Exercise Martial Art principle qigong taiji

Chan Szu Chin Exercise of Master Feng Ziqiang

Chan Szu Chin Exercise of Master Feng Ziqiang
by Sifu Justin Meehan

Master Feng’s system of Chan Szu Chin exercises is derived from the Chen family style of Taiji, taught to him by Master Chen Fake in Beijing, China, and from his Xin Yi lio He Quan background with Master Hu Yao Zhen. Master Feng puts great emphasis on the practice of both Qigong and Chan Szu Chin exercises to improve Form, Function, Health, and Push Hands skills. Because of the necessary terseness of the Chinese language, I thought it might be interesting to examine a few of these exercises in greater depth. I apologize in advance to my teacher, Master Zhang Xue Xin, for any errors or mistakes which are the result of my misunderstandings alone. Chan Szu Chin exercises are an excellent means of practicing Taiji principles of movement. For many of us, practicing the form alone is not the easiest way to improve our skills. In the form, we are often just finishing one movement, when we have to go on to a new and completely different movement in the form. Although there are repetitions, they are spaced away from each other and not practiced repetitively. This is where the Chan Szu Chin exercises come in. They allow us to practice basic body mechanics, which will form the basis for one or more movements contained in the form. They allow us to focus more carefully on the important principles of movement required in the Chen style.  Although Chan Szu Chin exercises are found exclusively in the Chen style, other styles often accomplish the same result by repeating individual movements. By way of example, both Yang Zhenduo and the late Fu Zhongwen advocated the repetition of individual basic movements from the Yang form as a way to improve performance and to develop internal power. In addition to Chan Szu Chin exercises, the Chen form has its own supplementary power training exercise, such as twisting the short stick (for Chin Na), shaking the long staff, and rolling the Heavy Jar (for developing waist power and body connection). Master Feng’s style includes training supplements as well.

Although Chan Szu Chin exercises are found exclusively in the Chen style, other styles often accomplish the same result by repeating individual movements. By way of example, both Yang Zhenduo and the late Fu Zhongwen advocated the repetition of individual basic movements from the Yang form as a way to improve performance and to develop internal power. In addition to Chan Szu Chin exercises, the Chen form has its own supplementary power training exercise, such as twisting the short stick (for Chin Na), shaking the long staff, and rolling the Heavy Jar (for developing waist power and body connection). Master Feng’s style includes training supplements as well.

1. Side-to-Side neck turn
2. Rolling the head around the neck
3. Circling the shoulders (individually)
4. Double shoulder circles
5. Forward and backward double shoulder press
6. single arm circle (left and right)
7. Single under arm spiral and press
8. Double alternating under arm spiral and press
9. Double arm counter circles (Tying the Coat)
10. Finger thrust and chop with waist turn.
11. Two arms circle in, up, and out and then press down at the sides
12. Two arms circle in, down, and out and then lift up at the sides
13. Circle arms out and double finger thrust forward on each side
14. Circle arms in and chest thrust out
15. Double arm spirals under arms and thrusting out to sides (and reverse)
16. Left upward and outward “Golden Cock” arm spiral
17. Right upward and outward “Golden Cock” arm spiral
18. Double elbow circles (forward and backward)
19. Single elbow circles (left and right)
20. Single wrist circling (outward and inward)
21. Double wrist circling (outward and inward)
22. Left and right spiral punching (in left then right bow stance)
23. Circling the hip (a) sideways (hula hoop), (b) upward, and (c) downward
24. Twisting the waist with double arm swing from side to side
25. Circling the upper torso around the waist
26. Circling each knee
27. Circling both knees
28. Circle and kick with each leg
29. Turn the foot and leg in and out (left and right)
30. Shaking the body

What I would like to do in this article is to go into a more complete description of three of Master Feng’s Chan Szu Chin exercises. This will give the practitioner a greater appreciation of the technical requirements of these exercises. Hopefully, the reader will even be able to practice these exercises on his or her own. They are certainly helpful regardless of style. Keep in mind that these are not just “range of motion” or “loosening up” type exercises. They will increase range of motion but in Taiji, no part of the body should move in isolation. “When one part moves, the whole body moves” is a good maxim to keep in mind. Beginners should emphasize integrated whole-body movement “led by the waist.” More advanced Chen-style practitioners should remember to keep “peng” alignment throughout and to circle each and every moveable body part in a coordinated fashion to increase “spiral” body power. I have chosen three of the easier exercises to focus on: Single Shoulder Circling (#3), double shoulder circles (#4), and Waist Turning (#24).

