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Koujiryuu

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Beginning Daoist Qigong

Originally written 10/24/2004, first version released June 2004

by Koujiryuu  2004 Not to be reposted without permission

Contents


    Introduction
    Expanded FAQ
    The basic theory, and the ultimate goal
    Exercise 1: The basic standing fundamentals and pumping qi
    Buddhist breathing
    Exercise 2: Dantian meditation and meditation fundamentals
    That new term: yi!
    Exercise 3: Bringing the Qi to the hands: Ki-cho-jaki
    Kataphaticism and Apophaticism
    Exercise 4: Yoseido: 8 Curious Meridian Stretching Exercises
    Exercise 5: Baduanjin postures
    The meaning of '9'
    Exercise 6: Pushing Water
    At this point...
    Daoist breathing
    Exercise 7: Xing Zhoudien Sitting Meditation
    Exercise 8: Standing Heavenly Orbit
    Novice Training Schedule
    Training Supplements
    Terms to Know/Glossary
    Conclusion

EX Introduction and Overview

In the name of progress and presentation of the most quality articles possible I present you, the reader, with Beginning Daoist Qigong EX. This is an updated, amended version of the guide, including 46 accompanying pictures/diagrams, written to expand on the original article. I received a lot of feedback on the original from many different people since it was released in July '04, and have considered everything which anyone has ever suggested could make the guide better because I want my articles to have a reputation of being high quality.


The suggestion that resounded the most among the majority of people I've spoken to would undoubtedly be "pictures". They help clarify and reinforce the techniques and postures presented and make learning from a guide like this much easier. Since this was the case, I went through a printed version of the original article and marked off every exact place a diagram or picture would fit with a *, using a pen. After marking it thusly, I tallied the amount of stars (and therein pictures I needed to produce) and came up with 26 stars total. Then began the long process of taking pictures, drawing diagrams, etc. and adding them to the article. When I finished (as certain exercises have more than one picture) I had a total of 46 images. I've taken the liberty of dividing the entire guide roughly in half, as it totalled 1672k (!) on a single page, far too large for the majority of people's connection speeds.

It was my original intention, after writing all the text, to provide pictures for absolutely everything. However, at that time I did not have access to a digital camera, which I now do.

 I also added a few more questions and answers to the FAQ. A section on Apophaticism and Kataphaticism was added, taken from an old essay on the subject written by a friend. Finally, I realized also that a training supplement guide might be a worthy addition, and added that as well. It is focused around methods of maintaining the bodies' balance and methods of promoting internal strength outside of qigong.

This shall be the last update of the original guide, which already has a few months of effort behind it; for the most part, now, this brings to a close the first chapter of my writings suitably, and has been a preoccupation of mine for a good part of the last year. It's good to finally bring it to a close, so I may finish the rest of what I feel I must write.

Enjoy.

~Koujiryuu

Original Introduction

Daoist qigong. What is it, what are the theories behind it, and how can it affect the individual holistically? This article is the first in a series concerning how this qigong variant can gradually lead to superb health, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Through a training regime consisting of certain ancient stretching exercises, breathing routines, taiji forms, and energy manipulation, a strong energetic base is built which expands throughout realms. A connection with nature and the infinite is present at all times, and heightened senses eventually develop.

Daoist qigong differs in theory and application compared to the qigong in articles written and posted on other sites in the O.E.C.. While those articles have more of a oriental medicine or Confucian spin, with accompanying theory, this series of articles views qigong differently. It is a bit more esoteric in nature, and will involve more techniques to be applied in the fighting arts and healing spectrums. It also uses a different system of meridians, and focuses much more on regulating the balance between yin and yang. A lot of it aligns with the philosophy of Daoism.

The style of qigong presented here is heavily esoteric, and eventually serves to develop a strong mind/body/spirit connection, and eventually is said to lead to immortality. It is based upon ancient Chinese exercises called 'daoyin' or 'Tao-in', and focuses heavily upon the circulation and recirculation of qi to strengthen the energy body, as opposed to some other styles which focus upon the expending of the life force in order to produce 'powers' of a paranormal nature. If you are looking for ways to gain supernatural/psychic powers, I heavily suggest you take up the study of psionics or 'magic', as opposed to qigong.

This isn't to say that a qigong practitioner can't learn certain methods of applying the qi in order to achieve seemingly superhuman feats- merely that this guide focuses particularly on spirituality, and thus these types of abilities will be limited in their documentation, and reserved for the latter parts of this guide, after the energy of the practitioner has been strengthened enough to develop such abilities easily, with little risk to the adherent.

This article series is the culmination of 5 years of practice of these methods, study of them, research, trial and error, and experimentation in the 'Online Energy Community' (O.E.C.). I have encountered many, large and small, wizened and foolish, and have learned from all of it; this series can be considered my 'magnum opus', my own masterpiece, given back to the community as a whole, to hopefully help those just starting on the Path, and those who have been traveling it longer than I. A lot of the information here was provided by someone who shall go unnamed by his own request; I simply refer to him as an old friend.  

FAQ

Question: "Where/when should I practice these exercises?"

Answer: "It would be best to practice them outdoors, preferably under some trees, near a stream, creek or brook, in the grass. A lot of internal "heat" can be generated by these exercises, especially the microcosmic orbit, so doing them in direct sunlight may be discomforting. The absolute best times to practice qigong are as follows: In the morning, during dawn, when dew is still fresh on the grass; High noon, when the sun is overhead, to develop yang qi; Dusk, as the sun sets; and Midnight, when the moon is overhead, to develop yin qi."

Q: "What should I feel like after the exercises? What are signs to look for telling me I am making a mistake?"

A: "After the exercises, you should feel lighthearted, happy, relaxed, energized, a warm or tingly sensation internally, and generally be in better spirits. Signs of improper practice would be: pain, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, nausea, cramps, intense internal heat (especially around the lower dantian center), or any discomfort at all. As with any exercise, if you really feel it is neccesary, check with a physician beforehand; women, especially, should not practice ANY of these exercises while pregnant or menstrating."

Q: "How long would it take a person to start seeing positive effects from Qigong training?"

A: "Right away! Seriously, these exercises have existed for millenia for good reason, and millions of people doing them around the globe cannot be a simple trend. However, basic control over qi can be gained in as little as 6 months, assuming you practice daily, for a half hour a day."

Q: "Should I do Qigong or Tai Chi if I take medication?"

A: "I took medication myself for bi-polar disorder when I was younger. These medications caused me to literally gain 60 pounds, left me drained and depressed, and did way more harm than good. I am of the opinion that quitting these medications and taking up these practices was one of the best things I ever did; I lost all the weight I put on, and I personally believe my brain was literally rewired by the training. However, like I said above, consult a doctor before making any serious changes like this to your lifestyle; it is not neccessary to quit taking any medication to take up Qigong, however in my experience certain psychotropic medications greatly restrict the flow of qi. Your mileage may vary."

Q: "Will doing these exercises make me able to throw fireballs, do beam attacks, fly, etc."

