How To Practice Taiji Five Element Qigong Well (dan tien)
The following is a translation of an article by Master Binhui He regarding the medical qigong form he created and the importance of the lower dan tien. I will be teaching this rare system now known as “Nianli” to students that are interested at workshops/retreats. Even though you may not know the form yet, there are some wonderful pearls of wisdom contain in this article from a true Qigong Master.
How to practice the Chinese Taiji Five Element Qigong well (active lower dan tien)
The China Taiji Five Element qigong is a medical qigong. It is very different from other qigong forms that pursue extraordinary abilities. When Master Binhui He developed this qigong form, his goal was to use it cure those “incurable” diseases in the hospitals, including cancer.
This qigong will help people to absorb the pure good qi (energy) from the universe, and to get rid of the disease and to gain health. The main form is the Classic Meditation. The secondary forms are the Magnification form and the Purification II form.
(I) How to practice the Classic Meditation form well.
Classic Meditation consists of four sections:
1. The ignition section:
Daoism qigong has the concept of strong fire and gentle fire.
Every living thing consists both the Yin and the Yang parts, this include human body.
Human body is a miniature universe. The physical body is the Yang part, and the mind, soul, consciousness are the Ying part. Only when the physical body is combined with the soul then it is considered as a complete human. In terms of meridian, the “Du meridian” is the Yang part, and the “Ren meridian” is the Ying part. When qi is circulating in the meridian, qi flows upward in the Du meridian, and downward in the Ren meridian. Another rule is that the clean qi goes upward, and the dirty qi goes downward. In order for qi to have smooth circulation, it needs energy. For people who are severely ill, it means that qi is not circulating well in certain parts of the body, and this patient’s qi energy is insufficient. Traditional Chinese Medicine considered that there is a close relationship between the qi circulation and blood circulation. Qi circulation precedes blood circulation. Whenever qi circulates well, the blood also circulates well. If qi circulation is obstructed, it will than cause poor blood circulation too. In order to have good blood circulation, we need work on the improvement of qi circulation. The foundation of good qi circulation is that we need to ignite the “qi cooking pot”. (Translator’s note: we can consider qi as vapor. The qi energy originally is in its liquid form, for man it is semen, for woman it is blood. It is stored in qi reservoir which is the lower dan tien. The lower dan tien can be considered as a cooking pot for qi. Originally, the qi is in its liquid form or even solid form like ice when human body is extremely cold. Once we start cooking the qi, it gradually vaporizes. Only when qi is in its vapor form then it will start circulating in the meridian system).
Ignition has to start at the lower dan tien (Lower abdomen).
The lower dan tien is considered as the extremely Yin area in human body. Lower abdomen contains the bladder, the large and small intestines, and reproductive system. It consists organs which perform the final stages of digestion (where urine and stool are accumulated). It is also the breeding ground for many bacteria, virus and toxin. On the other hand it also the place where a new life is formed. Man produces semen. Woman produces egg. The reason we call it the most Yin area is because it is most toxic area of the body, the breeding ground of disease. There is a saying from a Daoism sage Mr. Lu Dongbin “If you desire long life, you need clean your intestine often.” On the other hand, the reproductive system contains the source of qi. For man, through practice qigong, he can transform semen into qi. For woman, she can transform blood into qi.
The first stage of Classic Meditation is the ignition in the lower dan tien area. First we start the ignition with strong fire. By strong fire we mean that we use strong intention and also synchronize the visualization with breathing. Our intention is fire. Our intention comes from our heart. In the five elements, heart corresponds to the fire element. So wherever we put our focus on, there is fire in it. We need put our “burning focus” on the lower dan tien, to set a fire in the extremely Yin area of our body. Then we need to synchronize our visualization with our breathing. In this case, the breath can be considered as the wind that can fan the fire. With high level of concentration of our intention on our lower dan tien coupled with persistent wind, the fire will become bigger. And this is called strong fire. The more we focus our attention, the stronger the fire. The way to achieve persistent wind is to breathe deep, slim, even and long. Once the fire is successfully ignited with strong fire (that is when we feel warmness in our lower abdomen), we can change to gentle fire. Gentle fire is achieved by reduce our focus on the lower dan tien area, and our breath returns to normal breathing, it does not have to be very deep and long. This can be compared as we first use strong fire to ignite the fire under the cooking pot, then we change to gentle fire to have a “slow cook.” Do not think it is good to use the strong fire continuously, because too much strong fire may hurt the cooking pot. It may have a negative effect on our body. Whenever we sensed a little warmness in our body, we should change to gentle fire.
