"In order for this to have any beneficial effect on your health, approaching it with confidence, sincerity, and perseverance in practicing the exercises is very important. Only with confidence can you develop sincerity and focus your mind while exercising; only with sincerity can you persevere to practice and gain the essence of the exercises; and only with perseverance can you get the beneficial effects of the exercises and develop more interest in them." By Jiawen Miao, Eight Section Brocade
Each movement of the Eight Section Brocade has specific techniques for using your eyes. Exercise your eyes in accordance with the instructions, e.g., following the movements of your hands, looking off into the distance, looking upward, keeping a wide angle focus of vision, etc. In some ways, these exercises are similar in style to those developed by optometrists and vision improvement advocates such as William H. Bates, Jacob Liberman, Martin Sussman, or Aldos Huxley.
and acute, careful, alert and lively visual skills are essential to self-defense and success as a martial artist. Your safety is dependent upon seeing what is going on around you, keeping your eyes out for trouble, keeping your eyes peeled, and seeing what is coming up. Do not neglect this important dimension of the Eight Treasures. More
Most Qigong and Taijiquan routines emphasize "Respecting the Curves of the Body." Your neck, back, legs, and arms are all naturally curved or bent in a particular direction. It is always best for any posture in Qigong or Taijiquan to respect the natural curves. Legs should be slightly bent; don't lock your knees. Arms should be slightly bent; don't lock your elbows. You should not move in ways that bend or curve the body away from or counter to their natural curve or bend. To do so is to risk hyperextension, dislocation, and painful injuries to your muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, joints, or bones. Whipping you neck backwards or twisting your back backwards are extremely dangerous.
Highly conditioned athletes (e.g., dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, jumpers, divers, contortionists, etc.)
might be able to push the limits; but, ordinary folks, sensible people, need to be very careful and use restraint when doing some qigong exercise movements and postures. Many fitness instructors remind their students to "mainatin a neutral spine" to avoid injury. This general caution applies to all the postures of the Eight Section Brocade, and especially to some of the movements such as Touching the Toes and Bending Backwards.
Generally, we begin a movement by lifting our left foot and moving it to the left. We inhale as we lift the foot and exhale when the foot settles down into the floor. Many taijiquan forms also begin with a step to the left.
Jane Hallander calls this movement "Holding the Moon (Peng Yue)" and describes and explains the purpose of the movement in Tai Chi Chuan's Internal Secrets, pp.16-17.
The word "Heavens' (tian) has a number of meanings, including the abode of our ancestors, the cosmos, the universe of which we are part, a source of energy, and the skies above. In part, the ideas of our civilization and our language do "hold up" that which we know about the "Heavens" and our ideas of the world beyond;
and, in part, these realms are beyond our comprehension - beyond our grasp and holding power.
In many ways this is just the delightful, restful, and natural movement of raising the arms and stretching upwards. Some would say "nothing special" with a wink in their eye. This is good!
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