Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two energy meditations, one for dealing with exhaustion, and one for connecting to Wu-qi or primal emptiness

I wanted to put these two meditations together, not because they are inherently linked, but they do work well together as a way of dealing with fatigue.

I came to the practice of qi gong at a time in my life when I found my energy levels taking a nose dove for no apparent reason, and qi gong was one of the main reasons why I was able to maintain a normal routine in spite of the energetic challenges that I faced. This difficult time in my life is one of the main reasons why I have such a lot of faith in qi gong, as I found it was incredibly helpful. Nevertheless there were times when I really felt too tired to do any standing qi gong exercise, and the first technique that I describe below was a method that I developed as a way of coping with exhaustion, and I find it still comes in useful at times when life is busy and tiredness sets in.

The second technique is very simple, it is a way of connecting to Wu-qi, also sometimes described as primal emptiness or the primal Tao (see description of Wu-qi in article on 4 levels of qi). When doing this meditation we focus on the energy at our heart. However, the level of energy that we are connecting with here is primal qi, which is deeper than any of the energies in our subtle body; any of the three dan-tiens or any of the chakras, so don’t confuse it with any of these. The ideas is that we are creating a link to our primal qi, and allowing it to flow out into our subtle energy body and gross physical body.

Technique 1: For regenerating one’s energy when extremely tired

Seated (or lying down if you are too tired to sit comfortably) allow your body to become as relaxed as possible, in particular relax your physical brain as much as you can. Feel into the sense of fatigue and exhaustion in your body, don’t fight it, focus on accepting it and extending a feeling of love and acceptance toward your body and the state that it is in. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus your mind on the exhalation, and as you breathe out feel yourself letting go of the exhaustion in your body, you can feel it leaving on the outward breath. Try and relax your mind as much as possible, make it as thoughtless as you can (see meditation on “breathing through the mouth to relax the brain” ). Simply stay with this relaxed state and breathing pattern for a while
Technique 2: For connecting to the energy of Wu-qi

If you are doing this in conjunction with technique 1, do the first technique long enough for the tension of the fatigue in your body to have dissipated a little. Once the body and mind start to relax you will feel them open up, and at that point they will then naturally start to look to regenerate their energy.

Feel into the centre of your torso, along the vertical core of your body, somewhere between the heart and the solar plexus (the precise location you will ‘find’ intuitively). Sense within the centre of your being a luminous, formless, empty space. Once you have located it, breathe in and out of it for a while.

Now sense emerging from that empty space within the centre of your being a light, you can either visualize it as a pulsing centre of light, or as a flame if you like. Starting gently and subtly at first, but growing in power over time, you feel this light and energy pulsing out from the deep centre of your being into your subtle energy body and your gross physical body. As this energy flows out into your subtle and gross bodies, you can feel them being regenerated and purified. Stay with this experience for as long as you wish.
© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Learning to attune your body to Qi within the landscape

One of the basic principles of Qi gong is that energy follows mind. Indeed mind in the sense of thought and emotion is really just a subtler, more refined level of qi relative to the bio-electric or prajnic force that is most commonly referred to in Qi gong practice (see article on “4 levels of qi or energy in Qi gong”).
Most commonly when we learn how to direct qi using the mind in Qi gong it is using the mind to direct energy around our body. However it is equally useful and important to learn to use our mental awareness to attune to the landscape that surrounds our body so that we can create a positive and dynamic interface between the qi of our body and qi of the environment we are in.
One simple way that I do this is to practice walking, standing or lying whilst being aware of the six basic spatial directions that my body exists within; above, below, in front, behind, left and right.
I’ll explain this in two practical examples below that should give you an idea of how this can be applied. It is very simple and primal, but very profound and effective. If you do it regularly you will find yourself moving naturally into states of heightened awareness of the interface between yourself and your environment.
Walking in woodland
On a recent trip back to the UK to see family I spent regular time just walking in the woodland by myself. Woodland has a natural healing and regenerating energy. As I walk at a pace that feels right for me I place equal awareness on the four directions of my horizontal awareness; I am aware of what is in front of me, what is behind me, the direction to my tight and left. As I walk along I can if I like focus on one direction, such as behind, or to the left, but I try not to lose awareness of the other three directions as I do so. The first few times you do this you will probably be most aware of the newness of being aware of the direction behind you, as it is the direction that we are least aware of most of the time (our eyes being in the front of our head)
Once I have walked like this for a while, I then include awareness of the sky above and the earth below, I expand my mind up, down and out to the four horizontal directions, being aware of a flow and exchange of energy between myself and my environment from all six directions. Again I can spend a little while focusing on one direction for a while, but always within the context of a holistic awareness of all six.
The walk is spent with gentle sustained attention to directional awareness with enough flexibility to follow the spontaneous experiences that it takes you to, but enough control to keep your basic attention coming back again and again to the foundational awareness of the directions.
For overcoming jet-lag or general sleeplessness
Having just returned to Singapore from my trip I have been up in the early hours, and in general I find attuning to the six directions a great way of getting more quickly into the rhythm of a new time zone or land that I have travelled to. Here is what I did last night from about 3-5pm.
Lying down I mentally make my mind big expanding it to the horizon of the directions before and behind me, to my right and left, above and below. I alternate my focus on each of the directions, spending a short time focusing and attuning to each, and then I move into an awareness of all six directions collectively. After a few minutes of doing this I can feel my body interfacing with the landscape in a very direct manner, it is almost like “plugging in” to the landscape so that my body’s energy and the energy of the landscape harmonize and merge with each other. Although I don’t fall asleep immediately, my body becomes completely relaxed and comfortable, with a gentle energy buzzing through it. My mind becomes rapidly almost thoughtless, open and relaxed.
Temporarily this state of awareness is pretty much as relaxing and regenerating as sleep, and in the longer term my body moves into sync with the new landscape in a highly accelerated manner, which means my bio-rhythms and sleep patterns settle down much faster and much more harmoniously. Actually this is a basic form of qi meditation that I often do before I fall asleep in general.
So, there you go, a simple set of basic principles for attuning your body’s qi to the qi within landscape. You can apply it to various situations, as I hope the two examples above demonstrate.
“Try it, you’ll like it!” as they say.
© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this information, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sunshine qi gong energy body meditation

