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Hello everyone,

 

First, I want to say thank you. I have been reading through many forums trying to deepen my understanding and have benefited greatly from the conversations many of you have had within the different topics of the forum. Even though I have benefitted greatly I still have a lot to learn which is why I am now writing this post in order to ask for advice.

 

As a background, I am a 26-year-old male from Ontario, Canada. My lifestyle hasn't always been the healthiest, but of late it has become healthier, though since getting a puppy it does make it difficult for me to leave the home outside of work for prolonged periods of time. At least that is the case for now. This makes it hard for me to pursue the idea of finding a master/teacher to study under. I am not even sure if there is a master from a good lineage near me and honestly I am not exactly sure how to go about finding that out. That being said I don't wish to just be waiting around. I want to start building a foundation now so that, karma willing, when I do find a teacher I will be in a place where they can begin to teach me.

 

Thanks to Earl Grey I was pointed in the direction of Flying Phoenix, which seems like a perfect fit at least for now of a complete chi kung practice to follow in order to start building a foundation. I do have a couple of concerns though. Does it matter that I currently can't feel qi (chi)? Will practicing the methods from percentage breathing to forms allow me, over time, to start to feel qi and cultivate it to the basic level of mastery for Flying Phoenix?

 

My next concern is about flexibility. Honestly, other than my spine, the rest of my body is quite inflexible. What should I do to increase my flexibility? I know that some of the poses in the FP (Flying Phoenix) meditations insist on them being done in half-lotus, however currently as I said my body is quite inflexible. What kind of recommendations would you give in order to increase one's flexibility? Are there certain poses that you have found which really help to release the body? I have a few books on increasing one's flexibility I have been starting to follow. I just wanted to know if any of you had insights gained through experience that you would be willing to share.

 

Thirdly, foundation building is an important aspect of martial arts. So much so that I am told that the internal arts usually aren't given to the students for years until they have built the proper foundations within their bodies for their bodies to be able to endure those arts. My third question is what kind of exercises, forms, weight training should I do in order to get my body into a healthier and more optimal state? Are there certain exercises/forms/poses that I should be practicing?

 

Finally, I have a question about the mind. Only building a foundation within my body will create an imbalance between my body and mind. I also wish to strengthen my mind. As such, I plan on reading 'Secret of the Golden Flower', the first five books by Carlos Castaneda and 'Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines' by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. I am wondering if there are any other resources that you would recommend I read as well.

 

I understand that everyone leads busy lives and perhaps doesn't have much time to sit down and respond to each of my questions, or any of my questions for that matter. However, I would be grateful for any wisdom and insight which you would be willing to impart. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear back from you soon. 

 

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44 minutes ago, Mind Full said:

 

Thanks to Earl Grey I was pointed in the direction of Flying Phoenix, which seems like a perfect fit at least for now of a complete chi kung practice to follow in order to start building a foundation. I do have a couple of concerns though. Does it matter that I currently can't feel qi (chi)?

No. Everyone should start from where they are. 

44 minutes ago, Mind Full said:

Will practicing the methods from percentage breathing to forms allow me, over time, to start to feel qi and cultivate it to the basic level 

Yes 

44 minutes ago, Mind Full said:

Thirdly, foundation building is an important aspect of martial arts. So much so that I am told that the internal arts usually aren't given to the students for years until they have built the proper foundations within their bodies for their bodies to be able to endure those arts. My third question is what kind of exercises, forms, weight training should I do in order to get my body into a healthier and more optimal state? Are there certain exercises/forms/poses that I should be practicing?

You could always do more physical stuff. Kettlebells? 

 

Otherwise, find out what is compatible with FP. 

44 minutes ago, Mind Full said:

Finally, I have a question about the mind. Only building a foundation within my body will create an imbalance between my body and mind. I also wish to strengthen my mind. As such, I plan on reading 'Secret of the Golden Flower', the first five books by Carlos Castaneda and 'Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines' by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. I am wondering if there are any other resources that you would recommend I read as well.

Build the physical foundation first. 

Focus on these books will definetly strengthen that bodymind imbalance. 

