CHAPTER 13: DEVIATIONS DURING QIGONG TRAINING AND THEIR CORRECTION
Qi flow, or energy flow, can erase any deviation caused
(This chapter is selected from Lin Hai, Qigong for Nourishing Life, Science and Technology Publications, Guangdong, 1984. Published in Chinese.)
Deviation from training is common and widespread. The problem occurs because beginning students fail to understanding qigong techniques. It is a problem that qigong practitioners are concerned about and pay much attention to so as to overcome the deviation.
Why does deviation occur? What are the reasons for its occurrence? How is deviation rectified? How do practitioners prevent it happening? The answers are given below.
What is Deviation in Qigong
What is deviation during qigong training? This is a problem those interested in qigong are concerned about. Some qigong beginners regard some normal qigong happenings as deviation, and mix up fish with dragons. Hence, it is important to have this clarification.
(Editorial Note: Mixing fish with dragons means being confused.)
We believe that qigong deviation occurs when beginning students perform the form of qigong techniques incorrectly, when their intention and breathing are wrong, resulting in faulty energy mechanism or various other abnormal reaction. Their manifestations are as follows.
Energy Rushing Up: It may result in chest being suffocated, feeling breathless, dizzy and headache. Such deviations are common.
In some qigong training, beginning students are wrong in their posture, or have not relaxed sufficiently. Besides, they may have used intention excessively. They may focus at their dan tian right at the beginning, and perform abdominal breathing mechanically.
(Editorial Note: “Dan tian” means energy field, and is located about 2 or 3 inches below the navel.)
When qi, or energy, starts to move at their dan tian, instead of allowing it to sink down, it rushes upward. This may result in feeling suffocated, breathless, dizzy or headache.
Energy Spreading Wildly: Qi, or energy, may spread widely. It may be at the stomach or legs. There may be a small lump of energy like an egg at the throat. This is a type of deviation. In some situations, students have not relaxed their stomach or legs. When energy flows to these places, because of tension, the energy may flow widely. Some students may feel pain.
Failure of Energy Mechanism: Students may suddenly feel cold and suddenly feel hot. After the training session, they may feel tired. Some students are hasty. They rush at their training, instead of progressing gradually and systematically.
Some students forcedly use intention to lead energy flow, hoping to attain Small Universe in haste. This may result in energy flowing widely. First they feel hot and sweat a lot. Then they are afraid of cold.
(Editorial Note: Small Universe is an advanced qigong method where energy flows along the conceptual meridian and the governing meridian round the body.)
Some may shiver due to feeling cold. Energy may escape from their body. They may moan in pain. They feel very tired.
Being Frightened during Training: Students feel afraid. Their heart beat becomes fast. In serious cases, students may have nocturnal or involuntary emission of sperm.
Some students may have entered a very deep state of meditation, and their spirit leaves their body making them frightened. This may cause failure of their energy mechanism, resulting in “top heavy bottom light”, frequently feeling afraid for no apparent reason, heart beating fast, having dizziness and headache. Or, due to “real origin escapes defence”, sperm may ooze out from their sex organ at night or involuntarily.
(Editorial Note: “Real origin escapes defence” here refers to the spirit escaping from the physical body.)
Energy Locked up at Head: Students feel dizzy, and have the sensation that their brain is swollen. They may have a mental breakdown. They lose control of themselves. This type of deviation is serious. Recently we have cured a few of such cases. This may happen to beginners who have not understood qigong principles, and practiced casually.
During qigong training, if students’ posture is incorrect, they do not relax, and in addition they force their intention, they may lock up their energy at their head. As the energy in their head cannot flow smoothly away, they may experience dizziness, sensation of brain swelling, headache and insomnia. In serious cases, they may lose control of their central nervous system, and exhibit abnormal behaviour.
In one case, for example, a student continued brushing his teeth for 2 hours. In another case, a student while attending qigong class, moved his hands and legs widely without control. In a third case, a student kept on talking nonsense non-stop. There were also cases of illusory sight and illusory hearing, resulting in angrily looking at other people, or attempting to hit others. These were serious cases of deviation, resulting in failure of energy mechanism with energy rushing to the head.
The Reasons for Deviations to Occur
What are the reasons for deviations to occur while practicing qigong? As suggested above, there are the following reasons.
Incorrect Posture while Training: The posture of the techniques is incorrect, and students have not relaxed themselves. This is a main reason why deviations occur.
We have seen a lot of students with deviations because first of all they did not check that their posture was correct, especially that they were upright, and then be totally relaxed. Often they emphasized on building energy.
Of course, it is important to build up energy at their dan tian or abdominal energy field, but they fail to realize that the main purpose of qigong training is to circulate energy through meridians.
This means after practitioners have developed energy at their dan tian and have activated the energy, they must let the energy circulate naturally throughout the meridian system in their body, to activate the flow of energy and blood, harmonize nourishment and strengthen defence, so as to accomplish the purpose of overcoming illness and maintaining good health.
The crucial factor in circulating energy through the meridians is to let the whole body relaxed. Only in this way can energy be circulated throughout the body along the meridians. Otherwise, if meridians are blocked, deviations will occur.
