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Author Topic: Rubbing hands and feeling energy - really magick?  (Read 16842 times)
Waldfrau
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« Reply #15: April 05, 2008, 05:25:15 am »

My apologies for the confusion.  In my post I was attempting to relate information remembered from a conversation with someone who was looking into these two fields of study.
Sorry if I came across as aggressive. I didn't realize you were just reporting hearsay and not making those claims yourself. To me it sounded like you were advertising a certain Qi Gong style and saying it was a convenient short cut while all other styles were impracticable for adult beginners outside a monastery as they were taking a lifetime to learn. I'm not an expert on Qi Gong myself, I'm just a student and I don't know about all styles, exercises and levels there are, but I though that someone had to question the generalisations you were making (with no ill intend of course).

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My use of the term 'mastering' is intended to convey that someone has studied to the point that they can then become a teacher of the system and train others to that level.
If you're talking about becoming a teacher it depends on what you want to teach and how you want to teach it. You can't generalize the training time. You can become a Qi Gong teacher in 5 years or in 20, that depends on the concrete situation. Do you want to teach it for recreation & general health, (martial) arts, spiritual goals or for therapeutic ones? And which exercise series do you want to teach at which level?

If you're teaching in a martial arts context you focus on body movement and teach things you need in martial arts. For example shaolin tradition comes with 'hard' Qi Gong, that means you're 'armouring' your body energetically so hits hurt less. Those exercises come with difficult breathing and also visualization. (I'm not far into shaolin kung fu and those Qi Gong exercise are for advanced level so I haven't practicesed this personally.)

Then there's the animal style tradition I'm much more familiar with were you basically mimick animal movements (in an adapted and structured way though - not spontanous like in shamanism, at least not in traditional exercises, there are new ones which work with spontanity, but I'd advice every newbie to stay clear away from those, it can mess you up). The traditional animal exercises work more with movements than with postures and the visualization that comes with it is basicly just imagining the animal in it's natural setting doing natural things like a crane spreading its wings and similar stuff. At least that's the level I've learned.

Then there's a type like 'pale exercises' that works more with postures, not with body movements, but includes inner movements like white-light-style visualisation on higher levels. You'd take a certain posture. On the beginner level you'd just imaginate a natural setting, but on the higher ones you'd direct energy movements through your body by visualising white (or differently coloured light). This can get very subtle and difficult when you're doing this using exact acupuncture points. I'm not there yet, but have practiced this in a more raw intermediate version.

Then there are also specific exercises incorporated into every martial arts system. If you teach shaolin style you have the 'hard' Qi Gong for example. If you teach Tai Chi Quan you'd likely teach Harmony Exercises, which have an emphasis on the energy flow in combination with body movement. I don't know if they come with white-light-stuff on a higer level, but I've never heard of it. Harmony Exercises are also good if you're searching beginner Qi Gong for recreative goals. I teach some of them in my beginner Tai Chi class, but not for themselves. Only to help in the martial arts I'm teaching. I don't have a degree for Qi Gong and I ask my teacher for advice before I do anything there.

But if you teach it as a traditional Chinese medicine healer you would work from a much different view point than a martial arts teacher. You would prescribe certain exercises to cure certain illnesses. You'd had to know all the acupuncture points and meridians. My martial arts teacher knows some acupuncture points and the bigger picture of the meridian system, but he doesn't know them all by heart. He can tell you basic stuff like if you have asthma than crane exercises are good for you, but he can't prescribe exercises for every specific illness, that's not his job, but he's a good Qi Gong teacher in his field of expertise.
 
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Perhaps I was a little lazy with my terminology.  Perhaps I should have said "My understanding is that while Qi Gong takes about twenty years to master..." which certainly seems like a lifetime when you're looking for results relatively soon.  That would have been more accurate to the conversation.  Is it true?  I have no information on that.
 
Depends on what results you're looking for and what kind of exercises you're practicing. I've started out just with basical grounding and energy flow stuff incorporated into the martial arts styles I studied. It also depends on your body structure how long it takes and on how much practice you put into your work. I'm good with the flowing stuff, but suck at shielding/defence. It has only improved slightly over the 5 years I've been practicing. But I'm glad about every tiny improvement, especially the energetical ones.

If you're looking for therapeutic results I can't generalize, but only tell you my experience. I've got a chronical cough/sore throat combined with sinus problems since I was 15 or so. It went slowly worse to the point where a doc prescribed asthma medicamentation. When I've started learning a Qi Gong exercise for that problem. I've felt great while doing the exercise and a few minutes afterwards, but the effect vanished over the day. I was doing the exercise at least 10 minutes every morning and after approximatly one year I did feel good the whole day as long as I did the exercise every morning. Whenever I slacked doing it or not concentrated properly I got a slight cough, that could get worse if I continued to slack in the exercise. I'm now doing this exercise since 4 years. I still have a bunch of herbs at hand in case I get in serious stress, can't concentrate for a whole week or don't manage to do the exercise at all because I can't get up early enough and are too tired when I return home. But I'm young and hadn't developed asthma quite yet so if you've developed a worse condition it will take more effort and time to reverse it. You also have to take into account the time you need to learn how to do the exercise in a professional way.

