on basics and the first article on practice, I laid out the foundation for our actual cultivation procedures. Please read these previous articles until the concept of “dissolving the mind into the body” makes sense to you.  Keeping in mind, we are on an inward journey when we do Taoist meditation.

We pass from an external-centric universe to an internal one.  Along the way, we go through different layers of ourselves.  From a completely external world, through the body and mind, revealing our emotions and ultimately our spiritual center. From that perspective, we continue back through the layers and return to the external.

Always remember we are working with energy and when we do so we need to adhere to basic energetic principles. Also, know as we move inward we encounter different energies at each layer each combining and adding to the previous energies.  I am talking about quantum physics here. As we move inward and the energy level increases, it requires more training to control it.

The first step in the actual process of the “Transformational Tao of spiritual alchemy” is a basic understanding of what we are going to do… so up until now we have been looking at a kind of map of our journey.  On the path, so far you could say we have “opened the door” now it is time to step through it.

First, we need to align and relax our physical bodies. Next, we train an awareness of our energy allowing it to permeate the entire body. We start externally and as we become more aware, we move internally, melting away the boundaries between the layers as we progress.

When this is completed, we achieve a freedom from our bodies.  By utilizing our minds to become aware of the energy within us, we meld the two together essentially dissolving the mind into the body.  After we acquire this skill, we are able to get freedom from our thoughts as well.

Before starting, I suggest you Tune your Breath

Stand or sit in proper wuji, focus initially on your alignments.

After you are aligned and relaxed, close you eyes and let your arms hang down at your sides. Bring your awareness to your hands.  Just notice that you actually have hands….become aware of each finger or pairs of fingers one at a time. Just do this for a couple of minutes. Let them fill with blood and energy and feel them tingle.

In your mind’s eye, have an image of yourself standing or sitting there.  An image of you aligned to perfection, symmetrical and relaxed.

The only imagery we use in the Taoist method is that of reality.
Your “energy you” is a projection of your energy, that is what we see here. Now out of the corner of your mind’s eye notice your hands. As though you can actually see them, and as you do feel the tingling sensation therein.

This tingling sensation of energy is a manifestation of the only thing of any real importance that you have. Work on getting in touch with the pureness of your energy. Repeat this process until you can restrict your thoughts and body movements to the method outlined above.

This is the first step to dissolving your mind and body together, a skill known as sublimation.  Just work on this for now… do not think of “stuff”, do not allow imagery to invade your mind’s eye.

Eventually we will even dissolve away the image of yourself as separate from the energy that creates you…anything but pure energy is just an illusion….

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