A: "No. So called "radical ki" has been crusaded against by myself and many others over the last five years, and such practices have been proven to be blatantly false; recently, Donjitsu actually fought someone who claimed to be a direct student of MisteryShadow (the originator of RadKi). Donjitsu beat the crap out of this kid, and the person actually tried "ki blasting" Josh, to absolutely no effect. Simply put, go play Street Fighter if you want to do things like that, they have no basis in reality- the lin kong jing ("powerful empty force") ability, which will be detailed in the second article in this series, offers a much more toned down and realistic view on such practices, however. If you actually believe humans can fly, I implore you by all means to go jump off that 12 story building and report to me your results. ;)"

Q: "Someone told me that being angry while doing Qigong greatly enchances the effects you can achieve. Is this true?"

A: "All anger does is stimulate the adrenal system, and get you wired up. Qi only flows smoothly when you are relaxed and calm, and tensing muscles greatly restricts the flow of Qi."

Q: "While practicing ba duan jin for the first time, I noticed numbness, heavyness, sometimes pain in the hands and legs. Is this normal or a sign of something being done wrong?"

A: "This can be normal, and is a result of the powerful exercises inducting qi into the body and moving it around. Even if you aren't consciously focusing on moving qi, it still moves regardless. The pain in the legs can be a result of weak muscles or not being used to the exercises. Continue practicing them, after about 2 weeks these symptoms should disappear."

Q: "Why don't you have a "ki ball" exercise? Are "ki balls" real?"

A: "The ki/psiball is a basic psionic technique to learn how to gain control over energy. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, this is somewhat of a placebo effect. What you are seeing/feeling isn't really a detached ball in the center of the hands, anime style. Rather, it is a magnification of the human aura around the hands because of the focus there, and when the aura from each hand overlaps itself, it produces a visual "ball" effect. However, in tai chi, there is something similar called a qi pearl, which is a natural byproduct of the form, and rather unrelated, although similar. Basically, I feel that including a ki ball exercise would be redundant, as it puts too much emphasis on one aspect of practice, and detracts from more useful exercises. As 'an old friend' once aptly put it: "100 days of doing the microcosmic orbit is exponentially more beneficial than making 10,000 'ki balls'"."

Q: "I heard that something called jing is more powerful than qi. Is this true?"

A: "Yes and no. Yes, in the context of the martial art taijiquan, with all it's myriad applications of jing, where "jing" is defined as a combination of qi, willpower, and body mechanics, similar to Bruce Lee's "explosive power". No, in the sense of making jing balls, doing jing blasts, etc; Nor is jing simply compressed qi. This will be elaborated on later."

Q: "Is Qi visible? How do you open the Third Eye?"

A: "Yes and no. Qi, traditionally, has been described as being invisible, and yes, qi itself is. However, all living matter produces a bioelectric field usually referred to as an aura. This can be seen by most qigong adepts, however it is not qi itself but a manifestation of the qi flow in the organism. The stronger the flow, the brighter, more clear, and larger the aura. The Third Eye is the ajna chakra, located in the center of the brow. This chakra is always open; if chakras weren't open, you'd be dead. Chakras do not have an on/off switch, there exists no technique to instantly allow you to see auras clearly; rather, the chakra must be stimulated and the practitioner must learn how to use it correctly before auras can be seen."

Q: "Who is that in all the pictures!?!??"

A: "That's me, the author, Koujiryuu. Laugh all you want, as long as I don't hear it :)"

Q: "What do you use to make images? What about site design?"

A: "For images, I use a combination of the GIMP 1.2 (windows version, w00t for open source) and Lexmark 5500 Series Photo Editor, which came with my printer, and is a nice little prog for simple resizing and editting. For site design I use Dreamweaver and/or Notepad."

Q: "Why are mostly all the pictures black and white?"

A: "I'm wearing all white in generally dark surroundings. The black and white improves the contrast signifigantly, ensuring that proper body posture can be easily seen. Oftentimes, martial art books take photos like this for that reason; to say that I'm attempting to emulate a printed source similarly would be correct."


The basic theory, and the ultimate goal

The basic theory surrounding energies in this qigong is as follows, written by an old friend.

...."Qi: I have decided to start my discourse on the topic of Qi. Qi, a concept originally formulated by the Daoists, makes everything in the universe, well, tick. It spins the galaxies, energizes the creatures of the universe, and makes plants grow. It is the very essence of life itself. To have Neiqi is to have life itself."

"How does one get their Neiqi, originally? There are many theories. Most think the Original Qi is received while still in the womb as a fetus. While theoretically not known how, it is thought that fetuses have an amazing ability to act as a cosmic battery, absorbing the very Qi of the universe into itself. Naturally, the Mother provides quite a bit herself."

"Neiqi runs along the human body in a series of meridians. There are twelve medical meridians, largely considered a Confucian, perhaps acupuncturist concept. Then there are the Eight special or Psychic meridians. They are mostly a Daoist concept. Of course, these two systems of lines cross with each other, borrow from each other, etc. [editor's note: Discussed in depth later.]"

"Neiqi is stored in the Dantien. Now there are three Dantien, Original Qi resides in the lower Dantian, post-birth Neiqi (qi gathered through water, qigong, and food) resides in the middle Dantian."

"Your level and amount of neiqi determines your general health. You accumulate neiqi through exercise, eating, sleep, herbs, etc. One method of exercise geared for neiqi cultivation is something known as Qigong, here in the west. There are many qigong forms, types, and lineages. Taiji has qigong properties, for instance. However, there is a raging debate going on for exactly what qigong is. What Chinese critics say is mostly true, many forms and exercises brought from China to here are immediately called qigong, when in fact they have about as many qigong-like properties as Richard Simmons' "sweat you butt off to the oldies", for example. One should always check before you call something qigong, for it is fast becoming dangerous waters."....

...."Jing: Neiqi is free-flowing and nice. It's good for health, meditation, etc. However, when put to use for martial applications, it falls short. However, neiqi can be converted into neijing, for the sharp demands of the Nei-jia. (Internal Martial Arts) Neijing will hence forth be called jing. Jing is at a higher frequency than qi- it's a lot more powerful. In the words of Waysun Liao, "Your opponent can feel your jing, but not your qi. You can feel your qi, but not your jing."

...."But I digress. Neiqi leads jing, it controls it. Once you can learn how to convert neiqi into jing, [discussed later] you can use it effectively against an opponent. Jing is far beyond the reaches of normal time and space. It's a power called down from the universe itself for use by human beings. Jing's only limit is your own yi. I'll get to that pretty soon."

"I think it was quite wise when a famous Ba-gua master compared jing to a Dragon. If you treat the dragon right, you can unleash it on your opponent, and the dragon will lend you his strength. Treat the dragon wrong, and it'll take a bite out of you. This illustrates the point that jing is not something to be played with, it's a real weapon, and should be treated as you would a knife or even a handgun. However, be careful with it, and it'll be your most powerful weapon."



Furthermore, there are many synonyms for qi that you will encounter, from many different languages and traditions. Almost every human culture has had a word describing an all-pervading, universal life force. Some of them are: Ki, Prana (sanskrit), Orgone, rLung (tibetan), orenda (Native American, Iroquois), energy, life force, magickal current, ruach (hebrew), the Light, Holy Spirit (christian), spiritus (roman), Pnuema (Greek) and psi.

