CHAPTER 11: COMMONLY USED QUIESCENT QIGONG TECHNIQUES
(This chapter is selected from Jiao Guo Rui, Qigong for Health and Strength, Xuelin Books, Hong Kong, undated, published in Chinese)
All qigong techniques comprise of three factors, namely postures, breathing and intention. Depending on the different aspects of their person, practitioners may apply different variations of these three factors to formulate their own techniques.
For example, for those suffering from high blood pressure, they may use natural standing or normal sitting for natural breathing, focusing on their middle dan tian or on their “yongquan” energy points. For those with indigestion, they may use ordinary sitting or lying down for abdominal breathing, focusing on their middle dan tian or on their “qihai” energy point. Listed below are some commonly used quiescent qigong techniques.
(Editorial Note: Some authors refer to the middle dan tian at the solar plexus, and some to a spot about 2 or 3 inches below the navel. The “yongquan” energy points are located at the soles of the feet about one third the distance from the toes. The “qihai” energy point is located about 2 or 3 inches below the navel, which is what some authors regard as the middle or lower dan tian.)
Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence
The aim of the “Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence” is to be able to relax and enter silence. This is because being relaxed and entering silence are the two essential conditions for practicing any qigong. Thus, practicing the Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence is a fundamental technique. It can be used as a preliminary exercise for any qigong training.
Posture: Practitioners can use any standing, sitting or lying down position.
Breathing: The main breathing method is natural breathing or deep, long breathing.
Focus: The intention can be focused at the dan tian, “yongquan” energy points, or external scenery.
Method: After assuming the posture, gently close the eyes, or leave a small slit. Be mentally alert and regulate the breath. Then start to relax and enter silence.
The process of relaxing is as follows. Starting from the head, gradually relax until the middle dan tian.
(Editorial Note: Some other authors refer to the same middle dan tian as the lower dan tian. It is located about 2 or 3 inches below the navel.)
Alternatively, practitioners can relax from the head down the spine until the “mingmen” energy point.
(Editorial Note: The “mingmen” energy point is located at the back opposite the navel.)
The upper limbs can be relaxed to the elbows. Breathe naturally. When breathing out, relax from the dan tian to the “huiyin” energy point, or from the “mingmen” energy point to the “huiyin” energy point. The upper limbs are also relaxed from the elbows to the finger tips.
(Editorial Note: the “mingmen” energy pointy is located between the external sex organ and the anus.)
After natural breathing, when breathing out, relax from the “huiyin” energy point down the two legs to the middle of the soles. While relaxing, gently visualize qi, or energy, flowing down like little rain. Or, practitioners may gently visualize warm water dripping down the body while in a shower. Alternatively, while relaxing, practitioner may mentally recite the word “relax”. This can enable the body and the spirit to be relaxed.
While relaxing, practitioners can also enter silence. These two aspects can be performed together, attaining the purpose of being relaxed and entering silence
When relaxing to the soles of the feet, visualize that the legs are stable like old trees with deep roots. The feet are no longer vague and flimsy. This method is known as “focusing intention at yongquan”. Depending on conditions, it can be changed to “focusing at dan tian” or ‘focusing at mingmen”.
After focusing at.yongquan, practitioners may begin the technique of rising and sinking qi, or energy. The method is as follows. While breathing out, visualize qi sink from the dan tian to the yongquan energy points. Pause for a short while. Then, while breathing in, visualize qi rise from yongquan up the legs through mingmen to the dan tian. Hence, practice breathing out and breathing in, and sinking and rising qi.
Completing the Training Session
When completing the training session, irrespective of where the intention is focussed, the focus of intention must return to the middle dan tian.
(Editiorail Note: Some other authorrs refer to the same middle dan tian as the lower dan tian.)
Gently visualize that qi from various part of the body return to the dan tian, or abdominal energy field. Qigong masters refer to this technique as “qi returns to the origin”.
When completing their training sessions, beginners may place the middle of either their left palm or their right palm on their navel. It is alright that their palm is over their clothing, with their navel underneath. Place the middle of the other palm on the first palm. Rotate their palms in clockwise direction from inside to outside, from small to bigger circles about 20 to 30 times. Do not go beyond the heart on top or the external sex organ below. In other words, the biggest circle should not reach the heart above or the external sex organ below.
After the clockwise rotation, pause for a short while. Then rotate the two palms in the other direction, i.e. anti-clockwise direction, from outside to inside, from big to small, for a similar number of times until the palms stop over the dan tian. Then gently rub the two palms together. Open the eyes, and loosen the body. Perform a few movements of exercise, then complete the training session.
This training procedure has much effect on the benefit of the training session. Hence it must be performed properly.
