IKF: Just what is Chi Kung meditation?
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Interviews with Gary Clyman (1982 and 1987)
Gary Clyman began his Tai Chi career in 1974 in Chicago, studying Temple Style Tai Chi Ch’uan as taught by Master Waysun Liao. After three years of intense 6-10 hours of training a day, he founded the Chicago Wholistic Health Center which has blossomed into a highly publicized enterprise.
The opinions and views expressed here and the actions of Gary Clyman are not necessarily those of MIT Qigong; however, there is value in exploring a variety of perspectives. Below find video from Gary Clyman's First TV Interview in 1982 as well as excerpts from his interview with Inside Kung Fu Magazine in 1987. Other articles and videos can be found at his website: www.chikung.com.
Video from Gary Clyman's First TV Appearance (1982):
INSIDE KUNG FU MAGAZINE APRIL 1987
An Interview with Gary J Clyman
GJC: Chi Kung is an ancient Chinese Taoist method for rejuvenating your internal energy systems - your Jing, Chi, and Shen. It's done using various postures and different kinds of breathing, but it's the internal exercises behind these outer movements that's important. So right here it's different than say Hatha yoga or Chinese calisthenics, which it can look like; plus, the postures aren't for stretching. Traditionally, it's part of Taoist yoga - the practices of the Taoist monk's. Today, it's the backbone of the internal martial arts of Tai Chi, Hsing I, and Pa Kua. (If it's taught that is!) Right now in China, a popularized version is getting attention as a kind of cancer therapy. There are similarities with Tantric yoga, but the language, exercises, and objectives are different. What makes Chi Kung unique is the conscious directing and use of the energy. So, it's really a meditation for self-development, for creating change in your life; and it can be done by anyone. I've had doctors, Chiropractors, commodity traders, attorneys, housewives, teachers, and business people do this training, and everyone has experienced important, positive changes in their life.
IKF: Many articles are now appearing in martial arts and new age magazines on Chi Kung. With your busy practice, have you had a chance to read them? And if so, what are your conclusions?
GJC: All the articles I've read have been too superficial to do justice to this Nei Kung practice, so deep-rooted in Chinese culture. People have been led to believe that if they sit in the lotus posture and stretch one hand over their head and hold the other at tan tien while they abdominal breathe, that's Chi Kung. No way! Chi Kung means internal energy work, internal training! And it's tied into the oral secret teachings of the Taoists, and martial arts Masters. What we're talking about here is a sophisticated inner science involved in this art. People have spent their entire lives doing this and never moved off a cushion. I mean, if they're doing - why the superficial material? But there is always a purpose in putting something forth: they've prepared the public for what's to come.
IKF: So you consider exposure to the "Three Treasures" theory important for success in Chi Kung? What about elusive concepts of Chi, Jing, and Shen?
GJC: Most books confuse this and make it impossible to understand. I'd rather give the student four or five sentences he could relate to and say: "I know what he's talking about." And even taking the risk that the concept he gets is incomplete, at least it's a beginning that he can build upon during his training. It's best to look at Chi, Jing, and Shen as levels. On the deepest somatic (body) level is Jing - sexual energy. When you're sexually attracted to someone, or when sexually aroused, it’s the energy of raw Jing surging up within you. To harness that energy and work it into a purified form, to cultivate it for purposes other than the sex act, say for fighting or personality development - that's the motivating fiber of Chi Kung meditation. As the student uses this concrete idea to guide his practice, and begins to understand my wholistic health orientation, with the emphasis on diet, nutritional supplementation, and proper body mechanics, it's not hard for him to expand this idea into the more abstract one of seeing Jing as the organism's generative and regenerative energy system, a power source that begins at conception with activated cells, and then tissues, organs, the mind, the total person, and now - repairs them too. So, the vibrations then are cultivated Jing.
IKF: So how does this contrast with the famous "Chi" or "ki" so often written about?
GJC: With Jing you can transmit its energy, or the manifestation of your internal development, to another person and they can feel it. So here, if I hold both of your hands and decide to give you a shock, the feeling you can get from my cultivation of raw Jing, and its release, the fah, is pure Jing. "Fah Jing" is the "mysterious" power of the great Tai Chi Masters. It's sometimes labeled "Fah Jing." Jing can be transmitted for healing purposes also, but when we're talking about Chi, the energy of Chi can manifest as a sensation I feel that has nothing to do with the vibrations I can transmit to you. Chi energy (internal energy) has a completely different vibratory frequency. Chi vibrations are in the next level and are shorter, smaller, and faster vibrations. Jing vibrations (internal power) are more guttural, more physical, and slower. Chi of course, moves the entire universe, and is in all of us from our first embryonic breath as the source of organic change and movement, of breathing, eating, walking, fighting, thinking, and even aging too. But to sense it and use it with purpose takes technique, practice, and work. An analogy is helpful here to my students. An internal combustion engine must have an energy source, gasoline, and a method of igniting the energy, the ignition system, into the more usable form of energy, horsepower. For us, Chi is the energy source, Jing is the power, and Chi Kung is the method of transformation.