The ultimate goal of this art and this guide is to develop a universal link with energy, and a feeling of strength in body, mind and spirit. The practitioner, through the presented exercises, goes from being just a person controlled by forces to a person in tune with and above these forces- at peace with his environment, where ever he happens to be.

Exercise 1: The basic standing fundamentals and pumping qi

This is an exercise to allow you to feel your qi for the first time. It can be done further on as an exercise to energize oneself quickly. This exercise will also start to develop the state of mind in which qi is to be cultivated...

Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now, bend at the knees a little bit as if you were sitting on top of a ball supporting your hamstrings and resting on the backs of your calves. Keep the back upright and straight. Stand mostly on the outer edge of your feet, so the instep is slightly raised off of the ground. Having your feet in such a manner promotes upward flow of Qi easily and freely. Push your tongue against the upper palate. Make sure the anus is squeezed shut- while uncomfortable at first, it quickly becomes natural. This further supports the qi flow and will make the microcosmic orbit easier later on.

Holding your hands at your sides, keep them relaxed and loose, and swing them forward and backward. Focus on the Dantian, a spot 3 inches below the naval and one inch in. Repeat swinging the arms back and forth, and stop after about 50 repetitions. Look at your hands- you will note them feeling warm, and possibly find your body tingly and energized. Your hands may also appear to be red with patchy white spots. This is a normal reaction of any energy work. Remember this feeling! You will soon learn to be in control of it.



Buddhist breathing

Right now, you want to train your qi to follow the mind. However, one of the translations of "qi" is breath. Therefore, it could be said that qi following breath is a mechanism developed to draw in and promote qi flow. This way of breathing is a way of training the mind to be more in tune with the body and it's surroundings, and to allow qi to flow through the body fully.

Buddhist breathing draws qi down into the dantian. It is done as follows: As you breathe in deeply for 5 seconds, push your stomach out at the end of the inhalation. Hold for a second or two. On exhalation, simply exhale for about 5 seconds. Breathing should be clear and slow, with no noise heard in the nostrils.

Breathing should always be smooth, consistent, and natural. No hissing or noise should be heard; the breath should be totally silent.

This meditation should always be the one you do before any of the more advanced meditations. It helps to figuratively "warm up the body" to the energy flow.


Exercise 2: Dantian meditation and meditation fundamentals

A time ago, I remember someone saying:

"100 days straight of dantian meditation is said to increase the qi flow considerably."

The Dantian spot, as talked about above, holds great significance. Sometimes called "cinnabar fields" or "elixir fields", these are areas on the body that correspond with the 2nd, 4th, and 6th chakras. The meditation is simple:



Seiza Position (Japanese traditional sit)

Relax, sitting down either cross-legged, in seiza, or maybe the lotus position. Seiza is the Japanese traditional sit, and is done by placing the calves underneath the body and sitting on the shins, while resting the buttocks on the calves. Squeeze the anus shut, to straighten the back as in the exercise above. Fix your attention on the lowest dantian- see it, feel it, be it. Extend your awareness from the dantian beyond to your legs, and using intention (yi), call qi up from below you into that area. Soon you shall feel immersed in qi, as the flow throughout your body strengthens. The fine hairs on the arms and neck might stand on end, the hands and feet may warm up or chill, and you will feel rooted in the ground, much like a tree.


That new term: yi!

Yi, or I (pronounced "ee" either way), is a concept that is rather hard to translate into English, in the same way that Qi or Jing is. It's a unique concept, and has no English equivilent word. Yi is often explained as being intention or willpower; it is much more than that. Yi is an equal combination of willpower, intention, focus, concentration, physical movement, and doubtlessness. That is the complex part of Yi- you must do all of these things at once for the best effect!

Willpower is strength of mind and determination. Intention is determination to do a specific act in a specific manner. Focus is putting your attention on a certain thing. Concentration is a closed or fixed attention. Physical movement, though not always needed, is moving in a prescribed manner that supports the qi flow. Doubtlessness is having total confidence that what you want to happen will happen. All these things together make up Yi. At an intermediate level, Yi becomes unconscious, to the point that you simply have internal control over your energy- it becomes as easy as lifting your arm or turning your head. At an even more advanced level, Yi is refined to the point that the energy just moves without you noticing it. At the level of a master, there is no Yi! Whatever happens, happens beyond conscious thought. This is referred to as wuwei (non-doing, Chinese), or mushin (No-mind, Japanese).

Yi exists in many more expressions than we realize. It can be much more than just the combination of the above ideas; the above ideas can be elaborated on and refined. They are simply the base ideas to facilitate development and control of internal energetic power.

One such expression that is oft-overlooked is the power of prayer. Most practicing Muslims turn towards the holy city of Mecca and pray at scheduled times five times a day. That is an enormous amount of focus and concentration! Prayer can often times be more specific and broad compared to qigong, as well- you really can?t ask qi to portect you, give you good luck, or help you find love- but you can ask your personal deity, God, or higher force to.

Note that Yi, most simply, means "intention"- that does not include visualization! You can visualize all you want, and most of the time it simply ends up getting in the way. By focusing during meditation and energy work sessions, an individual learns how to focus qi to an area of their body simply by focusing on it; the energy isn't felt coming through the body, it seemingly appears there. When you are this rooted and in line with the qi around you, it becomes a simple task to move qi.


Exercise 3: Bringing the Qi to the hands: Ki-cho-jaki

This technique comes from Jung Oh Lee, a Korean Kuk Sool Won master. 'Ki' in this context refers to the definition for qi presented up above.

...."Lee explains that some indications of correct nei gong (internal work) are sensory feelings, often experienced during meditation. They include sensations of internal heat, warmth moving down the legs, or an itching feeling that makes the fine hairs on arms and legs stand on end."

"As the ki flows smoothly, the body becomes warm. As the ki flows out into the hands, the hands get warm. Relaxation is a must, since any tenseness in the shoulders, arms, or wrists prevents ki from flowing into the hands. All types of ki training should be pleasant experiences, done without forcing oneself. It is a discipline, but a pleasant one.

...."Ki-cho-jaki are standing exercises that have kuk sool stylists spreading and contracting the fingers, while they inhale and exhale with deep abdominal breathing. First they draw in a lung full of air. Then they ki-ap letting out about a third of the inhaled air. The rest of the air is held for seven seconds, then released. It takes approximately seven seconds for ki to make a complete orbit through the body."

"Fingers spread apart, starting with the yelled ki-ap, and do not relax until releasing the balance of the air. The theory is that opening the fingers connects all 687 pressure points on the body. Not only does ki-cho-jaki help strengthen the ki, it also physically strengthens the fingers [editor's note: as for Eagle Claw kung fu]. Ki-cho-jaki is done for 5 minutes a day." -Blackbelt Magazine back issue

   

Starting Position

 
Inhale Deeply!

 
Exhale a third of the air, kiai, open the fingers up widely, and exhale the remaining air.


