Archive for Qi

Fangsong 4eva

Posted in Exercise, Fighting, health, martial arts, meditation, New Age Baloney, Qi, tai chi, taijiquan with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I’ve been busy and haven’t had much I care to write about lately. Society has had its way with me. But I have been practicing a lot of Taijiquan (TJQ). That’s the only thing in life that doesn’t seem like a complete waste of time — it levels up the soul as well as the physical body all at once.

The principle you hear superior TJQ bloggers talk about these days is maximum use of relaxation, specifically the Chinese term fang-song. The principle of using the waist efficiently in movements (“waist is the commander”) is the core of most martial arts; pretty much every martial art does that at advanced levels. But in TJQ and “internal” martial arts, the key unique principle or secret above all else, is total softness and the ability to relax muscle while fighting.

But even if you don’t practice TJQ or any other macho head-games, fang-song is a beautiful concept to work with. It literally means a combination of “relax” and “unclench the muscles”. It’s pretty much the idea that all meditation teachers are trying to point to, but don’t usually have the vocabulary or practice methods to elucidate. Whenever I am sitting somewhere with nothing to do, or lying in bed drifting off to sleep, I just fang-song my whole body. Sure, sure, you could sit and “be mindful of the breath,” but a lot of people do that without taking heed of their levels of tension. Fang-song is a lot like meditation-class body-scanning-for-tension, but it’s a method that was developed to also function when confronting extreme violence or threats to one’s life.

Most tension starts when the back isn’t straight, and immediately ripples to the shoulders and hips. When the shoulders and hip joints are tense, there is a parallel effect on the elbows and knees respectively. The other big issue is the verticality of the spine, which is a whole additional TJQ principle in of itself (all the principles are co-dependent upon one another). Ideally, one wants to tuck the coccyx until the whole spine, from the bottom (or top of the ass), up to the neck, is one straight line (as when viewed from the side).

It’s also very important to unclench jaw and facial muscles. The reason to wear sunglasses in on bright days is to keep your face from scrunching up and becoming incredibly tense. Excess jaw and facial tension can lead to migraines, headaches and other kinds of annoying pains. Shoulder tension can do this too, and practicing TJQ-related fang-song is practically a miracle cure for chronic back pain, myofascial muscle issues, etc.

As far as qi and issuing energy goes — without total relaxation, the amount of qi a person can circulate and issue in strikes is pretty minimal. I’m not entirely sure what the energy programming instructions are in external, muscular styles like Karate, Shaolin, Silat and so on, but in TJQ and internal styles, it’s the total relaxation which gives you the qi explosion. A lot of beginners are always interested in qi circulation and bringing it out in striking energy, but once you get somewhere in practice, you realize the qi naturally appears and soaks into everything when you relax really deeply.

Anyway, I have a feeling that Taijiquan will get super big in a martial way soon, right before the world implodes. Considering that there are a large number of MA teachers pitching TJQ efficiently now, I don’t see how it could go any other way. Especially since TJQ is the best.

But what difference does it make if TJQ becomes commercially popular in a martial way? Is that really better than the current trend of it being popular as a New Age healing tonic? I guess I don’t care either way.

The Life of Qi

Posted in Buddhism, Daoism, Fighting, health, martial arts, Mysticism, Qi, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Full-body movement is very interesting. When using the entire body to move at once, as in Taijiquan or a variety of other martial arts, there is no place where the movement originates. Sure, it’s seemingly POWERED by the legs and the waist, and you keep your mind-intent in the dantien or hara, but the movement does not originate anywhere specifically on the body. Which connects the intent to the mind, rather than any telegraphed isolated point in the limbs or whatever.

As a result, the individual gains a subtler awareness of the body’s relationship to itself and its surroundings. Full body movement generally takes place as one eliminates unnecessary tension from the muscles — tension which is the result of excess stress from thoughts, worries and other typical mental baggage and metaphysical funk. Upon releasing tension from the muscles, one’s structure becomes naturally stable and strong (held up by the skeleton), and the qi begins to fill the dantien and then move throughout the structure of the body, strengthening the bones.

Strange things can be done with qi. Qi is, of course, difficult to define or pin down (preaching to the choir here!). And why don’t Buddhist masters talk about qi? Surely many of them knew about it, and Hindu religious practices emphasize prana. Tibetan Buddhism has it’s own set of definitions about bodily energy which are fascinating, but most Buddhism emphasizes all personal energy or ability, health and whatnot as coming from the mind alone.