On the other hand, only when the whole body is relaxed, can we expel the mental impulses of illness out of our body, especially from our brain, so that the central nervous system is harmonized and balanced.
(Editorial Note: This is in line with the traditional Chinese medical principle that all healing starts from the heart, which means the mind. In other words, it is not enough that the physical body is cured of the illness, the mind must know that the person is cured)
So we emphasize that in qigong training, the posture must be correct, especially that the body is upright, and the whole body must be relaxed. Understanding this principle can prevent deviation occurring during qigong training.
Incorrect Intention: Wrong or excessive intention can cause deviation, resulting in congestion, stagnation of energy or the spirit leaving the body, causing fear or failure of energy mechanism. This is another reason for deviation during qigong training.
Some beginning students emphasize using intention to direct and lead internal energy to be focused, to manifest in movement, or to circulate along the meridians. But they do not understand that the intention to direct and lead can only be based on and manifested upon the flow of energy. Intention should not be rigidly applied, be forced upon or chase after energy flow, otherwise excessive intention may result in energy stagnation, chest congestion, dizziness, headache, “excessive intention has become fire”, and “escape of fire and entry of monsters”. This is why some beginning students have experienced weakening of their mind as a result of qigong deviation.
(Editorial Note: “Excessive intention has become fire” and “escape of fire and entry of monsters” are qigong expressions. The former means that excessive intention has brought harm, and the latter means serious deviation with harmful effects. It is interesting that the first “fire” is harmful to the body, and the latter “fire’ is beneficial.)
The function of intention is to be used mutually with energy, expressed in qigong terms as “intention and energy mutually applied”. To apply intention and energy mutually, practitioners must be totally relaxed, the mind enters into silence, into a state of stillness and emptiness, so as to nurture essence, energy and spirit. This is the purpose how intention should be used.
On the other hand, when practitioners have entered a deep state of stillness, they should not let their spirit leave their body, otherwise they may not be able to maintain a qigong state where they are both alert and deep in stillness, and may experience sudden fright due to the failure of energy mechanism in qigong deviation. Hence, in Buddhist philosophy, the saying “Don’t hurry, don’t leave, don't forget, don’t help” refers to not using intention excessively in qigong training, which makes it insistent. Practitioners must also not forget that they are training qigong, and must prevent their spirit leaving their body. This is a crucial factor in preventing deviation in qigong training.
(Editorial Note: In some very advanced qigong, including Buddhist qigong, the spirit may leave the body or is expanded into the Cosmos. The practitioner is still able to maintain a state where they are both aware of the surrounding and deep in meditation.)
Energy is Not Harmonious: Before breathing is smooth, practitioners begin abdominal breathing. This may result in failure of energy mechanism, leading to adverse energy flow, energy swelling, energy stagnation or energy flowing widely. This is another reason for qigong deviation.
Some beginning students having seen some qigong techniques, with shallow knowledge, but without proper understanding of qigong principles, hasty for success, started to train qigong. They do not realize that in qigong training, they have to be natural, and progress gradually and systematically in their training. Straight away they attempt abdominal breathing and focus at dan tian. In this way they are likely to experience failure of energy mechanism, resulting in deviation like energy blockage and chest congestion.
They do not understand the importance of regulating their breathing to circulate energy flow, from natural breathing gradually progressing to abdominal breathing, and through a natural process accomplish what the Inner Classic refers to as “energy flows naturally”.
They should not attempt abdominal breathing rigidly. They should also naturally enter silence. The rate of their breathing naturally becomes slower. Gradually energy just flows in gently through their nose. Eventually they attain the environment of “foetus breathing”. In this way, they develop “real energy flowing gently and softly”, and are able to train the genuine art.
Hence, practitioners must understand the philosophy of qigong, and practice “energy flow naturally”. This is what beginning students should understand in order to prevent deviation.
Rectification and Prevention of Qigong Deviation
These few years, from our clinical experience we have generalized some principles and methods to rectify and prevent qigong deviation. From our experience, using the following methods will bring good effects.
Preventive Work against Qigong Deviation
These are the methods used by qigong masters to rectify deviation. The methods are as follows.
The Method of Totally Relaxing the Body: Firstly it is to teach all students with qigong deviation to be totally relaxed, from the surface to the interior, from the top to the bottom, to be relaxed totally. It may be combined with the technique of self-hitting. Gently hit or pat yourself to be totally relaxed.
Method of Three-Line Focusing Energy: It is excellent for students with energy rushing up to learn this “Method of Three-Line Focusing Energy” -- from head to hands to legs, on the front and the back sides, using three lines to expel stale energy.
Firstly, breathe out stale energy from the head and the face to the chest, and from the inner sides of both legs out of both “yongquan” energy points.
(Editorial Note: The “yongquan” energy points are found each at both soles of the feet, about one third the distance from the toes.)
Secondly, breathe out stale energy from the head to the shoulders, to both arms, and out of the fingers.
Thirdly, breathe out stale energy from the head down the back, to the kidney region, down two legs on the outside, and out of the toes.
