April 2008 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I have had an energy imbalance for many years, and I've tried many types of treatment without much success. My acupuncturist tells me that I have deficient kidney chi and liver stagnation, and though the treatments help me to relax and feel more life energy, there is no lasting change.
— Sarah, USA
I am sorry to hear about your condition but the good news is that practicing high-level genuine chi kung will not only overcome your problems but also make you realize that living is a joy.
To understand your problem better, it would be helpful to note the crucial difference among the following :
- Lack of vitality.
As a working definition, we may refer to an illness as the result of our body (and mind) not functioning naturally, an injury as a distortion of our normal functioning by an outside intrusion, and a lack of vitality as a slowing down of our body functioning because of insufficient energy.
Yours is not an illness nor an injury but a lack of vitality. Acupunture and all other forms of medical practices are targeted at overcoming illness. As yours is not an illness, acupuncture and other medical practices are not so useful.
Technically, treating an injury is quite different from treating an illness. As Western medical thought does not differentiate an injury from an illness the way traditional Chinese medical thought does, applying Western medicine on injury is often not as satisfactory as we wish it to be. If you sprained your leg from falling, sustained internal injury from an accidental blow, twisted your back muscles due to bad posture, or impaired your internal organs with prolonged repressed emotions, conventional Western medicine, lacking a conceptual framework of injury, may treat these problems as illness.
But as they are injuries and not illness, Western doctors may be at a loss as what to treat. Often they would resort to relieving systoms. The most obvious symptom of injury is pain. Hence pain-killers are given to relieve physical pain, and tranquilizers to relieve emotional pain. The pain is suppressed but the injury remains.
But your case is netiher illness nor injury. Yours is a lack of vitality. Therefore, what you should seek is not medicine to overcome illness nor healing to overcome injury but ways to improve your vitality. Many people may suggest playing games or taking food supplement. They believe that if you play games or take rich food, you will become strong and regain your vitality. This is shallow thinking, and is actually harmful.
Your body is already weak. Playing games will further weaken your body. Your body functioning is too weak to digest and absorb rich food. Taking rich food will therefore be a liability.
The best solution is to practice genuine chi kung. This will both overcome the root cause of your lack of vitality as well as increase your vitality. It is useful to note the two aspects — overcoming the cause and increasing the effect. If you were sick or had an injury, medicine or healing may overcome your illness or injury but may not make your healthier or more resistant to injury. But if you suffer from a lack of vitality, practicing chi kung will overcome your lack of vitality and also inrease your vitality. To top it all, if you had illness or injury too, practicing chi kung will also overcome them!
What is the root cause of your lack of vitality? It is a blockage of energy flow. In other words, as you said, you have an energy imbalance. When you practice chi kung, you will clear the blockage and restore your energy balance. As your continue your practice, your smooth energy flow will become more vigorous, thus giving your increased vitality.
How does chi kung overcome illness and injury, besides restoring vitality? It is also concerned with energy flow. When energy flow is blocked, it can be manifested as illness, injury or lack of vitality. When viruses enter your body, if your energy flow, which in this case is described in Western terms as antibodies in your blood system, is blocked, you would have a viral infection. If your energy flow is blocked when you fall down, it will result in pain and swelling. Even if the viruses in your body are not making trouble for you, and you don't fall, if your energy flow is blocked, you will not have sufficient energy to carry on with your normal life activitiies, resulting in a lack of vitality.
If illness, injury and lack of vitality are all due to energy blockage, then why do medicine and healing not overcome all these three different problems like chi kung does. The answer is actually straight-forward, though it is not realized by most people. Chi kung operates at the most basic level — the level of energy — whereas medicine and healing operate at levels higher of the hierachy — the levels of organs and systems. As an analogy, if you learn how to write short stories, you may not know how to write feature articles. But if you work at the most basic level, i.e. you learn how to write, then you can write short stories, feature articles, poetry, drama and other forms of writing.
I feel as though my energy imbalance is permanent, and there is nothing I can do. I feel very unrooted and ungrounded, like I'm always off in another world and not in the Here and Now. When I try to meditate, my mind is mush.