Suitable Diseases to be Overcome
Diseases that response very well to this method include high blood pressure, nervous weakness, respiratory problems, poisoning during pregnancy, and infection of the womb.
Art of Internal Nourishment
The main breathing technique in the “Art of Internal Nourishment” is abdominal breathing. It is excellent for those suffering from digestive and respiratory problems. The training technique is as follows.
Posture: Practitioners may use lying down posture, single lotus posture, double lotus posture, cross-legged posture or ordinary sitting posture.
Breathing: Use abdominal breathing.
(Editorial Note: In abdominal breathing, the abdomen gently rises when breathing in, and gently falls when breathing out. The rise and fall of the abdomen is gentle, and may not be noticeable to other people.)
Employ the technique of pausing, as explained below, with mentally reciting a phrase (like “relaxed”, “I’m relaxed”, “I’m healthy”). There are two approaches. One is called “breathing in pause technique” or ”hard breathing technique”. The other is called “breathing out pause technique”, or “soft breathing technique”.
The former technique is used by patients at the recovery period, or by healthy people. The strengthening effect is more noticeable. Because the breathing is “hard”, if it is performed incorrectly, it may result in breathlessness or swelling of the abdomen.
The latter technique is “soft”. So it is more stable, and easier to be practiced. It is suitable for beginners, those whose conditions are weak, and those who practice it to overcome their health problems.
Focus: Focus the intention on the “qihai” energy point or the middle dan tian.
(Editorial Note: The “qihai” energy point is located at the dan tian, which means abdominal energy field. Some other authors refer to this energy field, the lower dan tian. The author of this writing calls it the middle dan tian.)
Method: After adopting a suitable posture, first loosen the body. Eliminate agitated emotions. Then gently close the eyes, or leave a small slit. Be mentally alert and regulate the breathing. Eliminate all irrelevant thoughts. Focus internally, without “letting the spirit to escape”. Breathe in gently through the nose, and breathe out gently through the mouth. Or both the nose and mouth may be used in breathing.
(Editorial Note: Without letting the spirit to escape means without being distracted by outside conditions or by irrelevant thoughts.)
When breathing in, use visualization to lead qi to gently sink to the “qihai’ energy point at the abdomen. Begin focusing the intention. Use the pausing technique to perform abdominal breathing, which are both explained above. After some time, there may be a feeling of warmth at the abdomen, or of qi accumulated at the abdomen.
When practicing the technique of pausing, practitioners must be natural. It must not be forced, and practitioners must no be in haste, and must not rigidly hold the breathing.
Completing the Training Session: It is the same as that in the “Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence”.
Suitable Diseases to be Overcome
Stomach and duodenum ulcers, prolapse of the stomach, indigestion, lung problems, and weakening of the nervous system.
Zhan Zhuang or Stance Training
Stance training refers to various standing techniques of qigong training. It is suitable for those who are in the recovering period of their illness, and for healthy people. The strengthening effect is quick and obvious.
Beginners and those whose body conditions are weak should not perform stance training for too long. To prevent the training draining away their energy, it is not suitable for those who are very weak, and those who suffer from serious illness.
Posture: There are many postures for stance training. Commonly used for strengthening patients are standing naturally and “holding a ball”.
(Editorial Note: In martial art training, standing naturally and “holding a ball” are called “Wuji Stance”, or “No-Boundary Stance”, and “Three-Circle Stance” respectively. The “Three-Circle Stance” is performed by standing with the feet about one and a quarter shoulders’ width apart, the toes slightly turned inward, the knees bent, the body lowered, and the hands in front like embracing a ball.}
Breathing: The main technique is natural breathing. Advanced practitioners may use deep, long breathing, and breathing with intention.
Focus: The main technique is to focus on external scenery, with eyes looking afar and the body comfortable. Alternatively, the focus can be at the abdominal dan tian.
Method: After adopting a suitable posture, first loosen the body. Eliminate agitated emotions. Please see the technique described in the “Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence” above.
Then, half close the eyes. Be mentally fresh and regulate the breathing. Eliminate irrelevant thoughts. Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. Or, both the nose and the mouth can be used in the breathing.
When breathing in, use visualization to direct qi, or energy, to the abdominal dan tian. Pause for a little while. When breathing out, use visualization to direct qi to the soles of the feet. At this time, gently grip the ground with the toes. Both legs are stable like trees with roots growing deep into the ground. Practitioners gently think of themselves like old pine trees. This is what practitioners describe as “standing like pines”.
After training for some time, practitioners may feel a surge of energy as internal force in their body. Gradually they become strong.
Completing the Training Session: It is the same as that described in the “Art of Being Relaxed and Entering Silence”.
Suitable Diseases to be Overcome
This art is suitable for high blood pressure, weakening of the nervous system, and all those with fatigue problems.