Regulation of mental activities is also known as will control or thinking method. The training of the will is the most important link in Qigong exercise. The Three Gists of Regime (Sheng San Yao) says, "Preservation of the essence of life rests with cultivation of vital energy, which in turn rests with mental faculties. Mental faculty to vital energy is as mother is to child. Thus, concentration of the mind would have vital energy consolidated while distraction of the mind would have it dispersed. One who only tries to save essence of life but neglects mental faculty knows the how but does not know the why." This passage stresses the relationship between essence of life, vital energy, and mental faculty and points out the primary function of mental activities in Qigong practice.
There are various strategies used to regulate the mind during Qigong practice. The type of mind regulation used is dependent on the particular Qigong exercise being practiced.
Localized mind concentration is concentration of the mind on a certain part or point of the body, such as the upper, middle, or lower Dantian, the acupuncture points Yongquan (K 1) and Laogong (P 8), the fingertips or palms, or on a spot fixed outside the body. Directive Mind Concentration occurs when the flow of Qi is sensed when the mind goes with the movement of the hands or with internal movements of the channels. Rhythmical Mind Concentration focuses the mind on repetition, like the vibration produced by driving a pile. It occurs rhythmically, or moves slowly with normal respiratory cycles. During Qigong practice, one may imagine attaining superhuman strength. For example, one may imagine that he or she is strong enough to push a hill, hold up the sky, or pull nine oxen back by the tails. This kind of mind concentration is called Power-Strengthening Mind Concentration. Coordination of thought, movement, and language is known as Suggestive Mind Concentration. It includes saying words silently and meditating on the results you wish to achieve by Qigong exercise. Representative Mind Concentration requires the practitioner to imagine a particular movement in order to stimulate the flow of Qi. For instance, one may imagine stroking or pressing a ball; expelling unhealthy Qi; or feeling as hot as fire, as cold as ice, as sharp as a sword, or as soft as cotton.
Mental activities should be coordinated naturally with respiration and posture. Mental activities should be carried out naturally and progressively in a composed state of mind. The training of mental activity cannot go without confidence. No matter what kind of mental activity you are exercising, you should be confident that the goal will be attained, although you should not expect quick results. If something unexpected happens during the process, do not be overjoyed or frightened.
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