The Five Essential Techniques of Qigong Practice

Although there are thousands of different Qigong forms in modern times, there are five essential techniques of Qigong practice in traditional forms.18 Whenever you practice any of the Qigong forms, you need to use all of these techniques in your daily practice. Otherwise, the Qigong practice will be incomplete. These five essential techniques are regulating the heart/mind, regulating the breath, regulating the posture, regulating the diet, and regulating the sleep

Regulating the heart/mind is a technique to calm your mind and tune your consciousness into tranquility. It is the way to refine your Shen # (spiritual energy) and improve your health on the spiritual level. In Chinese shamanism, a healthy physical body always holds its spiritual body. A person will become ill if the spiritual body separates from the physical body. For instance, a person who tries hard to find a job and doesn't succeed for a long time will find that the digestion function may become imbalanced because the Will (Spleen spirit)

will have deserted the spleen and caused this problem. Consequently, ancient Chinese shamans invented many modalities to help people retain the spiritual body in the physical body and transform the spiritual body into a high-level cultivation state: Enlightenment. In Chinese shamanic Qigong practice, we use different visualization techniques to bring the mind back to the physical body to release illness and maintain well-being.

Regulating the breath is a way to help you to relax and achieve tranquility. It is a way to strengthen your life force and harmonize the flowing Q and blood. It is an important way to unite the physical body and spiritual body. The four patterns of the breath are: Feng ^ (wind), Chuan ffff (wheeze), Q f^ (air), and Xi (grow). Feng means there is noise during breathing. Chuan means there is blockage in the breath, even without noise during breathing. Q means the breath is heavy, even without noise or blockage during breathing. These three breathing patterns are not harmonious. The fourth one, Xi, is the harmonious and balancing breathing pattern. Xi means the breath is smooth without blockage, soft and constant without noise. A Qigong practitioner is able to calm the mind and allow the consciousness to stay in a peaceful, harmonious, tranquil state through practicing Xi. In Chinese shamanic traditions, we apply mantras to elevate the breath to the Xi level.

Regulating the posture is a way to strengthen your physical body. It is a way to help circulate the Q and blood and to relax the mind through correct posture. The four postures in Qigong practice are: standing, sitting, walking, and lying down. You can practice Qigong anywhere and anytime in your daily life with these four postures. In shamanic tradition, we call these four postures Siweiyi ——f| (four sincere rituals). If we observe an enlightened being on a superficial level, that being may appear to act like a normal person, but the enlightened being actually lives with the Dao in every moment. In Qigong practice, we should train ourselves to stay in the Dao in our daily lives with these Siweiyi.

Regulating the diet is a way to nourish your body and Shen with proper food. We need to eat everyday. We will get weak if we do not eat for many days. However, the Huandi Neijing indicates that we will get sick if we eat too much rich food. Modern science has proved that many diseases are related to improper eating or food problems. The ancient Chinese shamans understood that food was medicine (See Part I, 1.5.2 The Dao of Food). We should eat healthy food that is suitable for us. As Qigong practitioners, we should learn the natural diet rhythm and follow the teaching of Song Dynasty Taiji ancestral master Zhang Sanfeng (born 1247 AD): "Please eat when you feel hungry."19 In other words, do not overeat and do not starve yourself; these are the right standards for you. Of course, you can shift yourself into a Bigu (avoid food) state and go without any food for a certain period of time after you have practiced Qigong correctly for a long time.

Regulating the sleep is a way to strengthen your health and refine your Shen fff during sleep. You spend almost one-third of your life sleeping. A good quality sleep will recharge you and make your Shen ffi strong. A poor quality sleep will make you feel exhausted and grumpy. To help our students improve the quality of sleep, we teach a sleeping Qigong form. When your energy gets strong, you will need less sleep than normal but do not force yourself to reduce the sleeping time. "You should go to sleep when you feel sleepy."20 You may do meditation for hours in your sleeping time to replace regular sleep. My master, Yu Wencai fpJCt, was an outstanding example of this practice. He did sitting meditation during his sleeping time without lying down for over sixty years.

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