October 2004 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Hubert

Hubert swinging his hand wildly during an Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia in March 2004. Behind him from left to right were Jeffrey, Jonathan and Karim in more sober moods enjoying their gentle chi flow.

Question 1

It has been four months since I started chi kung. My practice itself is going very well. I have not achieved any major breakthrough yet (or nothing I am aware of), but I am gaining in confidence and in control. I can feel chi flowing all the time, and I have clearly noticed that it gets stronger and stronger. While doing standing meditation the flow of chi used to be a small “line”, mainly down my arms. Now it feels like a wider stream, more powerful, and going down the legs as well.

— Hubert, England

Answer

Yours are remarkable achievements. Many chi kung practitioners do not even feel chi after many years of practice, yet you distinctly feel your chi flow has become more powerful after just four months.

Feeling chi flow down the legs is considered by some as quite advanced effect (though it is quite common in our schools even amongst beginners.) More remarkable is your feeling of being more confident and better in control.

Question 2

The same goes for Kung Fu. I am slowly reaching 5 minutes in Horse Riding Stance, my legs are much more solid, and I am getting alright at the first 5 combat sequences, “Lohan Asks the Way” and “Black Tiger” sets.

Answer

These are fantastic attainments in just a few months. Most kungfu students would be still struggling with their first kungfu set.

Question 3

However, while the practice itself is great, I do not feel like I have progressed much in getting the benefits. My first priority is health, and getting rid of my chronic pain in the right arm, shoulder and neck. So far they have not shown any sign of disappearing, and have been particularly painful this week (when moving my right shoulder, there are some big “crunchy” noises).

I try not to worry too much about it, and I know that it is quite early in my chi kung development, but I would be lying if I say that sometimes I am not a bit discouraged about it.

Answer

Judging from your description and observing how you moved during chi flow at the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia, I think the chronic pains in your arms, shoulders and neck are symptoms of deeper problems. Moreover you are much under-weight, which may be another symptom.

But you need not worry. Your chi flow from your chi kung training is working at your problems. The pains may remain for some time while the process of cleansing goes on. This is a small price to pay.

You feel discouraged because you are impatient. If you examine your attainments which occur within such a short time, and compare your progress with the majority of people who practice chi kung all over the world, you should be happy with your results. Remember, even though our chi kung produces fast and remarkable results, it still takes time.

You, like Jeffrey and Roland, suffer from what we call the fast learners' syndrome where not only the cleansing is faster than what your body can normally take but also you progress so fast initially that you may have an illusion you are not progressing after that.

You are progressing well. Don't worry about the benefits, just enjoy your practice. The benefits will eventually and surely come.

Hubert

Roland of Switzerland performing the pattern “Black Tiger Steals Heart” in a kungfu set also called “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, while Sifu Wong looked on from behind.

Question 4

It seems that I am not yet able to apply my practice to my daily life. I think I am still tensed while working on the computer, and can still not relax naturally. In your experience, what would be the factors that could slow me down in overcoming those chronic pain? Could it be that my chi is “busy” some where else that I am not aware of? Or maybe because my practice is not going as well as I think?

Answer

Don't worry about how to relax or think about relaxing, just relax.

Three factors make you feel your progress is slow (although your progress is actually not slow). One, you are impatient. It is common for chi kung practitioners to say that chi kung takes years to have lasting effects. In our school, it takes about nine months for students to overcome health problems that conventional medicine considers incurable. By comparison that is fantastically fast. But you have practiced for only four months.

Two, you worry and intellectualize too much. This causes mental blockage, which is often the most serious hindrance to progress although it is not often realized. Hence, generations of masters have advised practitioners not to worry about their practice, but just enjoy their practice.

Three, it is probable that you have some deep rooted problems which are not obvious and which you yourself may not be aware of. These deep rooted problems are not drastic enough to manifest as clinical illness, but they insidiously affect your physical and mental health, your daily performance as well as the potential you are capable of.

Had you not practiced Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, these deep rooted problems would remain in you for life. Now your chi kung practice is cleansing out the problems. The cleansing process will take time, but it is definitely happening. Your feeling of pain is an indication of the cleansing happening. Your feeling of being great in your practice is an indication that it is working well for you. Be patient and enjoy your practice. If you take, say, two years to cleanse out your deep-rooted problems (when they might otherwise remain in you for life), the process will be relatively fast.

