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THE COMPLETE SYSTEM OF SELF-HEALING: INTERNAL EXERCISES By Stephen Chang; Questions On Practice

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So I have recently taken up the practices outlined in Stephen Chang's Complete System of Self Healing. There's a somewhat long story as to how I wound up choosing them over the myriad of other practices, but overall, they just proved themselves to be more approachable and ready-to-use than what I was doing before. I had been a Yogi fanatic, and yet could never actually get myself practicing because I had no clue of to start. 

Before I get to my question, I would like to give some slight observations from my 3 months going into it. To start, for most of this time I only ever really did 5 exercises: The Deer, Crane, Turtle, Solar Plexus, and Abdominal exercises. The latter I got into the habit of doing because my digestive system of elimination functions got severely compromised because of the way I was eating. Even after changing my diet, using all sorts of herbs and doing some physical yoga, I had no luck restoring those functions.. until I spent 5 minutes with those two exercises and the Crane. I went and entire week without a voluntary bowel movement (which was a nightmare to someone like me, who never went less than twice a day) no matter what yoga I did or how "clean" my diet was. 5 minutes with those exercises, and it was like I never had a problem to begin with.

That moment is when I divorced my obsession with Yoga, and got into these exercises. I kinda lazed into doing these exercises, as up until this time I was the consummate spiritual theorist; always reading, and never practicing. Once I started the Animal exercises, I could feel energetic movements, and I slowly got into the habit of doing the Animal, Directional, Zodiac, and Nerve Exercises. Again, from Day 1 I had a lot of improvements not only physically, but also in my ability to meditate. 

 

Recently, I found that the the Zodiac organs are fit together with the organs of the same element. For example, the stomach and spleen-pancreas are both Earth element. As things would have it, both elements are paired together in the same Zodiac timeline; the stomach from 7-9am and the spleen following from 9-11am. This happens through the entire 24-hour day, and as such, I just decided that this must be of some importance.

 

I now find myself focusing on the Crane, Deer, and Turtle, practicing each about 5 times each separately, and combined for another 5 times. However, I have not been able to get to the general maintenance exercises. I alternate the main 3 categories of exercises - The Animal, The Zodiac, and the DIrectional - on a day-by-day basis. In other words, on one day, I do the Zodiac, on another, I do the Animal, on another, I do the DIrectional, and then start the cycle over again.

 

I also found seminal retention to make a big difference in the practice of these exercises. When I upped the Deer- Crane, and Turtle, I retained by semen for 5 days. In that time, I released MASSIVE amounts of mucus in my head... I mean a massive amount. I found that there was so much mucus, that I literally felt pressure being alleviated from my mouth. My teeth were very loose p until that period, and suddenly they are really strong and in place firmly. My ears are clear, and my vision even improved. I could definitely feel the energy that the Deer was cultivating moving into my head, but also in my shoulders, traps, back, gut... it was far different than practicing without semen. Even though my head was releasing a lot of mucoid buildup, it felt like some of that was coming from different places. There was also energy moving in my kidneys... it was all sorts of crazy. However, looking to tempt fate, I spilled my semen, and the awareness of these things seemed to drop pretty heavily. I can't say I'm too mad, because that mucus removal was a trip, but there was definitely something to seminal retention that has inspired me to continue where other experiments have not.

 

The only thing I wondered was whether I might be overdoing it. I saw this quote, and wondered what you guys - anyone who has practiced this system that is - might take from this:

 

The general health maintenance exercises are to be practiced on a daily basis for a minimum of three months.Then one should continue to practice the Deer, Crane, and Turtle daily, and use the other exercises on a schedule of alternate days or weeks so as to build the body to its maximum level of health.

 

I was wondering if he meant that a person was supposed to wait to address the other exercises until I was done with the 3 months of general maintenance? I admit, I haven't found much time to do the general maintenance exercises, and they seem somewhat important. i also have not got around to consistent practice of the Nerve exercises either. I also wondered how one might reconcile the fact that the Lung and Large Intestine blocks are fit to a time frame where people are normally asleep. 

 

If anyone has experience with this system, I would appreciate the insight. Thanks a lot.

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Hey you spent a lot of time writing that, I hope you find your answers.