This meditation is designed to help us enhance the amount of energy that we are receiving from the sun on a daily basis. If we ask ourselves "What is the biggest source of qi in the solar system?" the obvious answer is the sun, as it is upon the basis of the sun that all life is enabled and sustained on the planet. In general a few minutes of sun on our body per day is good for our health even if we are not doing any conscious qi work while we are absorbing the rays, but this simple meditation enhances the amount of energy that we can receive quite substantially. It can be done as a complement to the basic Qi body / Light body meditation.

The technique:
1. Standing, sitting or lying in the sun (preferably on grass or bare earth), feel the suns rays on your body. Feel the golden light of the sun transforming your physical body into a beautiful, translucent golden light body. Feel the energy of this light body being charged and energized by the light of the sun. If you can imagine that your body is like an organic re-chargable battery, and the sunlight is like the electrical current filling it with new energy.

2. As you breathe in, breathe the energy of the sunlight into the core of your body, as you breathe it out feel the energy glowing as it expands through out your cellular structure.

3. After two or three minutes of this absorbing and breathing, you feel as if you have a minature sun in the centre of your chest area that you can either contract to a small size (say the size of a tennis ball) or expand so that it surrounds your entire body and energy field.
The entire meditation should not take longer than 5-10 minutes, especially if the sunlight is strong. Later in the day if you like you can recall the sun in your heart and spend a short while feeling it and breathing with it to consolidate the solar energy in your system.

Variation: Meditating with sunlight filtered through leaves.
You can also do this meditation with sunlight filtered through the leaves of a tree that you like. Sunlight filtered though leaves has a very gentle healing property which also varies according to the particular tree that you use. If you do this, in addition to the gold light of the sun you will also feel the green light from the leaves in your energy body.
Both of these meditations are very nice holiday meditations, and as I am on holiday right now and have been doing them, I thought I would pass them on!

Related article: Solar Qi gong meditation

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby's permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Qi gong, "jing qi" and our libido - A practical way for making wise use of our sexual energy

I wrote last week about "jing qi" or our essential energy. One of the main ways in which our jing qi is expressed is through our maleness or femaleness, and one of the main store houses of our jing qi is our sexual organs and fluids.
Thus, in qi gong practice and philosophy one of the main things that we try and do is to develop and sustain quite a high level of sexual qi or libido within our body, learning to express and/or conserve it in a wise, sustainable and healthy manner.

Two extremes
There are two responses to the arousal of our libido that we often fall into:

  • Either we repress our sexual response to a person as something " bad" or inappropriate
  • Or we may indulge it, seeking to express in in an uncontrolled, inappropriate or indiscriminate manner.

The exercises I describe below is a practical method for beginning to enjoy a balanced and energy giving approach to our libido and sexual energy.

With people
When you notice a sexual or sensual response within your body to a person, rather than falling into the extreme of indulgence or repression of that energy, try to enter into a space of appreciation, gratitude and reverence for the energy that has been stimulated in your body. As you breathe in, breathe the energy into the core of your body (the central line between the of energy going down the center of the torso, from the crown to the perineum, see last weeks article).
As you breathe out, breathe the energy from the core of your body our to the surface of your skin.
As you breathe, just relax and allow your whole body to feel alive to the gentle experience of sensual pleasure.

Alternatively, if you are familiar with the microcosmic orbit meditation, you can practice circulating the sexual feelings and energy around your microcosmic orbit. Both types of breathing exercise can be consciously done with a sexual partner if you wish. the main point is to get used to enjoying and circulating your sexual energy in a relaxed and meditative manner that allows you to comfortably hold a relatively high level of libido in your body which enhances your jing qi, physical and psychological health and meditation practice.

Concluding thoughts
In conclusion, a healthy and balanced approach to our libido is an invaluable asset in taking care of and enhancing our jing qi, or essential energy.
A balanced attitude of appreciation and reverence for the sensual and sexual energy of ourself and others enables us to derive deep enjoyment from our libido. this can be whether we are in an active, engaged sexual relationship (such as I am in with my wife for example), or whether we are a celibate Buddhist monk or nun (I was a Buddhist monk for 5 years and spent 8 years outside of any kind of manifest sexual relationship during that period of my life).

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek toby's permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com