Yes, Buddhism and even Hermetics focus upon the mind/breath as the object of meditative practice. I’ve heard people claim that meditating upon the qi is missing the point or somehow allows people to get lost in ideas of power or energy or trance. Yet in my experience, qi meditation is merely a means, and is never explicitly described to be an end. Qi meditations are not the only ones I use, but in certain cases, such as in the martial arts, it leads to an increased subtle awareness which makes one’s practice much deeper.

Anyway, everyone is sensitive to the qi meridians. Just run your finger along the sensitive, ticklish spots on the inside of your arm or the back of your legs and ankles. I found I could follow the qi meridians right away because the qi flows where a person is naturally sensitive/ticklish. For what it’s worth, although I had already read about the qi meridians in books before being “transmitted” the meditation process in person, I did not actually recognize or follow the qi until someone showed the process to me.

On that note, qi transmission is problematic because it is hard to make sure someone else is learning it properly. I know folks who have been practicing longer than me who still claim not to feel anything qi-related, and quite advanced meditators who claim to have no experience with qi. This lends to the skepticism of many empiricists who do not trust qi to be a valid experiential medium. But in my experience, qi is verily real. One teacher of mine had the strange ability to undo tension in other people by using his qi. Whether or not it’s actually qi, he did it by extending his energy into you through his hands, at the point on the upper palm, and the personal result is a hot stream of energy in your body where he sends his intent. Wild stuff. Sounds like reiki or shiatsu or whatever, but I’ve felt those things and this was something else.

Everything that exists has qi, but it differentiates from the concept of mind, in that qi is limited to the dynamics of being a life-force medium which is unknowable. The mind is itself perhaps unknowable as well, but the mind is the very intangible fabric in which all things are reflections. Qi does not have reflections, but is the subtly tangible, yet unknowable, essence behind all existences.

Local Energy Source

Posted in Feng Shui, Folklore, God(s), Mysticism, Paganism, Qi, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Anytime I go to a new geographical spatial location, I feel tired. I don’t mean I get exhausted when I go to the grocery store or the movie theater (god forbid), but when I travel a decent distance — to another state, country, continent, environmental region or ecosystem, and sometimes merely a different city. But I don’t think it’s “jet-lag”; I don’t think it’s merely that my biological clock is out of sync with the changing sunrise. No, I think it’s mainly that I am not acclimated to the flavor or “energy” that the particular region gives off. It sounds insane, but this is what I believe (momentarily).

There seems to be an acclimation period which takes a week or so to really get settled into the vibes of the locale. Sounds like baloney, but I don’t think there’s another explanation. Every time I show up at a new location, I am dead tired. And the usual things don’t stave it off: sleep, food, whatever. The hidden funk of a geographical location, the causeways of energy or whatever which give it it’s particular feeling or character are too strong for the greenhorn to get used to right off the boat. So it takes some period of adjustment in which you’re exhausted.

And where is the strongest emanation of local energy to be found? From water bodies (duh!) — particularly rivers. If there’s one useful thing I learned from reading books on feng shui, it’s that rivers carry energy through locations like veins carry blood through the body. Actually, I think this is the specific feng-shui definition. So, if you go down to the river of any place, you’ll find the river feels more like the place than the rest of the location. I.e. the Hudson feels like New York, the Potomac like Maryland and Virginia, etc. The spirit(s) of any place can be found in its rivers. And visiting rivers, you’d think it would make a person less tired when they’re trying to acclimate to a location, but I don’t know if it does (probably because I’m a dumb cowardly blogger LOLOLOL!).

In thinking about the different flavors of locations, I figure “pagan ideals” worship such a specific flavor of a location and not the energetic feedback (if you can even separate the two) but I’m just generalizing. But I do think the flavor of a location is a manifestation of the gods of the location. And I wonder if, even though we’re getting energy wherever we are, we’re still filtering it through our locale, through the local “gods”. So, thinking with my “New World”, post-industrial agricultural brain, is there maybe some kind of pure energy which has nothing to do with local filters? Energy that I could access?

Someone should really make an energy purification device like this and then cut me in on the deal.