Kataphaticism and Apophaticism

Kataphaticism and Apophaticism are two different paradigms or philosophical divisions within Qigong that have existed for millennia, and still exist now. I feel it is useful to understand the differences between each in order to understand your own motives for practice. With that said, here's some elaboration:

"As far as I've noticed and observed, this community now consists of basically two types of practitoners, people who indulge in Kataphatic (filling) and Apophatic (emptying, circulating, refining) practices. This same split exists in Daoism, between the Blackhats (apophatic) and the Redhats. (kataphatic) Let's go into this a little deeper, shall we? History

Apophaticism is the tradtion I suscribe to, it is somewhat rare in this community. Since the very beginnings of Huangdi and his Neijing Suwen, the practices of qi cultivation outwardly appeared to have no distinctions between Kataphatics and Apophatics- this was because no large role was played in manipulating qi just yet. But as we get to the Three Kingdoms Period, and the especially in the mich later Qing Dynasty, we do see two forces at work. However, I would place the very origins of this way back to the Qin Dynasty, and the Court Magicians, or Fangshi."


"Fangshi has also been translated as "Perscription Masters", and they were lots of them in the Qin Dynasty, mainly because the emporer at the time, Qinshi Huangdi, (no relation to the writer of the Neijing Suwen) was very concerned with the attainment of Immortality. So he gathered lots of these Fangshi together to divine the secrets of Immortality."

"Fangshi magicians go back to the very beginnings of Chinese society with the Shaman folk beliefs. These Shaman had great powers and organized ritual, that often verged on the a romantic relationship between Shaman/Shamaness and Spirit. Consider this old Shamanic song from the Daoist Canon, or Daozang:"

"Shamaness: You hesitate and do not come to me,
what is it that keeps you from leaving you island?
Lord of The River: I am attractive and beautiful,
I come to you in my cinnamon bark canoe.
I glide softly on the waters without a ripple.
For I have asked the spirits of the water to be still.
S: I long for you and yet you do not come.
Sadly I play my flute.
Whom do I think of but you?
L: I fly north on my dragon,
Then I turn toward Dungting lake.
My boat is decorated with care:
The hull us lined with sweet clover,
The sails are made of fig leaves;
The oars are made of iris stems;
And I have orchids for my banners.
Gazing at the sea strand in the distance,
I step across the great river and show my magical powers.
S: You show your power but you do not come.
My attendants are crying for my sake.
Tears run freely down my cheeks,
And I am sick with longing for you."

"By the late Shang/Early Zhou dynasties we see the dissolution of the Shaman, and the rise of the Fangshi, who knows the secrets of Immortality and is the precursor for the Daoists. However, they are not Daoists, because they lack any concept of Dao and emptiness, and instead seek to fill, as opposed to Daoists, who seek to empty. They are by their nature Kataphatic."

"With the revelations of Laozi's philosophy, however, we see the rebirth of the magician as the Blackhat Daoist, who does only good with his sorcery and his ultimate goal is emptiness and stillness, and to unite all with Dao. The Kataphatic sorcerer continues to exist in the form of the Redhats, who are less organized, and sometimes are even evil in the uses (or abuses) of their powers, and only seek to cure and fill, lacking the crucial concept of Dao. However, both Redhat and Blackhat possess great powers, the only difference being in the ways they use it. Blackhats are by nature Apophatic."

"As Daoism as a whole, and Daoist Qi practices grow, Daoist Qigong and the Neijia are dominated by Apophatic princeples, rarely ever straying to Kataphatic cultivation, since this form has been known to shorten, rather then prolong human life because of the great lengths gone to "Pull in" energy."

"Apophaticism and Kataphaticism in the Present Community

Both of these traditions of Qi cultivation are present in this community as of now. In fact, one of the main sites to set off this revolution, Mistery's, (editor: The Official Martial Art Ki Site run by one MisteryShadow in past days) is blatantly Kataphatic in it's practices. As such, Kataphatics are the majority here, more Apophatic folks such as myself being in the minority. Let's list some of the major differences:"

Apophaticism

Practices:

Apophatic Qigong

Qi Circulation

Neidan

Effects:

Health

Balance

Mental Peace

Longevity

Kataphaticism

Practices:

Ki Balls

Drawing Ki

KaioKen

General Filling Practices
Effects:

Power

Health (short-lived)

Possible Loss of Longevity

Possible Mental Imbalances"

These two traditions exist to an extent nowadays in the O.E.C. when you look at certain sites which emphasize "psionics" with a focus on power. Not naming any names, anyone who frequents these communities likely realizes that Kataphaticism is very present among some of them.

Alright, now we've done some basic exercises to show you how to meditate, and how to extend qi out to the hands. Sadly, though, not much can be done with the qi after this point, so now we've have to set to work lowering the qi, through 2 different exercises.

Exercise 4: Yoseido: 8 Curious Meridian Stretching Exercises

These are a set of Japanese exercises developed to strengthen, tonify, and warm up the 8 meridians. Consider this: When playing a sport, what is the first thing you are taught to do? Stretch. Why should qigong be any different? For this exercise, you'll need to learn and memorize this meridian chart.



Here's a description for the chart.

The Eight Meridians (mei means channel)

Dumei: Beginning at the perineum and rising up the back along the center line of the body, this channel rises over the scalp and down the forehead and ends at the upper palate of the mouth. English reference: governor channel.

Renmei: From the tip of the tongue, this channel descends along the center line of the front of the body to the back of the perineum. English reference: conception channel.

Chongmei: This channel rises vertically from the pernium to the top of the head connecting the three dantiens. English reference: through-going channel.

Daimei: This meridian encircles the waist like a belt. English reference: belt channel.

Yangyumei: From a point on the dumei these channels travel bilaterally along the back of each arm, around the tip of the middle fingers, along the inside of the middle fingers to the point laogong. English reference: Outer-arm channel.

Yinyumei: From the laogong point of the palm, these meridans travel along the inside of each arm, curve across the pectoral muscles, descend through the nipples, and connect with the renmei. English reference: Inner-arm channel

Yangqiaomei: These meridians begin at the perineum and emerge onto the front of each leg. They descend the front of a leg to the point known as yongquan. English reference: Outer-lrg channel

Yinqiaomei: From the soles of the feet, these two meridians rise up the inside surface of each foot, loop around the ankles, and ascend the inner thighs back to the perineum. English reference: Inner-leg channel.

Junction points

Niyuan: This point is on the top of the head in the very middle. It is the upper junction point for the chongmei with the dumei.

Laogong: This point is on each palm, where your middle finger touches your palm. This is where qi is emitted or drawn in.

Shenque: This point is the navel and is the junction for the renmei and daimei.

Yongquan: This point is on the sole of each foot. It is along a line between the middle toe and the heel, and is about two-thirds of the way forward from the heel. In martial arts, qi can be emitted in kicks out of these points.

Now then, here are the actual stretches. Not only do they work on the meridians, but on the muscles as well. Mastery of these stretches will lead to great flexibility.

Dumei: Lying on your back, take hold of the soles of your feet, and gently rock on your back, letting your spine roll against the floor. It is important to keep your neck soft and long, and not let your chin stick out. All the effort comes from the lower abdomen. The movement can start from the coccyx and go up to the first dorsals, avoiding the cervicals of the neck because they are much more delicate. Breathe normally during this exercise.



