Archive for the ‘meditation’ Tag

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.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Nothing means anything… You do not “know” anything…   3 comments

To be real we must get over our perceptions that we know things. Knowing, in a way is prejudice, when we think we know something we shut down our awareness and stop being open to the moment.

Who we are changes each moment… we exist as a being not just in a physical form but as an entity in time, the moment by moment perception of reality defines who we are.

As such “who we are” is always in flux if we are always sensitive to the changing circumstances. Whenever I am fixed in my perception of who I am, I forget to take every situation as is comes to me. For example if I perceive myself as a “teacher” then I will act out by trying to educate…..  If I perceive myself as being “helpful” then I will act out by thinking I am above a situation.

I often hear people say……”I help people”  but this in effect is coming from a place that says…..”I am better than the people that I perceive as needing help”

Or for example “I teach” … In reality, no one teaches anymore than the student’s capacity to learn…and so learning is a higher skill than teaching. In this regard the student only “learns” what he wants to from a given experience, the teacher only shows the student whatever the “teacher” thinks is important coming from the teachers perspective.

When a person thinks they are teaching they are putting what they do above the student who is actually doing the work of “learning”.  After all, it is the learning that is important, not the teaching.

Thinking that things “mean something” disrespects the spirit of the moment in that if we are always learning then we must be open to the possibility that maybe “it” means something else…..Every moment has different possibilities. Getting over our perception that somehow we “know“ the meaning of something is a way to finding harmony in a new reality of infinite possibility.

These concepts are a subtle learning we get from Taiji practice. Indeed, it is somewhat arrogant to always be so sure we know what something means.  When we are so sure we know something, we show our lack of understanding that “things are not always what they seem”.

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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Taoist Meditation Lesson #6 (Practice Part 3)   3 comments

 

Orion Nebula, the energy of the universe

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

In this third article on this subject I suggest you re-read the other three to provide a segue into this one and so, if you have been following along with all the meditation lessons, this would be the sixth one so far.

Now if you will just close your eyes… right now just for a few seconds…

Tell me, what did you see? Try again and do it for a little longer.

Since you cannot tell me, let me guess, you see little flickers of light, sort of like when the TV is between stations, or swirling fluid like colors as in a gaseous star cloud in space. Am I right?  Well, what you are really seeing is your energy, the energy of the universe that has been embedded in you. If I were a religious man, I would say, “That’s God talking to you”.

Now try this experiment again, this time keep your eyes closed longer, say, for a minute. Now what did you see? I hope that you saw more of the same, but most likely, some image made itself manifest there in your mind’s eye, or you were caught up in a daydream. That was your mind talking to you.

In our practice up until now, we have been talking a lot about dissolving your mind into your body, so you can dissolve your body into energy and thus send the energy deeper into your center where it can strengthen your spirit. The methods I showed you in the last lesson were about moving in that direction, remember we started with the hands and I said you could also use an image of yourself, something called the “energy body” this is a tool to help you learn to stay in the “now moment”.

When you are using the mind in this way, learning to stay in the now, there is a short length of time spent moving your energy inward. Somewhere between a few seconds and ten minutes, you are switching modes of energy application.  Inevitably, thoughts will arise, this is expected and is very normal, but if you have read the prior lessons, you know that these are illusions. Just take a step back, mentally, and see that for what it is and go back to the most important thing there is …little flickers of light, sort of like when the TV is between stations, or swirling fluid like colors as in a gaseous star cloud in space…. Your energy.

Your goal, if you need one, is to just sit quietly and stay with your energy. Go back to the hands and the body if you need too, or look through the illusions as though they are like a digital image that you can zoom in on until they are pixilated and so dissolved back into the energy from which they came from.

Step back from “images” of any kind, as soon as your mind forms an “Image” you are being taken away from your energy. In time, and with discernment, you will see the truth about what your mind is trying to do to you, but you will conquer it and take control of your life. You may see some upsetting things about yourself, listen, learn, but don’t get caught up in them.  Just go back to the energy as if you found yourself watching an old movie that you decide not to watch and just change the channel back to your new favorite one…energy.

There is nothing that can compare to the blissful feeling of staying free from those thoughts and images. The energy itself is a compelling show to follow; there is no greater image or thought in the entire universe as unadulterated energy. By allowing your mind to escape from all the illusions that have been fooling you for so long, you will find the truth, the truth that You are Energy.

In time, the truth will set you free.

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Understanding Reality, Being a “Real Human”   1 comment

The Universe

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

If you only learned to meditate, it would be the most valuable experience of your life.  To gain understanding, a wordless gift of knowing that you’ve always had, but haven’t used is a profound thing indeed. I am paraphrasing Roy Masters work “Be still and Know” and yet there is so much more going on when we do qigong.

By combining physical exercise and meditation, we gain more than can be had by just “exercising” or “meditating”.  The synergy is further enhanced by the other attributes of qigong, like the way we exercise, opening up the joints, and skeletal system and the sequential opening and closing of the muscles and energy pathways within our bodies.  There is really no other “exercise” like qigong; in my opinion there is no better exercise, and yet it is so much more.

Dissolving your mind and body using qigong also has a calming and strengthening effect on our emotions as well.  To liberate your mind from the emotional prison that has kept the real you locked up without your knowledge is not an insignificant gain!

The understanding gained from proper practice gives insight to all things. The meaning of the quote from the “Tao Te Ching” written above is this: Within everyone, there are elements of all things; a celestial world, we are a microcosm of the universe. Every atom is like a minute solar system, all our cells are virtual galaxies, and our consciousness is like God, indeed, if you can truly know yourself, then you can understand the whole universe.

I often wonder what if we all could expand our understanding in this way.  Yet it was once the normal way for humans. Our convoluted lives have dulled our sense of reality; learning to get in touch with our true objective self is to understand a separate reality, a primordial knowledge that is the “Way” we were intended to be….. Freedom from contrivance, like an un-carved block of wood, becoming what Nature (God?) intended for us.

If you have a goal in life, make it to be a fully integrated human being by being balanced in each realm of human functioning. Don’t be a “spiritual person” or an “intellectual”, and do not be a slave to your emotions and don’t ignore or indulge them. Stop always seeking physical gratification or obsessing about your body.  To be a “Real Human” you need to be in control of all of these things.

Balancing all these separate things naturally into one universe is, for me…..The Way, Taiji the “Supreme Ultimate” and qigong is the path to the Way….. The Way to divinity, to freedom, to perfect health, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

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