-_sometimes

Is it safe to practice static exercises like Zhan zhuang without a teacher?

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19 hours ago, freeform said:

 

OP already had some issues with qi deviation that he's just starting to correct.

 

ZZ (when done at least somewhat properly) adds a lot of extra qi to the system. This is bad news if you have deviation issues.

 

 

I was not referring to any particular case. 

 

@Earl Grey, ZZ is basically a standing posture.  Compare with other ChiKung exercises, it doesn't mess with breath, not mess with the mind, not on flexibility.  All these are more prone to problems than ZZ.   How can it be more dangerous?   ZZ does have weaknesses.  The primary one seems to not being effective.  Perhaps it is so boring and test one's endurance that not many people are keen to put real efforts on it.   Most people seem just skip it and move on to movement exercises or meditation. 

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On 7/20/2020 at 1:35 PM, -_sometimes said:

Several months ago I posted on here regarding some issues I was having, and I was recommended to stop all internal work for some time to get things in order. Much has been resolved, and aside from some physical misalignments (which I hope to resolve through ZZ) all has improved greatly, and I would like to start working with the energy arts to improve my physical health, vitality and hopefully, longevity.

 

I am not interested in spiritual accomplishments, I simply wish to take care of my body. I have what seems to be structural misalignments of my neck, shoulder and facial muscles, and having been to various doctors, seen a neurologist and taken care of my mental health, the issues still remain. 

 

I hear Zhan zhuang is very useful when practiced with care and attention over the long term at rectifying physical imbalances within the body, and as such would like to take it up. Is this a good idea, can it be done effectively without a teacher, and are there any warning signs I should take note of, to prevent such things as qi deviation?

 

I would appreciate any advice, thanks :)

 

In my opinion there are few practices that are safer than zhan zhuang, if practiced properly.

In my Daoist tradition, standing is the foundation of most other practices, be they martial or spiritual. 

It is extremely simple and with a relatively small amount of guidance and support, one can easily become one's own teacher.

The body and mind become the teacher and all we need to do is simply make adjustments to the posture of mind and body when they deviate. This is fairly easily recognized with a small amount of guidance. 

 

The concern here is "some issues I was having, and I was recommended to stop all internal work for some time to get things in order."

Zhan zhuang does increase our sensitivity to and awareness of the experience of mind and body. The more still and quiet the mind and body become, the more we open ourselves to reactivity to the experiences of mind and body. Any underlying imbalance, suppressed or repressed mental and emotional content, physical sensitivities all can become magnified and in rare cases harmful. That said, properly practiced zhan zhuang can be a remedy for many of these very problems. One simply needs some support and guidance to make sure they deal with any problems properly as they come up. 

 

So the answer to your question, from my perspective is a qualified yes. Zhan zhuang is quite safe but it is important to be aware of whatever "issues" are present and one needs to be prepared to seek support from someone (be it a teacher, a therapist, a healer,...) if problems arise. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Master Logray said:

ZZ is basically a standing posture.

 

If it's "just standing" then you really need to re-examine your definition of just what ZZ is. It is a stance, but then that is saying that art is just colors on paper, making there no difference between a child's scribbles and Jackson Pollock, or even movements like Dadaism and Neocubism. 

 

Simply put, ZZ is seemingly simple, but there is actually a lot of nuance that one discovers. As a practitioner of Yiquan from a formal lineage and instructor, this is why we don't just allow people to stand from the beginning without a lot of discernment and preparation. There is a big difference between someone who thinks it's just standing and someone who knows it is not just a complete system in of itself, but has multiple layers of complexity--hence why @freeform and I are talking about the dangers of mental health, and you are talking about other systems in general but not naming anything specific--again going to conjecture and overgeneralization. 

 

Your tendency to overgeneralize isn't helping the OP. But besides the fact you ignored the rebuttals that shut down your points previously, it seems like this discussion is more or less dead.

Edited by Earl Grey
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34 minutes ago, steve said:

So the answer to your question, from my perspective is a qualified yes. Zhan zhuang is quite safe but it is important to be aware of whatever "issues" are present and one needs to be prepared to seek support from someone (be it a teacher, a therapist, a healer,...) if problems arise. 

 

Yes, this caveat is crucial. Thank you. 

 

The problem is that most people either don't take it seriously or their own self-assessment doesn't just ignore their issues, but in a bizarre contradiction, hope Zhan Zhuang can help yet don't believe that it will affect them negatively (which it can and does). 

 

True story: a student who was bipolar insisted she was fine, and her state led her to not just vomit from the discomfort, but triggered a manic episode for two days afterwards due to qi rising to her head. We had to pick her up from jail later on after she was restrained.

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To let others in this thread know, I now intend to wait some time before I practice zhan zhuang. I will take the advice of those recommending against it, for I have foregone the advice of others too many times and paid for it sorely. I will look into the more physical practices recommended by @freeform and @Cleansox, thank you both!