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My understanding of Falun Gong is that it is a streamlined version of Qi Gong and as such takes less time to master, that is to say, learn all the techniques of the system to the point where you can pass them on to someone else.
I don't know much at all about it, but I'd say it's a school or style of Qi Gong, not a version. Qi Gong just means energy work, it's not really a specific system, apart from general things Chinese exercises have incommon just because they originate from the same country. You can say strand ball is a version of volley ball, but you wouldn't call it a version of sports or would you?

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All I can say is that you seem to be more informed on the practice than I am.  As such, I am quite willing to stand aside and let your experience answer further questions.
I have 5 years of experience, but I'm just a student and I practice specific styles of Qi Gong and specific exercise series. I don't know about all Qi Gong that is out there, so take whatever I say with a heavy dose of salt.

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Passionfruit, please feel free to answer any further questions on the topic of Qi Gong as we have now exhausted all my information on the topic.
I hope I haven't scared away everybody yet, I just misunderstood where you were coming from. I guess if anyone would have stated that a specific school of the craft teaches in 3 years what normal Wicca teaches in 20, we'd surely have a hot discussion now.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #16: April 05, 2008, 08:22:58 am »

Stopping here, as I need to go dig out the driveway (gotta love Minnesota), but feel free to ask more questions...
Coming back to this.  Smiley

Not sure I explained well where I'm coming from in my first post. The way I've learned energy work (in the form of Qi Gong) was that in the first learning stage I just had to copy the movements of my teacher and he would correct them without telling me much about what sort of energy flows are supposed to happen inside. That worked very well for me because after a time of practice I'd feel what energy flows the movement was causing.

Now what annoys me a bit at my current learning phase is that I have a strong desire to talk about those energy flows, but if I do so in class everyone gives me a puzzled look and thinks they are making something wrong because they don't feel the same.

So I wonder if it's better not to talk about it to people who don't feel it, because they wouldn't be disturbed in their learning and they would develop the feeling themselves by practice naturally without having the pressure of ego.

On the other hand this lack of talk frustrates me personally very much, while I was so happy in my school some years ago. It's so strange. I've come so far and have got the first teaching degree in Tai Chi Quan and I love teaching it, but now I often wonder if I really fit in. Sometimes when we do an exercise together I see some sort of glittering around people. It's incredible beautiful and fascinating, but I'm too afraid to tell anyone. (That's why I rather talk with strangers on the net.) Undecided

Now that's why I'm wondering how other 'arts' teach energy work, but I find it hard to understand. When I read 'Spiral Dance' it seems like the normal beginner exercise is 'visualize xy, but do with your body just what feels right' while in Qi Gong it seems to work the other way around. You learn the visualization when you're able to do the movement or posture right and when you're able to actually feel the energy moving. Or maybe that's just the way my school teaches it. Huh


So this makes me just wonder how you use your body in the craft then? Or is it only a mind-thing? Isn't setting up a circle also a body performance? How can you learn about the energy flows before you actually do the performance? Or do you just mean that a beginner has to practice it for him/herself and experience the energies before she/he does it in a group?

Do I make any sense? I feel like a fool.
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« Reply #17: April 05, 2008, 10:43:56 am »

So I wonder if it's better not to talk about it to people who don't feel it, because they wouldn't be disturbed in their learning and they would develop the feeling themselves by practice naturally without having the pressure of ego.

In the case of martial arts, that may be the best choice.

One of my friends is someone I met through my ex-husband's martial arts training (in a Japanese spear/sword based school whose accurate name I am not going to manage to remember this soon after waking up on a Saturday.)

Said friend is also a witch and initiate, and very aware of the energy work of the style. His practice, however, was to teach the physical stuff and the general theory - and to only discuss the energy side with either advanced students (who might need to teach/answer questions about it down the road, if nothing else) or with those who showed particular interest.

I think the difference with Craft work is a distinction with focus: it is possible to learn to do the physical motions of a martial art and still have them be effective in a number of ways if you don't feel the energy. If you're casting a circle, though, not getting the energy part is going to make the physical part feel quite silly - and more than that, it won't have a whole lot of benefit (except for some generalised 'focusing attention on what one is doing doesn't hurt' ways.)

