Welcome to the MIT Qigong Blog





Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Great Summer of Qigong at MIT


Date: 8/30/11
Subject: MIT Qigong

Hello,

     I just want to thank everyone for a fantastic summer of natural Qigong at MIT.  This summer session flew by and our club has a lot of new faces which is always exciting.  I truly enjoy sharing this art as I know it's simplicity of practice combined with maximum results are nothing short of amazing.  I am looking forward to an exciting fall semester of training with everyone. 

     Those who are looking to begin training Zhan Zhuang should start with ten minutes per day and gradually build up to the normal daily training schedule.  Ten minutes per day may not seem like much but if you were to only do ten minutes per day that would equal over sixty hours per year of mind/body/breath cultivation time per year.  So, a little bit certainly goes a long way!   I write our personal training programs for anyone who trains at our club.  If you would like for me to send you a training schedule feel free to email me.  Anyone who has a training schedule and needs it updated also should email me.  We rotate the training programs three times per year so every four months I will change up your training routing so the body and training does not get stale.

***

Training Set 8/29/11

10 Gather Qi
5/5 Half Supporting Post
10 Universal Post
5/5 Half Supporting Post
10 Universal Post
10 3 Point Leg Set
Seal & Wash

***

FALL SEMESTER INFO:

Date: 9/12/11

Location: Student Center, Room 491 "http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=W20"

Time: 7:00-8:00

Cost: FREE

***

     I am teaching a morning Zhan Zhuang Qigong energy meditation at a martial art and holistic health festival in New Hampshire this Sat. from 10:00-11:00.  Anyone interested in attending please contact me for more info..  I hope everyone has a great long weekend and thanks for all the support!!!    

Best wishes,
Jim Roselando

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stances and Relaxation By David Poon

Qi Magazine - Issue 39 (1998)

When performing martial arts and Qigong stances, 
you will always hear your teacher telling you to relax. 
However, no matter how much you think you are relaxed, 
you are told that you look tense.

Stances are designed to transmit force through the body. For Qigong, the only force you need to consider is the weight of the body itself. Therefore a Qigong stance has to transmit the weight of the body down into the ground. However, for martial arts the stance has to transmit force from the ground, through the body, into the opponent. There are several mistakes we can make. The first mistake is not to line up the joints correctly. This is most often seen in the knees when in a squatting position. If everything is lined up, then the legs are capable of taking a lot of weight. If you have seen a suspension bridge, such as the “Golden Gate” in San Francisco, then you have seen how a lot of weight can be supported simply by a strong cable and two supporting towers. All the weight of the bridge is translated into tension in the cable. However if the supporting towers were not aligned correctly the bridge would not be able to support its own weight.

The muscles along the top of the leg, such as the quadriceps, are like the cable, and the bones in our lower leg are like the supporting towers. Misalignment here will damage the joints in our legs, and in the case of martial arts, prevent the strength from our legs from being transmitted upwards. The second mistake is to lock the joints in the legs and support your weight on them. For example if you want to perform a low stance, it is tempting to lock your hip joint, and sit on top of it. This takes the load off the muscles and puts it on the ligaments of the joint, eventually damaging the joint. Instead, you should gradually develop the strength of the muscles so that they are strong enough to support you in low positions. In order to increase the flexibility of the hip, however, you can break this rule a little. The third mistake is to use too much tension in your back or stomach muscles to keep your stance stable. This usually happens when there is a mistake in the lower body, and the upper body has to be tense in order to compensate. The fourth mistake is more related to martial arts, and is to use muscles that directly oppose the direction that the force is being expressed. For example, pushing someone with your arms uses the triceps under your arm. However it is common for people who weight train to develop the biceps. The biceps oppose the triceps and will prevent you from delivering your punch. Using the triceps only, and other related muscles under your arm is a common theme in martial arts, and is known as “Zhou di li”, or “Strength that comes from under the elbow”. It is difficult to achieve, since when we think we are going to get hit, we automatically tense our biceps in order to cover our face. Relaxed means that the joints are bending the way that they are supposed to bend, and that the load on the body is taken by the appropriate muscles. Initially, these muscles will be uncomfortable, but with time they will develop strength, and will feel relaxed even under load. The body will feel loose, and Qi will be able to flow freely. Most importantly, the strength will continue to develop by itself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sealing the Breath

At MIT Qiqong Sessions, we always end our practice 
with five or more minutes of sealing the breath

                                  
i) Stand naturally with your feet as wide as your shoulders. 
Keep your back straight, relax your shoulders and neck,
keeping your head in an upright natural position.


ii) Men should place their left hand on the Dantien
and their right hand over their left hand. Women
should place their right hand on the Dantien and
their left hand over their right hand. Relax your whole body.


iii) Slowly bend your knees and breathe out 
through your nose, but keep your back straight.



Qi Magazine - Issue 37 (1998)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three years for small success, ten years to become a living immortal!

Qi Magazine - Issue 36 (1998)
By Michael Tse

How do you find a good teacher? A lot of this is to do with fate.When you open a magazine all the advertisements say how good this teacher is, or how that one is a grandmaster who can open up the secrets of a skill to you. Often they will tell you how many days or weeks it will take for you to become a Qigong master, how they will open your Sky-eye (Third-eye), and how they will teach you to transmit Qi to heal people. They all look like adverts on TV, and some even say,“Money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied!” These advertisements do not promote any teachers. They only promote commercialism.

A good way to find a teacher is to go and see the person. Then you need to ask yourself how you feel about him/her. You have to look at how they behave and the condition of their health. Whether you want to study Qigong, or the martial art of taijiquan, a good teacher will behave well and look very healthy. They should be able to answer your questions so you can understand. If they can do this, then their knowledge is clear, and so their skill should also be good. If this is the case you can probably study with them.

