Although Small Circulation is usually achieved through Nei Dan still meditation, there are several Wai Dan techniques which can also be used to achieve the same goal. These Wai Dan Small Circulation practices are normally done by martial artists in the Shaolin styles. For example, some of the Muscle/Tendon Changing
(Yi Gin Ching) exercises are for Small Circulation. This subject is discussed in the book "Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung." There are many Nei Dan techniques for Small Circulation which the different Chi Kung styles have developed. In this book I will only introduce the one which I have practiced.
Small Circulation training has two major goals. The first is to circulate the Chi smoothly in the Conception and Governing Vessels. The second is to fill up the Chi in these tw© vessels.
We have explained earlier that there are eight vessels in the human body which behave like Chi reservoirs and regulate the Chi level in the twelve primary Chi channels. Among these eight vessels, the Conception Vessel is responsible for the six Yin channels, while the Governing Vessel controls the six Yang channels. In order to regulate the Chi in the twelve primary channels efficiently, the Chi in the vessels must be abundant. Also, the Chi in these two vessels must be able to circulate smoothly. If there is any stagnation of this Chi flow, the vessels will not be able to regulate the Chi in the channels effectively, and the organs will not be able to function normally.
You can see that Small Circulation is the first step in Nei Dan Chi Kung. Small Circulation training will help you to build up a firm foundation for further Nei Dan practices such as Grand Circulation and the Marrow/Brain Washing (Shii Soei Ching).
In order to reach a deep stage of Nei Dan still meditation, it is especially critical that you follow the five important training procedures which we discussed earlier: a. regulating the body, b. regulating the breathing, c. regulating the mind, d. regulating the Chi, and e. regulating the spirit. You also need to know the location of the Dan Tien and the roles which the Conception and Governing Vessels play in Chi Kung. These are discussed in detail in the YMAA Chi Kung book: "The Root of Chinese Chi Kung." It is recommended that you study that book before you start practicing the Small Circulation. Since Nei Dan Small Circulation has been discussed in detail in the earlier YMAA Chi Kung book: "Chi Kung - Health and Martial Arts," we will only review the techniques here.
You start Small Circulation training by building up Chi at the Lower Dan Tien. This is done through abdominal exercises. You must first learn how to control the abdominal muscles again so that they can expand and withdraw. This exercise is called "Faan Torng" (back to childhood). From birth until about 8 years of age, you move your abdomen in and out in coordination with your breathing. This abdominal movement was necessary for bringing nutrients and oxygen in through the umbilical cord when you were in the womb. However, once you were born, you started taking in food through your mouth and oxygen through your nose, and the abdominal movement gradually diminished. Most adults don't have this abdominal movement when they breathe. The "back to Childhood" exercise helps you to return to this type of breathing.
Once you have regained control of your abdomen, if you continue these exercises you will feel your abdomen getting warm. This indicates that the Chi is accumulating, and is called "Chii Huoo," or Starting the Fire." These exercises lead the Chi which has been converted from the Original Essence in the kidneys to the Lower Dan Tien, where it resides. The more you practice, the easier this is to do, and the more you can relax your body and feel the Chi.
Breathing is considered the "strategy" in Chi Kung. In Small Circulation you may use either Buddhist or Taoist breathing. Buddhist breathing is also called "Jeng Hu Shi" (normal breathing) while Taoist breathing is called "Faan Hu Shi" (reverse breathing). In Buddhist breathing, you expand your abdomen as you inhale and contract it as you exhale. Taoist Breathing is just the reverse (Figure 3-33).
As explained in the last chapter, Buddhist breathing is generally more relaxed than Taoist breathing. Although Taoist breathing is more tense and harder to train, it is more efficient in expanding the Guardian Chi and in martial applications. This point can be clarified if you pay attention to the everyday movements of your abdomen. Normally, if you are relaxed or not doing heavy work, you will notice that you are using Buddhist breathing. However, if you are doing heavy work and exerting a lot of force, for example pushing a car or lifting a heavy box, then you will find that your abdomen tenses and expands when you push or lift (which is Taoist breathing). It is suggested that beginners start with Buddhist breathing. After you have mastered it, you should then practice Taoist breathing. There is no conflict. After you practice for a while, you will find that you can switch from one to the other very easily.
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