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So this makes me just wonder how you use your body in the craft then? Or is it only a mind-thing? Isn't setting up a circle also a body performance? How can you learn about the energy flows before you actually do the performance? Or do you just mean that a beginner has to practice it for him/herself and experience the energies before she/he does it in a group?

I think it's both - but the ways people do the physical stuff vary widely. (Plus, in Craft settings, you are also adjusting for people who have physical limitations in how they do things. Not just really obvious ones, but things like arthritis that might make a particular hand or arm position painful or not something someone can do for long)

As I said, the way I was trained sort of goes together, with a slight edge to energy work that doesn't require movement. (i.e. starting with visualisation/grounding/centering types stuff). For casting a circle, many people find it confusing to move *and* keep a constant energy trail going, so we'd regularly have them do one or the other.

Some options for breakdown, as a sample:
1) Some time spent on learning to direct and focus a line of energy (as used for a circle casting) without adding a particular specific intent (there will be a circle here). Focus is on a consistent line of energy.
2) Careful breakdown of the energy work and visualisations, without doing anything
3) They pivot in place, tracing the circle from a point in the center often with someone else saying the circle casting words (many *many* people find the energy + talking part challenging at first.)
4) They walk the perimeter and someone else says the words.
5) They do the whole thing (walk the perimeter and add the words.)

For a number of people, what they need is 1-3 repetitions of each step before moving on, but most people (me included) have one that's a little harder. 2 was hardest for me, because visualisation was so not my strong point. (Much better now. Practice really does help.)

We did this as group teaching, but with each individual getting a chance to go through and try it individually (and usually would cover 1 and 2 in a class, they'd go away and work on their own, and the next class would have them trying steps 3-5 or however far we got.)

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Do I make any sense? I feel like a fool.

You shouldn't! English doesn't talk about these concepts very well, for various reasons, so it just sometimes takes a while to figure out how to express something. I've got to run again for the day, but if I'm confusing, just keep asking until we figure it out.
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« Reply #18: April 05, 2008, 12:28:12 pm »

Sorry everyone if I go a bit off-topic, but it's important for me to figure out why I'm so frustrated.

It is possible to learn to do the physical motions of a martial art and still have them be effective in a number of ways if you don't feel the energy.
Absolutly, this is also true for many Qi Gong exercises. And for some just on the beginner level, but still the exercise works energetically even if you don't feel the flow directly, though many people feel at least a vague tingling without being able to direct the energy intentionally. I guess that's the difference to the Craft. Moved Qi Gong exercises use mainly the body movement to direct the energy and a specific mind focus is sometimes added for advanced practioneers. Even the unmoved Qi Gong exercises use energy movement inside the body, it takes very specific routes through body parts (feels like warm water or electricity running through or heat waves). It's not directed outside except to earth in some exercises, but you collect the energy back.

But I've had a lot of problems lately with new exercises. It's easy to copy the movement, but even if I make everything 'right' physically I sometimes get sort of 'energy knots' the first few times I'm practicing the new exercise. I just call it 'energy knots', I don't know really what it is and I seem to be the only one having that sort of problem, though a couple of students have gone through the exercises I've been learning so far. When you compare the energy flow with running water it's like there's too much and part of it get's stuck in my hand or my foot, runs in circles there instead of running back to earth. Once it was so bad that I was limping for a day, maybe I'm just hypochondric, it's really ridiculous.

But if I try the exercise again I eventually find out what is causing it and most times I have to change my mind focus. But I still wonder why only I'm having those weird reactions, is everyone else just focusing his/her mind the right way naturally as long as the movement is done correctly? It's not the effort of experimenting with mind focus that bothers me but that I feel left alone a bit. I don't want to blame my teacher, because he's really trying to teach to everyone's best health and doesn't force anything if you have problems, but I wish he would give me more detailed instructions on mind focus. But I seem to be the only one needing it or maybe it's just men and they keep their mouths shut. Huh

I'm just wondering if I'm in the wrong school or if I'm having an intermediate level crisis (realizing your teacher doesn't know everything, being impatient because you don't seem to make as huge steps as in the beginning, feeling left alone because your teacher expects some more indepence of you...). Huh

Or maybe I'm just working with wrong assumptions and you can't really talk about energy flows?

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If you're casting a circle, though, not getting the energy part is going to make the physical part feel quite silly.
LOL, it pretty well does! I've learned a Qi Gong exercise where you walk around a staff in a circle. It's likely very different from what you're doing, but I can imagine the feeling. I wasn't feeling much on the energetic level the first time and my teacher was just giving commands like 'make bigger steps', 'deeper', 'don't press your lips together', it really makes you feel like an idiot. And I can't imagine talking synchronically while I'm trying to controll my mind focus, keep myself properly grounded, get the hand postures and direction changes right. However your circle works, it's really puzzling to me, but thanks for explaining, that gave me much more insights.