Renmei: Lie on your stomach and take hold of your feet, rolling forwards and backwards gently on your stomach, rocking along the centre, and breathing normally. If you can't reach your feet with your hands, then imagine you are holding them.



Chongmei: Sitting, place one foot on the thigh of the other leg, and stretch forward to hold the other, extended foot with both hands. With an inhalation, and the back held straight, draw your body closer to the extended foot. Repeat this exercise five or six times on both legs.



Daimei: Sit with your legs wide, and place one hand on your hip and the other fairly high along your rib cage. With an inhalation, lean towards the side where you are holding the hip. Repeat the exercise five or six times on each side, and then hold your hands on both hips and make circles with your body from the base of your spine, thirty times in each direction.



Yangyumei: Open your legs as wide as you can. Place your hands on the floor in front of you. Slide your hands slowly forward and with a straight back, let your body go forward. Inhale as you go towards the floor. You should stop when you feel it interferes with your breathing.



Yinyumei: Sitting, fold your right foot onto the top of the left thigh, holding the foot in place with your right hand stretched across your back. Reach forward, keeping the spine straight, and with your left hand take hold of your left foot with your thumb and fingers. If you cannot reach your right foot with your right hand behind the back, it's okay. As you can see from the picture, I couldn't either ^_^ - however, if you keep up the exercises frequently you should be able to hold it eventually. Until you can, simply reach as far as possible.



Yangqiaomei: Hold the big toe with the thumb and first fingers of the corresponding hand. Lift one leg and stretch it towards the outside, and follow it with your eyes, keeping the other leg firmly on the ground. Inhale as you lengthen your leg and exhale as you return your leg to the center. Then repeat with the other leg.



Yinqiaomei: Sit in the Seiza position, as shown, with one leg bent back and close to your body, along the thigh. Take hold of the other foot with both hands and lift it
up, keeping the leg straight. Inhale as you draw it towards your chest. Repeat five or six times and then do the same with the other leg.




These 8 stretches should ideally be done before any qigong practice.


Exercise 5: Baduanjin (reeling silk stretching) postures

Baduanjin are a series of zhan zhuang (literally, 'standing on stake', as these exercises used to be done while standing atop plumflower posts) exercises known for the ability to sink the qi into the dantian for more practical use as a form of energy known as neijing, henceforth referred to as jing. Baduanjin exercises are very potent, and are an Ancient practice of the shaolin and wudang monks, dating from about 900 a.d.

Wu qi

Start by doing the standing exercises for five minutes a day. After three weeks, increase this to ten minutes, three weeks later, increase to 15 minutes and 20 minutes after a further three weeks. Stand with your feet a shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, either parallel, or turned slightly outward; unlock your knees. Let your hands hang loosely by your sides and drop your shoulders. Imagine that, like a puppet, your whole body is hanging, suspended from your head. A string holds your head from a point at the top of your skull, directly in line with the tips of your ears. Feel yourself sinking down, relaxing, as you hang from the string. Breathe calmly and naturally through the nose. Stand quietly, allowing your whole system to calm down, for up to five minutes. As you do this, mentally follow through the points on the illustration, starting at the top of your head. Your eyes look forward and slightly downward; drop your chin so that your throat is not pushed forward. Release any tension in your neck. Relax your hips and belly. Let the bottom of your spine unfold downward so that neither your belly nor your bottom is sticking out. The dantien lies 3-6 inches below your navel, one third of the way into your body. It is in line with the suspension point at the top of your head. From below your kneecaps, your roots extend downward. From your knees upward you rise like a tree, resting calmly between the earth and the sky. Your weight is evenly distributed between your left and right feet. These roots sink deep into the earth. The weight of your body rests in the middle of the soles of your feet. Return to these points again and again until you are able to assume the Wu Qi position naturally and perfectly.



a. Supporting the sky with both hands

Begin in the Wu Qi or Starting Position.

Breathing in through the nostrils, slowly raise your hands above your head, as if you are pushing upwards at the very borders of the sky. The movement of the arms should be circular in nature. Pause when your hands are above your head, holding the breath for 1 second, before exhaling out of the mouth and returning the hands to the starting position.



After you have trained for some time, you can try this: As you begin to press upward with your hands, slowly rise up on your toes so that you complete the full extension of your arms and legs at the same time. Repeat for a total of 9 times.

b. Drawing a bow to each side

This exercise has been variously referred to as 'shooting an eagle' or 'shaolin archer'.



Holding the Balloon (front)                                   Holding the Balloon (side)

 From the Wu qi position bend the elbows and lift the arms up so the palms face your chest, as you inhale through the nostrils. Visualise yourself holding a balloon in front of your chest (Holding the Balloon). Turn the left palm out to the left with fingers pointing up. Turn your head left too, as you exhale. Imagine the left arm is pushing against a wooden part of an archer's bow. Imagine the right fingers are curled around the bows string. As you breath out pull the imaginary string to the right and push out with the left palm to the left. Breathe in and bring the palm back in front of the chest. Repeat the exercise to the right. Repeat for each side 9 times.




Regardless of the images provided, this remains a difficult exercise to do the motion for properly. To make things more clear, here is a video clip of KakudoTora from pathoftheancient.net, my former student, performing this exercise.

c. Splitting heaven and earth

This exercise is easy, although very potent. Start in the wu qi position.

On inhale (once again, through the nose, using the buddhist breathing method), bring the hands up to the holding the balloon position. As you exhale out of the mouth, push upwards with the right hand, towards the sky, while simultaneously pushing downwards, towards the earth, with the left hand. Both arms should reach a full extension concurrently.

On inhale, do the same as above, except switch the arms that are pushing, so the left hand rises to the sky while the right hand pushes downwards towards the earth. Repeat 9 times for each side.



After one year, you may add this: After you extend your palms fully, leave your hands in that position, breathe out, and imagine you're using 20% of your power to press apart two huge blocks of stone. As you do so, twist slightly to the side with your hand facing down, and breathe out. Keeping your hands extended, relax and breathe in. Then, on the next breathe out imagine you are using 40% of your power, and twist a little more. continue the exercise increasing your twist each time and using 20, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 percent of your power each time you breathe out, increasing your twist each time until you are turned fully to the side. After that, slowly unwind as you breathe in. Change sides and repeat.

d. Monk Gazes at the Moon

Also called 'looking back like a cow'. Do NOT perform this exercise while pregnant.

From the wu qi position breathe in and raise your hands to chest level, palms facing you. Turn your entire upper body from your hips, to the left. Breathe out as you move, and turn your palms outward as if pushing a large beach ball away from you. Turn as far as your hips will allow comfortably, and finish breathing out. Pause for one second. Make sure your hands are still opposite the front of your chest and not skewed sideways by excessive twisting of your upper back and shoulders. Turn back toward the front as your breathe in. As you move, turn your hands back inward to their original position, embracing the invisible balloon between your arms and chest. Relax and stay in this position, pause for one second as you finish breathing in. Turn to the right, performing the same twist. Repeat 9 times for each side.




e. Lowering the head and hips

As you inhale, bend sideways at the hips to the right while raising the left hand overhead, until the palm is parallel to the sky. Let the right hand hang loosely at your side. Exhale, and return the the neutral position. Repeat the same motion for the other side of the body. Repeat for a total and 9 times.




f. Touch the feet with both hands

As you inhale, breath in and raise your arms to your sides, palms facing down, parallel to the ground. Breath out, and move your hands out in front of your head, at the same level, and crouch down and touch your feet. Hold this for 3 seconds, before returning to the starting position. Repeat 9 times.



g. Clenching the fists

This exercise should be VERY familiar to anyone who has ever studied the art of Karate. It is basically alternate punching from a very narrow horse stance.

