I have been thinking about the Golden Bridge exercise. Is it safe? Can I progress to practicing it after reaching great success with "Lifting the Sky"?
-- Bjarni, Ireland
Of course, Golden Bridge is safe. And of course, you must do it correctly. Anything done wrongly is not safe. If you learn Golden Bridge from books, videos or incompetent nstructors who themselves do not perform it correctly, it is likely you will do Golden Bridge wrongly.
If you can achieve great success with "Lifting the Sky", you can practice Golden Bridge on your own, even if you learn it from books or videos instead of from a competent teacher. But the question is whether you can achieve great success with "Lifting the Sky". Indeed, the question is whether you can even practice "Lifting the Sky" correctly as chi kung, and not as a gentle physical exercise.
From your e-mail, it is obvious that you can't even practice "Lifting the Sky", or any chi kung exercise, as chi kung. How do I know if I haven't seen you practicing? It is simple. If you have practiced "Lifting the Sky" or any chi kung exercise as chi kung, you would not ask me the questions you do. You also would not have any problems sleeping.
Many people may be surprised at a statement like "If you have practiced chi kung exercises as chi kung", but the fact is that most chi kung practitioners today, without their realizing, do not practice chi kung exercises as chi kung! They practice them as gentle physical exercise. Similarly, most Taiji practitioners today do not practice Taijiquan patterns as Taijiquan, they also practice them as gentle physical exercise.
In case you are still confused, let me elaborate. Taijiquan is an internal martial art. Anyone who practices Taijiquan should have at least some internal force and be able to defend himself -- even if his internal force is not very powerful, and he may still be defeated in his self-defence. But most Taiji practitioners today have no internal force and cannot defend themselves. Why? Because all along they have practiced Taijiquan patterns as gental physical exercise, and not as genuine Taijiquan.
Chi kung is an art of energy management. Anyone who practices chi kung will have to work on energy, or chi. To be able to work on chi, the basic requirement is to be focus and relaxed. In other words, if you cannot be focused and relaxed, you cannot practice chi kung. Or to put it the other way round, if you have practiced chi kung correctly, you would be able to be focused and relaxed. Today, most chi kung practitioners have no experience of chi, and they cannot be focused and relaxed. Why? Because they have practiced chi kung patterns not as genuine chi kung but as gentle physical exercise.
I have heard that Golden Bridge is dangerous if practiced incorrectly, but the benefits that internal force training gives are something I have always wanted to train for, with benefits like increased stamina, endurance, mental clarity and freshness, abundant energy, immunity etc.
Yes, and the same principle applies to other things too. If you do something correctly, you get benefit. If you do it wrongly, it can be harmful. The more powerful that something is, the more powerful will be its beneficial as well as harmful effects.
If you ride a bicycle correctly, you get benefit -- you arrive at your destination faster than walking. If you do it wrongly, it may be harmful -- you may fall and hurt yourself. If you drive a car, which is more powerful, the beneficial or harmful effects will also be more powerful.
How do you learn driving a car or Golden Bridge safely and correctly so that not only you will avoid the harm but also get the powerful benefit? Learn from a competent teacher.