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English doesn't talk about these concepts very well, for various reasons, so it just sometimes takes a while to figure out how to express something.
Not only English, maybe it's just people generally, especially if people don't often talk about this sort of thing. Or maybe I'm just expecting too much and you can't just explain energies like mechanics. But it feels really good to talk about it.

When I was starting I found the energy parts just a nice mystery that adds to the art, but now it's bothering me that I seem to percieve a different world. I don't know how to explain it, but that's what it feels like and it's alienating me from a group of people I really like and felt so comfortable in. A few years ago my teacher was for me the expert who knows everything I need to know about the exercises he was teaching and who I could always ask and now I'm too scared to tell him about all the funny perceptions some of those exercises give me, because every time I do he just finds it weird. And that's what bothers me, I feel like talking into a void and only getting back my echo instead of answers, but maybe there isn't any answer or maybe it's a problem I have with myself.

Do you know people who had that problem too, or am I just whining about a little cut?
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« Reply #19: April 06, 2008, 10:27:20 am »

I'm just wondering if I'm in the wrong school or if I'm having an intermediate level crisis (realizing your teacher doesn't know everything, being impatient because you don't seem to make as huge steps as in the beginning, feeling left alone because your teacher expects some more indepence of you...). Huh

Honestly, from over here, and without seeing anything in action, it sounds like a little of both.

It sounds like you are working with a teacher (and in a school) that is not as aware of the energy flows as you are - and likely, not as interested in pursuing them. The stuff that you're perceiving fairly naturally may either be totally subconscious for them (possible) or they're simply not feeling it as clearly or noticing it as a distinct aspect (this is the one I'd guess would be more likely.)

Have you asked your teacher not about specifics, but something like "The more I learn about the energetic aspects of qi gong, the more interested I am. From what you've said, that is not your focus of interest, but do you have suggestions on where I might learn more?" It's a nice way to indicate that you're interested in it without expecting them to answer questions about specifics.

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Or maybe I'm just working with wrong assumptions and you can't really talk about energy flows?

It's possible - but the people talking need to have a shared language to talk about it. I have no problem talking with covenmates or former groupmates about it (we've been doing it for years, after all, and we use similar terms), and a relatively easy time talking about it with people with a similar set of experiences.

The further we get outside of that, though, or the less experience one person in the conversation has, the trickier it gets. Not impossible - but both of us have to want the conversation, and be able to take it slower, compare terms and explanations and not make assumptions. I don't personally consider that a problem - but there are times it's easier to do than others. (This conversation's a good example, actually - I'm glad to keep going round until we get to a shared language about the stuff you're asking about, but I also didn't expect I manage it with one or even two posts...)

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And I can't imagine talking synchronically while I'm trying to controll my mind focus, keep myself properly grounded, get the hand postures and direction changes right. However your circle works, it's really puzzling to me, but thanks for explaining, that gave me much more insights.

It's not easy, nope. But it's a little like the 'rub your stomach, pat your head at the same time' exercise. A lot of people find it hard. I find it pretty easy, because I spent a number of years doing it while on horseback going over low jumps as a balance exercise. (After that, doing it by itself? Easy.) Practice helps a lot.

To explain a little more, our circles are generally cast by one person walking the edge of the circle three times, directing energy (the three passes have 3 different goals, so 3 different kinds of energy focus) while saying the circle casting text (3 sets of 4 lines). In group work, this is a reasonably common approach, because it gives the other people in the group a way to follow along closely (if someone just stands in the center and does it all mentally, it's harder for others to follow), and because - with repeated use - the words themselves become a trigger for 'we are now in circle'. My shielding comes down, for example, at that point, and I do some other small changes to how I'm approaching energy work for the duration.

There are no fancy hand motions or positions - one circle is generally directed at waist height, one pointing up at about 45 degree angle from the shoulder, and one down at about a 45 degree angle down - but that's  tendency, and individual people vary a little. Just walking and the energy flow and the words. But as I mentioned, it's hard for a lot of people to manage the walking + talking + energy at the same time, so in learning, we break it down as needed. Repetition helps a lot. I certainly had times during my training when I'd dream of reciting bits of ritual texts; usually once that happened, it was firmly in my brain, and I'd have no trouble with it in ritual.

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I don't know how to explain it, but that's what it feels like and it's alienating me from a group of people I really like and felt so comfortable in. A few years ago my teacher was for me the expert who knows everything I need to know about the exercises he was teaching and who I could always ask and now I'm too scared to tell him about all the funny perceptions some of those exercises give me, because every time I do he just finds it weird. And that's what bothers me, I feel like talking into a void and only getting back my echo instead of answers, but maybe there isn't any answer or maybe it's a problem I have with myself.

