SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JANUARY 2010 PART 3
I am practicing Microcosmic Orbit meditation. After about two weeks of practice, when I meditated on the navel area I felt strong warmth in the dan tian, and this warmth then went to my next energy center- sperm palace and then to the perineum. After this wonderful meditation I felt very light and energized. However such feeling was only once and now it is the third month of meditation practice but I cannot feel the effects I described above.
— Den, Latvia
Microcosmic Orbit Chi Kung, or Small Universe Chi Kung as we call it in our school, is an advanced and powerful form of chi kung. It should be practiced under a master's supervision. It seems you are learning it on your own.
It is also worthwhile to note that there are a few methods to attain the Small Universe. The one you used, i.e. via meditation, is one of the established methods, but not the one we use in our school.
Nevertheless, you have good result. What you experienced was the result of chi, or intrinsic energy, flowing down from your dan tian, or abdominal energy field, to your hui-ying vital point and across the lower gap between the ren and du meridians to the chang qiang vital point. This is an important stage in the development of the Small Universe, and is an indication that not only you have practiced correctly but also you have practiced well. Congratulations. But I would advise that you learn from a master.
There are three possibilities, as follows, why you felt the wonderful experience only once.
It is natural that the first time you experience success, the feeling is very strong. Subsequently you may not have the same feeling again, but this does not necessary mean your practice is not successful. It just means that after the initial euphoria, subsequent feelings are not so outstanding.
You are stuck at this stage and have not progressed. If you have, you would have other feeling to indicate the progress, like feeling chi rising along your du meridian at your back, or pulsation at the bai-hui vital point at the top of your head.
- Despite you initial success, subsequently you have not practiced correctly, in the sense that your practice has not brought result. You may or may not have practiced wrongly. Practicing wrongly means your practice brings adverse effect.
If you do not feel any adverse effects, you have not practiced wrongly though you have not practiced correctly which explains your lack of progress. Had you practiced wrongly you would have adverse effects like feeling tired or nervous.
Editorial Note: Den's earlier questions are posted in the January 2010 Part 2 issue.
When I stand in the Three-Circle Stance I sometimes feel internal force effect but it quickly disappears. And such feeling is about once a week. Then I feel tired.
If you learn on your own and feel internal force once a week, it is good result. Many people practicing Three-Circle Stance for months feel nothing. Logically, it is no surprise when some of them conclude that internal force is not real.
However, the internal force you have developed is not strong. So it dissipates quite easily. When you don't develop sufficient internal force to sustain your practice, you naturally feel tired. Practicing the Three-Circle Stance as physical exercise, which many people do, is quite demanding. Practicing it as an internal art, which should be done, generates internal force, which will make you fresh and energetic.
When I sometimes perform "Pushing Mountains" or "Lifting the Sky" I feel my arms very energized and powerful. However this feeling quickly disappears. Sometimes I feel warm at my navel. Of course I am not doing all chi kung exercises at once.
As explained above, when you practice chi kung exercises correctly, which you sometimes do, you feel energized and powerful. As the internal force developed is not much, it flows away easily. But it is not wasted. It flows into your body to do useful work which you may not realize, like clearing harmful viruses and noursihing your internal organs.
How much internal force is considered much? It is, of course, relative. As a comparison, those who learn "Pushing Mountains" or "Lifting the Sky" from us personally in Shaolin Wahnam feel internal force vibrantly. Practicing just 15 minutes a day will generate enough internal force for our students to enjoy the whole day with mental freshness and vitality.
Those who attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course will have enough internal force to run round a football field without panting or feeling tired, irrespective of their age. Those who attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course or Intensive Taijiquan Course will have enough internal force to spar for two or three hours without panting or feeling tired.
I would like to emphasize that what we practice is high-level chi kung. Understandably, many people may find this statement arrogant, though it is never meant to be. I make the statement in good faith, with the hope that it will help you and other sincere seekers get more benefit for your time spent on chi kung training.
High-level chi kung is rare. Even low-level chi kung is not very common. What is common is chi kung patterns practiced as gentle physical exercise. Unless they are already well-trained athletes or martial artists, those practicing low-level chi kung would not be able to run round a football field or spar for two or three hours without panting or feeling tired. Those who practice gentle physical exercise, though they may employ chi kung patterns, will be more tired after the run or sparring.
Why? It is because chi kung generates energy, whereas physical exercise expends energy. In other words, if you practice chi kung, you have more energy at the end of the practice than before, whereas if you perform physical exercise, you have less energy. The energy generated by low-level chi kung is little; it is insufficient to maintain the running or sparring activities.
While the type of chi kung exercise plays an important part in determining the amount of energy generated, the skill in performing the exercise is even more important. For example, if all other factors were equal, practicing Three-Circle Stance generates more energy than practicing "Lifting the Sky". But because he is more skillful, a master will generate much more energy practicing "Lifting the Sky" than a student practicng Three-Circle Stance.
Because Three-Circle Stance is a more powerful exercise, practicing it wrongly will result in more serious adverse effects than practicing Lifting the Sky. This is one main reason why I always advice that stance training should be practiced under a competent teacher.
This is also one of the main reasons why I often recommend "Lifting the Sky". Unless the student purposely goes against the instructions, practicing "Lifting the Sky" wrongly is not very serious. Yet, practicing it correctly can bring a lot of benefits.
You said that it was impossible to learn from books, but can I get some results if I put great effort in mind training - to think of nothing, to control my mind, and in such way perform chi kung exercises?
I did not say it was impossible to learn from books. For those who have the necessary skills, they can learn a lot from books. My students, for example, have benefited very much from books and videos.