The most important step you need to do to overcome your problem is not to practice chi kung, root and ground yourself or come back to this world here and now. The most important step is to change your mind-set from a negative one of feeling you can do nothing to a positive one of believing you can overcome your problem. Unless you have made this most important first step, you are unlikely to succeed. According to traditioanl Chinese medical philosophy, all recovery starts from the “heart”, which means the mind.
For the time being, it is best that you stop meditating. It is a common mistake of many emotionally and mentally weak people to think that if they meditate, they will overcome their problem. It is like a physcially weak person thinking that if he runs long distance, he will become strong.
Meditation is an advanced art meant for those who are healthy physcially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. If you lack vitality, which will result in you being weak physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, attemtping meditation may aggravate your problem.
Do you think that Chi Qong could help? Sometimes I think I need to stop working and just rest and replenish myself, but I do not have enough savings to do that right now. Is there anything that could replenish my vital energy and help me feel more here/ present?
Of course chi kung can help. It is the best solution to your problem. You don't have to stop working. In fact, as you practice chi kung, you would begin to enjoy your work too. You may also find that you will want to rest less and enjoy life more as your energy level increases.
This may sound strange to many people, but when you practice chi kung regularly, your income will improve. Why is this so? You may have some insight into this rewarding result by looking at the Chinese word for being lucky. It is “hou yun qi” (Mandarin pronunciation). Word by word it means “good circulation of chi”. The Chinese masters discovered that when your chi circulated well, you would have what in the West would call “being lucky”. Chi kung is an excellent art to get your chi circulating well.
Some people may think I am joking as they would find the benefits of chi kung too good to be true. I am serious, and I am proud to say that I am speaking from the actual experience of our Shaolin Wahnam students.
But you have to practice genuine chi kung to get these benefits. Today, genuine chi kung is very rare. What many people practice is gentle physical exercise but they mistake it as chi kung. The crucial difference between gentle physical exercise and chi kung is that the former works on the physical body whereas the latter works on energy.
Last night, towards the end of my practice I received this very powerful energetic feeling between my eyes. It felt if my entire dan tian and all my connection with the Cosmos sunk into it. I became a little concerned.
I am near-sighted and have been practicing the Shaolin Eye exercises daily. My life has been so enriched since I started the arts taught by you and Siheng Anthony. I am a better husband, student and person. I have started cultivating an inner peace which I have yearned for throughout my life.
— William, USA
Your experience is not uncommon. Don't worry about it. Probably it is either overcoming your eye problem or opening your third eye. Just carry on your practice and enjoy it.
I am glad of your progress. Becoming a better husband and cultivating inner peace are two qualities we highly value in our school.
I am reading your book on Shaolin Kung Fu and find it to be informative and easily understood although I have no experience in Chinese Martial Arts outside of a handful of taiji seminars. I am writing this mainly to thank you for alleviating me of an ignorant belief which I have retained for years now.
Prior to purchasing your book, it was my opinion that Shaolin martial arts were archaic and of no particular strength. I thought that Shaolin monks were formidable due to their extreme work ethic and willingness to subject themselves to all manners of strange conditioning.
— Michael, USA
Indeed, many people have this mis-conception.
Due to their long history, there are many different types as well as different levels of Shaolin martial arts.
A lot of Shaolin martial arts are of the physical type where training is mainly external, like hitting sandbags, striking poles and weight-lifting. Training is characterized by hard work and conditioning.
There is also a rarer type of Shaolin martial arts where training is mainly internal, like breath control, energy work, internal force development, and meditation. Training is characteristized by gentleness and flow.
There is also a modern type of Shaolin martial arts which are practiced not as martial arts but as sport where training is also mainly external, like solo form performance, push-ups and stretching. Training is characterized by arobatic elegance.
There are also different levels of attainment. In my oppinion, at the lowest level practitioners practice the arts for recreation and have the opportunity to demonstrate to their friends or the public. At the next level they have vitality in their daily life and are able to defend themselves if needed. At the highest level, they are peaceful and happy, and attain spiritual joys.