The lesson here for me, when I've been in similar positions, is 'These are people I care about, but this is not the place to have these specific conversations with them'. This has, actually, been one of my motivations (along with a number of others) that lead to hiving: they weren't interested in some of the directions I really wanted to go, and felt I needed to.

What someone does about it depends a lot on what your options are. Are there other qi gong schools near you? Are there workshops you could get to that specifically mention the energetic side? Are there online communities that talk about it? Any of these might help. It's one of the reasons you'll find a lot of Pagans, for example, online  -they want people to talk to who share a similar experience/focus, and don't have anyone locally they can have particular conversations with.

Do you know people who had that problem too, or am I just whining about a little cut?
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #20: April 07, 2008, 02:20:29 pm »

First thanks for investing the time to listen and talk to me, Jenett. It helps a lot to clear up my confusion.

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Honestly, from over here, and without seeing anything in action, it sounds like a little of both.

It sounds like you are working with a teacher (and in a school) that is not as aware of the energy flows as you are - and likely, not as interested in pursuing them. The stuff that you're perceiving fairly naturally may either be totally subconscious for them (possible) or they're simply not feeling it as clearly or noticing it as a distinct aspect (this is the one I'd guess would be more likely.)

Have you asked your teacher not about specifics, but something like "The more I learn about the energetic aspects of qi gong, the more interested I am. From what you've said, that is not your focus of interest, but do you have suggestions on where I might learn more?" It's a nice way to indicate that you're interested in it without expecting them to answer questions about specifics.
I think I'm really expecting too much of him. He is tolerant and slightly esoteric himself, but he just can't give me specific answers while half of the class is still trying to figure out the physical movement. Also while he tolerates the spiritual aspect he doesn't specialize in it. For him his school is an art school. I guess I just have to accept that I'm now at a point where I have to go some specific steps on my own. I don't basicly disagree with how he's teaching. It just doesn't satisfy me fully like it did a few years ago.

Another thing is that as a trainee teacher in Tai Chi, I've just taught his system, but I feel I can't really just teach a copy of his school and have to find ways of my own, possibly including big parts of what I've learned from him, but the glue that holds those parts together should be my own. And that's something I have to work on in the next years. I really have to figure out for myself what I want when I'll have the choice to teach more differently. Though I don't want to change the system completly and make it an eso-thing, I just want to deal a bit differently with some aspects, but need some time to figure out how.

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It's possible - but the people talking need to have a shared language to talk about it. I have no problem talking with covenmates or former groupmates about it (we've been doing it for years, after all, and we use similar terms), and a relatively easy time talking about it with people with a similar set of experiences.

Sometimes other people mention that they feel warmth or prickling, but my teacher never goes much into it and doesn't give any terminology to describe it. I have the impression that he isn't an expert, but still does know much more than he tells. For some reason he just doesn't want to go there, but it's not my right to make him, it's his school. But maybe he'll borrow me some books, even if he doesn't take them for full or thinks they are over my head.

I've just ignored my strange perception for decades and now I don't want to anylonger, but am afraid I can't fit in like before. So it annoys me that I've to hide that part of myself, but I guess everyone hides something and I just have to accept that. Maybe on an unconscious level I still think that percieving energies and using them is insane or bad and feel a bit guilty about not fitting in. But I can't force anyone to understand me and accept me like I am when that's my job in the first place. I guess I've still got a lot of growing up to do.  Roll Eyes

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But it's a little like the 'rub your stomach, pat your head at the same time' exercise.

After 5 years of martial arts practice this is easy. The voice part is the tricky stuff for me. I'm learning a qi gong series at the moment where you 'sing' one tone until your breath goes out. I needed ages to get the guts for practicing it in my student dorm. I was afraid everyone would think I'm nuts. But I do it for years now and no one ever asked me about it, I guess they think it's just a vocal chord exercise or don't care.

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There are no fancy hand motions or positions
Well, I admit they look fancy and I've also participated in shows (just local ones) where we do make them look uber-fancy on purpose so the onlookers see anything. But they are basics of fighting applications and in qi gong the exact hand positions and movements direct energy. Energetically it's a big difference if you have your palms upwards or downwards, it's not just symbology either, it's how the human body works.

For me it's really hard to grasp witchcraft concepts where you only visualize symbolic pictures like a pentacle (while I also saw a lot of examples in Spiral Dance which include the body). If I want to direct energy I use the gates of my body. I believe that it works your way, because where mind is there is energy (and matter follows too), but I'm still wrapping my mind around the process of it. Also the concept of leaving your body makes me just go 'huh, what on earth?', but maybe that's too far off-topic for this thread now. I'll annoy you all with more specific questions when I go through my margin scribbling and underlining in Spiral Dance. I'm also not through the whole book yet, not that that would make me understand everything though. And I'd like to reread it.