You should also look at the senior students, people who have been studying for over three years. See how they behave, because if you eventually study with this teacher you will most likely become very similar. Recently, a student studied with me for about one year and then left. Probably she felt she wanted to learn more things more quickly and so she went to another Qigong master.

Then suddenly, after another year had gone, she appeared in my class and asked me how to prevent someone whose energy was very strong from effecting her. I told her that no one could affect you if you do not want to be affected. She replied, “He is very strong and I cannot get rid of him.” So I told her that going to another place might help. However, when I saw her later she looked tired and worried, and all her Qi had gone. At first, I knew she was too eager to develop her Qi. When she had been studying for only three months, she came to me and said she wanted to teach Qigong. I told her she was not ready. Then, when she had almost finished the form, she left. It seems to me that she just wanted to develop Qi and not the skill. Afterwards she ended up with another teacher, someone who she thought would teach her the power of Qi. She decided to study this skill and finally ended up disturbed.

Studying Qigong should be done step by step. When the time is right, everything will happen. There is a saying, “Three years for small success, ten years to become a living immortal!” It just takes time. Anything that happens quickly can easily result in side effects. You need to be patient. Just practice everyday, there’s no hurry.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Progressive Nature of Understanding in Qigong

Qi Magazine - Issue 35 (1998)

By Yu-Cheng Huang
Adapted to English by Robert Poile and Laurie Manning

Qigong is the study of energy in the universe, a person's relationship with that energy, and the use of energy to benefit health and increase longevity. The final goal is to be in balance and harmony with oneself and the universe. This ancient Chinese study requires perseverance and patience of students choosing it as a field of study. Qigong study is a process of gradual deepening. Deepening both in understanding and in the utilization of the energy itself. It is this path, one of a continual deepening of understanding that this article will discuss.

A first requirement in Qigong study is patience. Most practitioners find that while acquiring patience in their practice of Qigong, they also attain patience and balance in the living of their lives. Patience in Qigong is multidimensional; it is patience to believe in the practice, trust the method, to practice, to accept that what is happening in the practice is appropriate, etc. I often use as an example of patience an onion slowly being peeled and revealing itself in an unhurried and yet systematic manner. The Qigong "process," being slow and gradual in its nature, just as the peeling of an onion, requires, much patience of a person. Students are constantly in a rush. The assumption is that the knowledge and feelings associated with Qigong can be acquired quickly if the book is read from start to finish; the method is practiced 10 times a day; if an exercise is to be done once, then doing it 50 times is better; if the teacher reveals the "secrets," instant knowledge and ability will ensue, etc. However, Qigong cannot be viewed as a pill which can be popped, an instant or quick elixir. Like life's unfolding itself, Qigong does not give up or reveal its essence quickly, rather just as we evolve, so Qigong evolves through study and practice over time. That evolution differs from student to student. Each experience is unique and the energy (Qi), as the highest level doctor, is able to discern what the student's specific balance needs are and assist in fulfilling those needs.

Periodically a student has a "special" experience, they may have an insight (e.g. past life regression); a special reaction (such as being able to see inside their body or another persons'), a special manifestation of the energy (the ability to do something the person has not been able to do before); the resolution of a physical problem (cure of an imbalance/illness, weight loss, stress reduction) etc. These experiences are often a "glimpse" that Qigong is giving of its power. Single instances do not however mean that some final goal has been reached, they are merely milestones along the Qigong path. Only through long-term practice can the student learn to diagnose their imbalances, produce or replicate the experiences they need, and define and tap into the specific energy they require to create and maintain balance on an ongoing basis.

This does not imply that immediate rewards are not available from Qigong. The immediate positive reactions to Qigong are many - relaxation, cures for simple ailments, sleeping improvement, weight loss, and the list goes on. Some students have profound results quickly such as the cure of a major problem. However, for all the evolution of Qigong, while it may travel at different rates for different individuals, it is a gradual process. This article is written to encourage students to not "give up" or leave their practices, but rather to have determination and faith, as well as acceptance that the process works and that what is happening to them at the time is what should be happening, whether that experience is (at least in their perception) minor or major. 

For the beginner sensations (energy) are often felt in/on the skin or outside of the body. Then as experience and practice continue the sensations move inward progressing from skin (exterior), to muscle, channels, bone, blood and bone marrow. It is interesting to me that I frequently have students comment as they progress to higher levels: "Sifu (teacher), I don't feel the energy as much anymore, am I losing my connection the energy?" The answer is a simple no. What is occurring is that the energy is moving inward to greater depths and as it does so the student feels understand this and begin to listen to their body more carefully they realize the new depth to which the energy and their understanding has moved.

Qigong is a form of meditation and involves a variety of exercises, some moving, some sedentary (i.e. no physical movement, however energetic movement is occurring). However, all Qigong exercises are designed to work in differing ways with the energy in the body. Some exercises are specifically designed to gather energy, some to move energy, some to tonify energy, etc. Qigong study can be compared to a banquet. Some come to the table and simply look and smell, others taste a little of this and that, some eat all the food quickly, some relax, savour the food and digest the food completely. Qigong is similar. The person who simply looks and smells gains benefits and understanding at one level. However, those who delve deeper, find the essences and heart of Qigong.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Similarities.... Yoga, Taiji & Qigong

Qi Magazine - Issue 31 (1997)
By Krishna Dervi Chaudheri

Today many people seeking an alternative, healthy way of life will choose to study yoga, taiji or Qigong. All of these offer exercise to the body, mind and spirit.

Yoga does not have a martial side as does taiji, and its adherents usually practice in a particular ashram, templore or school whereas taiji and Qigong are practiced on a much wider scale socially and publicly.