Exercise #3 Single Shoulder Circling Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to increase the range of motion in the shoulder and to open and close the “thoracic hinge,” which divides the chest and back along the center line (see August 1994 Tai Chi Magazine regarding the “Thoracic Hinge”). This will also aid in the ability to neutralize by rolling the shoulder and to develop the power of “kou” or shoulder smash. 1. Forward Shoulder Circle: Stance: Stand with left foot forward about the natural distance of one step. The front foot faces forward with the rear foot turned out at a 90-degree angle. This stance is like a shortened front stance. As the shoulder rolls and circles, the weight will shift forward onto the front leg and then backward onto the rear leg. The knees are kept bent and the weight of the body is kept lowered. Do not let the body stand up out of its rooted position on either leg. Compress and expand the Kua to sink and rise (see 1994 Tai Chi Magazine regarding “Pumping the Kua”). Body Movement: For the Single Shoulder Circle, there are two main variations: (1) circling upward and backward or (2) circling forward and downward. The lead shoulder is doing the circling and the rear shoulder remains back in a relatively stabilized position. The lead shoulder will be making a complete circle. After completing at least 9 repetitions with the left foot forward, change the stance and do at least 9 repetitions with the right foot forward. The important distinction between this exercise, as opposed to a simple flexibility or “range of (shoulder) motion” exercise, is that in Chan Szu Chin exercises the whole body is involved, not just the shoulder. The shoulder turning should be the result of shifting forward and backward in stance; raising and lowering the body; circling the “tantien/mingmen ball”; and opening and closing the chest and back at what could be called the “thoracic hinge.” This is not just an isolated shoulder movement. Try to involve the whole body to create the maximum shoulder circle.