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- one circle is generally directed at waist height, one pointing up at about 45 degree angle from the shoulder, and one down at about a 45 degree angle down - but that's  tendency, and individual people vary a little.
Now that's a language problem on my part, I understand all the words, but not the whole sentence. Do you mean the circles are flat and not parallel to each other? Meaning they are discs and two of them are diagonal like a roof? Or are you describing a cone? (We also have cones and spirals in qi gong, btw.)

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Repetition helps a lot.
That's what I tell the kids nearly every lesson (teaching kung fu there).

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The lesson here for me, when I've been in similar positions, is 'These are people I care about, but this is not the place to have these specific conversations with them'.

That sums it up pretty well.

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What someone does about it depends a lot on what your options are. Are there other qi gong schools near you? Are there workshops you could get to that specifically mention the energetic side? Are there online communities that talk about it? Any of these might help. It's one of the reasons you'll find a lot of Pagans, for example, online  -they want people to talk to who share a similar experience/focus, and don't have anyone locally they can have particular conversations with.
I'll have to leave this school in the course of the year anyway for job-hunting reasons. But maybe he can give me some contacts in whatever city I end up. Everything is changing heavily at the moment. But I still want to learn some things from him, so I'll use the time I've left at this school. It will always be dear to me and I will pay it some regulary visits after I've left. Even if my teacher can't teach me everything I'm interested in, there's still a lot of interesting stuff I want to learn from him.
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« Reply #21: April 07, 2008, 06:58:37 pm »

I think I'm really expecting too much of him. He is tolerant and slightly esoteric himself, but he just can't give me specific answers while half of the class is still trying to figure out the physical movement. Also while he tolerates the spiritual aspect he doesn't specialize in it.

That sound about right from over here.

The thing is? There's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't make him a bad teacher in general, or even a bad teacher for you. It just means that you should be thinking about what you do about it - what your other options for learning this are, what you might want in the future, etc.

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So it annoys me that I've to hide that part of myself, but I guess everyone hides something and I just have to accept that. Maybe on an unconscious level I still think that percieving energies and using them is insane or bad and feel a bit guilty about not fitting in. But I can't force anyone to understand me and accept me like I am when that's my job in the first place. I guess I've still got a lot of growing up to do.  Roll Eyes

Here's another way that may help you out. I've got two quirks that most people around me don't share: I'm a trained musician (18+ years of music training, and 7+ of pretty involved theory training.) I'm also a librarian.

The thing I had to learn was that there are conversations where it looks like those things are relevant - but they aren't really, because the other people in the conversation don't have the background/experience/interest in appreciating it.

The end result is not hiding it - but just talking about the bits we *do* share. So, for example, I can go to a concert with friends, and talk a little about cool aspects of the music - but I do it using lay language that's accessible to them, and I don't go throwing subtle jargon around, and so on. When I'm with close friends, they'll often ask me for the detailed stuff when we've got the time to talk about it - but we don't always, and that's okay too.

For example, I went with friends to a concert of 14th century French polyphony. My friends did not need the whole discussion of why this is the coolest thing ever: 5 minutes of that was good, and then we moved on with favorite pieces, and what they got out of it. The neat thing for me is that I get to hear what people who haven't spent all that time  training their brain a specific way get out of it.

In cases like the one you describe (where your teacher and your fellow classmates either aren't experiencing things, or aren't interested in talking about them), what I've done is gone and found other places ot have those conversations. Here is one such place. I'd also maybe look at religious and spiritual traditions related to the place of origin of the style. You'll likely get different things out of each of the places you talk about things with - but you can start to piece them together.

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Energetically it's a big difference if you have your palms upwards or downwards, it's not just symbology either, it's how the human body works.

In my religious work, we talk about it - but different people have different responses. I, for example, tend to stand with my hands behind my back, and often more heavily on one foot than the other, rather than evenly on both. I've got some theories about why, but that position actually works best for me (I've tried a bunch of others, and do use some specific variations for specific needs.)

Likewise, position of the hands can make a difference when directing energy, but there isn't always one answer. Someone who's left handed may may alterations. I'm short, and there are things I adjust so I'm less likely to hit people near me in the face in group ritual. (If I do the standard 'Goddess invoking' position, for example, with  both arms up over the head, I may get someone in the chin with an elbow in the process.) 

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Now that's a language problem on my part, I understand all the words, but not the whole sentence. Do you mean the circles are flat and not parallel to each other? Meaning they are discs and two of them are diagonal like a roof? Or are you describing a cone? (We also have cones and spirals in qi gong, btw.)

