When I began studying Qi Gong (Chi Kung), one of my classmates who had been at it for a while, said that when it comes to feeling your Qi moving within your body, it will take two years to feel anything, and five years to believe it.
While taking two years to feel the Qi wasn't exactly right, the essence of his comments are still very true.
Qi Gong is a path, not a destination, and along that path are many signposts that you will pass. Feeling the Qi,
believing you feel the Qi, learning to direct it with physical movements, learning to direct it with just your mind's intent, directing it somewhere in the future, in the past, etc... are all steps along a never ending path.
The article that follows is designed to prepare you for a life of discipline, not instant gratification. The only true gratification that comes from doing
Qi Gong is to enjoy the activity while your doing it, no matter what your level. Gratification that is dependent on obtaining any sort of power will only get in the way of the most sacred of all side-effects of
Qi Gong, and that is enlightenment itself.
The Twenty-Four Rules for Chi Kung Practice
In this section we will list the twenty-four rules which have been passed
down by generations of Chi Kung masters. These rules are based on much
study and experience, and you should observe them carefully.
Don't be Stubborn about Plans and Ideas
This is one of the easiest mistakes for beginners to make. When we
take up Chi Kung we are enthusiastic and eager. However, sometimes
we don't learn as fast as we would like to, and we become impatient and
try to force things. Sometimes we set up a schedule for ourselves: today
I want to make my Dan Tien warm, tomorrow I want to get through the
tailbone cavity, by such and such a day I want to complete the small
circulation. This is the wrong way to go about it. Chi Kung is not like
any ordinal-v job or task you set for yourself -- YOU CANNOT MAKE A
PROGRESS SCHEDULE FOR CHI KUNG. This will only make
your thinking rigid and stagnate your progress. EVERYTHING
HAPPENS WHEN IT IS TIME FOR IT TO HAPPEN. IF YOU
FORCE IT, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN NATURALLY.
Don't Place your Attention in Discrimination
When you practice, do not place your attention on the various
phenomena or sensations which are occurring. Be aware of what is
happening, but keep your mind centered on wherever it is supposed to
be for the exercise you are doing. If you let your mind go to wherever
you feel something "interesting" happening, the Chi will follow your
mind and interfere with your body's natural tendency to rebalance
itself Do not expect anything to happen, and don't let your mind
wander around looking for the various phenomena. Furthermore,
don't start evaluating or judging the phenomena, such as asking "Is my
Dan Tien warmer today than it was yesterday?" Don't ask yourself
"Just where is my Chi now?" When your mind is on your Chi, your Yi
is there also, and this stagnant Yi will not lead the Chi BE AWARE
OF WHAT IS HAPPENING, BUT DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO
IT When you drive a car, you don't watch yourself steer and work the
pedals and shift gears. If you did, you'd drive off the road. You simply
put your mind on where you want to go and let your body
automatically drive the car. This is called regulating without
Avoid Miscellaneous Thought Remaining on Origins
This is a problem of regulating the mind. The emotional mind is
strong, and every idea is still strongly connected to its origin. If you
cannot cut the ideas off at their source, your mind is not regulated, and
your should not try to regulate your Chi. You will also often find that
even though you have stopped the flow of random thoughts going
through your mind, new ideas are generated dung practice. For
example, when you discover your Dan Tien is warm, your mind
immediately recalls where this is mentioned in a book, or how the
master described it, and you start to compare your experience with
this. Or you may start wondering what the next step is. All of these
thoughts will lead you away from peace and calm, and your mind will
end up in the "Domain of the Devil." Then your mind will be confused,
scattered, and very often scared, and you will tire quickly.
Hsin (Shen) Should not Follows the External Scenery
This is also a problem of regulating the mind (Hsin). When your
emotional mind is not controlled, any external distraction will lead it
away from your body and to the distraction. You must train yourself so
that noises, smells, conversations and such will not disturb your
concentration. It is all right to be aware of what is happening, but
your mind must remain calmly, peacefully and steadily on your
Regulate your Sexual Activity
You should not have sexual relations at least 24 hours before or
after practicing Chi Kung, especially martial or religious Chi Kung.
