Martial Development

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Qigong 102: Secrets of Meditation and Emotional Balance

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Introduction

  • Qigong (chi gong) is most often understood as a set of active exercises, guiding qi (chi) energy around the body through intention, movement, and sound. It is less well known that Qigong incorporates rigorous courses of standing and seated meditation. These active and passive, external and internal modalities are mutually supportive.
  • One of the first goals of Qigong meditation is to reach a deep level of quietude within the mind and body. Sustained quiet allows a student to perceive increasingly subtle objects and movements inside their body.
  • In a quiet meditative state, relationships and correspondences that were previously hidden or overlooked, become clear and credible. In other words, meditation allows for biofeedback training without the need for electronic biofeedback instrumentation.

  • Portions of Wu Xing, the Chinese five-element theory, are patterned after these relationships. Students of meditation and martial arts are often surprised to discover that Wu Xing is not merely a poetic concept or metaphorical diagram. Wu Xing has literal application and predictive power.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that chronic emotional imbalance affects organ function. Each of the five emotions–anger, joy, anxiety, sadness, and fear–is associated with a pair of Yin and Yang functions (“organs”). Due to their heightened sensitivity, some meditators and Qigong practitioners can perceive this relationship immediately and directly.
  • When an advanced student drifts too far out of balance, they may immediately feel a sensation in the corresponding organ(s). This is not a creative visualization or a theoretical belief–it is as real, and sometimes as unpleasant, as hot coffee spilled in your lap.
  • Consequently, these students quickly learn self-discipline. This level of gongfu (kung fu) automatically aligns the practitioner’s immediate interest in avoiding pain, with their longer-term aspirations for emotional stability and tranquility.
  • Emotional balance is the foundation upon which more advanced Qigong and meditation practices are built. It is also the foundation of a pleasant, empathetic and rewarding life.

Illustration of emotional balance
Diagram courtesy of Spiritual Science Research Foundation

Steps

  1. This gongfu skill is primarily a result of attaining a quiet and emotionally neutral meditative state, and remaining within it for a sufficient length of time.
  2. Any exercises that increase your internal sensitivity, or your ability to sit quietly and comfortably for an extended period of time, will likely speed your progress. These exercises include Taijiquan (and other martial arts), zhan zhuang, and the Taoist Six Healing Sounds method.

Warnings

  • The efficacy of meditation is not dependent on your “belief” in it. However, assertive dis-belief is a distraction and a form of noise, and it will prevent you from remaining in the quiet state. Trying to feel or impose these relationships, rather than waiting for them to reveal themselves, may also prove counterproductive.
  • The particular form of insight described above is helpful, but not necessary for emotional self-regulation.
  • There is no exact timetable for any meditative achievement. Fortunately, there is a clear difference between reaching, and failing to reach the quiet state in which gongfu is built.
  • Real internal gongfu is rarely found amongst teachers of “internal martial arts.” Do not expect them to provide any guidance or expertise in this area, except perhaps to foolishly claim these skills do not exist.
  • Do not discuss these matters in mixed company. It will lead to ridicule at best, and at worst, involuntary psychiatric treatment. Although this is still an early stage of accomplishment in Qigong, it is already well beyond the current understanding of mainstream Western medical science.

More Information

Categories: Meditation · Qigong · Training Tips

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Jul 3, 2010

    I think it is reasonable to say qigong is a conduct practice for balancing emotions. But then as a long life practice if doesn’t come out much ahead of going to a quiet church every sunday.

    I think we can get better explanations than this.

  • 2 Chris // Jul 3, 2010

    “Quiet” is a term of art here, and does not have the same meaning as in a quiet room.

    Please feel free to provide better explanations. The world is waiting.

  • 3 Scott // Jul 4, 2010

    I think we could try to make the case that practicing a “quiet state” results in being less influenced by external stimuli and more influenced by internal stimuli. Or perhaps less influenced by trivial stimuli and more influenced by important stimuli. But both of these really suggest some sort of choice or judgment about what to pay attention to.
    Was Jimi Hendrix less sensitive to sound because he chose to make loud music?
    If I were to tell people they should meditate because they will like the taste of coca-cola better (with a little lemon) and feel more exited and stimulated by a good horror movie… they would think me crazy, and they’d be right. That’s my experience but I have no way of knowing if it is truly the result of twenty years of qigong meditation or just a personality flaw. The sensory equipment of human beings, my equipment, gives me even less ability to know the experience of others than it gives me of knowing myself.
    I would suggest then, that the fruition of these practices is an acknowledgment through our conduct of both our frailty and our strength, our stupidity and our strategic assets…our true nature with out judgment or preference.

