CHAPTER 9: TECHNIQUES OF QIGONG FOR HEALING
Sitting upright on chairs
(This chapter is selected from Tao Bing Fu and Yang Wei He (edit), Collection of Qigong Therapies Volume 2, Beijing People’s Publications, 1980, published in Chinese.)
Qigong for healing is a legacy of traditional Chinese medicine. Since a long time ago, it has been used for strengthening the body, improving vitality and promoting longevity. Later, it has been used to cure illness. Clinical evidence has proven that qigong healing is holistic, and has a main function of preventing illness, and a secondary function of curing diseases.
In order to enable the public to understand how qigong can overcome illness, qigong techniques and case histories are introduced below.
Art of Internal Nourishment
There are three main postures used for different situations. Having chosen the posture, the practice incorporates breathing, reciting phrases and focusing at the dan tian.
(Editorial Note: Dan tian means energy field. It is located about two or three inches below the navel.)
The following preparation before and after the practice should be noted. Prepare a quiet living room or a bedroom. Before practice, the patient should wear loose clothing, feel comfortable, and have easy circulation of energy and blood. Adopt a suitable posture and pay attention to lowering the shoulders and not raising the chest. It is important not to raise the shoulders and the chest.
The mind should be focused. Eliminate irrelevant thoughts. Feel comfortable and peaceful. Use natural breathing to be calm for a minute or two. Then use the breathing method described in this Art of Internal Nourishment. If patients feel uncomfortable or tired, they should sit up. They should not force themselves to train.
After practice, gently open the eyes, and loosen the limbs. Slowly stand up. There should be no hurry.
Postures – Lying Sideways
Lie on a bed of hard wood. The bed should be level, so as to maintain correct posture. The pillow should be placed appropriately. If the weather is cold, cover the legs or the body with a warm blanket.
Patients can lie on either side. Lower the head comfortably onto the pillow. Close the eyes gently, but leave open a small slit. The eyes look at the tip of the nose. Look with gentle intention, but not stare at the nose rigidly. Gently focus at the dan tian. Ears do not hear, and the mouth is gently close. Breathe gently with the nose.
Gently place the upper arm with the palm facing downward on the hip. Place the palm of the lower arm on the pillow, with the palm facing upward. Gently loosen the fingers.
Bend the waist slightly. The upper leg is bent, and is placed on the lower leg. The lower leg is slightly bent. After ensuring that the posture is correct, gently focus at the dan tian, and proceed with the breathing method.
Posture – Sitting on Chair
Use a broad chair made of wood. After sitting down on the chair, bend the legs at 90 degrees. Do not raise the feet. If there is empty space below the feet, use some wooden plank bricks, or any suitable tools to support the feet.
Sit upright on the chair. The back and the spine should be upright. The thighs should be level. Having ensure an upright position, do not bend forward, backward or sideways.
Look in front. The head should be upright. It should not be tilted to the left or right, but tilt it slightly forward.
The feet are apart at shoulders’ width. For those who are fat, their feet can be placed wider. Place the two palms, facing downwards, on the thighs. Do not lean back. Drop the shoulders and lower the elbows. Gently close the eyes but leaving a slight slit. Gently focus at the dan tian, and proceed with the breathing technique.
Posture – Lying with Face Up
Lie in a bed with the head comfortably on a pillow and with the face looking up. The bed should be inclined with the upper body slightly higher. If needed, cover the body with a warm blanket.
The head should be upright. It must not tilt to the left nor to the right. Focus the eyes at the toes. Gently straighten the legs, with the toes pointing upwards. The feet are slightly apart. Place the arms at the sides with the palms facing downwards. The arms are straight, and the elbows are loosened, not rigid.
Gently close the eyes but leaving a slight slit. Gently focus at the dan tian, and proceed with the breathing technique.
Gently close the lips. Use the nose for breathing. Recite a phrase in the mind, but do not make any sound.
When breathing in through the nose, place the tip of the tongue at the palate. Pause for a short while after breathing in.
When breathing out, drop the tongue in the mouth. Pause for a while after breathing out.
Continue breathing for some time, The pause after breathing in and breathing out depends on personal needs. The principle is that the breathing should not be difficult or forced.
Reciting Phrases in the Mind
Patients recite an appropriate phrase during breathing. Generally the phrase consists of three words, and the number is gradually increases as the patient progresses. The increased number should not exceed nine words.
Patients recite in their mind the first word while breathing in, and the last word while breathing out. Any words in between can be recited between breathing in and breathing out.
The phrase commonly used is “I am relaxed” or “I am sitting”. The most number of words in a phrase is “I am siting silently and I am healthy”.
A way to recite in the mind “I am relaxed” is as follows. Breathe in when reciting “I”, with the tip of the tongue at the palate. Pause in the breathing when reciting “am”. Breathe out with the tongue dropped in the mouth when reciting “relaxed”.
Focusing at Dan Tian
To enhance intention to direct energy flow, patients should focus gently at the dan tian. (Editorial Note: The dan tian, meaning “energy field”, is located about two or three inches below the navel.)
According to the patients’ condition, at the start of qigong training, patients use their intention to direct and lead their energy flow. When they breathe in, gently visualize qi, or energy, to flowing to their dan tian. After about 20 days of training, patients can feel qi focused at their dan tian while breathing out.
After this attainment, patients can change their focus to the tips of their big toes. After some time, they may feel their feet warm.
If patients are focused, feel comfortable and can eliminate irrelevant thoughts, they may do away with focusing at their dan tian and at their big toes. Otherwise, they have to perform focusing at their dan tian and at their big toes to strengthen their intention.
Art of Strengthening
The preparation before and after training for the Art of Strengthening is the same as that for the Art of Internal Nourishment. Prepare some suitable material to sit on during sitting meditation.