In a recent Qigong seminar the teacher's first words sere "You must train with a good attitude and heart." Having studied yoga for many years before taking up Qigong, I observed that the rest of the instruction regarding time, place and manner of practice read like a classical yoga course manual. The Bhagvad Ceia says, "Yoga is not for he who starves himself. It is not for he who sleeps too much, not for he who stays awake. By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in waking and by concordance in sleeping and walking, yoga destroys all pain and sorrow."

It can also be said of other martial arts and Qigong as well that discipline is needed in order to experience the full benefits of practice. In taiji, regular practice will make the forms more clear and improve health. In Qigong, regular practice will increase the flow of healthy energy (Qi) and help the joints become more loose and improve overall flexibility.

In all of these disciplines we are not only training the body but the mind. As our body becomes more healthy, our mind becomes more balanced. The more we practice, the more closely we are in harmony with the universe. High level masters who have learned to control their emotions and desires and who have achieved stillness within themselves can be said to be one with the universe. 

Throughout our practice, be it yoga, taiji or Qigong, we must learn to relax and keep our mind calm. Eva Wong in her book, Cultivating Stillness, says: "Sitting quietly and not moving is stillness. Craving is movement. If you are filled with desire and your senses are attached to objects, the heart is not still... If you are free from cravings, in stillness you will see the mystery within."

In one of the main classical yoga texts, The Yoga Sudra of Patanjali, it says: "Undoubtedly the mind is heedless and hard to control but it can be trained by constant practice and by freedom from desire. If man cannot control his mind he will find it difficult to attain this divine communion, but the self controlled man can attain it if he tries hard and directs his energy by the right means." Of course this is referring to the study of yoga. However, in other disciplines one begins to achieve balance of the mind through exercise and relaxation. The heart of many disciplines are the same, to train not only the body but the spirit. Through calming the fire of the body, the spirit in turn is calmed. 

The great Yogi of the century, B.K.S. Iyengar, says: "Asanas (different postures of yoga practice) have been evolved over the centuries so as to exercise energy, muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They secure a fine physique which is strong and elastic without muscles bound and they keep the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves but their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind."

The same is true for taiji and Qigong. One trains the body, increasing suppleness and loosening the joints which also allows the Qi to flow freely from the body, ridding the body of illness and anxiety.

We can slow develop greater appreciation of all these disciplines by deepening our knowledge. In the same way that knowledge of the acupuncture points of the body greatly enhance Qigong practice, optimum physical benefits and mind relaxation are gained from combining posture and concentration on the physic centre of yoga. Yoga uses mind concentration to stimulate and channel the flow of energy through the Chakras. 

In movement we seek to balance our minds and bodies and through this balance we can then move to stillness... Be it through yoga, taiji or Qigong.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation


In 1939, Wang Xiangzhai issued a public challenge through a Beijing newspaper. His objective: to test and prove the new martial arts training system of Yiquan, a system that placed standing meditation (zhan zhuang) at its core.

Expert fighters from across China, Japan and even Europe traveled to answer Wang’s challenge. None could beat him or his senior students. His standing meditation training produced superior results in a shorter time period, when compared to methods used in boxing, Judo, and other styles of Kung Fu.
Considering the proven value of standing meditation, surprisingly few people undertake the practice today. Why is this? As Wang himself noted, the exercise is plagued by logical contradictions. Understandably, but unfortunately, martial artists reject the exercise because it cannot possibly work.
Sincere students, who are willing to suspend their disbelief for a few hours of introductory practice, will encounter and resolve these four paradoxes.

Standing still is good exercise. Wang Xiangzhai explained the unique health benefits of standing meditation in his essay, The Gain From Practicing Martial Art:

Appropriate exercises can positively affect every cell and every organ in the human body, improve the functioning of respiratory and vascular systems, and also improve metabolism. In other words, they activate the whole human organism. 
In typical forms of exercise, before the body is tired, there are already problems with breathing and the heart is overburdened. So the exercise must be halted prematurely in order to let one’s heart rest, to catch one’s breath and return to a normal state. 
Chinese combat science uses the opposite method. This is exercise of the muscular and vascular systems, exercise for all cells of the body. The principle is to stimulate every organ at the same time. Even if during exercise your muscles become tired, your pulse stays in the normal range, and breathing is natural. After the exercise, you feel that your breath is freer and more comfortable than before.  
Because there are no complex sets of movements, the nervous system is not greatly stressed; you eliminate internal tension, achieving mental calm. 

Holding your arms up is relaxing. Many variations of standing meditation require that the arms be held up, as if holding a ball, for fifteen minutes or more. At first, such postures are unpleasant, and cause tension and soreness in the shoulders. However, the posture itself is not the problem, it only exposes the problem: an unhealthy lifestyle, so deficient in exercise that even your own arms seem oppressively heavy.

After a few weeks of regular practice, the soreness will give way to more pleasant sensations. You will be able to raise your arms up with no discernable effort, and your entire body will become warm. Your joints will feel well-lubricated; stiffness or arthritic conditions will be relieved.

Time flies when you’re doing nothing. A lack of upper-body strength is not the only obstacle to successful practice. After the soreness disappears, a succession of images will parade through your mind. Endlessly replaying the events of the past, and predicting those of the future, you should begin to recognize that you are addicted to distraction.

Starving the beast will weaken it. If you can disregard these distractions from within, do so; otherwise, remove them from your practice environment. Shut the windows and the doors. When your mind finally stops, your perception of time will change; instead of watching the clock, you’ll wish you had more time to spend in this calm and quiet state.

Static posture training promotes fluid and coordinated movement. The prevalence of these mental and physical discomforts illustrates that, although everyone can stand still, few people do it well.
Only after resolving these issues within yourself, will you discover how deeply they affect your performance. As you would expect, your balance will improve; you may be surprised to find that standing meditation also increases your sensitivity, explosive speed and power.