2. Backward Shoulder Circle: This is the reverse of the forward shoulder circle. In this exercise, push backward from the front left leg to the rear right leg, raising slightly. The forward left shoulder will rise with the lifting body. The left shoulder and left side of the chest will open outward, opening the chest at the sternum. The body will continue to circle the shoulder backward and downward as the weight shifts and sinks downward on the right rear leg. The body will then bring the shoulder from underneath to forward as the body shifts from the rear leg to the forward left leg. Now the chest is closed or hollowed and the back is open or rounded. Do at least 9 repetitions on each side with the left foot forward first and then reverse the stance. Some important points to remember are to keep the rear shoulder backward. There is another Chan Szu Chin sub-exercise, which alternates shoulders, both rolling simultaneously, but this is not the exercise which I am describing. In this exercise, it is primarily the forward shoulder circling and not the rear shoulder or both shoulders circling together. By keeping the rear shoulder backward while circling the forward shoulder, we make it easier for the chest and back to open and close. This also helps to increase the range of motion of the lead shoulder. Another important point is to avoid the tendency to bend the torso forward and backward at the waist. Try to keep the torso vertical and upright throughout. Just as the leg has a “Kua” (crease between upper thigh and front torso called the inguinal groove or crease) so also does the shoulder have a “Kua” (also called the “Shoulder Nest” by Denver based Chen-style instructor Liang Bai Ping) in the front of the body where the shoulder crease can open and close adjacent to the pectoral muscle. Try to maximize the opening and closing of the shoulder “Kua” and the “Thoracic Hinge.” Another benefit of this exercise is that it can massage and invigorate the heart and lung region and expand oxygen capacity. Applications: As with all Taiji movements, there are numerous applications within the circularity of any movement. A description of any one application should not be considered exhaustive but merely illustrative. However, doing the movement without any understanding of application can also be limiting. For the Backward Shoulder Roll, imagine or have someone push against the front of your shoulder. Instead of resisting the push to the lead shoulder, neutralize the push by rolling the shoulder upward and backwards and opening the chest, in order to neutralize the punch. For the Forward Shoulder Roll circling up from behind and down the front, you can think of practicing “Kou” or a downward smash to the body of a close range opponent. Other Exercises: After doing the left shoulder, change position and do the same exercise with the right shoulder. After doing the backward shoulder circle, try turning the shoulder in the opposite circle, creating the forward and downward single shoulder circle. Just reverse the instructions already described. One can also try the following exercise: Exercise #4-Double Shoulder Rolls Begin this exercise by standing in a forward-facing, Chen-style “horse” stance and circling both shoulders backwards. After that, circle both shoulders forward and inward simultaneously. The key is to raise and lower the stance while opening and closing the chest and back. Do not stand up all the way so as to straighten the legs or to lose the power potential of the hip joints or kua. Once again, do at least 9 repetitions forward and at least 9 repetitions backward. Application: The Double Backward Shoulder Rolls could be used to disengage a two-handed forward push to both of your shoulders, and it forms the basis of an important two-person “Push Hands” exercise. This popular two-person exercise is shared by many different styles and masters, including my first (in 1967) Taiji instructor, Master William C.C. Chen. Form: The ability to open and close the shoulder “kua” and to circle the shoulder is an important sub-movement to many movements in the original Chen form, Master Feng Zhiqiang’s simplified 24-movement Form, and his 48-modified Chen form. The Forward Shoulder circle can be seen as a closing movement preceding the White Crane Spreads Wings posture and can be used to strike the opponent’s ribs with your shoulders after deflecting his punch. The Backward Shoulder Circle is seen as the Double Arm Opening just before Movement #8 “Lifting Hands and Raising Leg” and before Movement #29 “Shake Both Feet.” Exercise #24-“Horizontal Waist Turn” (Side-to-Side Waist Turn) Purpose: The purpose of this exercise will be to develop the horizontal turning power of the waist. In order to do that, we assume an open Chen-style, horse-riding stance. Master Feng allows the feet in this stance to turn out naturally about 30-40 degrees each. They are not limited to the both feet pointing forward and parallel to each other. Sink into your stance and turn the waist and arms from side to side. Keep the hips back and do not allow them to turn too much. By isolating the waist from the hips, we can concentrate on the horizontal (“ping”-level) elasticity of the waist and back. We also massage and invigorate the kidneys and other organs within the “belt” meridian. Keep the torso within the open stance power base. Do not shift the weight completely from one side to another. Keep dynamic tension within the inner groin arch of the Bow Stance. As a word of caution, do not overdo this exercise, especially if you have lower back and spine problems. Typically, it is done 9, 18, or 36 times in a row, each count involved turning to both sides. Be careful not to raise and lower your height. Sit down and stay down! Do not throw your arms and upper torso so vigorously as to possibly wrench your back or spine. Use smooth and relaxed Taiji-type motion. Each turn involves opening one kua and closing the other kua on the side to which we are turning. Stance: Keep a low, but not uncomfortable, “horse” or “open Bow” Stance. The legs and hips should not turn very much. The purpose of this exercise is to emphasize waist turning. This exercise could be done as if sitting on a low stool. Master Zhang Xue Xin would place his knee under my tailbone in order to keep my stance seated and down throughout this exercise, not rising. Sit into your Kua, and do not hyper-extend forward at the knees. Both knees should keep their outward bow or “peng,” just like an arched bridge. This is a very good leg and stancestrengthening exercise. When one “Kua” opens, the other closes but does not protrude outward. When turning to the right, the right Kua closes and the left Kua stretches (but does not protrude) open. Keep the knees turned out in the direction of the feet to avoid strain. Body Movement: Both arms will cross the body from side to side and help the waist to turn. When the waist turns to the right, the right hand is in a back fist position and lower than the body-crossing left hand, which is in “hammer” fist position. An application of the hand could be to block low and out with the right back fist and chop down and across with the left hammer fist or inside forearm to the neck or shoulder of the opponent. The major goal of this exercise is to (1) create horizontal “spring or elastic” power in the waist and back along what is referred to as the “Belt Meridian”; (2) to make the waist flexible like pliable rubber; and (3) to develop torquing power (like wringing out a wet towel). Turn the horizontal waist muscles in one direction, wind up even more to the same direction, release, and then let the waist spring turn the torso and arms to the other side. Rationale: The waist, which includes the “tan-tien” and “ming-men,” has several important spring- or rubber band-type actions, including:

1. Side to side, (along the “ping” plane)
2. Up and Down (along the “li” plane)
3. Lateral circling (along the “shu” plane)
4. Combinations of one, two, and three, such as diagonal or circular movements.

This exercise emphasizes and strengthens the side-to-side waist-turning movements. If the sideto- side waist power is correctly manifested, then many other movements relying on this commonly used body action, contained in the Chen form, will also be improved. Not only will the body develop greater internal power, but the organs within the abdominal cavity (liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and intestines) will benefit from this gentle waist massage. Loosening the waist also increases our ability to neutralize by turning of the waist in push hands practice. Keep your central body axis aligned vertically. Keep the “baihui,” top of head, straight and gentle, lifting upward throughout. Do not shift your hip outside the power base created by the inner arch of your legs.

Form and Applications: The use of this exercise can be found in the Chen 48 Form of Master Feng: in movement #46, “Sink Waist With Elbow Down,” and also in movements #6 called “Move and Hinder with Elbow on Both Sides” in the 2nd Chen style routine, Pao Twi. The application could be to step in front of your opponent’s lead right leg with your lead right leg, so that you are facing legs at the level of shin or thigh. Block his forward hand attack with your rear left hand. Bring your lead right arm under his attacking right arm. Use your right elbow to hit his back and/or kidney area by turning your waist to the right. Besides being the recipient of an elbow strike, the opponent may be thrown over your right lead leg to the ground.

Final Word

As you may now see, there is a lot going on inside these Chan Szu Chin exercises. To do them all slowly, for a minimum of 9 times for each exercise, could take anywhere from 60 minutes to over an hour. This does not mean that one cannot practice individual movements separately. Each exercise has something special to offer. I have limited myself to a hopefully clear technical description of how to do a few of these easier, basic exercises. I hope you will be able to enjoy their benefits and increase your progress. Although much more could be said regarding the Taiji Principles, let me just summarize by saying this: Be sure to emphasize and to distinguish the substantial and insubstantial; circle and spiral; and the whole body integrated movement. Also, be sure to emphasize and to distinguish between opening and closing; uniting inside and outside; expanding and compressing; raising and lowering; turning left and right; advancing and retreating; maintaining “peng” alignment throughout; and, of course, staying smooth and relaxed. Good Luck!

Reference: The Hun Yuan Taiji of Grand Master Feng Zhiqiang

Silk Reeling (many references)


Hidden Qi & Qigong


Neiyao and Waiyao

Yao (Medicine) consists of neiyao, or jing, qi and shen, and waiyao, or medicine in real life. Both kinds of yao are important in qigong practice. Neiyao is all-effective, whilst waiyao is not so all the time; neiyao has no definite shape or form but exists in the body, whilst waiyao has its shape and form but does not really exist; neiyao can promote transcendence, whilst waiyao may help treat diseases; neiyao exists in your self, whilst waiyao comes from the human body; and neiyao clings to your body, whilst waiyao clings to the universe.

Neiyao can be produced all of a sudden but waiyao must be cultivated gradually over a long period of time. Neiyao is as important as waiyao, and you cannot do without waiyao. That is why you should cultivate neiyao whilst taking waiyao and train your mind whilst treating your body.

Chinese Qigong Illustrated
by Yu Gongbao
ISBN 7800052478

Energy Exercise Foot Head Hip Knee Martial Art posture principle pushhands qigong Structure taiji Waist

Huang Xingxiang Five Loosening Exercises

Master Huang Xingxian (Huang sheng Shuan) performing the 5 Loosening Exercises.