Movin’ on up

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Qi, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 6, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Lately I’ve noticed an increase in my intuitive perception. Basically, I just look at people and start to feel things about them — their background, personality, etc. Stuff that fits in with cold-reading and the like. But I say feel, because it’s the awareness that’s beyond the time-space/physical senses. Just like in Taiji push-hands, the kind of “soft” all-encompassing awareness you have; eventually this expands into everything in life.

And you know, this also made me think some more about the “as above, so below” Hermetic dictum. All physical existences carry “soul” or “qi” or “prana”. When we come close to something, we experience the flavor of their being, of their spirit. I don’t think the spirit itself exists on some physical level, but the physical level communicates and channels the spirit. So, when someone with a hellish, disturbed mind comes close to us, we begin to perceive this realm on a spiritual level. Likewise with a peaceful, energetic person.

At this point one realizes that, the physical world is just going through various invocations of the emotional and spiritual world, and that the plethora of beings and energies that inhabit the universe appear as clearly in our world as in the “next” one.

Everyone has this perceptive ability, but most of you are probably good-natured enough to just keep it to yourselves! Still… I’m a weenie who needs daily affirmation, so I write about it in an online diary. Maybe I’ll even share it with you some time!

Sex and Violins

Posted in Asceticism, Monasticism, Qi, Religion, sex, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2008 by wizardsmoke

A while back, I grouped pornography in with generalized negative livelihoods. By many people’s standards, martial arts fits into this category. What makes martial artists so different from “sex artists”?

One might say porn stars are simply obsessed with sex and that this is dysfunctional because they relate to the world-at-large through their sexual experience. That they are experts on sex and perceive everything in contrast to this. Maybe they become desensitized to sex or it becomes a very casual event in one’s life. Like every indulgence, sexual activity can eventually become mundane, normal, or boring.

A lot of pacifists, hippies, Buddhists, Politically Correct people, religious folks, etc. might see martial artists in a similar light. To some, it may appear that violence becomes this normal participatory activity for a martial artist. You know, that violence becomes a casual activity or development that one exposes others to without realizing how inhibited or opposed to most people may be in relation to it. That’s an understandable concern, since a lot of martial artists are complete schlemiels and might get a romanticized perspective of violence and then act dangerously stupid.

The goal, I suppose, is a balanced perspective where one has total control over desires. I personally don’t have a penchant for excessive sexual activity or violence because I find it eventually blocks out everything in my peripheral perception. Especially the sexy time!

My guess is that Sexual Tantric Yoga, or whatever those high-level Indian and Tibetan yogis seem to practice, is sexual activity where one is peripherally aware of everything while still having sex, and sexual activity where one does not ejaculate (it strikes me as a misogynistic practice). But! I am still not convinced of this tantric sex stuff as a legitimate or necessary religious goal. A cool trick, sure, and occult weirdness, yes — but that’s because the deviant Satanic stuff is more about accumulating and indulging in desires and making those desires really powerful. Going blind with power, etc.

There are a couple of legitimate reasons it is unhealthy for people to be obsessed with sexual desire. The first is obviously the attachment to the flesh, an excess of which New Agers, metaphysicists, or Buddhists believe pulls a being/soul further down into the treacherous, deep, ghoulish, desire realms. A reasonable fear, but for materialists and naturalists and so forth, that’s a moot point, because everything is a concrete, empirical construction to them. An empiricist is like the kid who closes their eyes and thinks they’re invisible or that the world has disappeared. (Although I actually think “materialists” represent teenage awareness on the plane of human perception…)

The second reason is that, although sexual urges are very powerful, not all people are strong enough to fulfill them. Or not all people can simply give in to their urges, based on their character. For some it would be self-destructive to their personality. By focusing too much (as well as too little) on sex, some people can make themselves neurotic or overly aggressive or unproductive. I guess pop psychology likes to assert the importance of a healthy sex life. But… a healthy (sex) life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have lots and lots of sex.

The third point, and maybe the most relevant to me, is that it damages one’s vital essence, or jing in Chinese medical terminology (excess ejaculation can also cause strain on certain organs, like the bladder). Since one’s jing determines the quality of one’s qi distribution and accumulation, draining or damaging it leaves one sluggish, forgetful and susceptible to outside forces or persuasions. This is why sexual manipulation has so much potential for power: as a man depletes himself of jing, his control wanes and he becomes obsessed and addicted to lustful urges.