The Essence-Chi conversion training is a very critical part of these
practices, and if you practice Chi Kung soon after sex, you will harm your body significantly. Sex depletes your Chi and sperm, and the Chi
level in the lower portion of your body is lower than normal. When you
practice Chi Kung under these conditions, it is like doing heavy
exercise right after sex. Furthermore, when your Chi level is
abnormal, your feeling and sensing are also not accurate. Under these
conditions, your Yi can be misled and its accuracy affected. You should
wait until the Chi level regains it normal balance before your resume
Chi Kung. Only then will the Essence-Chi conversion proceed
normally and efficiently.
One of the major purposes of Chi Kung is to increase the Essence
Chi conversion and use this Chi to nourish your body. Once a man has
built up a supply of Chi, having sex will only pass this Chi on to his
partner. As a matter of fact, many Chi Kung masters insist that you
should not have sex three days before and four days after practice.
During sexual relations the female usually gains Chi while the male
loses Chi during ejaculation. The woman should not practice Chi Kung
after sex until her body has digested the Chi she has obtained from the
man. There are certain Taoist Chi Kung techniques which teach men
how not to lose Chi during sexual activity, and teach women how to
receive Chi from the man and digest it. We will leave the discussion of
this subject to Chi Kung masters who are qualified and experienced in
Don't be Too Warm or Too Cold
The temperature of the room in which you are training should not
be too hot or too cold. You should practice in the most comfortable
environment which will not disturb your mind and cultivation.
Be Careful of the Five Weaknesses and Internal Injuries
Five weaknesses means the weaknesses of five Yin organs: the
heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen. When you realize that any of
these five organs is weak, you should proceed very gradually and
gently with your Chi Kung practice. Chi Kung practice is an internal
exercise which is directly related to these five organs. If you do not
move gradually and gently, it is Like forcing a weak person to run 10
miles right away. This will not build up his strength, instead it will.
injure him more seriously.
For the same reason, when you have an internal injury your
internal Chi distribution and circulation is already disturbed. If you
practice Chi Kung your feelings may be misled, and your practice may
worsen your problem and interfere with the natural healing process.
There are certain Chi Kung exercises which are designed to cure
internal injuries, but to use them properly you need to have a very
good understanding of the Chi situation of your body.
Avoid Facing the Wind when Sweating
Don't practice in the wind, especially facing the wind. When you
practice Chi Kung you are exercising either internally, or both
internally and externally. It is normal to sweat, and since you are
relaxed, your pores are wide open, If you expose your body to cold
wind, you will catch cold.
Don't Wear Tight Clothes and Belt
Always wear loose clothes during practice because this will help you
to feel comfortable. Keep your belt loose, too. The abdomen is the key
area in Chi Kung practice, and you must be careful not to limit the
movement of this area because it will interfere with your practice.
Don't Eat too Much Greasy and Sweet Food
You should regulate your eating habit while you are practicing: Chi
Kung. Greasy or sweet food will increase your Fire Chi, making your
mind scattered, and your Shen will stray away from its residence. You
should eat more fruit and vegetables, and keep away from alcohol and
Don't Hang your Feet off the Bed
In ancient times the most common place in Chi Kung practice was
sitting on your bed. Since most beds were high, if you sat on the edge
of the bed your feet would hang off the side of the bed above the floor.
When you practice Chi Kung your feet should touch the floor. If they
do not, all of the weight of your body will press down on the lower part
of your thighs and reduce the Chi and blood circulation. Furthermore,
when you practice you should nor put your feet up on the table,
because this position will also stagnate the Chi and blood circulation.
Don't Practice with a Full Bladder
You should go to the toilet before you start your practice. If you
need to go during practice, stop your practice and do so. Holding it in
disturbs your concentration.
Don't Scratch an Itch
If you itch because of some external reason, such as an insect
walking on you or biting you, do not be alarmed and keep your mind
calm. Use your Yi to lead the Chi back to its residence, the Dan Tien.