In his later years, Wang Xiangzhai nicknamed himself “Old Man of Contradictions”. Martial artists today cannot hope to match his great accomplishment, unless they are willing to stand first, and ask questions later. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chen Style Zhan Zhuang Tutorial (Qi Magazine)

Chen Style Zhan Zhuang
By Michael Tse

Zhan Zhuang is a very popular form of exercise. For some years now there have been a wide variety of books and videos available, and there has even been a TV series on the subject. 

A very common type of Qigong trianing is 'Standing like a tree', standing still, with your arms out as if you are holding a ball, with your eyes closed. Did you know that this standing training comes from Taijiquan? this type of training we all Zhan Zhuang and there are other styles that have similar training exercises. 'Zhan' means standing and 'Zhuang' means pole. Altogether it means 'standing like a pole'. These exercises help you to gather a lot of Qi, strengthen your muscles and bones, and make you healthy.

Orginially, taijiquan came from Chen Village, and to the Chen style, Zhan Zhuang is very important, especially if you want your taijiquan to be good since it helps you develop a stance and strong legs. Here is the Chen style Zhan Zhuang which follows the teaching of Master Chen Xiao Wang.

1) Stand still with your feet together and your head upright, as if you are listening to a sound coming from behind you. Your baihui point, huiyin point and yongquan points should be in line and your Qi will start to sink to your Dantien. Slightly bend your knees. This will help your Qi sink more and stop your body from moving. (Fig 1 & 2)

2. Start to bend your knees more, but keep your knees, shoulders, hips, back and ankles in a straight line. The shoulders and hips are connected together and your arms and ankles are connected together. More Qi will sink to the Dantien because the knees bend more. Your center of gravity also moves to your Dantien and this makes the upper body feel lighter and allows the Qi to flow more easily. 

Now shift all your weight onto your right leg and lift up your left foot. Try to keep your balance and do not allow yourself to fall over. (Fig 3)

Slowly move your left foot out to the side until your feet are shoulder width apart (Fig 4) and then shift your weight over until your weight is even on both feet. You should now feel more steady. Do not forget to keep your head up (as if you are listening to something behind you), arms and body straight. Your knees should still be bent, but do not let them go past your toes. Everything should be still and relaxed, let the Qi sink to the Dantien and stand still 'like a mountain'. (Fig 5)

3. Now you can start to slowly raise up your arms, as if you are holding something between your hands. Move slowly until your arms are at a comfortable height. Some people like them high and some like them lower. How high or low you go depends on how strong you are, and this is actually the same with the stance, but in the beginning it is better to use a hight stance and just have your hands in a comfortable positoin. (Fig 6, 7, 8)

While you are standing, you can slightly adjust your posture if you find any part of your body is tense or uncomfortable. This will help you stand for a long time so you can store a lot of Qi and let the power of the Qi develop. To begin with, your teacher will help to adjust your posture until it is right. Afterwards, you will find that heat passes through your body and this means that all the blockages are clear. 

How long you can manage depends on your standard and you will find the longer you stand, the longer you like to do the exercise.  At the end, when you feel you want to stop, slowly drop your hands down to  your sides and close your legs until you are standing in the original position. The longer you stand, the more clear you will feel, sometimes you will almost forget yourself. When you try to forget everything and relax, the Qi inside your body will flow very strongly, passing all around the body, making you feel good and relaxed. 

Gradually build up the time you can stand, from about fifteen minutes to one hour. Zhan Zhaung is a very important part of taijiquan. If you practice regularly it can help to make you strong and healthy.


Qi Magazine - Issue 27 (1996)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MIT Monday Qigong: Year Three Exercises

Date: 8/17/11
Subject: Monday Night Qigong 

Hello,

      Monday night we continued with our review of the MIT Qigong "Three Year Program".  Working on year three exercises we covered the Classical Eight Posts as well as introducing the Three Point Leg set.  This training is designed to holistically link the entire body.  Allowing whole body circulation and awareness.  I would like to say that I am very impressed with everyone in our class.  Zhan Zhuang is very demanding and coming to class and holding still postures for 40-60 minutes is amazing.  GREAT JOB!!! 


Last night training set:


10 Gather Qi
5 Zhuang #1
5 Zhuang #2
5 Zhuang #3
5 Zhuang #4
5 Zhuang #5
5 Zhuang #6
5 Zhuang #7
5 Zhuang #8
5 Gather Qi
5 Leg Work
Seal & Wash  


See you next week!

Peace,
Jim Roselando

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Qigong and Meditation: Relaxation is the Key


MEDITATION and QIGONG
by Glenn Gossling
Qi Magazine - Issue 20 (1995)

Meditation and the movements of the forms are yin and yang aspects of Qigong. You need both to balance your study. The movements unblock channels, open acupoints and stimulate the organs. Meditation allows you to center and collect energy. The stillness of your meditation posture also allows you to feel the effects of the forms as Qi circulates around your body. The combination of the two exercises will give you completely different experiences to meditation on its own.

It is essential that you maintain good posture during meditation. Initially this may be uncomfortable but you should not give in to backache or other irritations. It is only by committed regular practice that you can improve your posture and remove the root causes of these problems.

Correct posture and breathing are interlinked. If you allow your shoulders to hang forward they close the chest. If you sit in a slouched posture your rib cage compresses your abdomen. Your posture and breathing also affect the way that Qi flows around your body. Poor posture and restricted breathing will cause Qi to stagnate. Once your posture is correct and your breathing relaxed, meditation becomes an engine for clearing problems. Deep breathing and relaxation are difficult without good posture.