2. The section of collecting good qi from the universe.
In this stage, we use our imagination and visualization to collect good qi from the universe. The universe contains many different kinds of high quality energy which can be collected by our mind to nourish different parts of our body. During this stage, we not only collect qi, we also activate the circulation of qi. In order to allow qi flow freely in our body, we must not have strong consciousness in this stage. That is we should not engage in serious visualization. Try to reflect the following suggestion: think lightly as if you are not thinking, listen to the tape with very little attention, it is like you are maintaining certain distance from the message of the tape.
When we reach the stage of collecting the five element qi from the five planets, at each planet, just put your attention on the entry point of qi in your body and the destination organ. You do not need to visualize how this qi travels through your body to reach its destination organ. For example, when you are collecting the green wood qi at Saturn, when you are inhaling, just imagine that the green qi enters through your three eyes. When you exhale, just imagine the green qi has been delivered to the liver. There is no need to imagine how the path that the green qi travels through your body.
Human body is a complicated system. All organs are related to each other. One organ may affect another organ positively or negatively. The TCM five element theory states that the five major organs (liver, heart, spleen, lung, and kidney) have a beneficial ordering among them, and a harmful ordering among them. When we are sick, our inner organs may work against each other. By repeatedly listening and visualizing the Classic meditation, we are restoring the beneficial ordering among the five major organs.
Furthermore, as we are going through different planet to collect different qi, we should not arbitrarily lengthen or shorten the time for that planet. Nor should we just practicing qi collection on a particular planet alone thinking that because I have a disease in this organ, I will just work on this subsection alone. Because the Classic Meditation was developed to provide complete holistic adjustment to all parts of our body, we must practice this meditation in its entirety, and then we will reap the full benefit. There is a reason why certain section is shorter and other section is longer. For example, liver (wood element) disease will also affect kidneys, causing insufficiency in kidneys (water element). Water is the mother of wood, water can produce wood. Liver qi can only be drained but not added. So that is why the collection of liver qi is always shorter yet the collection of kidney qi grows with time.
During the collection of five elements of qi, our five organs may have some responses to the workings of qi. Such as one may feel heat, or pain. All these are normal responses, we should not be afraid of it, or to pursue that. Remember that we should just follow everything’s nature.
3. The section of sacred water washing away the disease.
This part is actually what we call dau-ing gong (a strong guided visualization). So it requires the student to have a strong consciousness. You need to create a vivid image in your mind. First you need to have a clear picture of your diseased organ. Then image the sacred water forming a strong whirlpool which will dissolve and melt the disease. Next, we visualize all the sickness qi will be drained from the yung-chuan point of the body. Note that this visualization should be done completely. Some people fall asleep during this section as a result their sickness qi do not drain completely from their body and later they feel pain in their legs because the sickness qi was not completely drained from their body.
In this section we not only cleanse certain organs with sickness but also we want to cleanse our entire body. So all the corners inside our body need to be visualized. The goal is that we want to get rid of all the diseases and all the problems from our body. If there are multiple symptoms in our bodies, we should work from top bottom. We should spend more time working on the symptoms that are higher on the body, or the ones that are more severe in our body.