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Posted (edited)

Building a foundation is much like investing your money. You want to make investments that accrue value over time rather than depreciate. Apply this principle to the various levels of your Being so that you avoid wasting your energy on fruitless endeavors. The various levels can be grouped into these categories: Mental, Emotional, Sexual and Physical. 

 

Learn to properly harness all these levels so that you can proportion there powers to where they need to go for cultivation. The "Monkey Mind" for example, is the ultimate waster of mental energy. Learning to move into stillness and create a space of mental silence for yourself comes with training. 

 

Absorbing your self in soap operas or dramatic and intense relationships that are constantly "UP and DOWN" wastes quite a bit of emotional energy. 

 

Watching Porn and spilling your seed frequently, is especially key for men. Learn to manage your sexual energy....or it will manage you. 

 

Eating unhealthy food, drugs, getting in fights...etc. These all cause the body, to give way prematurely and tempt you to an early grave. Thus wasting the vehicle that you should be doing your utmost to maintain. 

 

Bringing all of these layers into alignment is a long and arduous process. Intense cultivation will enable you to begin to "see" the writing on the wall and make the changes best for your life and practice.  ;)

 

 

 

 

Edited by RiverSnake
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4 hours ago, Mind Full said:

My next concern is about flexibility. Honestly, other than my spine, the rest of my body is quite inflexible. What should I do to increase my flexibility? I know that some of the poses in the FP (Flying Phoenix) meditations insist on them being done in half-lotus, however currently as I said my body is quite inflexible. What kind of recommendations would you give in order to increase one's flexibility? Are there certain poses that you have found which really help to release the body? I have a few books on increasing one's flexibility I have been starting to follow. I just wanted to know if any of you had insights gained through experience that you would be willing to share.

I have found that thirty second stretches seem to have worked best for me in improving flexibility long term. The basic process is as such: 

 

Warm up the body (I usually do 25 to 50 4-count jumping jacks for this). You want your body to not be too stiff, but you don't want to exhaust yourself either. Just get the blood flowing well. 

Ease into the stretch that you want to practice.

Once you are as far as you feel you can go, hold it.

Count to five while breathing in, count to five while holding it in, and count to five while breathing out. It is extremely important to breathe while in this practice. It can hurt quite a bit, but as long as it is not "tearing" pain, that can be normal. Take care not to go too far, as if you tear a muscle, you'll have hell to pay for it.

If you make it through two cycles of the 5-count breathing, you'll have reached 30 seconds in the stretch. Ease your way out of the stretch, give yourself a bit of a break, and get blood flowing again. 

 

Repeat the above cycle for a total of three times per stretch per day, and you'll find a rapid improvement in flexibility. In my opinion, the breathing cycle is the single most important part of that process, as it helps ease the pain and provides better oxygen to the muscles. 

 

 

If I recall correctly, this YouTube video had some useful information, if you'd prefer a video format:

 

Best of luck in your growth!

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Thank you everyone for your feedback and advice. I was concerned about starting FP without first building up some kind of foundation, however, it's good to hear that I can begin it as a way to build that foundation. Thank you @Cleansox for letting me know that I can start FP now and that being able to feel qi will come with time following the methods. That being said I will most definitely have to increase my flexibility in order to hold a half-lotus pose. Thank you @Paradoxal for your stretching advice and the video link. The pain of doing the splits is definitely not something I look forward to. However, the results are. So pain is good.

 

@RiverSnake, I struggle quite a bit with the "Monkey Mind" it can be quite tiring especially when it never seems to shut off. How can I lessen it? My concern is that although meditation is great, not having a master means that I am not being guided to do it properly. I have heard about many horror stories where meditating has caused people to become depressed and suicidal. There can be many benefits to be had from meditation, but there are also many pitfalls one can fall into if they aren't aware. However, without meditation how can I quiet the monkey mind?

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8 hours ago, Mind Full said:

 

@RiverSnake, I struggle quite a bit with the "Monkey Mind" it can be quite tiring especially when it never seems to shut off. How can I lessen it? My concern is that although meditation is great, not having a master means that I am not being guided to do it properly. I have heard about many horror stories where meditating has caused people to become depressed and suicidal. There can be many benefits to be had from meditation, but there are also many pitfalls one can fall into if they aren't aware. However, without meditation how can I quiet the monkey mind?