Obviously this is a little dramatic, but it’s where the saying, “masturbate and you’ll go blind” comes from. I can’t imagine it was actually ever meant to mean a person would lose their sensory vision. But it’s pretty relevant today, with the prevalence of pornography and so forth. I’ve actually been warned by martial arts teachers not to view much pornography because it’s damaging to your psychological and emotional health.

No surprises here! Although religious precepts talk about sex, I kinda think that stuff is all folk wisdom from old men. You know? Religious guys weren’t horny teenagers, they were seasoned mystics! I think urges often have to dissipate of their own accord alongside “practice”. Ya can’t just cut off the sex drive or ignore it. After all, isn’t that what I said happened with my penchant for intoxicants?

But then again, all of our arguments and lines of reason are just our defilements arguing for their own existence. :*(

Big Bad Feng Shui

Posted in Daoism, Doom and Evil, Feng Shui, Mysticism, Qi, Relationships, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Ole Bruun’s book, Feng Shui in China is one of a handful of academic works on feng shui I’m slowly reading through at the moment. Ahaha, I can hear you gasping in disbelief: “Academic?! Lizard Smog?! Not bloody likely!” Bruun’s book is very interesting, but I found the first half, which entails a political history of feng shui from the mid-19th century Qing dynasty up until the present, to be slow reading. It features a lot of political shenanigans, something I am loathe to read about in general. I bet that’s how politicians weigh us down and enslave the populace! With boring shenanigans!

The second half of the book is much more interesting. It involves the author’s field studies in a Sichuan provincial town. If you can find it in your local or university library or wherever, it’s a decent read. I find this general idea to be quite relevant to my current housing situation:

“In the fengshui mode of thought, the flow of qi is influenced by all natural bodies and by human constructions. Moreover, the relation between one’s own house and other buildings and constructions in the vicinity has a major impact on the common fengshui situation, since a larger house may catch more of the common qi at the expense of others. As a parallel to material wealth, which is seen as a limited resource, also qi is regarded as a resource that can only be tapped at the expense of other people’s share. But while access to material wealth is restricted by human politics, qi flows freely for everyone to catch and with considerably more room for manipulation.” (Bruun, Ole: Fengshui in China, 129)

There you have it! Proof that the people living in the mansion directly behind me are committing horrid astral, architectural experiments! You see, when I was living overseas a number of years back, the people behind me sold their side-yard to a contractor and built a big ugly mansion on it. Naturally, I was not pleased but there was not much I could do then. When I returned, there was a large ugly house on a tiny, not-even-half-acre lot. Soon afterward the wooden fence on the edge of our lot fell down and several of the large bushes on that property line died. Sorcery!

What is interesting is that the ominous, towering presence of that house blocks the sun and wind from that direction and also forces me and these neighbors (whom are quite unfriendly, unsurprisingly) to constantly catch each others’ glances from inside our respective houses. An awkward situation, to be sure!

The result is that one feels tense or timid when in the expansive sun room in the back of my house, which used to be my favorite room. And not just for me — it has always been one of my cats’ favorite room and territory. Yet over the years he has grown remarkably neurotic and stressed out, despite being an indoor cat and getting plenty of attention. I suspect it is because he is quite bright and quite bored, but I also have a hunch that the uneasiness me and my other housemates feel in that room is telegraphed and broadcast towards–or equally experienced–by him.

He has gotten quite ill over the years I have had him living with me here. He seems alright for the time being, but I find that the vet’s solutions for his neurotic behavior (obsessive-compulsively ripping out hair — a habit he did not have when he was younger) never last longer than a few weeks. Interestingly enough, when he starts sleeping in another room for whatever reasons (painting, renovations, repairs, etc.) he seems to be more relaxed.

I am not saying it is the horrible feng shui of that house which is doing stuff to my cat, but I do feel crappy when I’m in that room because this house is there “blocking the qi”. I mean, it’s wrong and foolish to conclude that one single thing is causing all one’s problems, but one can notice when something makes one feel drained.

To give an example of what I mean by this: basic feng shui stipulates that pointy things like corners should not point towards a person’s house, living space or whatever. Because: don’t you feel kinda uncomfy when you have a sharp corner jutting in your direction? It’s ominous. Isn’t it hard to sleep with a sharp or heavy object precariously dangling over your head? That worry in the back of your mind makes you lose energy. It’s pretty straightforward if you ask me.