Some people with previous experience of meditating find Qigong meditation difficult because we use no mantras or visualization techniques. Visualization and mantras are often used badly, as a way to ignore what is happening in your body and mind. It is not healthy to suppress these things. You should just let your emotions and physical sensations arise so that they dissipate or you can deal with them. Mantras and visualization techniques focus the mind and can cause side effects if used too much. Any mental techniques will eventually upset the stomach if used too much. In Qigong, a thorough knowledge of our physical selves is the foundation from which we advance to higher levels of study.

Some people wonder whether this might make us too body orientated and not mental enough. It should be remembered that in Chiense medicine there is no mind/body dichotomy. It is well known that the heart rules your shen (spirit) and the liver harmonizes your emotions and so on. By concentrating on your physical sensations you are dealing with your mind too. 

In Qigong we lightly focus on the Dantien or breathing. The trick is just to relax and let it all happen. For sure, to begin with, you are going to find that your mind floods with all kinds of thoughts - what am I going to have for tea? What is the sound? How long have I been sitting here? etc. If you persist in your study eventually these thoughts will settle down. Then you will be able to observe yourself. This is the original use of visualization - you concentrate on an image (such as the meeting of a tiger and dragon, which are symbols of yin and yang, a visual metaphor for the process of meditation) just long enough for the mind to settle and then you get on with the real process of meditation (listening to your body). Don't simply expect the mental visualization to do the work for you.

It can be very hard to maintain this 'unfocussed' concentration. It is all too easy to let your mind wander. One possible solution to this can be to keep a meditation diary. Knowing that you are going to have to write something down at the of your meditation can help keep your thoughts on what you are doing. It gives you a record so that you can examine how your experiences change and develop over a period of time. It will also allow you to discover patterns in your experiences which add to your knowledge and understanding of Qigong.

Relaxation is the key to meditation. Once you are in a relaxed state you can 'watch' what happens and experience the different effects of Qigong. By keeping still you let your Qi flow naturally to any part of your body that needs it so that you can heal yourself. Over long periods of time you can store your Qi in your Dantien to raise your energy level. Eventually maybe, you might even form a crystal there. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Five Fundamentals of the Mind (By WXZ)

Date: 8/15/11
Subject: Building 1/Room 242

Hello,

     For the next THREE WEEKS the MIT Qigong Club will be meeting in Building 1/Room 242.  I am looking forward to another fantastic work out with everyone.  Our classes on Monday night are FREE so bring some friends and test our simple yet profound method of cultivation!

See you soon!

Peace,
Jim

***
MIT Qigong
7:00-8:00
Building 1/Room 242
Cost is Free!
***

The Five Fundamentals of the Mind (By WXZ)

(This article originally appeared in Wudang, Vol. 10, #'s 2 and 3)
There are five basic fundamental concepts which will provide the insights or background needed to achieve higher levels in Martial Arts/Qigong. These concepts will help you in your overall relaxation skills.
The importance of your ability to relax is connected to several other factors: First and foremost, when you are in a relaxed state, your breathing is not constricted, but full and natural. Secondly, your alertness is clear and refined, and finally, your reactions are quick and uninhibited.
In order to achieve this relaxed state, you must practice meditation. The usual method of meditation emphasizes the physical acts of monitoring your breathing, becoming aware of any stress or tension, etc.
The following five guidelines will help you control your state of mind, a precondition of one’s behaviour.

Respect Respect makes reference to how you treat others. You should always maintain a sense of mutual respect. You should not take on a position of superiority, whether or not it may appear justified. There is an infinite amount of experiences, and any single person cannot possibly have witnessed all of them in his or her lifetime. Therefore, your fellow man has experiences and ideas that you may never have encountered or contemplated before. This is why you can always learn from others.
In the area of the Martial Arts, your classmate/opponent possesses different ideas, levels of skill, etc., all of which are legitimate. There may exist better, faster, more effective techniques, but nevertheless, your opponent’s techniques are real and must be addressed. No two persons will attack or react in the same way (power, angle, or methods). If you are perceptive, you can learn from any variation/situation. When you take on a position of superiority you create an artificial barrier between yourself and others. This barrier will automatically create tension. Tension is the single most important hindrance you must avoid in order to achieve higher levels.

Care Be thoughtful and careful when acting. It is important that you analyze self and commit yourself to whatever actions you take. You should believe in your decision-making processes. If you do not believe (have faith) or do not understand, you will create a mental block, which will hinder your results. Once you understand how a process can help you, then your mind can accept it, giving it value and allowing you to concentrate. It will also allow you to expand, gaining greater insights of how other issues are related to one another.

Thought This is a simple process. Understanding that you are only capable of doing one thing at a time, you can only process (solve) one issue at a time, you should not try to do two things at once. This will only split your focus as you move from one problem to another, and cause anxiety and stress. Single-mindedness will allow you to face the opponent with unrestrained whole-body power.

Focus You must understand completely what you are trying to achieve, clearly defining the end results of what is to be gained. You must therefore strip away all the minor processes and methods in order to focus on the essence of the subject matter. By focusing, you will understand which processes and methods enable you to achieve the desired goal.

Harmony Your interaction with others should be based on self-respect and honour. You should not take a position of superiority, nor one of inferiority. In this harmonious (neutral) position, you will be at ease with others, allowing you to be relaxed, calm, and composed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Meditation is Important to the Martial Arts

Why Meditation is Important to the Martial Arts
by Jáchym Jerie, January 24, 2011
Disciple of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming at the YMAA CA Retreat Center
Also featured in the Spring 2011 Issue of Qi-Journal: http://www.qi-journal.com/

To reach the full potential as a martial arts practitioner, you must begin by training your mind. One way to accomplish this task is through sitting meditation. Through meditation your awareness, calm, and focus will increase. These are all very important factors in martial arts. Without awareness, you will not be able to fight in a battle without getting hit or even killed. Without focus, you will not be able to catch the right opportunity to strike or defend, which could be disastrous. Without calmness, you will not be able to focus or relax. If you tense up out of fear, you will burn out quickly. You must learn how to manipulate your energy, which will be referred to as Qi (氣) of the body so it will not disperse unused. Also you can activate more energy when it is really necessary.