Posture – Lying Sideways
The lying sideways posture for the Art of Strengthening is the same as that for the Art of Internal Nourishment.
Posture – Single Lotus
Sit upright. Place the left foot on the right foot, or vice versa, depending on one’s preference.
Posture – Double Lotus
Sit upright. Place the left foot on the right leg, and the right foot on the left leg. Both feet should be facing up.
Posture – Sitting Cross Legged
Sit upright. Cross the legs in front in a cross-legged position.
All the above three sitting positions must have the following points. The back and the spine must be upright. Do not lean back. Lean the chest forward very slightly so that the shoulders and the elbows are dropped.
The fingers of both hands gently hold one another, and place the two palms in front of the abdomen. The two thumbs also hold each other. The left thumb can be over the right thumb, or vice versa, depending on one’s preference. The palms face upwards or inwards facing the abdomen.
The head is held upright but slightly tilting forward. The ears do not hear. The eyes are gently close but leaving a slight slit, with the eyes observing the tip of the nose. The mouth is gently close. Focus at the dan tian. Gently breathe through the nose.
Quiescent Breathing: Use the nose to breathe naturally and comfortably. Do not pay much attention to the breathing. Let the breathing be gentle and soft. The tip of the tongue may (or may not) touch the palate. This is called quiescent breathing.
Deep Breathing: Make the breathing gentle, deep and long. Students should first learn to breath naturally, then gradually make their breathing deep and long. The time of breathing out and the time of breathing in should be about the same. There should be no sound in the breathing.
Reverse Breathing: When breathing in, the chest rises and the abdomen sinks. When breathing out, the the chest sinks and the abdomen rises. Intention is gently focused on the abdomen. Breathing should be stable, slow, soft, quiescent, deep, long and natural. Progress gradually. Do not rush.
Any one of the above breathing techniques can be used, depending on the illness and personal preference.
From clinical experience, quiescent breathing is suitable for beginners, those who are elderly, and those suffering from tuberculosis. Deep breathing is suitable for those with weak nervous system, those who have difficulty in focusing, those who are strong, and those with indigestion.
Reversed breathing is not often used. It is suitable for those who feel uncomfortable in their chest, and those with high blood pressure.
During training, in any one of the above three breathing techniques, the intention is gently focused at the dan tian. Be totally relaxed. Eliminate all irrelevant thoughts.
Irrespective of whether it is the Art of Internal Nourishment or the Art of Strengthening, patients must perform the art naturally without force or stress. Gradually they can progress to fulfil the requirements of the art. They should not be anxious. Their muscles should be loosened. Breathing must not be forced.
In the Single Lotus, Double Lotus or Cross Legged postures, if their legs are numb, patients should relax them or massage them. If the numbness becomes intolerable, patients can stand up and walk about. If it is not possible to sit at these positions, patients can sit on a chair as in the Art of Internal Nourishment.
Requirements during Training Period
If the illness is severe, patients should let go of their work and family during the period of qigong healing. There should not be any worries.
Those who are not sick, but practice the Art of Internal Nourishment or the Art of Strengthening for health, vitality and longevity, may practice the art during their off-work period.
The environment for training must be peaceful and quiet. Prevent any possible disturbances or surprises. The room should be comfortable, and there should be minimum of furniture.
For the training of the Art of Strengthening, patients should have 7 or 8 meals a day. These should be prepared and served by other people. Drinks should be available during the training period. Besides the 2 main meals, there should be supplementary meals. Eat when hungry, drink when thirsty. There should not be any restriction.
Patients must be confident of the success of qigong healing. Forget about the illness. Practice diligently. Do not stop halfway.
Prevent the possibilities of cold and infectious diseases.
During the training period, abstain from sex for at least 3 months. After the first three months, be moderate in sex.
Those with nose problems and cannot breathe through their nose, should overcome their nose problems before proceeding with the training.
For those practicing the Art of Internal Nourishment, do not practice with an empty stomach. For those practicing the Art of Strengthening, do not practice with a full stomach.
Training Procedure -- Time and Posture
In the lying sideways posture of the Art of Internal Nourishment, beginners should train for about 30 minutes a session, 6 times a day. After 5 days they should train for about an hour a session, 6 times a day.
After another 5 days, i.e. 10 days from the start, they should add sitting posture to their lying sideway posture. Initially patients add about 15-20 minutes a session for their sitting posture, 6 sessions a day. They can shorten their lying sideways posture to 30-45 minutes a session, 6 sessions a day.
After another 10 days, i.e. 20 days from the start, patients increase the time for their sitting posture to an hour a session. They practice 6 times a day, which can consist of lying sideways or sitting posture. They may adjust their time for the lying sideways posture, but this adjustment must not interfere with the time for sitting posture per session.
For example, after 60 days a patient may perform sitting posture for an hour per session, 4 sessions a day, until 75 days. From the 76th to 90th day, he may practice sitting posture 3 sessions a day, and about an hour per session. Before lunch and dinner he can practice lying with face up for half an hour a session, 2 sessions a day.
In the Art of Strengthening, for the first 5 days, patients practice for about 20—30 minutes a session, 6 sessions a day. From the 6th to the 10th day they practice for about 40 minutes a session, 6 times a day.
From the 10th day onwards, they gradually increase their training time until they practice for about an hour a session, 5 sessions a day. After one month, they practice for an hour, 6 times a day.
The above example uses a period of 90 days as a training unit. If due to certain illness, patients are unable to follow the above example, doctors may make appropriate adjustment. There are no hard and fast rules. The examples are rough guideline for those involved in qigong healing.
A monk sitting in a semi-lotus position