Book reference:
Relax, Deep Mind Taiji Basics Patrick Kelly

ISBN 047600425x

p.37 – 45

Huang Sheng Shyan

Breath Classic Energy Exercise Meditation Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Taoism

Three Immortals Cultivation of the Ling Bao Bi Fa

Ling Bao (灵宝) translates as “Spiritual Treasure.” The Ling Bao Bi Fa outlines the San Xian Gong, “Three Immortals Cultivation,” for completing the Ling Bao and thus becoming a Zhen Ren (真人) or Real Human Being. San Xian Gong consists of thee stages: Ren Xian Gong (人仙功) Human Immortal Cultivation, Di Xian Gong (地仙功) Earthly Immortal Cultivation, and Tian Xian Gong (天仙功) Heavenly Immortal Cultivation.

“There are twelve programs of training that should be practiced in sequence. They are the following: [1] introducing yin and yang to each other, [2] gathering and disseminating fire and water, [3] mating the dragon and the tiger, [4] heating and refining the medicines of the pill, [5] ejecting the golden sparks from behind the navel, [6] returning the jade elixir to the tan tiens, using the jade elixir to refine the body, [7] returning the golden elixir to the tan tiens, using the golden elixir to refine the body, [8] moving the refined vapor to the primordial regions, [9] internal observation and exchanging the mundane for the sacred, and [10] transcendence and emanating in different forms.”

–Eva Wong, Teachings of Immortals Chung and Lu

人仙功  Ren Xian Gong
Human Immortal Cultivation

Ren Xian Gong transforms Jing into Qi (炼精化气)

第一 匹配阴阳 Pipei Yin Yang
The First Step: Merging Yin and Yang

第二 聚散水火 Ju San Shui Huo
The Second Step: Gathering and Distributing Water and Fire

第三 交媾龙虎 Jiaogou Long Hu
The Third Step: Dragon and Tiger Mating

第四 烧炼丹药 Shao Lian Dan Yao
The Fourth Step: Forging the Elixir

地仙功  Di Xian Gong
Earthly Immortal Cultivation

Di Xian Gong transforms Qi into Shen (炼气化神)

第五 肘后飞金晶 Zhou Hou Fei Jin Pin
The Fifth Step: The Flight of Golden Sparks

第六 玉液还丹 Yu Ye Huan Dan
The Sixth Step: The Jade Liquid Elixer

第七 金液还丹 Jin Ye Huan Dan
The Seventh Step: The Golden Liquid Elixer

天仙功  Tian Xian Gong
Heavenly Immortal Cultivation

Tian Xian Gong transforms Shen to the void (炼神还虚)

第八 朝元炼气 Chao Yuan Lian Qi
The Eighth Step: Facing the Origin

第九 内观交换 Nei Guan Jiaohuan
The Ninth Step: Internal Illumination

第十 超脱分形 Chaotuo Fen Xing
The Tenth Step: Physical Transcendence

灵宝毕法•三仙功 Ling Bao Bi Fa : San Xian Gong Three Immortals Cultivation of the Ling Bao Bi Fa

Brief Introduction to Ling Bao Bi Fa

Breath Classic Energy Meditation Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Taoism

The Twelve Methods of Yin Xian Fa

The main purpose of Yin Xian Fa is to repair the body, regulate the mind, restore the original breath and ultimately reverse and replenish the slow expenditure of pre-natal through the aging process. 

还原法 Huan Yuan Fa 
Restoring Methods

Huan Yuan literal translates as “Returning to the Origin.” These are methods to quiet and collect the mind and regulate the body, breath, and mind. In alchemical terms, this stage could be likened to cleaning out your attic or basement in preparation to build the laboratory. The next stage, Bu Lou Fa, involves repairing the fixtures and finally Zhu Ji Fa will see through the completion of one’s internal laboratory.

