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  1. Dear Dao Bums, I'll write this post in three parts: 1) Standing, holding your breath, sweating, jing to qi 2) Different systems and how they emphasize the body and the energy, jing and qi 3) Conclusion 1) Standing, holding your breath, sweating, jing to qi Recently I was philosophizing about "the foundation" in alchemy, qigong and meditation. When I have gone to train with different qigong masters, most of the other students are elderly, sickly, physically somewhat weak and the vast majority are women. Therefore the qigong training is more gentle, pleasant and relaxing. However, I've recently come to realize, that this is not how these qigong masters themselves trained. When you're young, fit, healthy and strong, qigong is not nice, pleasant and relaxing. It's brutal! When these teachers built their own "foundation", it's usually through long, very physically difficult standing meditation. Furthermore, it's through merciless continued breath holding. The "jing to qi" stage of course does contain the "transformation" of semen into energy. However, another meaning is simply that you go from "jing" (simply meaning the physical body) and to qi (the energetic body). This is done through starting out with grueling physical work, standing and perfect physical aligments. When you've then mastered all this, and can stand for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, you continue your standing practice until you reach 1 hour. Then your physical body is strong, your legs are strong, your jing (understood as physical body) becomes strong. To now take your awareness and development from mere physical training, or the jing level, you need to advance your awareness and training to the qi level. This is done through breathing. As you stand in the posture, you continually hold your breath again and again in the exercise. As breath is related to qi, holding your breath activates your qi. The combination of standing for long times in particular postures with merciless continued breath holding activates and builds your qi. You'll get warm and start sweating like crazy. After becoming accustomed to this, your jing (physical body) will be strong from long standing, and you'll have more qi than a regular person (built through continued breath holding). Finally, after having completed these two stages, you'll start to be able to feel the qi moving. It will first built in your dan tien, then it will start moving by itself. After doing this for a longer period, you'll start to become aware of your own qi. Firstly inside your body, then the meridians, then the organs. Later, outside your body, in the environment, around other people, animals, trees etc. I just realized that this is not really taught or emphasized with most teachers, because the majority of people coming are sick and elderly. They could never do this kind of training. Therefore the more gentle exercises are taught, for building and circulating the qi, clearing blockages and acheiving gentle healing and relaxation. 2) Different systems and how they emphasize the body and the energy, jing and qi Why does most qigong alchemy systems have this progression? From the physical body, to the qi? This is because if you focus too much on building the higher centres, the upper dan tien, you can actually deplete your physical energy, and thereby potentially your health. Therefore qigong systems have the idea of "overflow". You build an "abundance" of physical energy, and then you naturally let the energy overflow by itself. When the middle dan tien is then full, this overflow continues into the upper dan tien. After all dan tiens are full your development continues in spectacular ways; physical health, emotional well-being, peace of mind. In the yoga systems, there's a similar idea. You start with asana (physical postures, giving strength and flexibility to the body), then you also do pranayama (breathing exercises), and finally you do dhyana (meditation). However, in some yoga systems, the focus is more on the spiritual aspect (shen in qigong) than the physical body (jing). In Simplified Kundalini Yoga by Vethathiri Maharishi, you firstly activate the third eye chakra. This is to give the person awareness of the life force, attain peace of mind, and start to have the necessary mind-power to overcome bad habits (hurting themselves and others, physically or mentally). This is because morals are a emphasized A LOT, due to the thought of karma and of course harmony and duty to self, family and society. However, the next chakra that is strengthened is the muladhara chakra, the root chakra, the perineum (hui yin in qigong). Muladhara literally means foundation. Vethathiri said that everyone, no matter how spiritually advanced, must always do at least 2-3 muladhara-only meditations during the week. This is to keep the physical body strong and healthy, as well as maintaining a strong base for the rest of the energy system. So yoga (at least Simplified Kundalini Yoga) agrees completely with the daoist view that the foundation (jing, physical body, muladhara, hui-yin) should be strong. However, as Simplified Kundalini Yoga prioritizes peace of mind, meditation and of course morals, it's a speedier (albeit riskier in the daoist viewpoint) approach of opening the higher centres very quickly. 3) Conclusion For me personally, I've benefitted immensely from all approaches. The speedier approach in Simplified Kundalini Yoga was great for me, as I personally lean more towards meditation. You get tangible results very quickly, and can build up your physical and spiritual energy and awareness very fast. The slower approach in qigong I perfectly understand, and I've benefitted a lot from the gentle, pleasant approach to circulating and building energy. It's only the past couple of months I've realized that the brutal standing and breath holding actually has a lot of value. So it's something I've only started to experiment with. However, so far I can see it has a lot of power. If your foundation is very strong, your spiritual abilities won't come and go, depending on grace and/or karma, or whether you deplete your energy. It will be more stable, as it will be a result of overflow. If you go quickly into the spiritual level, and somehow deplete your physical energy, your development can go a bit topsy-turvy. So I value and have benefitted from all approaches, but only lately have I realized the benefits hiding in brutal standing and breath holding. I wanted to share this experience with all of you. Be blessed