You've just highlighted one of the reasons it's ineffective to teach this stuff online at best - this is obviously something I could show you in 30 seconds, but can get really unclear.)

The full process takes quite a bit more explanation than would go here, for the tradition I work in (not because it takes forever, but because the visualisation + intention + background to explain those takes a little bit to go through), but basically, the first (flat) pass cuts away, the second (lower) forms a bowl beneath the circle, the third (higher) pass forms a bowl upside down over the top of the circle, and the final motions and energetic work of the circle pulls them together. That's the way I was taught.

The new coven circle cast is a little different: first pass cuts away, second starts sketching details in in pencil (outlines, broad concepts), and the last one colors it in and seals it: my covenmate (who is generally casting circle these days) is tending to do them as 3 more even ('flat') passes.
That's what I tell the kids nearly every lesson (teaching kung fu there).

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But maybe he can give me some contacts in whatever city I end up. Everything is changing heavily at the moment. But I still want to learn some things from him, so I'll use the time I've left at this school. It will always be dear to me and I will pay it some regulary visits after I've left. Even if my teacher can't teach me everything I'm interested in, there's still a lot of interesting stuff I want to learn from him.

Exactly! In your place, I'd be learning what I could of the stuff he could/would teach, and not fretting too much about the other stuff. If you can get recommendations from him, you can ask for someone who might be able to teach those things.

One other thing does spring to mind - I know some teachers consider the energy work to be a very advanced technique. (I tend to disagree, especially for someone who's feeling it anyway, but I'm obviously not an experienced martial artist). It may be simply that he considers it not appropriate to your current level or the class's level for some reason - it is always possible that something in that situation might change for you, too.
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« Reply #22: April 07, 2008, 07:40:24 pm »

Sorry if I came across as aggressive. I didn't realize you were just reporting hearsay and not making those claims yourself.

I've had to let this thread sit for a bit as I didn't have the mental capacity over the weekend to work through it.  After reading through everything I can see that it was basically just a hiccup of misunderstandings so I'm not going to worry about any of it.

I think what you and Jenett have discussed in a having a shared dictionary to be able to discuss concepts from is part of where you and I ran into a misunderstanding.  I'm speaking from quite an unknowing viewpoint on Qi Gong.  I've always thought it as a specific Eastern system of internal Qi exercises not a more generic word for energy exercises.  That's why I found the idea of Falun Gong interesting.  A streamlined system with all the same benefits?  Sounds great.

You mentioned being frustrated with not being provided the explanation concerning the energy work by your instructor.  I started some Wing Chun training a few months back.  I had to drop it due to life circumstances but the sifu I was working with knows me pretty well and explained that the energy work, which he did address with me, isn't normally taught to anyone not an 'indoor student'.  Basically, my understanding from his explanation, an indoor student is an advanced student that the sifu teaches in the hopes that they will eventually be able to carry on the knowledge of the style.

Another reason that it isn't normally addressed in class you already hit on: the sifu would prefer that you master the forms first and let the chi awareness gradually grow in the student.  Why confuse the student with internal work when they haven't mastered the external movements yet?  The only reason he addressed it with me was that we'd already had numerous conversations concerning energy work and while it was addressed he still didn't teach anything specific other than pointing out 'rooting' to me (it's a specific type of grounding) as he preferred to let me learn the chi flows myself.

Then again, the dojo where my kids have studied karate doesn't teach anything to do with chi.  I asked about it once and was told that the philosophy is to close to religion for folks to accept, especially here in the deep south. 

Well, I don't really have anything else to add so I'm just going to close here.
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« Reply #23: April 09, 2008, 03:42:36 am »

In cases like the one you describe (where your teacher and your fellow classmates either aren't experiencing things, or aren't interested in talking about them), what I've done is gone and found other places ot have those conversations. Here is one such place. I'd also maybe look at religious and spiritual traditions related to the place of origin of the style. You'll likely get different things out of each of the places you talk about things with - but you can start to piece them together.
Thanks, I've have to be a bit more patient and search for my own. I'm glad I've already found TC. Smiley

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In my religious work, we talk about it - but different people have different responses. I, for example, tend to stand with my hands behind my back, and often more heavily on one foot than the other, rather than evenly on both. I've got some theories about why, but that position actually works best for me (I've tried a bunch of others, and do use some specific variations for specific needs.)
That kind of thing is very individualistic. We have defined movements and positions in qi gong and martial arts, but it is very individualistic which style and exercises work for which person. For example dragon related qi gong is just bound to have negative affects for me because I'm already a firehead and need exercises which would cool me down.