IKF: So how do you put this mechanism to work? How do you harness the Chi and make it work for you? What's your basic approach here?
GJC: The concept that cuts through the fog of ignorance and secrecy, the concept that allows the student to use Chi with purpose, to cultivate Jing, to develop and "burn" it into form, to become a dynamic self-powered individual is "The Condensing Principle." "The Condensing Process" is one of creating an inner vacuum with Chi, Jing, and Shen all at the same time. It's the process of packing the essence of things into every thought, intention, and action. Here's one basic condensing technique for developing Jing: whatever the posture, on the inhale focus on the body to expand, and at the same time focus on the inhaled Chi to contract, to condense, into the core of the body; then, on the exhale focus on the body to contract, and at the same time focus on the inhaled Chi to expand. On each inhale and exhale there is a simultaneous mental focus to expand and contract. This particular technique does two things: first, it sensitizes you to where you are in space as a physical, material body, and second, it introduces you to the first glimmer of Chi sensation, so much used in later training. This is just step one. As we go on and on, what we're doing is refining this same basic technique to the point where it goes from as gross as the body contracts, to where all the molecules in your body condense into one single atom.
IKF: I understand that your Basic Path Training and The Sitting Forms make use of many postures and coordinated movements. What's the idea behind the variety?
GJC: Basically they all accomplish the same thing - to help the mind direct the Chi and Jing through the auxiliary Chi tracts. It's like dancing: when you're studying it, you have to learn more than one step. A similar problem exists here as in Tai Chi. Many students base their choice of a system or the quality of their chosen system on how many movements there are in it. "Oh, my form has 108, his has only 68, but I know of one that has 138." This is an attitude conceived in ignorance. What's important is, at the end of the training, what does the interpretation look like, not how many movements there are.
IKF: In most meditation the mind is calmed and it simply registers the flux of consciousness to naturally reach a state of pure awareness for eventual union with the absolute. In Chi Kung however, the mind seems to be very active and directed.
GJC: It's active, but it's also concentrated, that is, focused. The mind is active only in the sense of "guiding the Chi," not thinking. This is called "Hsing Chi" and it means "wherever the mind goes, the Chi follows." Most meditation restricts awareness to mantra, a mandala, a chant, or the breathing. Most articles treat Chi Kung as a form of visualization - wrong! This is not. My concept of visualization is something created in imagination, something not existing, or not yet existing, like in the method of Creative Visualization. In Chi Kung you're not visualizing Chi condensing, circulating, or dispersing through the use of images, you are actually doing it, physically. The proof is that you can feel the forewarned effects, and later, the personal power is there and you feel it. When using Tai Chi in a martial application, someone else feels it. This is not like other meditation systems in which consciousness is worked at the expense of the body. In the Taoist view, there is an innate wholistic union of Chi, Jing, and Shen. Whenever one is being exercised, the other two are right there getting worked also. The Taoists wanted us to develop all our innate capacities so we could experience the joys of living here on earth for as long as possible. In Chi Kung, the person develops as a total unit, more fit for living.
IKF: You've talked about Jing and Chi, the basic concept of condensing, and a few other techniques, where does Shen, the third "Treasure," fit in?
GJC: Well, how do you take all this, the whole system of Chi Kung, and use it in your daily life? That's what Shen is about. When you develop the personal power of Jing you have to express this excess of vitality in some way. Since you've released latent Jing energy stored in armored muscles, tendons, and ligaments and added it to your pool of retained sexual energy, you're no longer a composite of everything that's happened to you in the past. You become "in the moment." You're not distracted by what happened last week, or six months ago. Now you can focus all the energy that you are on something new, on new goals, on a new direction for yourself. What I see in my classes is my students and clients developing the ability to recognize events for what they are. They make decisions more quickly and confidently. Their lives become simpler, less cluttered with emotional baggage, and the fear of doing new things disappears. The cultivated Jing manifests in their physical presence and awareness, the Chi, in their ability to think more clearly, to make up their minds and not be distracted. The Shen is their ability to "follow through" on what they've decided upon. "Shen is the way you can manipulate your universe to be what you want it to be. It’s your outlook on life - the way you work in the world." That's my understanding of the "Three Treasures." It grew out of my Kung Fu training, not out of the philosophy books.