All these benefits can be gained through embryonic breathing, which is the type of meditation focused in this article.

Embryonic Breathing Theory
To understand the concept of embryonic breathing, you have to know the basic energy system of the body. The human body has two polarities, one resides in the brain, and the other is in the abdomen region. The latter is called the real lower Dantian (丹田), while the former is known as the upper Dantian. There is another Dantian positioned at the solar plexus area, but not covered in this article. The lower Dantian is the battery for the whole body. It resides in the abdomen region. The structure of the abdomen allows Qi to be stored to a high level and from there it can supply the whole body.

The upper Dantian is in the limbic system located between the ears. Some Qi Gong (氣功) practitioners believe that this is the residence of the spirit and your true self.

The lower and upper Dantian communicate through the spinal cord. The communication occurs here because the spinal cord is composed of material highly conductive to Qi. This enables the two brains to act as one. Physically, they are two, but in action, they are one.

Yin and Yang
The energy of the Dantians has two polarities; the lower Dantian is the Yang (陽) side, and the upper Dantian is the Yin (陰) side. The two polarities regulate the whole energy system of the body. The Yang side supplies the quantity, while the Yin side supplies the quality. The quality of the energy will improve as the practitioner learns how to focus better. However, it is not a task that can be finished since there are unlimited levels of focus. Only through practice can you attempt to achieve a level of focus where outside distractions will not register. To improve the quantity, you have to condition the lower Dantian. For further information please refer to the book Qigong, The Secret of Youth—Da Mo's Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Classics, by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.

False Dantian
The whole abdominal area is called false Dantian and can store energy to some extent, but once it is full, the energy will be distributed and consumed. The energy that is stored there comes from fat conversion, which happens as we move our abdomen, in normal or reverse abdominal breathing, which will be discussed later in this article. About one and a half inches below the navel, there is a cavity which is called Qihai (氣海) or false Dantian. Through this cavity one can lead Qi into and out of the real lower Dantian.

Semi-sleeping State and the Mind
The Chinese believe that human beings have two kinds of minds. One is called Yi () and the other one is called Xin (). Yi is steady like a horse and represents wisdom. Xin is like a monkey and represents the emotional mind. To calm down the emotional mind, you should focus on your breathing. The semi-sleeping state is very important for meditation. Once we get to the semi-sleeping state the subconscious mind starts to wake up. The control of the conscious mind gets thinner and thinner. Once you meditate for a while, you might experience the surfacing of emotions such as anger or sorrow. Those feelings are most likely trapped emotions from the past, and you should release them.

Despite this, the semi-sleeping state is a condition in which we can best concentrate. When we are in the conscious state, our mind registers a lot of things and gets distracted by the outside world. Once we reach the semi-sleeping state, those distractions from outside fade away. Of course it is not easy to keep the semi-sleeping state without falling into the sleeping state. Through regular practice you will be able to do so.

Normal Abdominal Breathing
As you inhale, the diaphragm drops down and the abdomen pushes out. The Huiyin (會 陰), located between the anus and the testicles (essentially the perineum), also pushes out. As you exhale, the abdomen withdraws and the diaphragm moves back up to push air out. The Huiyin also gently pulls in.
This breathing technique is mostly used for relaxation purposes and is a very natural and familiar way to breathe. Babies instinctively use abdominal breathing. However, most people develop the habit of breathing with their ribcage as they grow older.

Reverse Abdominal Breathing
Reverse abdominal breathing is the opposite of normal abdominal breathing. As you inhale, the Huiyin and abdomen draw in. As you exhale, the Huiyin and abdomen push out. This breathing method helps to lead and build Qi more efficiently and should be used during meditation. Reverse abdominal breathing occurs naturally quite often, such as when laughing or crying. Reverse abdominal breathing also helps to energize muscles to a higher level, so it also occurs without thought when power or strength is needed, for example, when pushing heavy objects.

Embryonic Breathing
Embryonic breathing is the foundation for many kinds of meditation and Qigong exercises. Please note, it is very important to establish a good foundation before you can move onto any advanced exercises. If you want to master embryonic breathing, you have to practice the normal and reverse abdominal breathing techniques.

Embryonic breathing itself is basically the reverse abdominal breathing exercise with the mind placed into the lower Dantian. A step by step approach is discussed below. When the mind is placed into the center, one stores the energy there, since the mind and Qi are connected.

How does Meditation Work?
To get a deep understanding of meditation requires time and a lot of practice. To achieve success, you need to be patient and have perseverance. If you would like to start meditating, think about an available time in your schedule. It is preferable to meditate at the same time each day. This will establish a routine, and will make it easier for you to settle your mind faster.

Meditation can be practiced in almost any position. Here, at the YMAA Retreat Center, we like to sit on a cushion with crossed legs. This is practical as we will do further exercises in this position. You may prefer to sit on a chair or even lay down. The first step of embryonic breathing is to calm down your emotional mind. You do this by focusing on your breathing and relaxing your body. In the beginning, you might get distracted and think about other issues instead of paying attention to your breathing. If you get distracted, simply bring your mind back to your breathing. It will take some time until you feel comfortable with focusing inward and pushing external thoughts away.

Benefits Gained Through Meditation
As you progress, you will naturally start to inhale into your abdomen and this will have a great effect on your health. The diaphragm drops down as you inhale which massages the organs that are below it, in particular the kidneys, liver and spleen. The kidneys produce hormones and through the massage, the production goes up. These hormones are a bio-catalyst which helps make chemical processes in the body run more smoothly. As we age, the hormone production goes down; therefore it is important to keep the hormone production at a proper level.