Method of Six Words: This is an excellent method for those with failure of energy mechanism. This method is also effective to clear energy blockage at meridians and internal organs.
Stand upright with arms hanging at both sides. Relax the whole body. When breathing in, gently think of the abdominal dan tian. When breathing out, silently recite in the mind the following six words.
xu, he, hu, si, chui, xi
(Editorial Note: “Dan tian” means energy field. The abdominal dan tian is located about 2 or 3 inches below the navel.)
(Editorial Note: Please note that the six words are transcribed above in modern Romanized Chinese, which may not sound the same as their sound in classical Chinese when the “Method of Six Words” was invented. The second word “he” is pronounced like the English “her”, and not like the English “he”.)
When silently reciting “xu”, energy at the liver meridian is cleared; “he” energy at the heart meridian; “hu” at the spleen meridian; “si” at the lung meridian; “chui” at the kidney meridian; and “xi” energy at the triple-warmer meridian is cleared.
(Editorial Note: According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, the triple-warmer is an internal organ. The top warmer is the cavity of the body from the throat to the chest, the middle warmer from the chest to the navel, and the bottom warmer from the navel to the anus.)
For students with serious deviation, besides practicing the remedial methods, they should have qigong masters transmit qi, or energy, to them to clear their deviated qi and help them recover. Qigong masters would use different methods of channeling qi according to the different situations the deviated students are in.
According to our clinical experience, we often used techniques of sinking qi, treating qi and nourishing qi, as explained below.
Technique of Sinking Qi: It is generally used against deviation where energy rushes upward, where deviated students have chest congestion, headache and mental disorders. Qigong masters focus vital energy at their palms, and direct disordered energy of the patients to flow down, and gather it at the patients’ dan tian. This is known as “lead fire back to the origin”.
Usually it takes a few times of such energy directing to be effective. We used this method successfully against patients who deviated while training Soaring Crane Qigong and whose mental abilities are disordered.
Technique of Treating Qi: It is generally used for patients with failure of energy mechanism, with symptoms of blocked energy, chest congestion, swelling energy and rapid energy. Qigong masters focus vital energy at their palms. Then they transmit their vital energy at the local spot of the patients to treat the injury, promote the patients’ energy to flow, channel disordered energy away and nourish the injured part with fresh energy.
For swelling energy and painful areas due to energy stagnation, the palms can be used. For injuries that are deep in the patients’ body, the fingers are used. After expelling the disordered energy a few times, the patients will recover.
Technique of Nourishing Qi: It is generally used for patients who deviated because their own vital energy was lacking, with symptoms like feeling dizzy, insomnia, “real origin escapes defence” due to fright, and involuntary leaking of sperm.
(Editorial Note: “Real origin escapes defence” means vital energy that defends against illness is lacking.)
Qigong masters focus vital energy at the palms, and transmit their energy to the “baihui” energy point of the patients. After a few energy transmissions, the patients recovered.
(Editorial Note: The “baihui” energy point is located at the crown of the head.)
This Technique of Nourishing Qi is also effective for patients who suffer from deviation because they lost control during their qigong training.
Two Examples of Qigong Deviations
Chen, male, 37 years old: He suffered from mental disorders and started to practice the Art of Internal Nourishment in March 1980. Because he failed to understand qigong principles, he attempted using “intention to direct energy flow”.
He felt energy at his dan tian. Then he felt internal energy moving in his abdomen and at his back. Soon he felt energy going to his head and locked up at his two “taiyang” energy points. He experienced headache, dizziness and discomfort at his temples.
(Editorial Notes: The “taiyang” energy points are located at each temple of the head.)
After our diagnosis, we found that he had qigong deviation. We used the Techniques of Breaking Qi and Treating Qi to help him. First we pulled his blocked energy from his head, especially from his “taiyang” energy points. Then we used the Technique of Treating Qi to pull out his blocked energy from his two “taiyang” energy points, as well as pull down his blocked energy from his head. We also cleared his energy flow along his gall bladder meridian.
After 2 treatments, the patient felt fresh, and the discomfort at the temples disappeared. He was then cured of his headache and dizziness.
Wang, female, 40 years old, school teacher: In April 1981 she came to our clinic complaining of weakening of the nervous system, arthritis and obesity. She learned qigong techniques of Bear Walk, Bird Stretching and Tiger Charging.
(Editorial Note: “Bear Walk”, “Bird Stretching” and “Tiger Charging” are qigong techniques from Five-Animal Play.)
About half a month later, there appeared a small lump of energy blockage at the outside of her right leg. It was painful. After diagnosis, we discovered it was stagnation of energy, a qigong deviation. The main reason was that the patient did not totally relax herself while training qigong. In addition, she used her intention excessively. The energy in her meridians was not flowing smoothly, resulting in energy swelling.
The healing methods included telling the patient the reasons for her deviation, as well as the important principles in qigong training. We employed the Technique of Treating Qi for her treatment. We used external energy to direct and lead her energy flow, along her meridians.
(Editorial Note: External energy is energy transmitted out by qigong masters to other people.)
We used our hand to pull away the energy swelling on her leg. She recovered after a few treatments.
Grandmaster Wong transmitting qi to Trevor