第一法 收心静坐 Shouxin Jingzuo
The First Method: Sitting and Collecting the Mind

第二法 调身安体 Tiao Shen An Ti
The Second Method: Regulating the Body

第三法 无视返听 Wu Shi Wu Ting
The Third Method: See Nothing, Hear Nothing

第四法 收视返听 Shoushi Fan Ting
The Fourth Method: Watching and Listening

第五法 调整凡息 Tiaozheng Fan Xi
The Fifth Method: Regulating the Breath

第六法 调心安神 Tiao Xin An Shen
The Sixth Method: Regulating the Heart/Mind

第七法 调养真息 Tiaoyang Zhen Xi
The Seventh Method: Restoring the Original Breath

补漏法 Bu Lou Fa 
Tonifying Methods

Methods for mending leakage. At this stage the cultivator learns to seal the three lower Yin doors (三阴) and seven upper Yang windows (七窍). The Hun (魂) resides in the Liver without leaking out the eyes, Jing (精) resides in the Kidneys without leaking out the ears, Shen (神) resides in the heart without leaking out the mouth, Po (魄) resides in the Lungs without leaking out the nose, and Yi (意) resides in the Spleen without leaking out the pores.

第八法 修无漏身 Xiu Wu Lou Shen
The Eighth Method: Mending all Leakage

第九法 内视返听 Nei Guan Fan Ting
The Ninth Method: Internal Gazing

筑基法 Zhu Ji Fa 
Foundation Methods

The cessation of ego (识神) and birth of the real consciousness (真神). 

第十法 凝神寂照 Ning Shen Jizhao
The Tenth Method: Crystallizing the Spirit

第十一法 听息随息 Ting Xi Sui Xi
The Eleventh Method: Follow the Original Breath

第十二法 养心沐浴 Yang Xin Muyu
The Twelfth Method: Nourishing the Original Spirit

引仙法共十二法 Yin Xian Fa Gong Shi’er Fa The Twelve Methods of Yin Xian Fa

Classic Philosophy principle qigong

Balancing Yin and Yang

Within the image of Water comes forth fulfillment.

Within the image of Fire creation is completed.

Heaven and Earth are then in their proper positions,

Returning to the Source is then assured.

The Sexual Teachings of the Jade Dragon: Taoist Methods for Male Sexual Revitalization
by Hsi Lai
ISBN 0892819634

Form qigong

Soaring Crane

Soaring Crane Qigong forms 1-5

Soaring Crane Qi Gong, also referred to as China Soaring Crane Qi Gong, or Crane Style Qi Gong, was developed in more recent years by qi gong master Zhao Jing Xiang, drawing upon information from other qi gong masters, ancient Taoist practices, and the movements of the crane, known for its peaceful and long life. Since 1980 this specific qi gong practice has been taught to millions of Chinese and has gained the support of the Chinese government. It is a very comprehensive system of practices very cleverly composed to deal with all of the major meridians and many of the significant acupoints to affect all parts of the body.

Soaring Crane Qi Gong consists basically of two parts: The Five Routines, and Standing Meditation. The Five Routines practice consists of a series of relatively simple physical movements accompanied by mental visualizations (focus on the flow of energy, or qi). This practice, when done properly, requires 25 to 30 minutes to complete. It clears various meridians, opens up some specific points, and facilitates the cultivation, flow and balancing of qi in the body.

Standing Meditation, usually taken up only after The Five Routines has been learned, done well and consistently for some time, consists of initially standing in a particular position, as loose and relaxed as possible, to allow for the flow of qi freely in the body. Often referred to as The Wise Doctor, this is a very powerful self-healing practice wherein the qi flows to those areas where there exists an imbalance or blockage of qi (resulting in disease). Through continued practice, the qi will persistently flow to problem areas until the imbalance or blockage has been repaired, thereby restoring health. This action of the qi may result in spontaneous movements of the body during the meditation. This meditation is generally practiced for about 30 minutes.

Reference (text only):

China Soaring Crane Qigong (cscq)

Chinese Soaring Crane Qigong by Zhao, Jin Xiang (pdf)
Soaring crane qigong
  Chin-Hsiang Chao 1991
Chinese Soaring Crane Qigong Study Aids

Breath Classic Energy principle qigong

The Jade Tablet

To circulate the qi (xing qi)
Swallow it so that it will gather
If it is gathered, it will expand into spirit (shen)
When it expands, it will drop.
When it drops, it will become stable.
When it is stable, it will be solid.
When it is solid, it will sprout.
When it sprouts, it will grow.
When it grows, it will return.
When it returns, it will be heavenly.
The heavenly is revealed in the rising of qi;
The earthly is revealed in the sinking of qi.
Follow this and you will live (Shun zi sheng).
Oppose it, and you will die (Ni zi si).