Through proper, relaxed, and smooth breathing, you take in a lot of oxygen. This will ensure that the practitioner has a faster metabolism. Only with air are we able to change food into energy, therefore, it is extremely important to build up the right breathing habits.

In addition, you will learn how to manipulate your energy. Using the correct technique of breathing, you can manifest more energy or store it in the center and in the bone marrow. That’s why you can store energy when there is abundance, and manifest it when it is really necessary. Through meditation, the mind calms down and becomes more focused. This is crucial since focus is needed for all the tasks we face in daily life. It helps to solve them efficiently and thoroughly. You will find a solution to a problem faster when you are focused and calm, rather than when you are distracted and agitated.

Often we read that our life will get easier through meditation. This is only partially true. Meditation is hard work and it requires a tremendous amount of discipline. It will bring you to the point where you face your true self, and this might not be an easy task.

I believe that one of the reasons why we have so many things that keep us occupied is because we don't want to listen to our inner selves. No one really likes to look into a mirror and see all the flaws you have. But this is the only way we can evolve. As you meditate, you might feel emotions coming up without any apparent reason. Those emotions are the ones which we hold back. The only way to deal with them is to let them out. Mediation can be a very powerful tool in your life for improving mental well being as well as physical health.




Jáchym Jerie is a disciple of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming at the YMAA CA Retreat Center, which is located in Humboldt County, CA. Jáchym grew up in Switzerland and has been training Kung Fu since he was 17.


For more information: www.YMAA.com

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Relax your Mind, Establish Root, Cultivate Qi.

Qigong General Training by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

Every qigong form or practice has its special training purpose and theory. If you do not know the purpose and theory, you have lost the root (meaning) of the practice. Therefore, as a qigong practitioner, you must continue to ponder and practice until you understand the root of every set or form. Remember that getting the gold is not enough. Like the boy in the old Chinese story, you should concern yourself with learning the trick of turning the rock into gold. You can see that getting the gold is simply gaining the flowers and branches, and there can be no growth. However, if you have the trick, which is the theory, then you will have the root and you may continue to grow by yourself.

In Chinese qigong society, it is commonly known that in order to reach the goal of qigong practice, you must learn how to regulate the body (tiao shen, 調身), regulate the breathing (tiao xi, 調息), regulate the emotional mind (tiao xin, 調心), regulate the qi (tiao qi, 調氣), and regulate the spirit (tiao shen, 調神). Tiao in Chinese is constructed from two words, "言" (yan, means speaking or talking) and "周" (zhou, means round or complete). That means the roundness (i.e., harmony) or the completeness is accomplished by negotiation. Like an out of tune in piano, you must adjust it and make it harmonize with others. This implies that when you are regulating one of the above five processes, you must also coordinate and harmonize the other four regulating elements.


Regulating the body includes understanding how to find and build the root of the body, as well as the root of the individual forms you are practicing. To build a firm root, you must know how to keep your center, how to balance your body, and most important of all, how to relax so that the qi can flow.

To regulate your breathing, you must learn how to breathe so that your respiration and your mind mutually correspond and cooperate. When you breathe this way, your mind can attain peace more quickly, and therefore concentrate more easily on leading the qi.

Regulating the mind involves learning how to keep your mind calm, peaceful, and centered so that you can judge situations objectively and lead qi to the desired places. The mind is the main key to success in qigong practice.

Regulating the qi is one of the ultimate goals of qigong practice. In order to regulate your qi effectively you must first have regulated your body, breathing, and mind. Only then will your mind be clear enough to sense how the qi is distributed in your body and understand how to adjust it.

For Buddhist and Daoist priests who seek enlightenment or Buddhahood, regulating the spirit (shen) is the final goal of qigong. This enables them to maintain a neutral, objective perspective of life, and this perspective is the eternal life of the Buddha. The average qigong practitioner has lower goals. He raises his spirit in order to increase his concentration and enhance his vitality. This makes it possible for him to lead qi effectively throughout his entire body so that it carries out the managing and guarding duties. This maintains health and slows the aging process.

If you understand these few things you can quickly enter into the field of qigong. Without all of these important elements, your training will be ineffective and your time will be wasted.

Before you start training, you must first understand that all of the training originates in your mind. You must have a clear idea of what you are doing, and your mind must be calm, centered, and balanced. This also implies that your feeling, sensing, and judgment must be objective and accurate. This requires emotional balance and a clear mind. This takes a lot of hard work, but once you have reached this level you will have built the root of your physical training, and your yi (mind) can lead your qi throughout your physical body.

Regulating the Body (Tiao Shen, 調身)
When you learn any qigong, either moving or still, the first step is to learn the correct postures or movements. After you have learned the postures and movements, learn how to improve them until you can perform the forms accurately. Then you start to regulate your body until it has reached the stage that could provide the best condition for the qi to build up or to circulate.

In still qigong practice or soft qigong movement, this means to adjust your body until it is in the most comfortable and relaxed state. This implies that your body must be centered and balanced. If it is not, you will be tense and uneasy, and this will affect the judgment of your yi and the circulation of your qi. In Chinese medical society it is said: “[When] shape [body’s posture] is not correct, then the qi will not be smooth. [When] the qi is not smooth, the yi [wisdom mind] will not be peaceful. [When] the yi is not peaceful, then the qi is disordered." You should understand that the relaxation of your body originates with your yi. Therefore, before you can relax your body, you must first relax or regulate your mind (yi). This is called "shen xin ping heng," (身心平衡) which means "body and heart [i.e., mind] balanced." The body and the mind are mutually related. A relaxed and balanced body helps your yi to relax and concentrate. When your yi is at peace and can judge things accurately, your body will be relaxed, balanced, centered, and rooted. Only when you are rooted can you raise up your spirit of vitality.