Start in wu qi. As you inhale, chamber your fists upside down at your sides. Exhale, and *slowly* punch outwards with the right hand. Inhale again, returning the arm to the chambered position, and then proceed to exhale while punching with the left hand. Repeat 9 times, each side.





h. Shaking the body

Starting in the Wu qi position, lower yourself slightly by bending your knees. Rest the backs of your hands on the flesh just above your hip bones on either side of your lower back. Shake your whole body by bouncing gently up and down from your knees. Your feet stay flat on the ground. Make sure your shoulders and elbows are completely relaxed so that their weight rests on the backs of your hands. You will feel your hands pleasantly massaging your lower back. On each bounce, breathe out through your nose in little bursts, until you have exhaled completely. Keep bouncing as you inhale smoothly. Repeat for 9 breaths.




The meaning of 9

In many eastern esoteric practices, you often see exercises being done in repetitions of 9, or a multiple thereof (27 usually). A lot of people are probably wondering why.


In eastern thought, the number 9 holds a special signifigance. The character 'ten', while representing the numeral '10', is also the same character for 'heaven'. 9, therefore, is seen as being the 'last step before heaven'. It is also the last single digit numeral. Make of this what you will.


Exercise 6: Pushing Water training

Pushing water was originally a taijiquan (tai c'hi c'huan) exercise for developing explosive power, or jing. The basic movement is as follows:

Start in a 'wu qi' position. Breath in through the nose while bending at the knees and raising the arms up, palms facing the ground, until they are parallel to the ground. Exhale, and as you do, rise up and lower the arms until you return to the starting position. While you do this, the qi should be brought out to the hands from the lower dantian consciously, by focusing the yi on the center of the palms. Repeat 27 times.



For the next part, you will need two small buckets with handles. Fill them both up almost all the way with water. Now, do the exercise above, holding on to the buckets loosely, with the goal being to not spill any of the water. Quite difficult, isn't it?

After doing the exercise this way for 3 weeks, move up from water to sand. After 6 weeks with sand, move up to small pebbles.

As you can see, this exercise makes use of lifting weight to strengthen the qi flow, and almost all of the bodies' muscles.

These exercises are a means of producing more usable internal power to be compounded into you through the Lower Dantian.


At this point...

At this point, from the prior training, one should be able to feel the qi flow in the dantian by merely focusing on it. It should not be difficult to move qi around the body at will, either. If you are having trouble doing either of these, please refrain from continuing until you can- stick with the prior exercises for the time being.

Daoist breathing

If buddhist breathing is the yang of breathing techniques, daoist breathing would be the yin. While buddhist style breathing is good for drawing in qi and stimulating the lower dantian, it falls short when one wants to apply the energy. This is remedied through daoist breathing, which is the reverse of buddhist breathing.

Breath in through the nose, while *sucking in* the stomach/diaphragm, and exhale through the open mouth while pushing the stomach back out. This helps to draw qi out of the dantian, and this style of breathing should be used when doing any kind of qi manipulation. Simple as that.

Exercise 7: Xing Zhoudien sitting meditation

Now we move from training the body and mind to refining the spirit.

a. The Exercise

'Xing zhoudien' translates to 'microcosmic orbit'. This is a very powerful, very ancient meditative exercise that is very powerful and beneficial to the practitioner. Essentially, inside our bodies exists the universe on a small scale (the microcosm). By rotating this universe through energy work, the system as a whole is strengthened. In the author's opinion, if you don't know this exercise and practice it regularly, you don't know qigong. This exercise also clears out and balances the system immensely, as Dumei and Renmei govern yin and yang respectively. When these two meridians are healthy, the rest are as well as a result.

From "Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in everyday life" by Deng Dao-Meng...courtesy of an old "friend"...

The Microcosmic orbit is both subtle and grand, overt and yet covert, practical, yet incredibly esoteric. As in most Daoist related things, it is a union of paradoxes ;) Anyway, on a coarse level, it is an exercise to promote health and longevity, as well as refine one's level of qi manipulation. If practiced for 100 days, or so the Daoists say, the foundation for Longevity and Immortality are set, and manipulation of qi has increase substantially. It also acts as an excellent prep for meditation, as well as being a meditation in of itself. The exercise itself is deceptively simple. It is, basically, passing qi up and the du and down the ren channels, which are considered to be fairly important meridians, as they govern yang and yin respectively. When both these meridians are functioning and healthy, all the others are healthy as a result. The basic practice is this:  

1. Get into whatever sitting or standing position you find comfortable, you can sit in seiza or in a full or half lotus, or just do it standing up.

2. Close and lift the anus. This will be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but after a while it'll become second nature.

3. Focus the eyes on the tip of the nose, then fully or partially close your eyelids.

4. Put your hands in a mudra you find comfortable. Some of my favorites are the fists, balled up and sitting on the knees, or making one hand into a fist and resting it in the palm of the other.

5. If possible, elevate your buttocks (if you are sitting) to encourage a straight spine. That won't be requisite if you are in seiza.

6. Relax for a moment, begin to focus on your breathing. Note- the breathing for the microcosmic orbit will be reversed breathing, also called Daoist breathing. That is, as you breathe in you will also pull in your stomach, as you let out air you will allow your stomach to go back. This is done to encourage the qi to flow out of the dantian.  

7. Breath in, visualizing the qi rising up the du channel. (du channel runs from the perenium, up the spine, over the head and ends on the upper palate)  

8. As you finish breathing in, the qi should be at the "Hundreds' meeting place" or the top of the skull, exactly in the middle.  

9. Begin exhaling, and let the qi fall down the reminder of the du channel. As the qi comes to the upper palate, take your tongue and pass the qi from your upper palate to the bottom of your mouth, where the qi enters the ren channel. (the ren channel runs from the bottom of your mouth, to right back at the perineum)

10. Keep exhaling until the qi arrives at the perineum, where it began.

11. Repeat four times further. (when you think you are ready, you can increase the number, to about a maximum of ten or so.)

