Iron Shirt and Golden Bell Qi Gong from a Psionics Perspective; 'Intended Constant Bodily Functioning in a Dynamic State'
Practitioners of the Qigong styles Iron Shirt and Golden Bell are highly skilled in metaphysical methods of bodily protection and increasing bodily attributes in a beneficial way. These styles of qigong were developed over the many, many years and have reached a complex and fully developed level. As proponents of the Dyamic Psi paradigm we understand the nature of the soul, the universe, and the energy in a different manner and believe that these qigong practices can be understood differently and improved upon under the dynamic psi paradigm. In this article the concepts and practices behind Iron Shirt and Golden Bell Qigong will be discussed after which the Dynamic Psi interpretation will be considered as to how we can understand and improve upon this system.
For a great history and an in depth explanation of the forms of Qigong described in this article please read 'Muscle/tendon changing and marrow/brain washing chi kung' by Yang, Jwing-Ming.
The Development of Iron Shirt and Golden Bell
Humans, being both prone to injury and entirely mortal, often require protection from physical stresses as completely succumbing to these stresses results in death. It can be said that much of our life is an attempt to distract ourselves from this truth, but this is of course only one perspective. When we directly confront our mortality we may be able to address the situation with both a level head as well as a rational thought process, this is one of many concepts well known to Bhuddism and likely one idea the Bhodhidharma had in mind when he created the muscle tendon changing and marrow/brain washing Qigong practices.
The historical accounts are conflicting on the Bodhidharma and the creation of Iron Shirt and Golden Bell however the current wiki entry on the subject seems sufficient at the time for some background;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharmahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C3%AC_J%C4%ABn_J%C4%ABng
Regardless of disagreements or possible errors in historical documentation we have a system of qigong created for self protection and ultimately self enlightenment that can be learned and utilized by those who put forth the effort.
Indeed both Iron Shirt and Golden Bell are attempts to protect the practitioner from harm and grant them with great health and strength, however what they provide is a method of practice to gain spiritual insight about one's soul. The aim is not to create a stronger person but to create a person better capable of expressing the will of the soul, just as all metaphysical endeavors should be. It is by time and a great deal of focused effort that we can make positive changes in our lives, and when doing this the practice of Qigong becomes a model for self improvement that we can use in all other areas of our life, this is the true strength of any style of Qigong.
Iron Shirt and Golden Bell Qigong are considered to be two different practices and more specifically Iron Shirt is the initial training one goes through to progress to Golden Bell. Iron Shirt training is a hard qigong that provides protection to the muscular, tendonous, and ligamentous tissues whereas Golden Bell is a soft qigong that provides protection to all tissues within the body including the soft tissues (such as the eyes) and can be extended outside of the body preventing contact entirely. These definitions are suitable for a simple explanation however it is how they are done that that truly defines the qigong.
We consider different styles of Qigong hard or soft style based on the training methods they employ. For example, Tai Chi can be considered a soft style, Tiger style Kung Fu a hard style, and White Crane is often referred to as a Hard/Soft style (as it employs elements of both). Hard qigong focuses on difficult, often highly strenuous, physical training, whereas soft qigong will uses soft fluid movements and forms of mental training such as meditation. Both of these training methods are said to allow the qigong practitioner to develop the strength of and control over their qi.
Iron Shirt uses direct physical hitting of the body wherein, starting from the solar plexus and slowly extending to the rest of the body, the body is given light taps and builds up tolerance to the point where the practitioner can receive harder and harder forces. When a practitioner has successfully completed the Iron shirt training they can then begin the Golden Bell qigong practice. Golden bell often uses meditation wherein the practitioner, along with breathing exercises, practices bringing their qi to all areas of the body and then outside to protect themselves. These methods of practice are outlined in this article not because it is believed to be a necessity but to show the depth and difficulty of the training.
Iron Shirt and Golden Bell are practices that the proponent will often spend a lifetime perfecting. The important point to take from this is that by belief in these methods of qigong and the expectation of qi developing in abundance from the practices we have the all the necessary elements to create change in the physical world through metaphysical means.
How it works under Dynamic Psi Principles
As stated previously we have all the necessary elements for the activation of a psionic occurrence, those being intent, energy, and actualization.
The qigong practitioner has intent to direct energy and protect himself, he gathers energy through regular Qigong practice (and the expectation that it will happen due to this practice), and he actualizes throughout the entire practice. Because of this, every time the the qigong practitioner is engaged in Iron Shirt or Golden bell, every single tap, strike, or breath, the practitioner continuously goes through the process of forming intent, gathering energy, and actualization, over and over again. The frequency of training is also very high and done over a very long period of time so repetition is a factor as well.
