It is said in Daoist society: "(When) large Dao is taught, first stop thought; when thought is not stopped, (the lessons are) in vain."'0 This means that when you first practice Qigong, the most difficult training is to stop your thinking. The final goal for your mind is "the thought of no thought."11 Your mind does not think of the past, the present, or the future. Your mind is completely separated from influences of the present such as worry, happiness, and sadness. Then your mind can be calm and steady, and can finally gain peace. Only when you are in the state of "the thought of no thought" will you be relaxed and able to sense calmly and accurately.
Regulating your mind means using your consciousness to stop the activity in your mind in order to set it free from the bondage of ideas, emotion, and conscious thought. When you reach this level, your mind will be calm, peaceful, empty, and light. Then your mind has really reached the goal of relaxation. Only when you reach this stage will you be able to relax deep into your marrow and internal organs. Only then will your mind be clear enough to see (feel) the internal Qi circulation and communicate with your Qi and organs. In Daoist society it is called "Nei Shi Gongfu" (f*} k ), which means the Gongfu of internal vision.
When you reach this real relaxation, you may be able to sense the different elements that make up your body: solid matter, liquids, gases, energy, and spirit. You may even be able to see or feel the different colors that are associated with your five organs: green (liver), white (lungs), black (kidneys), yellow (spleen), and red (heart).
Once your mind is relaxed and regulated and you can sense your internal organs, you may decide to study the five element theory. This is a very profound subject, and it is sometimes interpreted differently by Oriental physicians and Qigong practitioners. When understood properly, it can give you a method of analyzing the interrelationships between your organs, and help you devise ways to correct imbalances.
For example, the lungs correspond to the element Metal, and the heart to the element Fire. Metal (the lungs) can be used to adjust the heat of the Fire (the heart), because metal can take a large quantity of heat away from fire, (and thus cool down the heart). When you feel uneasy or have heartburn (excess fire in the heart), you may use deep breathing to calm down the uneasy emotions or cool off the heartburn.
Naturally, it will take a lot of practice to reach this level. In the beginning, you should not have any ideas or intentions, because they will make it harder for your mind to relax and empty itself of thoughts. Once you are in a state of "no thought," place your attention on your Lower Dan Tian. It is said "Yi Shou Dan Tian" (& <f fl- © ), which means "The Mind is kept on the Dan Tian." The Dan Tian is the origin and residence of your Qi. Your mind can build up the Qi here (start the fire, Qi Huo, then lead the Qi anywhere you wish, and finally lead the Qi back to its residence. When your mind is on the Lower Dan Tian, your Qi will always have a root. When you keep this root, your Qi will be strong and full, and it will go where you want it to. You can see that when you practice Qigong, your mind cannot be completely empty and relaxed. You must find the firmness within the relaxation, then you can reach your goal.
In Qigong training, it is said: "Use your Yi (mind) to lead your Qi" (Yi Yi Yin Qi, Notice the word lead. Qi behaves like water—it cannot be pushed, but it can be led. When Qi is led, it will flow smoothly and without stagnation. When it is pushed, it will flood and enter the wrong paths. Remember, wherever your Yi goes first, the Qi will naturally follow. For example, if you intend to lift an object, this intention is your Yi. This Yi will lead the Qi to the arms to energize the muscles, and then the object can be lifted.
It is said: "Your Yi cannot be on your Qi. Once your Yi is on your Qi, the Qi is stagnant." When you want to walk from one spot to another, you must first mobilize your intention and direct it to the goal, then your body will follow. The mind must always be ahead of the body. If your mind stays on your body, you will not be able to move.
In Qigong training, the first thing is to know what Qi is. If you do not know what Qi is, how will you be able to lead it? Once you know what Qi is and experience it, then your Yi will have something to lead. The next thing in Qigong training is knowing how your Yi communicates with your Qi. That means that your Yi should be able to sense and feel the Qi flow and understand how strong and smooth it is. In Taiji Qigong society, it is commonly said that your Yi must "listen" to your Qi and "understand" it. Listen means to pay careful attention to what you sense and feel. The more you pay attention, the better you will be able to understand. Only after you under stand the Qi situation will your Yi be able to set up the strategy. In Qigong your mind or Yi must generate the idea (visualize your intention), which is like an order to your Qi to complete a certain mission.
The more your Yi communicates with your Qi, the more efficiently the Qi can be led. For this reason, as a Qigong beginner, you must first learn about Yi and Qi, and also learn how to help them communicate efficiently. Yi is the key in Qigong practice. Without this Yi you will not be able to lead your Qi, let alone build up the strength of the Qi or circulate it throughout your entire body.
Remember when the Yi is strong, the Qi is strong, and when the Yi is weak, the Qi is weak. Therefore, the first step of Qigong training is to develop your Yi. The first secret of a strong Yi is calmness. When you are calm, you can see things clearly and not be disturbed by surrounding distractions. With your mind calm, you will be able to concentrate.
Confucius said: "First you must be calm, then your mind can be steady. Once your mind is steady, then you are at peace. Only when you are at peace are you able to think and finally gain."12 This procedure is also applied in meditation or Qigong exercise: calm first, then steady, peace, think, and finally gain. That means when you practice Qigong, first you must learn to be calm (emotional calmness). Once calm, you will be able to see what you want and firm your mind (steady). This firm and steady mind is your intention or Yi (it is how your Yi is generated). Only after you know what you really want will your mind gain peace and be able to relax (emotional and physical relaxation). After you have reached this step, you must then concentrate or think in order to execute your intention. Under this thoughtful and concentrated mind, your Qi will follow and you will be able to gain what you wish.
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