I will give my input on this.
First: My apologies guys, but grounding and centering is not traditionally a Qigong practice (or a Yoga practice) in many schools. It's more a psionic thing and even a borderline new-ager idea. Mind_Bender, I'm aware you learned this from your Bagua Shifu, but I'm unsure where he got it from. If you guys can quote me a book or link a book from a reputable Qigong author/teacher that includes grounding/centering in it, I will retract my words. To be clear, I practice mostly from Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming's books (The Root of Chinese Qigong
and Qigong: The Secret of Youth
) as well as Deng Dao-Ming's Scholar-Warrior
. I also have Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body
by Bruce Frantzis as well as Empty Force
by Paul Dong. All of these have numerous Qigong sets and some go really in depth into Qigong theory (The Root
) and none of them include grounding and centering as an exercise.
Second, Steve is right, Qi balls serve no real purpose at best and are counterproductive to Qi development at worst. My approach nowadays is that hey, if people wanna make Qi balls, let them! However, in my practice and from people I've talked to (e.g. mystic, Kendamu) Qi balls would be essentially wasting your energy. The approach is to conserve, conserve. This means (usually) abstinence from sex, proper diet and so on. It is far more productive to practice the Microcosmic Orbit and other circulations than to make Qi balls (which theoretically dissipate the Qi, but as Mind_Bender mentioned I'm unsure if that's true).
Lakshmi, if you want to practice Qi balls I would start first with the Dantian meditation found here in my Qigong study group: Dantian meditation
Practice that for a week and cultivate an "empty" mindset. We don't want to force our Qi into balls in our hands and we don't want to visualize or imagine Qi gathering in the Dantian. That is a "filling" method and is detrimental to development. Instead, simply empty the mind with a focus on the Dantian and breathe, and your body will do the rest. This is an "emptying" method of meditation.
After this I would move on to the "Bringing Qi to the Hands" (Exercise 6) exercise found here
. This is essentially Dantian meditation, but with a focus on the hands. This will bring Qi to the hands simply by thought as opposed to forceful methods, or visualization of energy balls.
I hope this helps. Regards.
EDIT: To make things clear for anyone else if I'm not around, I would strongly urge people to practice the methods and curriculum in my Qigong Study Group course as opposed to the methods in my articles (especially Beginning Daoist Qigong). Please refer anyone wishing to learn Qigong to the study group material, as it's far superior and not 12 years old.