12. When done, be sure to stretch out and limber up. Before you get up, swallow the saliva that accumulated during meditation, visualizing it as a gold liquid falling into the sea of the dantian. Daoists call this Jade Nectar, and they believe to be very beneficial, like a piece of gold left over from an alchemical firing process.

b. The Great Work

From the ancient Daoist text, 'The Secret of the Golden Flower':

"There is a true secret about starting practice. The operation is different for men and women; men begin practice with the attention in the lower abdomen, just below the navel. Women start work with the attention between the breasts. After midnight and before noon, settle the breathing and sit. Tune the breath so that it is even. Sit with unified attention on the object of meditation. With pure attention in the center, a unified energy flows, thus pressing tightly on the midspine, and going on through the brain. At this time the positive energy goes all the way to heaven in the form of a fiercely blazing fire, like a flaming wind. Then the Spirit must be allowed to dive down into the abdomen (solar plexus). The energy then unites with Spirit, and Spirit unites with the energy. The work of the circulation of the Light depends entirely on the backward flowing movement, so that the thoughts are gathered together in the place of the heavenly heart. If you can be absolutely quiet then the heavenly heart will spontaneously manifest itself (between the eyes). The Light is easy to move, but difficult to fix. If it is made to circulate long enough, then it crystallizes itself; this natural Spirit-body is formed beyond the nine heavens. If you work diligently, when that one point of energy returns of itself and sinks into the body, it turns into year-round spring. This is the method of starting the Work. In time, the primal Spirit transforms itself in the dwelling of life into the true energy. At that time, the method of turning the millwheel must be applied, in order to distill it so that it becomes the Elixir of Life. The Elixir is created through melting and mixing; that is, through moving the Light to dissolve the anima, and fixing the Light to complete the animus. This is the method of the concentrated Work. When the Life Elixir Pearl is finished, the embryo (Light-Spirit) can be formed; then the Work must be directed to the warming and nourishing of the spiritual embryo. This is the method of finishing the Work. When the energy-body of the child is fully formed, the Work must be so directed that the embryo is born and returns to emptiness. You must perceive that there is a form within nothingness, you must see the original human being in person. This is the method of ending the Work. To refine oneself thoroughly and have autonomy, one must take the positive energy of heaven and earth day after day, and concentrate to clear the mind, before the effects of the practice will be experienced. It may take several months; the length of time depends only on the depth of one's Work. Once the elixir is crystallized, the vitality, energy, and spirit in the body become completely stabilized. It is possible to extend life in this way, but this is not yet immortality."
"Every morning before sunrise still your mind and sit quietly, waiting for the sun in a state of empty openness. All at once you will forget about the universe and break through space. Then a point of positive energy, like a drop of dew, like lightning, will spontaneously appear in the great void and enter your belly, passing into the spine and rising up to the center of the brain; there it will turn into sweet rain and shower the inner organs. Then you should cause this energy to circulate throughout your body, cleaning it out and burning away pollution, to change your body into a mass of pure light. After a long period of development, your body will transform and become immortal. If you practice refinement according to the right method for one hundred days then your earthly soul will lose its form, the parasites that sap your vitality, energy and Spirit will disappear without a trace, the senses will submerge into hibernation, and demons will flee. If you carry out this refinement for a thousand days, your whole body will become like a crystal tower, clear inside and out; the flower of your mind will be radiant, and a spiritual Light will become manifest. Whether to remain in existence or pass away is up to you; you may leave or enter without obstruction. Some remain physically in the world, some shed their bodies and ascend to Immortality."


Exercise 8: Standing Heavenly Orbit

This is a standing implementation of the microcosmic orbit, for the times when you feel you would rather do this than the sitting meditation. The sitting version is inherently more powerful and potent; however, this is included for completeness' sake.

This technique is different from the standard microcosmic orbit as there is physical movement, and as the qi goes through a greater portion of the body. It is not meant as a replacement for the microcosmic orbit; it is supplemental. It isn't for everybody; if you haven't tried the standard microcosmic orbit, I highly suggest you do so first. To even be able to do this technique properly, you have to be able to do the standard microcosmic orbit.

a. The Technique

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. You might want to do lifting the sky or pushing water a few times; this is optional, though it helps to warm up the meridians.

This exercise should be done with the tongue touching the upper palate, and the anus squeezed shut, to keep the back in proper alignment and to ease the flow of qi.

Bend over forwards at the waist. Put your middle fingers on the inside of your feet, near the heel. Inhaling, guide the qi up the inside of your legs to the coccyx while simultaneously straightening the body. Now move your fingers around the belt meridian to the back, and guide the qi up the governor meridian to the top of the head (you might have to switch your hands over your shoulders bring it to the top of the head). This should all be done on ONE breath! It's a lot easier than it sounds, after you do it a few times it gets a lot easier to do.

On exhalation, using the thumbs, guide the qi from the top of the head down the conception meridian, down the outside of the legs and out the feet.

Repeat nine times.

Don't swallow the saliva that accumulates during the process. Save it up, and when you finish the nine repetitions, envision the saliva being a golden liquid. Daoists refer to this as the "jade nectar"- a beneficial byproduct of the microcosmic orbit. Swallow it all at once, and envision it spreading out from your stomach and energizing you with a golden light.


Novice Training Schedule

The following is a progressive, cumulative training schedule, designed for the complete novice to use over the period of one (1) year, to build up enough qi to manipulate freely. It is intended for the complete beginner at qigong, and gradually introduces the techniques described in this article to the student who wishes to "lay the foundation" for the metaphorical "house" of immortality.


Week 1

Nothing but pumping qi, to get a good feel for it.

Weeks 2 and 3

Pumping Qi
Dantian Meditation

Week 4 and 5

Dantian meditation
Ki-cho-jaki

Week 6

Dantian meditation
Ki-cho-jaki
Yoseido

Week 7 and 8

Dantian meditation
Yoseido
Baduanjin

Month 3 and 4

Dantian Meditation
Yoseido
Baduanjin
Pushing Water

Month 5

Yoseido
Baduanjin
Pushing Water

Month 6

Yoseido
Baduanjin
Xing Zhoudien

Month 6-10

Yoseido
Baduanjin
Xing Zhoudien
Standing Heavenly Orbit

Month 11

Baduanjin
Standing Heavenly Orbit

Month 12

Dantian meditation
Xing Zhoudien
(to prepare for the exercises in the intermediate article.)

Training Supplements

Qigong, in itself, is an art of self-healing and rigorous training; what is usually talked about little is the concept that certain things can enhance your qigong practice considerably, outside of qigong itself. Just as a body builder crosstrains and drinks protein shakes, so can an internal stylist augment his qi through methods other than qigong.

Here, then, is a short section detailing a couple different qigong "supplements" that are widely used and highly praised for the effects they bring.

Tea

"Firstly, I'll talk about tea. Tea is a great drink for cleaning out the system and ensuring proper qi flow; certain types of qi work on different meridians, clearing out and cleaning the subtle bodies' inner workings."

"Tea contains a chemical called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that binds to the enzyme urokinase, preventing it from stimulating tumor growth. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute has published articles on the cancer-preventive effects of green tea."

"Researchers believe that tea lowers cholesterol because EGCG combines with bile salts and cholesterol to form an insoluble precipitate."

"There are more chapters on tea in the Chinese Herbal Material Medica (Ben Cao) than on any other herb, including ginseng."

"A cup of drip coffee contains approximately 100 mg caffeine, black tea: 50 mg caffeine, green tea: 20 mg caffeine, bancha tea 0 mg caffeine. (Nevertheless, if you have cardiac arrhythmia, are taking MAO inhibitor drugs, or have any medical condition for which caffeine is forbidden, you must, sadly, avoid even green tea.)"

"Taoist and Buddhist Monks drink tea because it clears and refreshes the mind. If you are anxious or stressed, drink some tea and contemplate the beauty of nature, Drinking tea is meditation."

