If you practice the Six Healing Sounds (as described in Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality) just before going to bed, you will sleep more soundly and awaken earlier and more refreshed. Upon awakening, do not suddenly jump out of bed. Allow your engine (your body) to warm up a little first. Switching into high gear as soon as you get up can be disruptive and damaging to your entire system. If you are in the habit of bouncing out of bed in the morning as soon as you awaken, even though you may experience vitality lie in bed awhile instead and practice the Inner Smile, allowing the energy to flow into your Microcosmic Orbit, and you will be amazed at how much your health and overall progress will improve. Continue with Chi Self Massage (as described in Chi Self-Massage: The Taoist Way of Rejuvenation). If you are pressed for time, practice Chi Self-Massage while sitting on the toilet seat. It is not necessary to set aside time to do these practices since you can combine them with other activities. After diligently spending time in the Universal Tao System, you will easily be able to realize differences in your general well-being.
You should drink some water when you get up, but not to excess. Drink as much as you feel is comfortable. Imbibing too much water can make you feel nauseated and even damage your kidneys. For drinking purposes it is wise to use a water filter or distill your water. Water and air are your two most important ingredients to good health and steady progress in this system. If you are worried about losing trace minerals through distillation, use tap water to cook with. Then you will have your minerals, too. Make sure that the tap water is filtered, at least through a simple mesh. Make sure that the air that you breathe is filtered as well whenever possible. The "Bionaire" air filter is a good choice because, in addition to filtering the air, it has an ion emitter.
Practice the Iron Shirt exercises you have learned in this book, and in a short time you will find that it all fits together quite easily and becomes as ordinary and yet as necessary, as brushing your teeth. You will, in other words, begin another good habit. To develop the daily practice of Iron Shirt, it will serve you well to realize that you do not need to do all of the exercises or breath alignment every day. On those days that you practice, it is best to do so early in the morning when you arise. Design a schedule that works for you. You might be able to devote no more than five or ten minutes to an activity, but do it. Rising twenty minutes or a half hour earlier in the morning will improve your whole life. In fact, in a short time you will discover that you need less sleep and have more strength and energy. At the same time, you will find that your activities, both before and after practice, will become more efficient and, therefore, you will derive more benefit, even though you spend what might seem like only a little time in actual practice.
You can create a schedule to fit your time allowance. A recommended schedule to follow might be:
Tuesday: Embracing the Tree, the Turtle and Buffalo and the Horse Stance Using a Wall.
Wednesday: Embracing the Tree, the Turtle and Buffalo, plus the Phoenix and Door Hanging.
Thursday: Embracing the Tree, the Phoenix, the Iron Bridge, and the Backbend.
Friday: Embracing the Tree, the Iron Bridge, the Iron Bar and the Warrior Poses.
Saturday and Sunday: Embracing the Tree, or rest for both days before beginning the cycle again. You may also decide to start the schedule over on Saturday. It is important to remember to start gradually, practicing only fifteen or twenty minutes to a half hour per day.
Iron Shirt can be practiced at any time. Once you master using the mind to bring Chi to the various parts of the organs, you will find it very useful and you will be able to use the Chi energy anytime that you want or need it.
If, for example, you are riding in a car, on a train, or in a plane and you feel back pain, you can bring the energy to the back by pulling up the anus and bringing the energy to the kidneys, or simply by contracting the back muscles. Squeeze and release, squeeze and release and you will find that the pain or stiffness will go away.
You will feel energized immediately. In this way you can help the organs that need to be exercised.
Squeeze in some practice whenever you find some time during the day. It does not have to be any particular time and/or place. When you are standing on line, for example, with time on your hands, you can practice the elongation of the spine by pressing the legs down with the sensation of screwing them into the ground. Pull your head up at the same time and push the spine down. Once you master the practice, you can use it in any way that you want.
Do not practice too close to bedtime or you will not be able to sleep. If you feel any discomfort during your practice, consult any Universal Tao Certified Instructor. If the problem still exists, consult a qualified physician. Remember that exercise is a tool. To misuse such a tool can be harmful. Iron Shirt Chi Kung is not meant to be harmful and will not be if used in the proper way. The exercises have been clearly outlined, as well as the side effects and how to prevent them. If the instructions are followed properly there will be no problems. People have been practicing this system for many thousands of years successfully.
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