4. The section of empty consciousness.
This is that stage we transition from method-oriented meditation to methodless meditation. At this stage we will forget our environment, forget ourselves, and this is actually a much higher stage of meditation. But for patients who still have illness, it is easy to have troubling thoughts or wandering thoughts in this stage. It is very difficult to have a good methodless meditation. So instead of thinking nothing, we can think of ourselves, we can picture ourselves at a time when we were young and healthy. And then when our mind becomes quiet and more relaxed we can let go of this visualization, and enter into semi-consciousness.
II. Secondary forms
Secondary forms consist of collecting qi from three different directions, magnification forms, and purification forms.
Collecting qi from three different directions is a simple form that we can practice during the morning. Initially when we are not proficient in visualization, we use movement to draw external qi. But remember that as we are moving with our hands there must be accompanying visualizations happening in our mind. Our attention should never be on our external movement. Instead, movement should always be synchronized with visualizations. If there is only movement without visualization, and this is merely a bodily exercise, is no longer qi gong practice. Nowadays when people practice tai ji chuan, they spend a lot of time to perfect their external movement. They overlook the fact the visualization of qi moving in their bodies. As a result, their health did not benefit much.
The magnification form is actually a standing meditation. Some students developed very big spontaneous movement while practicing this form. This is very natural phenomenon, because when movement will occur will we reach the utmost still state. At this time, we should not use our mind to control or interfere the movement. We do not need to visualize that we are holding a balloon. Just follow the natural movement. Do not worry that you might get into the deviation state. Remember the only rule as this time is “follow the nature.” We should not have any kind of expectation at this time. Just treat everything as normal. Then there is no such thing as deviation. If no spontaneous movements occur, we should not try to move with our intention. Remember that any intention, any expectation means that our consciousness is too strong, and that becomes an obstacle for us to reach a quality practice.
The Purification II form is a “Dau-ing Gong (a strong guided visualization).” Remember that in the Classic Meditation, the section of sacred water washing away disease is also a purification form. When we practice the Purification form, we need to have strong intention and visualization. The more vivid and clear the picture appears in our mind, the better the effect of purification. We should not stop in each meditation until we visualize that our disease is completely gone and our health is fully restored.
(III) Working on the Cultivation of our Heart and Changing of Our Attitude.
Cultivation of our heart should be considered as the most important effort in qi gong practice. To cultivate our heart means to adjust our mind so that it enters a peaceful, tranquil, and an empty state. This is also known as the qi gong state. When we reach this kind of qi gong state, we will have good results in our practice. To reach a peaceful, tranquil, quiet mind, we must cultivate our virtue. If we do not pay attention on cultivating our virtue, our heart cannot be peaceful and our practice will have very little effect.
The secret of having a peaceful mind is to have a contented heart with little desire. We are contented for being an ordinary person. We understand we are born with nothing, we leave this world with nothing, and we really own nothing- nothing is truly ours. So we have very little desire and very little expectation in our ordinary life. When we do something for others, we do not really expect a return. Our motto is “Kindness is our root, tolerance is foundation, and to yield is the best policy.” The best state of mind in qigong practice is when we forget our illness, forget our worries, forget our environment, and finally, we even forget ourselves. And in our daily life, we will not engage in excessive pursuit, or holding on to much on anything or any objective. There is nothing that I must have. On the other hand, we are just like a farmer who focuses on tilling the ground, and forgets about the harvest. We only think about helping other people, but not expecting a return. In this way, we can easily enter a good qi gong state.
Next, we also need to change our attitude. We should know that our consciousness has power. Many qi gong teachers use their consciousness power to heal other people. The secret of a good qi gong teacher is that he can highly concentrate his mind, to focus on one thought, and the power of his mind will be very strong. Master He conducted an experiment where he cured the liver cancer of mice. The success rate was 70%-79%. When Professor Lin, a researcher in Zhung-Shan University, asked Master He whether he used his external qi or his consciousness power to heal the mice, Master He replied that he used both. However, in retrospect, Master He thought that conscious power played a much more important role than external qi, because the energy associated with external qi is neutral- it can be either positive or negative. Only when we put a positive message into this neutral power, will the external qi be beneficial to the patient. No qigong healer can achieve an effective healing without resorting positive consciousness. Every person has consciousness power. Some has greater consciousness power, some smaller. Consciousness power belongs to the Yin-domain (metaphysical realm). It is not limited by time and space. Its existence has been proven in many laboratory experiments, yet the scientist still cannot fully characterize the nature of consciousness power.