 

I understand the sort of trauma that may arise during such practices as zhan zhuang, and whilst this is something that I am working with on a daily basis, in fact it could be said the processing of trauma is pretty much all I do these days haha - I do feel like I would need more time before I stand completely still and enter the deeper parts of my psyche. Lot of shit to process yet ;D

 

I think if I were to go back into the internal arts, and I hope to, eventually - when that happens I'm going to go about it the right way; learn from a verified well known teacher, make sure I'm also perfectly mentally balanced beforehand, hopefully with physical ailments out of the way. I'm tired of messing things up due to impatiently rushing into them like a maniac, wanting results as fast as possible. This one, I hope, I shall do right! 

 

Thank you all for the help and guidance, it is very much appreciated :) 

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1 minute ago, -_sometimes said:

To let others in this thread know, I now intend to wait some time before I practice zhan zhuang. I will take the advice of those recommending against it, for I have foregone the advice of others too many times and paid for it sorely. I will look into the more physical practices recommended by @freeform and @Cleansox, thank you both!

 

I understand the sort of trauma that may arise during such practices as zhan zhuang, and whilst this is something that I am working with on a daily basis, in fact it could be said the processing of trauma is pretty much all I do these days haha - I do feel like I would need more time before I stand completely still and enter the deeper parts of my psyche. Lot of shit to process yet ;D

 

I think if I were to go back into the internal arts, and I hope to, eventually - when that happens I'm going to go about it the right way; learn from a verified well known teacher, make sure I'm also perfectly mentally balanced beforehand, hopefully with physical ailments out of the way. I'm tired of messing things up due to impatiently rushing into them like a maniac, wanting results as fast as possible. This one, I hope, I shall do right! 

 

Thank you all for the help and guidance, it is very much appreciated :) 

 

Great decision. I hope you are surrounded by caring and supportive individuals, and that those who are there for you are encouraging of your interest in internal arts. 

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11 minutes ago, Earl Grey said:

 

Yes, this caveat is crucial. Thank you. 

 

The problem is that most people either don't take it seriously or their own self-assessment doesn't just ignore their issues, but in a bizarre contradiction, hope Zhan Zhuang can help yet don't believe that it will affect them negatively (which it can and does). 

 

True story: a student who was bipolar insisted she was fine, and her state led her to not just vomit from the discomfort, but triggered a manic episode for two days afterwards due to qi rising to her head. We had to pick her up from jail later on after she was restrained.

 

The noise in our head and body is a good distraction from underlying mental issues.

Meditation, standing, etc... do not cause harm but they certainly can unmask underlying issues and allow them to express themselves. The longer they've been repressed or suppressed and the more frightening, painful, and serious they are, the more damage they can cause us. 

I recently read about a young lady committing suicide after a Goencke style vipassana retreat - heart breaking.

My Dao teacher taught us that meditation is important in part because it allows us to expose and address repressed toxicity under controlled and supported circumstances while we are young and healthy and prepared to deal with it all. Otherwise it all comes out towards the end of life or while we are in a compromised and vulnerable state when we are less able to deal. This may be one reason why there are so many suicides in the elderly.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, steve said:

 

The noise in our head and body is a good distraction from underlying mental issues.

Meditation, standing, etc... do not cause harm but they certainly can unmask underlying issues and allow them to express themselves. The longer they've been repressed or suppressed and the more frightening, painful, and serious they are, the more damage they can cause us. 

I recently read about a young lady committing suicide after a Goencke style vipassana retreat - heart breaking.

My Dao teacher taught us that meditation is important in part because it allows us to expose and address repressed toxicity under controlled and supported circumstances while we are young and healthy and prepared to deal with it all. Otherwise it all comes out towards the end of life or while we are in a compromised and vulnerable state when we are less able to deal. This may be one reason why there are so many suicides in the elderly.


Yes, meditation does this and I have that article cited in my discussion thread on the dangers of meditation as a bandaid rather than a dedicated practice.

 

This is also why I find the Taoist meditations from seated golden flower to Zhan Zhuang to be even more dangerous because they not only open to mindfulness that brings these issues to the surface, but make qi rise (especially to the head). Combining the two leads to unpleasant results.

Edited by Earl Grey
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13 minutes ago, Earl Grey said:

 

Great decision. I hope you are surrounded by caring and supportive individuals, and that those who are there for you are encouraging of your interest in internal arts. 

Thank you, I wish for you the same!

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I had to learn ZZ a few times (in person) to avoid putting pressure on my knees. I imagine the same sort of thing can be said for the ankles, the neck, shoulders, etc. Also, it is entirely possible to spend one's ZZ time becoming more clenches and stressed, which also would not be helpful (again, speaking from personal experience). 

 

People think the meditation posture is even safer than ZZ, but I know a lot of meditators that blew out their knees over time. 

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

I had to learn ZZ a few times (in person) to avoid putting pressure on my knees. I imagine the same sort of thing can be said for the ankles, the neck, shoulders, etc. Also, it is entirely possible to spend one's ZZ time becoming more clenches and stressed, which also would not be helpful (again, speaking from personal experience). 

 

People think the meditation posture is even safer than ZZ, but I know a lot of meditators that blew out their knees over time. 

 

That's on the physical level. On the energetic level, even the early wuji type postures increase the flow of qi... and if your qi is used to flowing up to your head and neck, then wuji would simply add fuel to this process.