Green tea, by far, is the most beneficial tea to drink. It has many, many health benefits, and works on the lung, spleen, and stomach meridians (Oriental Medicine - 12 meridian system). It can also be purchased just about anywhere quite cheaply. However, there are many more teas that are equally beneficial, some of which are available for purchase here. A big part of becoming a tea drinker lies in drinking tea that you like- once you find one that you enjoy, stock up on it.

The Baoding

Baoding are small, heavy metal balls that used to be made out of solid stone or iron. They are named after the village in China of the same name that they originated in. In modern times, they are usually made out of hollow steel with a small plate inside that makes a ringing noise when the balls are spun in the palm of the hand.

 


Similar to the theory behind Ki-Cho-Jaki exercises, baoding are said to be very beneficial to the qi flow because they stimulate all the meridian points on the hands. This in itself means that the accompanying meridians are cleared out and stimulated as well.

Training with the baoding is simple, yet difficult at once. If you haven't touched a videogame in your life and have little hand-eye coordination, it will be very hard. Start off by holding them both in your right hand, and attempt to spin them around each other clockwise. Start slowly, and try to make them "ring" as little as possible, as that means you are clanking them together. At no point during the spinning should the baoding stop touching each other. The point is not to go fast, but to spin them as quietly as possible. Once you can spin them at an even pace quietly, try adding speed into the equation.

Eventually, the above will be easy. At this point, start spinning them with the same hand counterclockwise, progressing in a similar manner until you can spin them quickly and silently whilst spontaneously changing directions smoothly, at will. It takes a lot of practice!


After the right hand has become proficient in spinning them, move on to the left hand, and train similarly.


Terms to know/Glossary

Baduanjin: "8 pieces of silk" or "8 pieces of brocade". A basic qigong exercise.
Buddhism: A philosophy/religion taught by Gautama Buddha, with the ultimate goal being enlightenment and the transcendance of worldly desire.
Chi: Alternate romanization of "Qi"; Wades-Giles or Yale.
Dantian: A spiritual energy center in the body, where the nerve plexi are, and glands as well; there are three of them in the Daoist view, home to the Three Treasures.
Daoism: A philosophy/religion that strives to teach the natural Way of the Universe.
Ki: Japanese term for "Qi". See Qi.
Jing: "Essence". One of the three treasures, residing in the lowest dantian, near the spleen. In Taijiquan, it is "force", a kind of refined qi combined with proper body mechanics.
Meridian: Subtle channel in the body that qi flows through in a tight spiral to keep you alive.
Neijia: Internal martial arts, traditionally the "big three" of Baguazhang, Taijiquan, and Xingyiquan, however Yiquan and Aikido are generally considered internal styles as well as many other, lesser known arts.
Neijing: See jing.
Neiqi: See qi, chi, or ki.
O.E.C. or OEC: "Online Energy Community", theveritasacademy, psipog, astral pulse, psiscape, etc. Really any major site with a webforum or chatroom that deals with life force energy and the manipulation thereof.
Psion: One who practices psionics.
Psionics: An alternate system of energy manipulation that is primarily concerned with developing psychic powers.
Seiza: Japanese traditional way of sitting, with the feet underneath the body, knees bent, buttocks resting on the calves.
Tai Chi/Tai Chi Chuan: The most popular and widespread internal martial art.
Taiji/Taijiquan: Pinyin romanization of "Tai Chi".
Qi: Literally "breath". One of the three treasures, centered in the middle dantian, near the heart. In our case, it refers to life force energy. Pinyin (modern) romanization of the older "Chi".
Yang: Positive polarity; masculinity; aggression; heat; hardness.
Yi: Intention; willpower; volition.
Yin: Negative polarity; femininity; passivity; cold; softness.
Yuan: A perfectly equal balance of Yin and Yang.
Wu qi: The basic baduanjin stance.
Xing Zhoudien: "microcosmic orbit". A meditation technique characterized by the circulation of qi from the lower regions of the body to the top of the head, and back down again.

Conclusion

This concludes the first guide; on the whole, these exercises when practiced in order over a period of about 6 months. This should bring someone to a beginner's level; not quite the level of an adept. Keep in mind the saying, 'it takes 2 years to gain basic control over the qi, and 5 years to believe in it truly'.

Lots of people contributed to this guide by reviewing it and adding their own ideas about it. Thanks to (in no particular order): Whitjaso, Son Goku, The Mad Daoist, TheMistDragon, kobok, Prophecy, Darkduck, Silver_Archer, and anyone I left out.

In the next guide, more advanced circulatory processes will be revealed, as will methods for healing yourself and others with qi, in person and remotely. Applying qi martially will also be discussed, as will the dynamics of jing as it applies to taijiquan and fighting in general. Rest assured, this rather lengthly article is only the tip of the iceberg.

Until next time,

Ren Dao!

Koujiryuu
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 01:43:10 PM by Koujiryuu »
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June 06, 2012, 11:31:07 AM
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Pictures have been restored.

These are the original pictures I took in 2004, I recently got an archive of my old website and these were in it.

Some of the postures are somewhat incorrect. In Holding the Balloon, for example, the arms should be lower and rounder (about the level of the Dantien). However, most of the pictures work, and should help beginners practice the forms more easily.
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August 12, 2012, 09:53:24 PM
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Henry

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My grandma says that qi gong is bad for you and can drive you insane. She says she once had a friend who practiced qi gong, though he's now locked up in a mental institute. So I guess my question is, what are the dangers of qi gong?

August 13, 2012, 12:07:10 PM
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Koujiryuu

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My grandma says that qi gong is bad for you and can drive you insane. She says she once had a friend who practiced qi gong, though he's now locked up in a mental institute. So I guess my question is, what are the dangers of qi gong?

This is a result of improper or too much practice.

It isn't that Qigong specifically does this to you; it is that if you have a pre-existing mental illness, any spiritual work that makes you turn inward can make you "go crazy". It's not just Qigong but Psionics and Magic. A lot of the time this manifests in visions, hearing voices, and so on. In the old days, people who had these kinds of things were revered and considered special. Now they're just considered crazy and locked away.

Personally, I'm bipolar myself. My Qigong practice (which is what is in this guide) has never caused me to hallucinate. It's never caused me to go crazy. My Qigong practice has helped change my world view and bring me inner peace. I can use it as an effective stress reducing tool when I feel overloaded. I can use meditation to contemplate the nature of myself, my negative feelings, my paranoia, and so on to understand those feelings and change them or realize they're delusional. For me, Qigong has been nothing but positive.

"There's a thin line between accepting your inner divinity and total insanity." - Prophecy

Qigong is what you make it. If you think it will make you crazy, it will make you crazy. If you have fear about it, it will ruin your practice. However, if you approach it from a receptive, clearheaded mindset with no expectations and are open to a positive experience you will be surprised.

For more reading try looking at the Yin and Yang Theory section in this article: http://forums.vsociety.net/index.php/topic,20963.msg207018.html#msg207018

It talks more about some of the few dangers of Qigong, that is Yin/Yang imbalance and energy blockages and how to remedy them.

Regards.

~Kouji
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