500 B.C. inscription on a jade tablet
Ken Cohen The Essential Qigong Training Guide

p. 7

Energy principle qigong

Mysteries of Chi

Classic Meditation Philosophy principle qigong Taoism

The Racehorse and the Nag

by Liu I-Ming

A racehorse, a swift runner, can travel hundreds of miles in a day. A nag, ambling along, takes ten days to cover the same distance. Although one is fast and one is slow, yet what they achieve is the same.

What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of the relative speed of effective work.

Generally speaking, people are sharp or dull by nature, greater or lesser in strength. If people who are dull by nature want to emulate those who are sharp by nature, or those of little strength want to emulate those of great strength, they will be unable to keep up, and will injure themselves by the strain.

Therefore a complete sage said that those who are born knowing are the best, those who know by learning are the next, and those who learn the hard way are next after that. When it come to knowledge it self, however, that is one. Some may carry it out swiftly, some may carry it out forcibly. When it comes to the achievement, however, that is one. Among these three kinds of people, it may be difficult for some and easy for others, slow for some and fast for others, but all are able to know the Tao and attain the Tao.

The only trouble is when people have no will. Without will, not only is it impossible to act on the Tao, it is impossible even to know it. If you have the will, study it widely, question it closely, ponder it carefully, understand it clearly, carry it out earnestly; multiply the efforts of the ordinary person a hundredfold, and you can actually master this Tao. Even if you are ignorant you will become enlightened, even if you are weak you will become strong – no one who has done this has ever failed to reach the realm of profound attainment of self-realization.

Nevertheless, there are many Taoists in the world who cannot with true heart regard the essence of life as most important. They talk about the virtue of the Tao, but in their hearts they are criminals and gangster. They want their imaginings of the Tao, and the want their greedy ambitions too. They are easily angered and unreceptive.

The intellectuals among them depend on their ability to memorize a few “spiritual” sayings, and think they have the Way. Consequently they disregard others and will not seek enlightened teachers or visit capable friends, thus mistaking the road ahead.

The dull ones do not know to investigate principles, and do not distinguish the false from the true. Having studied some “side-door” practices, playing around on twisted byways, they also think they have the Way, and will not go to high illuminations for verification, thus holding to their routines all their lives, tapped in unbreakable fixations.

People like these types do not really think about the matter of essence and life as the single most important thing in the world, and the cultivation and maintenance of essence and life to be the single most difficult thing in world. How can this be easily known, or easily accomplished?

This is why those who study Taoism may be as numourus as hairs on a cow, but those who accomplish the Way are as rare as unicorn horns.

If you are a strong person who can be so utterly aloof of all things as to step straight into the Way, like steel forged a hundred times, with an unrelenting will to visit enlightened teachers respectfully and to investigate true principles thoroughly, then it does not matter wheter you are sharp or dull by nature – eventually you will emerge on the Way, and will definitely not have wasted your years.

Awakening to the Tao
by Liu I-Ming translated by Thomas Cleary
ISBN: 159030344X
p. 77-79

Energy Exercise Meditation Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Taoism

The Inner Smile

One of the most well-known of Taoist neidan (Inner Alchemy) practices is the “Inner Smile” – in which we smile inwardly to each of the major organs of our body, activating within us the energy of loving-kindness, and waking up the Five-Element associational network. Here we will learn a variation on this classic practice, which allows us to direct the healing energy of a smile into any part of our body that we would like …