 

To your first question, I don't have experience with this system but it seems a pretty general guideline. The exercises are opening passageways and disolving blockages (mental, physical, emotional) and that takes about three months. Once that's achieved, the "effect" doesn't need to be constantly strived for, and further concentrated work in that direction could potentially "tip the scales" in the other direction i.e. start bringing up less fortuitous effects. Then you should do less of those exercises, and more general health work. It's a common approach to many systems. I suggest sticking to it.

 

The question od why L/LI are at their peak when we're asleep is simple: We're supposed to be awake then, lol. I say don't take that clock too literally. That's an ancient system, based on the lifestyles of people we have absolutely nothing in common with.

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Thanks for the response soaring crane. I felt that even though there were a lot of exercises for nearly everything, that one was not "supposed to do all of them. My insight with the clocks (in relation to the organ elements being paired together) has bled into how I practice all the big groups of exercises, save the Nerve Exercises. When I do the Animal exercises, I do them in relation the the clock of the organ they correspond to. For example, The Bear corresponds with the Earth organs; the pancreas-spleen and the stomach. Hence, I practice The Bear between 7-11am, which is when those clocks are active. This isn't necessary, but it helps me fit the practices into something that that has an outline that keeps me from being overwhelmed by concentrated practice (when I was doing Yoga, I kinda fatigued with the sadhana because it was such a concentrated set of exercises at one time). Mind you, this helps me actually concentrate more on each activity, so while my practice has greater concentration on my end when doing the exercises, my practices themselves never take up more than 20 minutes at a given time.

 

It's definitely an approach that is a lot different than what I have done in the past, and may be exactly why I have been able to keep the practices for more than just a couple of weeks before dropping out. However, I did feel those general maintenance exercises were important, and I was kinda piling on the "main" group of exercises because I thought I "needed" to do them immediately. When I read that (I've had to have read the whole book at least 6 times without even trying, and I find something I somehow overlooked each time), I felt that maybe I could step back from them for the first 3 months, and then utilize them after that initial maintenance period. My experience with semen retention utilizing the Deer, Crane, and Turtle seemed to push that idea, since I was cultivating what seemed to be more than enough energy at this particular point in time. It helped cultivate some confidence in patience, which is stressed a lot in the book.

 

I'm definitely open to more insights from those who have practiced this, but I greatly appreciate the advice here. 

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I had to go back and review Chang's book, by the way he is well respected. Apparently he does not explain the origin of the hours in this book though.

 

The origin of the hours comes from the Chinese version of the Microcosm/Macrocosm doctrine, that the human body and the cosmos mirror each other in a fundamental way.  The organs correspond to the "Animals" of the Chinese Zodiac and are part of a cycle that is mirrored in years, months, days, and hours.  Since in the year the cycle begins with the Solar Month of the Rat (not the Lunar Month, whose beginning varies from year to year, but is too complex to deal with here.) in roughly the two weeks before and after the Winter Solstice, this carries over to the day and its division into hours, these correspond to the hours before and after midnight, midnight corresponding to the Winter Solstice itself, thus the Rat/Gall Bladder is 11:00 pm to 1:00 am and on around the Zodiac, with the Tiger/Lungs and the Rabbit/Large Intestine during 3:00 am to 7:00 am.

 

There is a whole complex correspondence  between traditional Chinese cosmology and physiology which is the basis of a large number practices.

 

The year, month, day and hour relate to the four pillars or Bazi:

 

Four Pillars on Wikipedia

 

The twelve Animals/meridians relate to the twelve earthly branches:

 

Twelve Earthly Branches on Wikipedia

 

I hope this is helpful

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Thanks for the help folks, I was able to find someone who practices this style of work, and he pretty much verified that one should start with General Maintenance first for 3 months. So that's what I am going to do, and I don't feel like I missing out on anything because, even though I've been doing this for about 4 months, I'm still a pretty huge novice. Thanks for the insight, it was greatly appreciated.

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Good book, good exercises, but he completely botches the description of "Immortal Breathing" at the back of the book.  How he got what he got out of his "schematic" is beyond me, and sounds like he had someone describe it to him but he did not understand what it was.

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