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Likewise, position of the hands can make a difference when directing energy, but there isn't always one answer. Someone who's left handed may may alterations. I'm short, and there are things I adjust so I'm less likely to hit people near me in the face in group ritual.
Yes, a certain portion of pragmatism is necessary if you need to adapt an idealized exercise to the body of a real person, especially when the person has specific limits.

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You've just highlighted one of the reasons it's ineffective to teach this stuff online at best - this is obviously something I could show you in 30 seconds, but can get really unclear.)
I wouldn't dream of teaching martial arts online either, the results would be hideous!

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The full process takes quite a bit more explanation than would go here, for the tradition I work in (not because it takes forever, but because the visualisation + intention + background to explain those takes a little bit to go through), but basically, the first (flat) pass cuts away, the second (lower) forms a bowl beneath the circle, the third (higher) pass forms a bowl upside down over the top of the circle, and the final motions and energetic work of the circle pulls them together. That's the way I was taught.
So the result is like two cones clued together at the bottom? Or a ball?

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One other thing does spring to mind - I know some teachers consider the energy work to be a very advanced technique. (I tend to disagree, especially for someone who's feeling it anyway, but I'm obviously not an experienced martial artist). It may be simply that he considers it not appropriate to your current level or the class's level for some reason - it is always possible that something in that situation might change for you, too.
Yes, that's also an issue, however I like his honesty in telling you straight away if he just doesn't know the answer.


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Thinking about the mind-body-thing in qi gong you do learn energy work through defined body postures and movements, but on a higher level you can also just visualize doing the whole thing sitting so you could ground without a grounding posture or movement or even without imaginating the posture/movement if you work with a different visualization, but the way you learn it goes through your body.
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« Reply #24: April 09, 2008, 07:55:45 am »

So the result is like two cones clued together at the bottom? Or a ball?

Ball/Globe (think a bowl on the bottom and an upside down one being brought together.)

It's an imperfect visualisation, of course, because if you do that, the edges are very 'short' (impossible to stand under), so your end effect is often differently shaped, but that's the basic idea of how everything fits together. (In practice, in my group work, we cast circle to the edges of the room, or even the public part of the house, if a ritual's going to be long enough that people may need to run to the bathroom or get something else to drink, as has been true for some Sabbats.)
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« Reply #25: April 09, 2008, 08:05:35 am »

I want to research more about this subject, it's very interesting. I practice a circle walking meditation, but it's not like casting a circle, you don't have a defined sacred space. However I have a slightly different space perception when I do it. For example if someone leaves the dojo early and doesn't close the door to the entrance room properly that annoys me much more than it normally does.
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« Reply #26: April 09, 2008, 11:26:19 am »

I want to research more about this subject, it's very interesting. I practice a circle walking meditation, but it's not like casting a circle, you don't have a defined sacred space. However I have a slightly different space perception when I do it. For example if someone leaves the dojo early and doesn't close the door to the entrance room properly that annoys me much more than it normally does.

I'm actually spending tonight in discussion of one of the books I'd recommend for that - Deborah Lipp's _Elements of Ritual_, which discusses Wiccan-based circle/ritual methods in detail. We picked it for discussion not because we agree with all of it - but in fact, because we don't, but think that the questions she raises would make for an interesting discussion.

I suspect I'm not going to be taking formal notes, but I will likely end up mentioning some of the things we discussed on my blog (http://gleewood.org/threshold) in the next few days.
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« Reply #27: April 09, 2008, 04:48:56 pm »

Thanks for the link, beautiful dyed eggs btw!
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« Reply #28: April 09, 2008, 07:07:13 pm »

I want to research more about this subject, it's very interesting. I practice a circle walking meditation, but it's not like casting a circle, you don't have a defined sacred space. However I have a slightly different space perception when I do it. For example if someone leaves the dojo early and doesn't close the door to the entrance room properly that annoys me much more than it normally does.
Hmm, your reaction makes me wonder if you are (inadvertently) casting a circle.  (Or, you might just be putting yourself in a slightly altered state, which is part of what happens, or should, with a cast circle, but not all of it.)

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« Reply #29: April 10, 2008, 01:43:06 am »

Hmm, your reaction makes me wonder if you are (inadvertently) casting a circle.  (Or, you might just be putting yourself in a slightly altered state, which is part of what happens, or should, with a cast circle, but not all of it.)

Sunflower
Well, I don't know really what I'm doing, but I get a slightly altered state (I start to see misty stuff around the staff I'm circling and people start to look more brightly, even if they wear dark colors). I get altered states with other sorts of qi gong too, though, but don't know if it's supposed to happen. My teacher can feel the energies running through his body, but he doesn't see funny stuff.

But wouldn't you percieve a defined boundary when you cast a circle? I just walk in a circle, but it's not really closed to what is going around. Maybe I'm not concentrating enough.
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