But for those who have no basic skills, it is very difficult, but not totally impossible, to learn chi kung and kungfu from books. On the other hand, it is easy to make mistakes and derive adverse effects.
Mind training is a very advanced art, even for students with a master's supervision. If you put great effort in mind training to perform chi kung exercise, it is likely not only you get no benefits but also you get serious harmful side effect. Hence, I strongly advice you against doing it.
I have been learning Long Fist for around a year and after reading your book about "The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu", I am concerned about my kung fu learning. My master teaches us combat applications using internal force and teaches us to train against an imaginary opponent. However, if we don't do free sparring, is it still genuine kung fu?
— Mason, Australia
Yes, yours is genuine kungfu though you do not practice free sparring.
Practicing with an imaginary opponent is actually a very important part of kungfu training, especially at an advanced level, but usually this is done after some sparring practice with real sparring partners.
You can overcome your set-back by practicing some sparring with friends. Start with pre-arranged sparring using the combat applications you have learnt, but with a friend to replace your imaginary opponent. Use simple and short applications at first. Gradually you can progress to longer applications.
One effective method is as follows. Suppose there are five movements in your pre-arranged sparring. Your movements are A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, and your partner's movements are B1, B2, B3, B4, B5.
When you are familiar with this pre-arranged sparring, gradually progress to semi-free sparring. Follow the pre-arranged sparring sequence as before but take out any one movement. Your partner does not know which movement you are going to take out. An example is A1, A2, A4, A5. Here you take out the third movement, and now your sequence has only four movements. If your partner responds correctly, his movements will be B1, B2, B4, B5.
Try with other variations. For example, you may have A2, A3, A4, A5 where you take out the first movement, or A1, A3, A4, A5 where you take out the second movement, or A1, A2, A3, A4 where you take out the last movement. If your partner responds correctly, his movements will be B2, B3, B4, B5 or B1, B3, B4, B5 or B1, B2, B3, B4.
Next, add one movement to a chosen sequence. For example, if your chosen sequence is A1, A3, A4, A5, and you wish to add A3 after A4, your new sequence will be A1, A3, A4, A3, A5. Your partner does not know which sequence you have chosen, and he also does not know what movement and where you wish to add. But if he has followed this sparring methodology systematically he may be able to respond correctly and spontaneously using B1, B3, B4, B3, B5
In this way you can progress to free sparring. The progression should be gradual, and practice the sparring like a game rather than like competition.
I have your book "The Art of Chi Kung" and have started to practice "Lifting the Sky". However in Answer to Readers' Questions -- May 2008 Part 2, Answer 2 -- you wrote, "Sometimes elderly people in our chi kung classes fell down suddenly in their chi flow. Hence it is very important to practice chi kung in a safe place".
Now I am afraid of continuing the practice. How great are the chances to fall down? I stop practice until I hear from you.
— Jan, Sweden
My advice was given to elderly people for precaution. Actually the chance of falling down during chi kung practice and hurting oneself is minimal.
If you follow instructions respectfully, practicing chi kung is very safe. It is certainly safer than walking down a busy street. Yet, one must ensure the place of practice is safe, like away from high balcony and pointed objects.
In a type of chi kung called self-manifested chi movement, some practitioners lie on the ground and perform some interesting movements. They do so voluntarily. It is both pleasant and beneficial. If they do not wish to go onto the ground, they can remain standing. They have full control of their movements.
I and my neighbour received a few attacks with stones over the roof, and this produce a big noise and I was very scared. It produced a lot of stress for me. I become nervous and worried. I am taking massages and some pills to relax.
The attacks have stopped but my symptoms haven't. I can't forget the noises and the incident. I think a lot and I am on alert whenever I hear a noise.
When I become nervous I feel hot in my ears and neck, and my head pulsates. I have had a medical examination and it shows that I don't have hypertension. I am 30 years old.
— Jorge, Argentina
According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, your emotional problem is due to the weakening of your kidney system as a result of the attacks which caused fear. There are a few effective ways to overcome your poblem.
You can see a good acupuncturist or a good herbalist. I would emphasize that the acupuncturist or herbalist must be good. By manipulating your vital points or prescribing appropriate herbs, they can strengthen your kidney system and overcome your problem.
You can also learn chi kung from a genuine chi kung master. Make sure that it is chi kung and not merely gentle physical exercise. The crucial difference is that practicing chi kung generates an energy flow which can strengthen your kidney system, whereas practicing gentle physical exercise does not have this benefit.
As a poor alternative, you can practice the two exercises, "Nourishing Kidneys" and "Pushing Mountains", from my books. It is a "poor" alternative not because the exercises are not good -- in fact they are excellent in helping you to overcome your problem -- but because as you learn from my books and not from me or our certified instructors personally, you are likely to practice them as gentle physical exercise instead of as chi kung. If you can follow my instructions in my books and practice them as chi kung, you would be able to overcome your emotional problem.
There is another effective and interesting way to overcome your problem. If someone or you yourself can make yourself very angry, you can overcome your emotional problem. This is applying the principle of "five elementary processes", which was used by some famous Chinese physicians in the past.
I intend to try meditation. I have read your book "The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine". This book has helped me a lot of times with other problems.
I also consider practicing martial arts again. I practiced Karate and Kickboxing before.
Meditation is not suitable at present. It may aggravate your emotional problem.
Practicing Karate or Kick-Boxing, especially when you learn from bad instructors and spar with aggressive classmates, may make you very angry, and thus help you to overcome your emotional problem of fear. But, of course, this is not recommended because you will then develop other emotional problems.
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