 

On the physical side, getting some level of conditioning, core strength, openness in the joints, and some reasonable flexibility - particularly around the kwa, hips, all the muscles in the legs - as well as the shoulders and the spine - this makes a biiiiig difference to ZZ.

 

22 hours ago, Master Logray said:

ZZ is basically a standing posture.

 

I've seen so many ZZ practitioners get stiffer and stiffer as they progress. It's as if their body slowly mummifies them into their ZZ form. If you think ZZ is just about standing, then you've not been taught any of the internal aspects of standing.

 

When standing in ZZ with genuine internal principles in place, then the body should be super lively on the inside. Things should be moving, stretching, expanding, adjusting - even though you look reasonably still on the outside (maybe a puddle of sweat gives a clue that there's more going on).

 

When I first started to learn the proper principles for ZZ, my insides felt like they were getting massaged from the inside out (and not the pleasant sort of massage)... my joints felt like they were getting a chiropractic treatment - loud pops and sudden massive corrections, ribs would suddenly pop into a different position (with all the associated pain of that).

 

Now, years later, my ZZ uses different principles and generates a huge amount of Qi in the body. I have a specific form of practice I must do after standing to incorporate the Qi generated, otherwise I not only freak out all the neighbourhood cats, but also buzz with this qi - unable to sleep even after several hours of running and swimming.  This level of practice is anything but safe unless the foundations are in place and major pathogens are cleared... Otherwise a torrent of yang qi + chronic stagnation = cancer...

Edited by freeform
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3 hours ago, freeform said:

Otherwise a torrent of yang qi + chronic stagnation = cancer...

 

Totally off topic here, so mods feel free to split, but as someone who has had cancer about 10 years back - while practicing qigong at the time - I'm curious about this explanation for the disease. What is the cause for stagnation? Lack of flexibility?

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56 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

as someone who has had cancer about 10 years back - while practicing qigong at the time - I'm curious about this explanation for the disease. What is the cause for stagnation? Lack of flexibility?

 

There are various forms of stagnation - especially from a Chinese Medicine perspective. I'm not a CM expert, so my understanding of stagnation is more from the neigong/qigong point of view - so it's slightly different.

 

Certainly - not all cancers are caused by stagnation. Also, many people will have a certain amount of cancerous cells already without realising or being negatively affected, and they will normally resolve on their own.

 

Stagnation is very common - and everyone has it to some degree. The issue is adding strong Yang Qi to chronic stagnation...

 

Stagnation is basically a blockage. It's usually a sort of contraction. Often it's a kind of contraction around an emotional, psychological, and/or physical trauma - kind of like energetic scar tissue. It's like your system is trying to protect you from the pain of it by compressing it and covering it in a scar.

 

But it's not always to do with trauma, sometimes it's a habitual tendency (of mind or body) that creates stagnation. For example if you habitually get angry at small things, you're sure to create some stagnation in the liver-related channels, if not the organ itself. Sometimes it's health or diet-related. Sometimes it's caused by habitually using strong intent or focused awareness in qigong (hence why qigong practitioners use focused attention cause a lot of stagnation issues in themselves).

 

But in all cases, it's like a contraction or compaction of qi... and often the body's tissues also contract in that area (but not always).

 

The opposite of stagnation is space/expansion/freeflow of qi.

 

Much of qigong practice is about clearing stagnation (and heat). Especially the foundational levels.

 

Skipping levels, or jumping into qi building or other powerful methods before most of your channels are cleared of both stagnation and heat is what can set off cancerous growth... think of it this way - Yang Qi is like an increase of life, whereas stagnation is a contraction, like scarring - add 'life-animating' juice to the process of stagnation and you can imagine how tumors can develop or latent, harmless tumors can be 'vitalised' to grow.

 

Another thing that can happen is when you get qi transmission from someone who is able to fa (emit) yang qi (the hot or electric-feeling quality of qi) but isn't able to quickly see if there's any issues before transmitting this extra juice into your system. That can set things off too. I've seen in many schools how relatively junior practitioners are taught to fa-qi before they can diagnose (and in fact before they are completely 'full' of qi themselves) - this is useful for qigong hospitals and clinics (coz more 'doctors' = more $$) - but unless there's someone doing the diagnosis, it can be really bad for the patient (but also the transmitter... there is always a sharing of 'information' over qi, and depletion too)

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Dejavu. 

 

This thread is like a medley of my first 20 years of zz instruction, from various teachers. 

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On 24/07/2020 at 2:53 PM, freeform said:

But it's not always to do with trauma, sometimes it's a habitual tendency (of mind or body) that creates stagnation. For example if you habitually get angry at small things, you're sure to create some stagnation in the liver-related channels, if not the organ itself. Sometimes it's health or diet-related. Sometimes it's caused by habitually using strong intent or focused awareness in qigong (hence why qigong practitioners use focused attention cause a lot of stagnation issues in themselves).

 

That's a point. For anyone with any sort of anger issue, I would certainly point more towards bioenergetics, yelling in a controlled environment, song and dance etc. Sometimes you gotta purge before anything.

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