Within the initial and some of the later training phases of these qigong practices there is often a lack of understanding as to the specific mechanisms of energy and the nature of the soul, though this is not necessarily a hindrance. It is believed in most forms of qigong that qi is the 'supreme ultimate', that the power and ability comes from the energy itself and that this energy is directed by physical movements. In psionics we understand it to be the that soul gives the energy purpose and that the energy is easily directed by expectation of the soul (and the physical has no real effect upon the energy). Though these previous facts are not understood by qigong practitioners it is by the strength of expectation that they are able to achieve such physical abilities and transcendental states of mind, and this is done by spending a great deal of time creating small changes to achieve the intended end result.
This information leads us to the conclusion that though the practices of iron shirt and golden bell do work there is no full understanding of the energy or the expectation that guides it and that with a greater understanding of the mechanisms of the energy and the soul a more effective method of training can be devised.
A Psioinics method
To create a practice that models the Iron Shirt and Golden Bell we first have to determine what we want out of a practice such as this. What we want is what the original iron shirt and golden bell provided with a method of achieving these things that is simple to conceptualize, easy to practice, and makes full use of the actual qualities of the energy.
What iron shirt and golden bell provided was firstly a method of constant bodily protection, a great improvement or supplement to physical attributes, and an increase in health and well being. These are very good qualities but now we must encapsulate all these things in a conceptually simplified manner.
Because we are dealing with a physical structure (the body) we must as always deal within the realm of what is possible within the physical domain. Understand that though it may not be possible to create a future a moment from now in which we have all the benefits of iron shirt and golden bell qigong we may be able to gradually create that future through consistent practice, good decisions, and various future selections, like any qigong practitioner will.
The conceptualization that the author has determined to be the best fit for the above criteria is, 'Continual intended bodily functioning in a dynamic state'. Doubtlessly the reader asks, "What does this mean?", to which the author replies, "Many things".
This conceptualization is intended to be a daily practice that actualizes a specific intent that creates a superior state of body. Let us break this intent down; 'Continual', meaning 'constant' or 'always'. 'Inteded bodily functioning', means that your body will function just as you expect it to when you expect it to. The 'Dynamic state' is a reference to the fact that the body, as all physical things are, is in a constant state of movement and change and only static when dead (and even then there's still the process of decomposition). So the conceptualization in full means that; Your body will always do whatever you want it to when you want it to regardless of what changes are going on around it.
The implications of the above conceptualization are quite a few. We all have a fairly general and consistent intention to do our bodies well and provide good health and if your body is highly reactive to this intention (which practice of the above will make it so) then your body will make it's way towards this intended goal of good health. The same is true if it is our intention that we are physically strong or intelligent.
There is as well the subject of protection. What the conceptualization also creates is a state of body where it cannot deviate too far from a functioning state, quite simply it can't moved or changed in such a way that would be harmful to it. As a specific example; The impact of a hook punch to the jaw can be seen as a negative change to the body's structure however the proper practice of the above conceptualization will prevent this change from occurring.
This is a conceptualization that, if properly used, will grow with time time and practice, slowly making the small and necessary changes to achieve the practitioner's set goals, much like the qigong styles it takes from. As well, this is a conceptualization that will help achieve the same objectives as the original Iron Shirt and Golden Bell but without training that is only based on assumptions about the energy and soul.
The conceptualization outlined above is brought into effect by the same process as any other psionic practice, through forming intent, gathering energy, and actualization. How you choose to actualize is up to you. Hopefully you utilize related physical practices as well to help re-enforce the intended outcomes just as the original qigong practices do.
It is worth considering to conceptualize this practice by way of a symbol that you can associate it with. The conceptualization is specifically worded but somewhat long so it may be beneficial to use a symbol that you feel represents the same thing to make the process easier.
It is of the utmost importance in the use of this psionic practice to have a regular and complementary physical training schedule. We are attempting to positively affect the physical body and a regular physical practice that complements and emphasizes this, such as a strict and traditional martial art, will reinforce and provide another stimulus to create our desired changes.
It is impossible to fully explain the type of training necessary in any written work as there are always physical movements and applications thereof that just cannot be properly written. No one single martial art can be said to be "the best" for this practice, or for any reason at all, and it is more often the case that it is the people involved in the training and teaching of the martial art that will determine its value to you.
If you are able to find a physical practice or martial art that challenges you, is a positive experience in your life, and provides you with skills and experiences to achieve your goals then you've likely found a good place and some good people to train with. Further to this point, the art is only limited by the practitioner, with clear thinking, reasoning, and hard work any art can be developed further and better utilized to the practitioners own goals, though 'hard work' must be emphasized here.
The use of a carefully selected psionics intent combined with physical practices provides a useful ability to control specific details of physical conditioning and a method of achieving greater understanding of psi and the soul.
The level to which a practitioner of Qigong holds him/herself and aspires to is paralleled by very few other art forms. It is in the author's opinion that the practice of Qigong is due all the respect one can give it. Though practitioners of Qigong and psionics view the origins of metaphysics differently the effects of good qigong practice are so great that their value cannot be contested.