Once you are thoroughly familiar with the fundamental postures presented in the Introduction (pages 11-15) and are able to stand in each of them for at least 20 minutes, you can begin practicing The Great Circle.
Start by standing in Wu Chi. Then imagine that you are lowering yourself to sit on a large ball. Sink down about 5 cm (2 in). Keep your weight evenly spread over your feet. Do not let your knees bend forwards over your toes.
Slowly raise your arms into the posture, Holding the Ball (page 13), and rest in that position for a minute, ensuring that your shoulders, chest and elbows are relaxed.
Then gradually raise your arms until your middle fingers are level with your eyeballs. As you do this, be careful not to hunch your shoulders or tighten the muscles in your chest or upper arms. You should feel as if your arms floated up naturally.
Allow the distance between the fingertips of your two hands to increase slightly to approximately the width of your shoulders. Your fingers should be gently opened so that there is space between each of them. Your thumbs should be slightly raised, but not tense.
As you hold this position, feel the relaxed curve of a large open circle from your fingertips down to your toes. Keep your eyes open and breathe naturally through your nose. This position is much more powerful than anything you have practiced before and takes time to perfect. Your shoulders or arms may tire after a very short period. You may experience new sensations of tingling, numbness or spontaneous shaking. Allow these feelings to arise naturally. Carefully return to Wu Chi and completely rest in that position for a couple of minutes.
This position activates two spirals of energy in the body. They coil through and around your arms and hands. You will feel their power thundering down through your Tan Tien into the ground.
You should undertake this exercise only after you have become completely stable in the fundamental postures (pages 11-15) and The Great Circle (pages 28-29).
Start by standing in Wu Chi for a couple of minutes and then The Great Circle for at least five minutes.
Without changing the position of your body, slowly lower your hands completely down and then bring them up behind you as far as you can manage. Keep them away from your body so that they are never hidden behind your back.
Then carefully turn both hands inwards, as if you were trying to get the fingers of each hand to point towards the other. Keep the fingers of both hands open, with as much space between them as possible.
You are likely to feel some tightening in the muscles of your shoulders and your arms. Relax your shoulders by lowering them. Release the tension in your arms by feeling that they are extending outwards to the sides.
It is possible that you will experience some involuntary shaking of the arms or hands at some point while training in this position. Continue to hold your posture calmly while allowing this natural reaction to run its course. You may also find a similar reaction taking place in your legs and abdomen. Again, allow these surges of energy to happen without resisting or exaggerating them. When you tire, which may be after a very short period, slowly lower your arms and return to Wu Chi.
After you become familiar with The Great Circle and are able to remain relaxed in that posture for at least 20 minutes, you can practice sinking lower. Your power deepens as you feel your lower back sliding downwards. Remember to keep your knees from bending over your toes. A slight forward incline of your torso is natural.
Your internal sensations will intensify. Your pulse will probably increase and your breathing deepen. Greater internal heat will be generated and you may sweat.
Despite the effort, keep your mind on the relaxed sensation of holding the large imaginary balloon. Be aware of the spaciousness between your arms and your body, and also under your elbows and armpits.
Check that your chest and shoulders are relaxed. You may have unconsciously raised your shoulders or tightened your chest when moving into the lower position. Let your shoulders sink down. Make sure your chin is not protruding forwards.
You will find it useful to imagine that you are holding a medium-sized ball between your knees. This keeps your knees from bowing outwards, helps release tension in your hips and lower back, and promotes the correct flow of Chi in the body.
When you have gone as low as you possibly can with your feet shoulder width apart, you can try placing your feet wider apart in order to allow you to go lower.
The inner work of this exercise is simply to maintain the posture for as long as you can. At first, you may only be able to stay down for less than a minute. Don't be discouraged: this deep training requires time for inner transformation.
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