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Bhathen

Where to concentrate in qigong?

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Hi all,

I have been doing Ba Duan Jin for a few months now for better health.

 

Would like to know where to concentrate, because thoughts seem to be flying towards the breath

or the internal parts

or the qi

or the movements

or the external environment? 

Very difficult not to focus on anything also. 

 

 

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It all depends on who you learned it from and what variation you know--there are many variations of Baduanjin. Some say focus on breathing, some say just do the exercise as it's not a mental focus practice. 

 

In the several variations I have learned, breathing with the movements is the only focus and is done lightly. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @Earl Grey.

Have decided to read The root of Chinese qigong, before asking more questions.

 

Edited by Bhathen

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Hey @Bhathen

 

Maybe take a step back and remember that movement practices are designed as a way to re-unite our mind and bodies - to integrate us, to make us whole again. What is it that is never whole ? The Mind. It needs a focus, something to chew on. The ares of focus you listed are all potentially good, because it's better for the mind to chew on the body, then to chew on itself. 

 

Be careful how you chew though. If the chew the body too hard, your Qi will simply rise to the head the whole time. There is a difference between subtly doing something and applying your mind too intently. Applying the mind too strongly is like looking at the Sun with eyes open. You're a performer, you're wielding strong intent. You have expectations and you know what you want. There is a hunter and the prey.  Doing something gently is like looking at the Moon to remember the presence of the Sun. You don't stare directly at your body, at least not intently, but you still know it's there, because you feel its gentle caress, in subtle ways. It's like you take the body along for a ride, but you don't impose anything on it. Whatever will be, will be. 

 

This strength of "fire" of mind is a subtle agent. It can affect your Qi levels wildly, even when doing the same form. And people aren't aware of it. Depending on your particular energetic make-up, career and tendencies, you can fall anywhere in that spectrum of intensity of focus - from soft thoughts to hard thoughts. I am an engineer and it took me a long time to realize that my thoughts were too hard for some more subtle forms. I had to relearn how to think, and how to apply my mind. Every thought is Qi movement.

 

For your focus, I think anywhere in the body is fine. Because every part of the body connects you to the whole. So you can use any part as a gentle anchor to reconnect you to the body. Eventually what will happen is the fire of the mind will extinguish itself in the presence of the water of the body. That's why you do these movement practices, because they balance body and mind. But you'll never be able to silence the mind if you only work with a mental focus, or fire.  Because you can't put out a fire with fire, even though some countries think that stockpiling bigger weapons will solve problems. Internally and externally, this approach can only be destructive. Sometimes we need to leave the psychiatrist's couch and do some Qigong... although there are some good psychiatrists out here, I'm sure :) 

 

So I say, focus on any of the things you have listed, see how they reconnect you to the body, then try to focus on a sense of wholeness of the body. You can learn a world of things just by gently bringing awareness to your inner processes like this. And I also recommend you read @freeform posts about sinking Qi and having the right dosage of fire, they are very helpful. And I also found this post by @thetaoiseasy very helpful on what it means to do things naturally.

 

 

 

Best of luck,

Sebby

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Thanks so much, @Sebastian. Your info, as well as the links I went through, were excellent.

 

Tried doing Ba duan Jin today with less intent and very light focus on the breath and slightly on the movement...so much difference.

Realized that I had been doing like a focussed practice and that's why heat also was being generated(more in the evening than in the morning). Today's practice did not generate any noticeable heat.

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That's wonderful. You can't go wrong with Ba Duan Jin, it's an excellent practice. I'm glad you resonated with some of what I said. Another way to say it is the mind needs to be passively active. When the mind becomes too active it disturbs your flow of Qi.

 

Here is an example. Say you want to raise your arms to the sides as in the common exercise called "bird flapping wings". You add a mental tonification to that exercise where you visualize Qi going up the spine as the arms are going up. This is a case of the mind being active. What it will do is limit the effectiveness of that exercise. It feels more "advanced" and powerful, you might feel more heat, but you are placing a cap on your energetics by disintegrating your mind from your body. In fact alchemy is gone, fire is no longer mixing with water.

 

So how to be passively active then ? You keep your spirit/awareness active -- you still know you're doing something as you're doing it -- but at the same time your mind is relaxed, diffuse and absorbed into the body, like water in a sponge. In other words, you become your movement, and your intent becomes your physical posture at any point in time -- this usually correlates with where the arms are located. If you do bird flapping wings in an absorbed state, then at whatever level the arms rise, the Qi will rise to that level. It's that simple. As another example, if you hold the arms in front of the lower dantian and completely dissolve into your body, the Qi will start to gather in the lower dantian -- without having to force your mind there.

 

From my experience in these arts so far, there is really no secret to cultivation other than nurturing your essence energy, simplifying your life, and removing what's fancy. What's fancy comes from the mind. It wants to decorate things, to make them more powerful.

 

I found the real power, at least for me, comes when the mind is out of the way. It comes from not-doing, from using the formless to reach the form. Not from using the form to reach the formless. At least, I understand that's how the ancients used to practice, they were natural in every way. And being natural is not for show, it is completely formless. Sure, they practiced forms too, but they never let them confuse them. They were focused on something deeper than form. Because achievement can never be a matter of following a 1-2-3 formula like a cook-book recipe.

 

You will find Each Ba Dua Jin additionally expresses a subtle principle. That's why there are many variations, but the 8 principles remain the same. Again it's a case of the formless blooming into the form. Some people choose to get lost in the form differences. But if you can grasp the essence of Qigong (mind/body integration), and the eight principles of that form (which are described in Master's Yang Jwing Ming's iPhone app if you're looking for a quick reference) then I say you are practicing Qigong at another level already. Personally I try to practice like this, but it's not easy, my mind gets in the way, and I try to perform. But I find movements like this are a gentle friend to unify our mind/body/spirit.  That's why I keep doing it, and also revisiting exercises like Ba Dua Jin, which some refer to as a beginner form. But I like being a beginner, it's fun, and you can't really mess yourself up, since you're not doing anything advanced. And I can show my grandma and she can practice too. 

 

Hope this helps @Bhathen

 

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13 hours ago, Sebastian said:

 

So how to be passively active then ? You keep your spirit/awareness active -- you still know you're doing something as you're doing it -- but at the same time your mind is relaxed, diffuse and absorbed into the body, like water in a sponge. In other words, you become your movement, and your intent becomes your physical posture at any point in time -- this usually correlates with where the arms are located. If you do bird flapping wings in an absorbed state, then at whatever level the arms rise, the Qi will rise to that level. It's that simple. As another example, if you hold the arms in front of the lower dantian and completely dissolve into your body, the Qi will start to gather in the lower dantian -- without having to force your mind there.

 

From my experience in these arts so far, there is really no secret to cultivation other than nurturing your essence energy, simplifying your life, and removing what's fancy. What's fancy comes from the mind. It wants to decorate things, to make them more powerful.

 

 

This is what I have been trying to do with everyday life as well. Looks like both need to be hand in hand.

 

I was looking for an alternative to yoga and found ba duan jin. Though it has been simple, there has been so much effect on the body internally. A freeness and melting of blockages...

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