However, after practicing the more basic techniques and exercises I have found similarities to the best points of Hakkoryu Jujitsu (which I have studied for much of my life) and Capoeira (which I have taken up more recently). Although I remain primarily an exponent of Capoeira, I have acquired much respect for Shaolin martial arts and will share what I have learned from you with my friends who wish to broaden their horizons in the martial arts.
You have totally missed my teaching, even at the most basic levels. The basic Shaolin techniques and exercises I teach are very different from those of Jujitsu and Capoeira.
In the Shaolin martial arts, the very first things I teach are to enter Zen and to enjoy an energy flow. These benefits are not found in Jujitsu and Capoeira, nor in most other schools of Shaolin and other martial arts.
Next, I teach stances and footwork, which are very different from those in Jujitsu and Capoeira. Then I teach basic Shaolin patterns like “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”. They are also very different from Jujitsu and Capoeira movements.
Although your intention is good and sincere, you will actually be doing a big dis-service to your friends if you try to show them what Shaolin martial arts are.
A good Kung Fu school is a very rare thing in the United States compared to the very many schools of Karate, Taekwondo, and the rising titan called Mixed Martial Arts (a hybrid of various forms of boxing and wrestling, mainly Muay Thai, Western Boxing, Catch Wrestling and Brazilian Jujitsu).
A good kungfu school of any style is very, very rare in any part of the world today.
And my definition of “good” is quite modest. A good kungfu school is where students can attain the most basic objectives of practicing kungfu, that is they can be healthy and know some self-defence. The sad fact is that today many kungfu students become less healthy as a result of their kungfu training, and most cannot defend themselves, though some have become quite efficient in hitting others.
Furthermore, I will apply your methods of cultivating internal energy to my study of Capoeira. It is a style of Afro-Brazilian origin and tends to dismiss internal strength as a concentration aid or myth. Perhaps I can help my friends to learn the way of things. I have you to thank for my new understanding (a term I use here loosely) of Shaolin martial arts and wrote this e-mail to inform you of my gratitude.
While I appreciate your writing to thank me, I must advise you not to do what you intend to do. Although you certainly mean well, actually you will be doing a lot of harm — to yourself, your friends and to Shaolin martial arts in general.
It is obvious that you are ignorant in the cultivation of internal energy, though you may have read my book. You may understand the dictionary meaning of all the words you have read, yet you may not know what actually the words are meant to convey. Take, for example, the term “focus your chi at your dan tian”. Affter finding out the meaning of “chi” and “dan tian”, you may understanding the term as “focus your energy at your abdominal energy field”, but you may not know how to do it.
Take an even simpler example. After getting into a Horse-Riding Stance, you are instructed to relax. You understand the dictionary meaning of the instruction, but you may not be able to do it. Do you relax in the stance? Most people don't, and also most people can't.
It is very easy to make mistakes in internal art training, and often you don't even know you have made the mistakes. These mistakes may cause serious harm, and ususally you are unaware of the harm.
The internal arts have been debased beyond recognition. One main reason for this debasement is that people like you teach internal cultivation when they themselves have no experience of it. Think of this: you yourself have never practiced internal energy cultivation, though you have read about it, yet you want to teach it to others.
If you really want to benefit from internal energy cultivation, learn it from a real master or at least a competent teacher.
Genuine internal energy cultivation and genuine Shaolin martial arts are much more than what you can imagine. The benefits are also more wonderful than you can think of. I would recommend that you learn from one of our certified Shaolin Wahnam instructors. Please see our List of Certified Instructor. When you are ready, attend my Intensive Chi Kung Course or Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. Please see my website for details.
- Counters against Attacks from Opponent's Lead leg
- Four Taijiquan Combat Sequences on Striking, Kicking, Felling and Chin-Na
- Can you Recommend another Chi Kung Master?
- Frequently Asked Questions in Taijiquan
- Amazing Technques in Shaolin Kungfu