You are correct in saying that your chi is “busy” somewhere else that you are not aware of. On the other hand, your practice is going much better than you think.

Question 5

Another question is about a small but steady pain I have been feeling for some time now. It is located about 15 cm to the left of my navel (my left). It feels like some upward pressure on which ever organ is located there. It started about 2 months ago, and hasn't disappeared yet. It gets a bit sharper and “propagate” if I bend over for a long time (like for tying up a shoe lace, or even while doing the stretching exercises). It then feels like a muscular cramp.

At first I thought maybe I had pull a muscle, or something similar, but I am beginning to wonder if it is not related to some energy being locked in that area. I would be interested in having your opinion (although I realize it is difficult to judge via email!)

Answer

This is not only easy for me to judge from your e-mail, with my experience and knowledge it is glaringly obvious. Some negative energy has been locked in that area for a long time. This energy blockage has affected you unfavorably but it is so insidious that you have been unaware of it all this while.

Your chi flow is now working on the problem. The pain is an indication of chi attempting to break through the blockage.

I often tell the following story in my chi kung classes. John and David both have elbow pain, and they practice Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung. John is smart, or he thinks he is. Every time he directs his chi flow to his elbow. After a few months, the elbow pain disappear.

David follows the advice of his teacher faithfully. Once a while he may direct chi to his elbow, but generally he employs “wu-wei”, or spontaneity. He lets his chi flow wherever it flows. After a few months he still has pain in his elbow.

David may grumble and complain, and wonder if he is as smart as John (though he is actually smarter). But his chi kung practice may have saved his life without him knowing.

Why? He had some serious but insidious problems that he was unaware of. The problems had not manifested clinically yet, but if that happened it might be too late for recovery. As these problems were more urgent than his elbow pain, which might actually be an outward symptom of the deep-rooted problems, his chi flow when left to flow freely, attended to the urgent problems first. This is a wonderful characteristic of chi flow. Chi will naturally flow to the most urgent area first, then the next, and so on. Had David tried to be smarter than the masters and directed his chi flow to his elbow instead of allowing it to flow freely, he would have missed this opportunity of overcoming the urgent problems.

Your deep-rooted problems may not be as serious as David's. But your chi flow is certainly working wonders for you now. You may not notice the day to day changes, but if you are to compare yourself in three years' time with what you were before, you will be amazed at the difference.

Question 6

Every 2 or 3 months, I usually have some chronic mouth ulcers, along with feeling completely tired and “empty of energy” (physically and mentally). It has been regular for the past 3 years or so. I had great hope to overcome this with chi kung quite quickly, but it has come back those last few days -- both the mouth ulcers and this feeling of being completely empty.

Answer

If the mouth ulcers are the problems themselves, they would have been overcome quite quickly. The ulcers are just symptoms, the root problems are elsewhere.

The root problems may be at the stomach or the intestines or the heart, because all these are intimately linked to the mouth. The problems may be linked to the pain near your navel. Or the problems may be somewhere else, as every part of our body is linked to every other part.

The wonderful thing about our chi kung is that we don't even have to know where or what the root problems are! We let our chi flow do the finding out. This is “wu-wei”, which is sometimes described as spiritual. “Wu-wei” is trusting the Universal Chi, which is omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite and eternal. In Western terms, it is “Trusting God, knowing God always works to our best benefits.”

But we have to help God to help ourselves. We have to set our chi flowing, and let the Universal Chi, or the Grace of God, flow through us.

The problems will be overcome, but it may take time. Then your mouth ulcers will disappear as a matter of course.

Cleansing out deep-rooted problems can be energy demanding. Thus you may feel tired. But it is worse when you start to worry and have doubts. This causes mental blockage, with the result that your cleansing may become draining. In cleansing, your energy flow flushes out the problems, and new cosmic energy flows in to replace the energy expended. In draining, there is only outflow because your mental blockage interrupts the cosmic inflow.

So, what should you do? Stop worrying. Enjoy your chi flow. Enjoy “wu-wei”, or in Western terms, enjoy the Grace of God flowing through you.