  • 4 Chris // Jul 5, 2010

    Thank you for the opportunity to examine the issue in greater detail.

    I think we should distinguish between meditation and a drug-induced stupor. To my eyes, meditative practice is less about failing at observation, or drowning out one set of stimuli by focusing on another, and more about choosing the response. The decision to meditate during a particular period of time, is the decision that no response is necessary: no action and no cogitation.

    So we abandon judgment and preference, for a period of time. And when we restore them afterwards, they often seem to have reordered themselves. Our priorities have changed, in part because our sensitivity has changed, and thus our knowledge of cause and effect has changed. Therefore, our behavior changes…or ought to change anyway.

    I want to be absolutely clear to readers, that the particular gongfu upon which this article is based, is not a product of “ignoring” the outside world and “imagining” an inner world. It is not the fabrication of, or temporary retreat into, an alternate reality. It is not lucid dreaming. It is science.

    How to distinguish between the product of qigong and meditation, and unrelated personality shifts? I think the answer is to practice with a group, and to discuss and explore the common results. Also to use methods that produce results in a relatively short timeframe.

  • 5 Sam // Jul 29, 2010

    Is that to suggest that one should both delve into the private meditation and also to incorporate a group training into one’s schedule Chris? I’m personally not nearly as well versed in this subject as you, but I have found the benefits of setting aside time to try and quiet my inner “speaker”. As read on another topic the discretion one shows towards their personal spiritual development brings about discipline to keep their mind and mouth separated when accompanied by friends in order to avoid ridicule. I have seen the close minded nature of many and experienced it myself. So my point is thus: private training is enriching and personally sacred, but at some point we have all come to others asking for guidance or advice in order to improve our own growth. At what point though is each one out of balance? Where does one say they must be alone and vice versa?
    I wish to learn. and as such shall show respect in exchange for knowledge.

  • 6 Chris // Jul 29, 2010

    In the best-case scenario, practicing with a group will help you reach a deeper level of practice and understanding in a shorter period of time.

  • 7 Sam // Jul 30, 2010

    Thanks for the swift response, this is my inevitable conclusion though to question which is how do I find such a group? I’m not looking for a simple answer really- albeit a formal learning environment would blow my socks off- but shouldn’t I be wary of who it is I am to study under? My hopes were at best set upon even literature to carry until the lessons are learned, but to find a group seems easier said than done. Aikido, Judo, Tai’chi, these are things that are advertise as frequently as cars, but Mo pai seemed a little more esoteric. I’m hardly familiar with the references Kosta Danaos sites but many of these are still in Chinese. Translation is a task in my future, but I humbly regret not having spent more time to learn kanji in my studies. I do digress; without a direction my focus is lacking. where, to start?

  • 8 Chris // Jul 31, 2010

    Sam, why aren’t you looking for a simple answer? Here is a simple answer. If you have 2-3 friends who are interested, you can all drive or fly out to one of the seminars that are held inside and outside the USA every few months. Then you can go back home, and continue training in what you have learned. Go back and visit the teacher every few months as appropriate.

    If you have 10-20 people, you don’t all need to travel to see the teacher, you can probably arrange for one to come and visit you. They may expect you to facilitate most everything: booking a meeting hall, collecting the tuition money (and making up for any shortfall), arranging their personal accommodations, et cetera.

    This sounds expensive and time-consuming, and it is, but I assure you that serious students have been doing it for a long time.

    I’ve been told that you can’t join the Mo-Pai, although one American disciple is quietly teaching a subset of their curriculum. No matter, there are other schools that will be happy to have you. Drew Hempel recommends Spring Forest Qigong, and I can personally testify that Chunyi Lin is immensely skilled.

    If for some reason you cannot travel far, then you should ask around at local organizations for a group you can join. Try the Yoga schools, Taiji schools, community colleges, health food groceries, spiritually oriented bookstores. Try DojoScore.com. Try meetup.com. Try Google.

    If none of that is fruitful, then you can try books, CDs, DVDs in English. Check the Drew Hempel interview for some recommendations. But I warn you that if you choose this option only because it seems the cheapest and easiest, then you’ll probably get what you pay for.

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