Breathe a couple of times and gradually bring your consciousness back
to your surroundings. Then you may scratch or think of how to stop
the itching. However, if the itching is caused by Chi redistribution in
the Chi Kung practice, remain calm and do not move your mind there.
Simply ignore it and let it happen. Once it has reached a new balance,
the itching will stop. If you scratch this kind of itch it means that your
mind has been disturbed, and also that you are using your hands to
interfere with the natural rebalancing of your body's Chi.
Avoid Being Suddenly Disturbed or Startled
You should avoid being suddenly disturbed or startled. However,
if it does happen, calm down your mind. You must absolutely
prevent yourself from losing your temper. What has happened has
happened, and getting mad cannot change anything. What you
should do is prevent it from happening again. Most important of all,
though is learning how to regulate your mind when you are
Don't Take Delight in the Scenery
It is very common during practice to suddenly notice something
that is going on inside of you. Perhaps you feel Chi moving more
clearly than ever before, or you start to sense your bone marrow, and
you feel elated and excited. You have just fallen into a very common
trap. Your concentration is broken, and your mind is divided. This
is dangerous and harmful. You have to learn how to be aware of
what is going on inside you without getting excited.
Don't Wear Sweaty Clothes
This happens mostly in moving Chi Kung practice, especially in
martial Chi Kung training. When your clothes are wet from sweat
you will feel uncomfortable, and your concentration will be affected.
It is better to change into dry clothes and then resume practice.
Don't Sit When Hungry or Full
You should not practice Chi Kung when you are hungry or when
your stomach is full. When you are hungry it is hard to concentrate,
and when you are full your practice will affect your digestion.
Heaven and Earth Strange Disaster
It is believed that your body's Chi is directly affected by changes in
the weather. It is therefore not advisable to practice Chi Kung when
there is a sudden weather change, because your practice will interfere
with your body's natural readjustment to the new environment. You
will also be unable to feel and sense your Chi flow as you do normally.
You must always try to remain emotionally neutral whenever you do
Chi Kung; even if you are disturbed by a natural disaster like an
earthquake, you must remain calm so that your Chi stays under
Listen Sometimes to True Words
You need to have confidence when you practice Chi Kung. You
should not listen to advice from people who do not have experience in
Chi Kung and who are not familiar with the condition of your body.
Some people listen to their classmates explain how they reached a
certain level or how they cured a certain problem, and then blindly try
to use the same method themselves. You need to understand that
everyone has a different body, everyone's health is slightly different,
and everyone learns differently. When the time comes for you to learn
something new, you will understand what you need. Play it cool and
easy, and always have confidence in your training.
Don't Lean and Fall Asleep
You should not continue your Chi Kung training when you are
sleepy. Using an unclear mind to lead Chi is dangerous. Also, when
you are sleepy your body will not be regulated and will tend to lean or
droop, and your bad posture may interfere with the proper Chi
circulation. When you are sleepy it is best to take a rest until you are
able to regain your spirit.
Don't Meditate When You Have Lost Your Temper or are Too
You should not meditate when you are too excited due to anger or
happiness. Since your mind is scattered, meditation will bring you
more harm than peace.
Don't Keep Spitting
It is normal to generate a lot of saliva while practicing Chi Kung.
The saliva should be swallowed to moisten your throat. Don't spit out
the saliva because this is a waste, and it will also disturb your
Don't Doubt and Become Lazy
When you first start Chi Kung, you must have confidence in what
you are doing, and not start doubting its validity, or questioning
whether you are doing it right. If you start doubting right at the
beginning you will become lazy, and you will start questioning whether
you really want to continue. In this case, you will not have any success
and your practice will never last.
Do not Ask for the Speedy Success
This is to remind you that Chi Kung practice is time consuming
and progress is slow. You must have patience, a strong will, and confidence to reach your goal. Taking it easy and being natural are the
most important rules.
From the book entitled "The Root of Chinese Chi Kung, The Secrets of Chi Kung Training",
YMAA Publication Center, Jamaica Plain.