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 10 – 30 minutes, or longer if you’d like
Here’s How:
1. Sit comfortably, either on a straight-backed chair, or on the floor. The important thing is for your spine to be in an upright position, and your head arranged to allow the muscles of your neck and throat to feel relaxed.
2. Take a couple of deep, slow breaths, noticing how your abdomen rises with each inhalation, then relaxes back toward your spine with each exhalation. Let go of thoughts of past or future.
3. Rest the tip of your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth, somewhere behind, and close to, your upper front teeth. You’ll find the spot that feels perfect.
4. Smile gently, allowing your lips to feel full and smooth as they spread to the side and lift just slightly. This smile should be kind of like the Mona Lisa smile, or how we might smile – mostly to ourselves – if we had just gotten a joke that someone told us several days ago: nothing too extreme, just the kind of thing that relaxes our entire face and head, and makes us start to feel good inside.
5. Now bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows (the “Third Eye” center). As you rest your attention there, energy will begin to gather. Imagine that place to be like a pool of warm water, and as energy pools there, let your attention drift deeper into that pool – back and toward the center of your head.
6. Let your attention rest now right in the center of your brain – the space equidistant between the tips of your ears. This is a place referred to in Taoism as the Crystal Palace – home to the pineal, pituitary, thalamus and hypothalamus glands. Feel the energy gathering in this powerful place.
7. Allow this energy gathering in the Crystal Palace to flow forward into your eyes. Feel your eyes becoming “smiling eyes.” To enhance this, you can imagine that you’re gazing into the eyes of the person who you love the most, and they’re gazing back at you … infusing your eyes with this quality of loving-kindness and delight.
8. Now, direct the energy of your smiling eyes back and down into some place in your body that would like some of this healing energy. It might be a place where you’ve recently had an injury or illness. It might be a place that just feels a little numb or “sleepy,” or simply some place you’ve not recently explored. In any case, smile down into that place within your body, and feel that place opening to receive smile-energy.
9. Continue to smile into that place within your body, for as long as you’d like … letting it soak up smile-energy like a sponge soaks up water.
10. When this feels complete, direct your inner gaze, with its smile-energy, into your navel center, feeling warmth and brightness gathering now in your lower belly.
11. Release the tip of your tongue from the roof of your mouth, and release the smile (or keep it if it now feels natural).
1. As with all neidan practices, it’s important to find a balance between effort and relaxation. If you notice a build-up of tension, relax, take a couple of deep breaths, then return to the practice. If your mind wanders, simply notice this, and come back to the practice.
2. Remember to maintain the quality of a gentle, genuine smile – infused with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion – particularly when directing your “inner smile” into an injured place. If you notice frustration, anger, fear or judgment creeping in, take a couple of deep breaths, then connect again with loving-kindness and compassion – the energies that can heal us.
3. The Crystal Palace is known also – in Hindu yogic traditions – as the Cave of Brahma.

Reference: How To Practice The “Inner Smile” by Elizabeth Reninger

Breath Energy Exercise principle qigong

Gathering and Dispersing Qigong

Stand straight with feet apart, about shoulders’ width. Find a perfectly balanced posture. Breathe in slowly, gathering the qi in the general Dan Tian, an area three inches below the navel. On the exhale, send the qi to the Gate of Life, which is a point on the spine across from the navel, and from there out to the arms, hands, legs and feet.

Practise for about thirty six breath at about six breaths per minute.

You can also do this qigong while lying down and facing up.

This exercise can be used for calming down.

Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Exercise Meditation Mindset Philosophy principle qigong Zen

The Mindfulness of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village

mindfulness is awareness of one’s thoughts, actions or motivations.

The clip is from the DVD accompanying the book “Walking Meditation
” (sep 2006) Thich Nhat Hanh, Anh-Huong Nguyen, ISBN 1591794730

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation
(dec 1999) Thich Nhat Hanh
ISBN 9780807012390
The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation for Achieving the Miracle of Mindfulness
(jun 1999) Thich Nhat Hanh
ISBN 0807012378

Mindfulness of Ourselves, Mindfulness of Others
Ram Dass interviews Thicht Nhat Hanh (mindfulness)

Breath Form principle qigong

Awakening The Soul


Master Li Jun Feng of the ShengZhen Society demonstrates “Awakening The Soul” qigong.