 

Daily practice of Qigong takes you into what some call the "Qi State", in which energy is rapidly flowing through your system and your vibratory expression intensifies. During these states of temporary "ascension", it becomes easier to reach a space of stillness. 

 

The more you train the easier it is to shift and maintain that state.  

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Directly go into meditation is very difficult for modern man.   Try Hatha Yoga for flexibility, Chikung or Pranayama for preparing the mind before meditation.  It is easier to deal with the "Monkey Mind" hurdle.

 

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Freeform has some good posts in this thread about building the foundation and the "Qigong body":
 


Damo Mitchell has an online course in Nei Gong that is specifically aimed at helping you build the foundation for later alchemy etc.

http://lotusneigong.com

Damos books are also very good for helping you get a theoretical overview of the path.

This is a book written by an enlightened woman whom I am lucky to know. It is more like poetry than a conventional book. It tends to impact people emotionally and spiritually and not just appeal to the mind:

http://www.vigdisgarbarek.no/content_en.html

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You've talked about lacking flexibility.  Perhaps look around, see what yoga there is near by.  Energy runs best through happy flexible body (Doc Morris).   Just doing a a few sun salutations daily can open up the body quite a bit.

 

For foundation, breath is the link between physical and spiritual.  Look at some breathing exercises.  For a few months I was into this site- Breath mantra youtube https://www.youtube.com/c/BreathingMantra/videos.  I'd turn a video into a mp3 and I had a nice 30 minute breathing exercise.  As I mastered one, I'd move on to the next.  Each was a nice 30 minutes long.

 

 

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For me when I have someone new, I would proscribe this routines weekly.

 

I would encourage 8 pieces of brocade(2 sets of 9reps) for simple bigger mobility. After that I would courage  Zhan zhuang for 3-5minutes for the mind. Last, I would reccomended sitting (cross leg) focus on breathing (in/exhale)from nose counting each breaths 36-108.

 

It was helped my students with there cultivation but whatever works for you, Just keep up weekly practices. 

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Hmm well I would say dont try to do too much. Part of strong foundations is strong routine and if you try and do a lot then perhaps you may not accomplish much at all.

Good qi flow would also require good body alignment, and as that related to stretchiness I think yin yoga is also a good place to start as this concentrates on getting your fascia real stretched as you hold the poses for 2-3+ minutes so it gets the fascia. My hypothesis is that energy meridians are essentially points in the fascia, because fascia conducts electricity and it does so faster than nerves.

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I don't practice Huang style Taiji anymore but I still do the 5 loosening exercises as I found that over the years deeper and deeper layers of connective tissue/fascia/sinews etc would feel more elastic & "have consciousness/awareness" in them.

 

 

 

The 3 swings from BK Frantzis have also served me well particularly the kua loosening ones.

 

Short:

 

 

Longer:

 

 

 

I like standing practices and still do them but I have found that even with very good teachers students can get back (spine) compression problems if they don't learn to release (feels like the tailbone/perineum is floating through the kua into the feet) the tailbone/perineum so that the vertebrae above isn't crunched down against it but instead can "move through" into the feet.

 

In my experience standing was the first foundation for me (even before I had my basics wired-in) that allowed me to to feel connected, grounded & helped immensely with my IMA, qigong/neigong practices.

 

I haven't trained with Mark Cohen but though its been a few years I gained a few significant insights from his book:

 

https://insidezhanzhuang.wordpress.com/about/ 

 

As Daojones mentioned & from my experience I agree that developing elasticity in tandem with density of connective tissue/fascia will increase the capacity of your body's conductivity.  So as a "base" standing practice, loosenings and some Yin yoga asana (I go much lighter but hold the asana for 10 minutes though I focus on only 4-5 asana/session each month) are all *almost* "fool proof" (a BIG *almost* as I've always found errors in my practices) ways to "build" a solid foundation that can then be used for conducting "higher" energies more safely through them from whatever qigong/neigong practice you do.       

 

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