Sunday, January 20, 2013

The art of visualization in Neigong

How important is visualization in Neigong? Without visualization, the practice of Neigong becomes light-weight exercise, no meaningful internal conditioning can be done. If a person fails to visualize, it will be more beneficial for him to do weight lifting in a gym, rather then standing with his arms rounded embracing air. On the most basic level, visualization adds "weight" to stationery forms like basic zhan zhuang (or golden turtle etc).

Take basic embracing-a-tree zhan zhuang for example. A practitioner will be asked to visualize himself holding a ball (and with progress a heavier ball) with his stretched hands. In a mental mold of "suspension of disbelief", his mind believes that he is indeed holding a ball. In order to hold the heavier and heavier ball, the muscles of his shoulders and around his shoulder blades have to start to contract statically. The internal feeling will be Qi flowing from his stretched hands towards his shoulders and shoulder blades. At the same time, the muscles of his legs and torso will need to contract too to make his body (from feet to neck) erect, so that they can hold the weight of the heavier and heavier ball. The internal feeling will be Qi flowing from the ground up the sole, run along the legs and torso, up to the shoulder blades and the neck. The upward Qi will be connected to the horizontal Qi generated by the arm to form a connected Qi of the whole body. A condition that Qichuen grandmaster Wang XianZhai called "Body like filling with molten lead (身如鉛注)".

What is the practice of Qigong all about? It is all about filling the whole body with Qi, increasingly even and increasingly strong.

An intelligent reader may be wondering: Where is abdominal breathing here? Isn't Qigong all about breathing as you mentioned in some other posts?

In the practice of Neigong, Qi is primarily generated through visualization in the initial stage. Normal breathing is the correct method in this stage. Reverse abdominal breathing, however, can be easily learned after a practitioner has progressed to the intermediate level in doing Neigong. It is only then that controlled breathing will be important.

Yichuen master doing zhan zhuang

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