- Is there any advanced method to practice Life Chi Up & Pour Chi Down Form?
Yes. Some advanced methods were taught to the students who had reached a certain level. The basic movements are the same as taught in elementary practice, but advanced visualization and mind techniques are employed, such as the Practice Method of 9 Palaces and 13 Doors for Life Chi Up & Pour Chi Down Practice.
- Finger posture In Three Centers Merging Form, I find that I enter a much deeper chi state when the tips of the fingers of the right and left hands are not touching each other, but rather separated slightly. It's almost as though there is a short circuit when the fingers touch, is it correct?
That's right, not touching but very close to each other.
A very subtle sense of pleasure in the genital area When in the state I usually experience a very deep sense of thought free relaxation and lately have noticed a very subtle sense of pleasure in the genital area. Also a kind of current looping vertically within the navel. It is such a wonderful feeling state that I'm often reluctant to stop when the tape ends! Is it normal?
This usually happens when the kidney chi has been stimulated and become plentiful. I'm not sure if your hands are too low. Make sure the center of the circle formed by your thumbs and little fingers aiming at your navel (or a little bit higher than the navel in order to lift chi up) We don't cultivate reproductive essence, but we make use of it to nourish the mind and body. So focus your attention higher and make chi concentrate higher, lift up the perineum and hold it firmly in place.
You may extend the duration of Three Centers Merging Form if your timeframe permits. The minimum is 30 minutes for Three Centers Merging Form, but the longer the better. What about 45" or one hour with no tape and just experience the subtle pleasure between the navel and Mingmen, but not in the genital area (if you lift your attention higher and ignore the sensation there, the cultivated true chi will go up and fill the Chi center.) You know, some of the Chinese do Three Centers Merging Form for three to four hours, and they feel no fatigue but joy.
- The breath moves in and out abdominally, smoothly and steadily. It happens naturally without force. But every few breaths there seems to be a need to breathe one deep breath that fills up the lungs completely all the way up to the chest, almost as though I was "catching up". This done, I return once again to the slow cyclical breathing. Does this sound like correct breathing?
Breath control is not stressed so much at the stage of External Hunyuan. Since you've experienced some subtlety, better not think of "a deep full breath is needed between ...", the breath of the whole process should all be even, slow, gentle, smooth and deep. Try to slow down the speed of breathing and think of the three centers when exhale, and the lower chi center when inhale, and do not try to figure it out how chi enters the body. Just try to balance and make the breath even, relax both the mind and the body at the same time.
- Are there any variations of Three Centers Merging Form?
Yes, as I know, Prof. Pang introduced several standing forms in his books. In Zhineng Qigong, we practice Three Centers Merging Form to advance from Step One to Step Two, and also from Step Two to Step Three. The merging position moves from the lower chi center to Hunyuan Center if one starts to practice Step Three. The posture of the hands also changes. The purpose of Three Centers Merging Form is to gather and absorb chi inside. Chi is gathered into where the hands are placed.
- The instruction "hold for one cycle of breath" when the palms are directed toward the head means what exactly?
In Lift Chi Up & Pour Chi Down Method, there are three times of pouring chi from the crown into the body. When the hands are raised over the head, keep the palm facing downward aiming at the crown. The breathing is a cycle of natural and actual inhaling and exhaling, mentally pouring chi down into the body.
- Is "lingering intention" correct? When doing Zhineng I sometimes find myself lingering at certain positions, particularly when projecting qi with the middle fingers to ming men, da bao, etc. Is this incorrect? Should the movements be smooth and of the same relative duration throughout, or is it permissible to "dawdle" a little bit?
Definitely it is correct. It’s a good and recommendable habit to "stay for a while" whenever the fingers are pointing to the key points – directing chi inside. When you are not following a tape and practice all by yourself, you may keep the "pouring-chi-inside" posture as long as you like. The duration of each movement can be different so long as your "brain-practice" is smooth and fluent.
I am still not clear if there are special times and places to inhale and exhale doing Zhineng Lift up, Pour down, or is the breathing just natural and undifferentiated? For instance, when pressing the fingers on the toes is it exhale, come up, inhale press down, three times, the reverse, or neither?
If your are not quite familiar with the movements, just breathe naturally and focus on doing every movement correctly. If your are a skilled practitioner and try to master the breathing technique, keep this rule in mind: exhale during opening movements and inhale during closing movements (exhale while pressing down and inhale while lifting up). (for details, refer to Life More Abundant, Page 267).
While thinking deep inside the body, which part or point of the body inside do I need to think?
The purpose to think deep inside is to gather and accumulate more chi within to enhance the function of the part concerned. For beginners, there is no requirement for specific part or portion of the body to focus upon while thinking deep inside, just the deeper the better.
For those who can clearly sense the chi motion or chi acting position inside the body, some prefer to focus upon the lower chi center, some the middle or upper chi centers, some into the spine marrow, according to their own enhancement targets. Some also try to think deep into the central channel between the crown and perineum. In one word, the depth one can think of depends on the stage one has reached. It’s a natural progress rather than a sedulously imagined or pursued one.