In all Chi Kung practice it is very important to be rooted. Being rooted means to be stable and in firm contact with the ground. If you want to push a car, you have to be rooted so the force you exert into the car will be balanced by a force into the ground. If you are not rooted, when you push the car you will only push yourself away, and not move the car. Your root is made up of your body's root, center, and balance.
Before you can develop your root, you must first relax and let your body "settle.'' As you relax, the tension in the various parts of your body will dissolve, and you will find a comfortable way to stand. You will stop fighting the ground to keep your body up, and will learn to rely on your body's structure to support itself. This lets the muscles relax even more. Since your body isn't struggling to stand up, your Yi won't be pushing upward, and your body, mind, and Chi will all be able to sink. If you let dirty water sit quietly, the impurities will gradually settle down to the bottom, leaving the water above it clear. In the same way, if you relax your body enough to let it settle, your Chi will sink to your Dan Tien and the Bubbling Wells in your feet, and your mind will become clear. Then you can begin to develop your root.
To root your body you must imitate a tree and grow an invisible root under your feet. This will give you a firm root to keep you stable in your training. YOUR ROOT MUST BE WIDE AS WELL
AS DEEP. Naturally, your Yi must grow first, because it is the Yi which leads the Chi. Your Yi must be able to lead the Chi to your feet, and be able to communicate with the ground. Only when your Yi can communicate with the ground will your Chi be able to grow beyond your feet and enter the ground to build the root. The Bubbling Well cavity is the gate which enables your Chi to communicate with the ground.
After you have gained your root, you must learn how to keep your center. A stable center will make your Chi develop evenly and uniformly. If you lose this center, your Chi will not be led evenly. In order to keep your body centered, you must first center your Yi, and then match your body to it. Only under these conditions will the Chi Kung forms you practice have their root. Your mental and physical center is the key which enables you to lead your Chi beyond your body.
Balance is the product of rooting and centering. Balance includes balancing the Chi and the physical body. It does not matter which aspect of balance you are dealing with, first you must balance your Yi, and only then can you balance your Chi and your physical body. If your Yi is balanced, it can help you to make accurate judgements, and therefore to correct the path of the Chi flow.
Rooting includes rooting not just the body, but also the form or movement. The root of any form or movement is found in its purpose or principle. For example, in certain Chi Kung exercises you want to lead the Chi to your palms. In order to do this you must imagine that you are pushing an object forward while keeping your muscles relaxed. In this exercise, your elbows must be down to build the sense of root for the push. If you raise the elbows, you lose the sense of "intention" of the movement, because the push would be ineffective if you were pushing something for real. Since the intention or purpose of the movement is its reason for being, you now have a purposeless movement, and you have no reason to lead Chi in any particular way. Therefore, in this case, the elbow is the root of the movement.
2. Regulating the Breath (Tyau Shyi) W&
Regulating the breath means to regulate your breathing until it is calm, smooth, and peaceful. Only when you have reached this point will you be able to make the breathing deep, slender, long, and soft, which is required for successful Chi Kung practice.
Breathing is affected by your emotions. For example, when you are angry you exhale more strongly than you inhale. When you are sad, you inhale more strongly than you exhale. When your mind is peaceful and calm, your inhalation and exhalation are relatively equal. In order to keep your breathing calm, peaceful, and steady, your mind and emotions must first be calm and neutral. Therefore, in order to regulate your breathing, you must first regulate your mind.
The other side of the coin is that you can use your breathing to control your Yi. When your breathing is uniform, it is as if you were hypnotizing your Yi, which helps to calm it. You can see that Yi and breathing are interdependent, and that they cooperate with each other. Deep and calm breathing relaxes you and keeps your mind clear. It fills your lungs with plenty of air, so that your brain and entire body have an adequate supply of oxygen. In addition, deep and complete breathing enables the diaphragm to move up and down, which massages and stimulates the internal organs. For this reason, deep breathing exercises are also called "internal organ exercises."
Deep and complete breathing does not mean that you inhale and exhale to the maximum. This would cause the lungs and the surrounding muscles to tense up, which in turn would keep the air from circulating freely, and hinder the absorption of oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your mind becomes scattered, and the rest of your body tenses up. In correct breathing, you inhale and exhale to about 70% or 80% of capacity, so that your lungs stay relaxed.
You can conduct an easy experiment. Inhale deeply so that your lungs are completely full, and time how long you can hold your breath. Then try inhaling to only about 70% of your capacity, and see how long you can hold your breath. You will find that with the latter method you can last much longer than with the first one. This is simply because the lungs and the surrounding muscles are relaxed. When they are relaxed, the rest of your body and your mind can also relax, which significantly decreases your need for oxygen. Therefore, when you regulate your breathing, the first priority is to keep your lungs relaxed and calm.
When training, your mind must first be calm so that your breathing can be regulated. When the breathing is regulated, your mind is able to reach a higher level of calmness. This calmness can again help you to regulate the breathing, until your mind is deep. After you have trained for a long time, your breathing will be full and slender, and your mind will be very clear. It is said: "Hsin Shyi Shiang Yi,"(*14) which means "Heart (Mind) and breathing (are) mutually dependent." When you reach this meditative state, your heartbeat slows down, and your mind is very clear: you have entered the sphere of real meditation.
An Ancient Taoist named Li Ching-Yen said: "Regulating breathing means to regulate the real breathing until (you) stop."(*15) This means that correct regulating means not regulating. In other words, although you start by consciously regulating your breath, you must get to the point where the regulating happens naturally, and you no longer have to think about it. When you breathe, if you concentrate your mind on your breathing, then it is not true regulating, because the Chi in your lungs will become stagnant. When you reach the level of true regulating, you don't have to pay attention to it, and you can use your mind efficiently to lead the Chi. Remember WHEREVER THE YI IS, THERE IS THE CHI. IF THE YI STOPS IN ONE SPOT, THE CHI WELL BE STAGNANT.
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