Question 7

Thank you Sifu for reading this, and for spending so much generous time in helping your students. Again, I will do my best to make it worth it. I will be very proud if one day you feel I have been a deserving student.

I am looking forward to meet you again, as I will be at both the Tai Chi and Kung Fu summer courses in Spain. I am also making plans to be at the next Intensive Kung Fu course in Malaysia in November.

Answer

You are already a deserving student and I am proud of you. I am confident that if you continue your training the way you are doing now, you will one day become a real master yourself.

Hubert

While it may be surprising to many people, sparring in Shaolin Wahnam is always an enjoyable experience. Not only there are no tension and aggressive feelings, the combatants are relaxed and cheerful although their movements are fast and forceful. In this photograph from left to right, Karim, Roland and Jeffrey practiced sparring during an Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia in March 2004.

Question 8

When I feel happy I can spar with any one and my body seems trained. But when someone has bad feelings against me, or when I take care of my wife who suffers periods of depression, or bad humored people in my lab (I am a scientist), my body and legs seem like a wet sweater. I can also feel bad energies they shed that make me loose any will to fight. Although my opponent may be physically weaker, I feel internally hurt. Is there any kind of chi kung to protect myself from this?

— Dr Sadi, Argentina

Answer

Your condition is common and natural. In Western terms unpleasant situations (like the ones you have mentioned) produced certain chemicals in your body that unfavorably affect your training, sparring and all other activities. In chi kung terms, the unpleasant situations create negative energies that block your effective performance, causing emotional blockage. This in fact is a big common problem faced by martial artists in their sparring or actual fighting,

In theory any kind of chi kung can protect you from this. In practice, of course, the effect of low level chi kung is marginal, and that of physical exercise (mistaken by many people as chi kung) is almost nil.

If you have been practicing high level chi kung regularly, your intrinsic energy flows smoothly and vigorously along your meridians. When negative energies are produced by reaction to unpleasant situations, the negative energies will be flushed out by your own vigorous energy flow. This explains why when others in similar situations are agitated, nervous or panicky, a high level chi kung practitioner is calm and relaxed.

It is not that he is emotionless. Negative energies are also formed as a reaction to the unpleasant situations in him as in the others, but while these negative energies are blocked in the others manifesting as agitation, nervousness, panic and other negative emotions, they are flushed out of the high level chi kung practitioner by his vigorous energy flow.

If you have been practicing high level chi kung all along, you would not have this problem. But what could you do if you have not, and are faced with negative emotions?

If you have time, you can induce a vigorous energy flow to flush out the negative emotions, such as by practicing self-manifested chi movement or other relevant chi kung exercises. If you have no time, such as when you are about to begin combat and you want to be calm and relaxed, you can perform some quick but gentle movements (which may be physical, mental or both) to let your chi flow smoothly, or you can gently sink your chi to your abdominal dan tian (energy field).

This was what kungfu masters did in the past just as they began combat. Shaolin masters, for example, would set their small universal chi flowing as they moved to greet their opponents in a typical Shaolin greeting, or gently sink their chi to their dan tian by bringing their hands to chest level then lowering them to abdomen level. (These movements are still found at the beginning of many kungfu sets, though most practitioners today are ignorant of their significance.) Taijiquan masters would move about in “flowing water and floating clouds” manner.

Of course, you need to know the techniques and have the skills to get these effects. If you don't, a substitute is to take a few deep but slow breaths. If you can breathe into your abdomen, that is excellent; if not, just breathe naturally but more deeply and slowly. If you have time, another alternative is to take a leisurely walk in some natural surroundings. Walk slowly and keep your mouth gently open. Do not think of anything; just enjoy nature and your walk.

By the way, high level chi kung is excellent for overcoming depression. Perhaps you and your wife can come to Malaysia to attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course, and then stay back on your own for a week or so to enjoy another honeymoon together. This break, physical as well as mental and symbolic, from your daily life and environment is as important as the chi kung course itself to help your wife overcome depression. After the course and the honeymoon where she can nourish her mind or spirit, you and your wife will return home as different persons. In Chinese medical philosophy, tending the mind or spirit is more important than tending the physical body.

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