Henceforth, we recommend that everyone fully utilize his consciousness power to heal himself. It should be exercised in the form of vivid visualization with high level concentration. We can creatively imagine the process that our illness got cured. This type of positive consciousness adjustment on our disease should not only just occur in our meditation, but it should also occur in our mind all the time. If we only use positive consciousness power during qigong meditation, but we resume our old negative thinking pattern when we are not practicing qigong. Then all the positive gain we got during practice will be cancelled. This means that we need to change our habitual negative thinking pattern completely to a new concept toward disease and health and positive thinking. We should consider disease is really just a friendly warning from our body to ourselves, to indicate that there is a problem in our life. We should heed this warning, and correct the problem. Disease is our friend. We are no longer afraid of it. Even in midst of an illness, we can still maintain a peaceful mind. Our self-healing system works best when we are at peace with ourselves. And our health will be quickly restored.
As a new student of qi gong, initially you may find it hard to focus your mind. Hence, the power of your consciousness is small. However, with continuous practice and accumulation of time, your concentration will improve, and the power of your mind will increase. Now that you learned how to practice this qigong well., as long as you can follow this guideline and practice consistently and persistently, even you are no longer in the qigong class with the qigong teacher, you can still achieve quality practice. You will definitely experience major improvement of your health. Remember that changing our attitude is foremost important thing to achieve complete self-healing. We must first establish a totally new concept on disease, health, and the power of self-healing, and then try to continuously improve our patterns of thinking to think positively for ourselves.
Remember that the power of consciousness is a two edged sword. When we think positively, it gives us positive adjustment. If we think negatively, it hurts our health. Buddhism has a saying: “Your wish can become true.” Since we have already explained the power of our mind, we know this saying is very true. Therefore we ask all our students that they must work on changing their concept and attitude. This change should take place all the times in our lives whether we are practicing qigong meditation or not. We need to continuously give positive adjustment to our illness. Here are the two major changes in our concept and attitude:
First, we must change all the negative thought about our illness. If we believe that we have an incurable illness, or that we are doomed, it will have a very negative effect on our body. But if we believe that we will very soon return to health, our wish will become. Our wish is not just something that exists in our mind. It will actually change our body. Many people have restored their health through the change of their mind, so can you. This is the secret and key for successful self-healing.
Secondly, we must have a revolution in our attitude and concepts. We must not blindly accept the knowledge in the medical books as truth. Many times, the “acquired knowledge” is contrary to the “intuitive knowledge.” In our pursuit of truth, many times, we need “unlearn” some of the acquired knowledge. Most importantly, we will not accept the death sentence from the so-called “medical authorities.” Our mind needs to be liberated from the negative messages and negatives consciousness around us. We believe that the development of our illness can take a big U-turn, it is reversible and it is curable. We believe that with our positive consciousness. We dare to think the unthinkable miracle. Through the liberation of our mind, we have the complete freedom to create the most remarkable healing process in our mind. Remember only when you have set a very positive goal for yourself, then you have a chance to reach it. If you do not set a goal, you will never reach it. If you set a very negative goal (or somebody else set it for you), you will reach that goal too. We need take this goal-setting power back (This is also a kind of liberation of the mind). And we will set the best goal for ourselves. We believe we are marching toward that goal through constant positive consciousness adjustment and persistent qigong meditation. As long as we follow these principles, and have no doubt. We will soon experience complete restoration of our health. (Translator’s note: I elaborated the last paragraph with a few more sentences to make the idea clearer.)