Three Levels of Qigong Relaxation
Relaxation is one of the major keys to success in qigong. You should remember that only when you are relaxed will all your qi channels be open. In order to be relaxed, your yi must first be relaxed and calm. When the yi coordinates with your breathing, your body can relax.

In qigong practice there are three levels of relaxation. The first level is the external physical relaxation, or postural relaxation. This is a very superficial level, and almost anyone can reach it. It consists of adopting a comfortable stance and avoiding unnecessary strain in how you stand and move. The second level is the relaxation of the muscles and tendons. To do this your yi must be directed deep into the muscles and tendons. This relaxation will help open your qi channels, and will allow the qi to sink and accumulate in the dan tian.

The final stage is the relaxation that reaches the internal organs and the bone marrow. Remember, only if you can relax deep into your body will your mind be able to lead the qi there. Only at this stage will the qi be able to reach everywhere. Then you will feel –transparent—as if your whole body had disappeared. If you can reach this level of relaxation, you can communicate with your organs and use qigong to adjust or regulate the qi disorders that are giving you problems. You will also be able to protect your organs more effectively, and therefore slow down their degeneration.

Rooting

In all qigong practice it is very important to be rooted. Being rooted means to be stable and in firm contact with the ground. If you want to push a car you have to be rooted; the force you exert into the car needs to be balanced by the force into the ground. If you are not rooted, when you push the car you will only push yourself away and not move the car. Your root is made up of your body's sinking, centering, and balance.

Before you can develop your root, you must first relax and let your body "settle." As you relax, the tension in the various parts of your body will dissolve, and you will find a comfortable way to stand. You will stop fighting the ground to keep your body up and will learn to rely on your body's structure to support itself. This lets the muscles relax even more. Since your body isn't struggling to stand up, your yi won't be pushing upward, and your body, mind, and qi will all be able to sink. If you let dirty water sit quietly, the impurities will gradually settle to the bottom, leaving the water above it clear. In the same way, if you relax your body enough to let it settle, your qi will sink to your dan tian and the bubbling wells (yongquan, K-1, 湧泉) in your feet and your mind will become clear. Then you can begin to develop your root.

To root your body you must imitate a tree and grow an invisible root under your feet. This will give you a firm root to keep you stable in your training. Your root must be wide as well as deep. Naturally, your yi must grow first because it is the yi that leads the qi. Your yi must be able to lead the qi to your feet and be able to communicate with the ground. Only when your yi can communicate with the ground will your qi be able to grow beyond your feet and enter the ground to build the root. The bubbling well cavity is the gate that enables your qi to communicate with the ground.

After you have gained your root, you must learn how to keep your center. A stable center will make your qi develop evenly and uniformly. If you lose this center, your qi will not be led evenly. In order to keep your body centered, you must first center your yi and then match your body to it. Only under these conditions will the qigong forms you practice have their root. Your mental and physical centers are the keys that enable you to lead your qi beyond your body.

Balance is the product of rooting and centering. Balance includes balancing the qi and the physical body. It does not matter which aspect of balance you are dealing with; first, you must balance your yi, and only then can you balance your qi and your physical body.

Qigong has always been an important part of Chinese martial arts training. Without qigong training, a martial artist will have lost the origin of martial power, and what he or she uses will be only muscular power. This will make Chinese martial arts no different from the Western fighting arts. The most unique elements of Chinese martial arts are in qigong training and the buildup of internal energy (i.e., qi). From this, you will begin to understand the way of your life more deeply.




Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
, is a renowned author and teacher of Chinese martial arts and Qigong. Born in Taiwan, he has trained and taught Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese martial arts for over forty-five years. He is the author of over thirty books, and was elected by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the 10 people who has "made the greatest impact on martial arts in the past 100 years." Dr. Yang lives in Northern California.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wing Chun Illustrated Videos


Date: 8/11/11
Subject: Wing Chun Illustrated & AFH News

Hello,
     The second issue for Wing Chun Illustrated will be out very soon!  Our first article was on the Foundation of Pin Sun Boxing.  The second article will conver the Twelve Fists of Pin Sun Boxing.  I have also shared two clips from our basic training.  The Siu Lin & Dai Lin partner sets.  Belwo you will fins links to Wing Chun Illustrated and our Youtube clips!  
     We also recommend visiting our MIT Qigong Club website:  http://web.mit.edu/qigong   Our Qigong club has been very active lately and we have also added a Qigong Blog with lots of great info.!  Visit often as our site is always changing and adding new things!  Come join us every Monday night for a FREE Zhan Zhuang Qigong classes @ MIT.

Thanks for the support!

Peace,
Jim
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New Article:

WCI2 Table Of Contents:

Wing Chun Illustrated Links:


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The single-hand Choc Sao for Siu Lin Tao cultivates basic hand skills such as Pak, Tan, Fook, Jut and Jeung while coordinating hand and body unity. This Choc Sao is the root conditioning for the muscles, tendons and joints, and is known as the core set for developing Jarn Dai Lik (big elbow strength). Set demonstrated by WCI columnist Jim Roselando Jr (right) and Frank Ferrara (both 6th generation disciples in the art of Pin Sun Wing Chun).

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The single-hand Choc Sao for the Dai Lin Tao cultivates basic hand skills such as Got, Chuen, Fook, Jut and Jeung while coordinating hand and body unity. This Choc Sao (and Siu Lin Tao) are the roots of the basic "release" hands of Pin Sun Gung Fu. Basic sets demonstrated by Jim Roselando Jr and Frank Ferrara (both 6th generation disciples in the art of Pin Sun Wing Chun).