Day 2 of my 30 day trial of Spontaneous Qi Practice. Also some research into the contemporary history of spontaneous qigong along with a discussion of some risks. For a primer of what this trial is about, click here.
Researching Spontaneous Qigong
For my article on Spontaneous Qigong, I have been doing more research and have found some really good sources of information.
Years ago, I had brought up the topic of spontaneous Qigong with my Tai chi teacher Dorothea. Dorothea is a lady in her 60 and an experienced Qigong practitioner. I recall her telling me that this kind of qigong was popular in the 1980s. With this in mind, I checked through one book on contemporary Chinese history and found some references to spontaneous Qigong groups.
Apparently in the 1980s, Qigong seemed to explode in popularity in China and then was brought to the West. There were thousands of practitioners and many different styles of Qigong. There were also many claims regarding the curative effects of Qigong.
It became too popular, because the Chinese government started cracking down on it, which is something the Chinese government tends to do when movements become too popular, and hence possibly threaten the power of the government.
Souring Crane Qigong
One type of Qigong that specifically incorporated spontaneous Qi movements was called Souring Crane Qigong and it is still present today, included in the West. Souring Crane Qigong was created by Master Zhao Jin Xiang.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Qigong became hugely popular in China, with hundreds of forms, styles and systems available. Most of these systems were of the ‘quiet’ form of qigong (i.e. no spontaneous movements). Souring Crane was a system that incorporated spontaneous qi movements and became one of the most popular with over 10,000,000 million practicing it worldwide.
Master Zhao Jin Xiang
The founder Jin Xiang contracted tuberculosis at the age of 16. His TB became serious and he was admitted to a sanitarium. It was there that he was introduced to a form of sitting qigong, which he practiced every day. It was this practice along with medical treatment which enabled him to heal from his disease.
Years later he become a healer and became very popular. However, he became frustrated as he couldn’t see so many patients at any one time. This led him to start teaching his patients to help themselves by practicing Qigong. He developed his own Qigong method based on the movements of a crane.
Spontaneous Qi and illness
Souring Crane utilises a standing pose with the allowance of spontaneous qigong. In Zhao Ji Xiang’s book – ‘Chinese Souring Crane Qigong’, he descibes the “inner movement” and “outer movement” of Qi.
The ‘inner movement is when a person stands quietly and the qi circulates without any visible movement. This is the system of Qigong that accurately describes conventional Qigong practice where movements and stances are practiced and held consciously in a gentle relaxed state.
The ‘outer movement’ is where the qi reaches a part of the person’s body which has a blockage. At this point, it cases visible movements as the Qi aims to move through the blockage.
In the beginning, the movements can be “mild and simple”. Then they can develop into “complicated and more vigorous” movements. As the illness improves and the channels clear, the movments will become much slower and mild again, until there is no movement at all. The movements must never be forced.
(Source: Chinese Souring Qigong, by Zhao Ji Xiang).
Souring Crane Qigong Today (2018)
I had not heard of this system in the UK, but the system still seems to be popular in the USA. There are videos of exercises on YouTube, though they seem to show the ‘quiet’ or ‘internal Qi’ type exercises and not focus on the spontaneous movements as the creater wrote about in his book.
I suspect there are various reasons for this. I am unsure if the teacher Zhao Ji Xiang is still alive. He would be very old today if he was. That would be a factor, if he is no longer active in the movement. However, the key reason may be down to the possible risks attached with practicing spontaneous qigong.
Is spontaneous Qigong dangerous?
The warnings are very clear. If you have any mental problems, scizophrenia, depression, manic depression or it runs in the family, then you should not practice Qigong. You should also avoid practising if you have acute disease or are pregnant.
For people with mental health problems, these kind of spontaneous movements can be a challenge to make sense of. If the mind is fragile, then you should not put any undue stress on it. I have read of how hallucinations can sometimes be observed in people who practice spontaneous qigong. I personally have not had that experience, but that could be quite unnerving to see something, especially if a person is mentally a little unstable.
However, this does not make spontaneous qigong dangerous by itself. A person with mental health problems may also have to avoid lots of different ‘stresses’ in life, as they can bring on a minor breakdown. For example, recreational drugs, travel, relocation, exams, job loss, a new job and even dating can be quite stressful occurrences exacerbating breakdowns.
I say this because one of my best friends as a child had severe mental health issues. He was on heavy sedative-type drugs and there was always a fear with him that something might bring on a breakdown. In his case, I am quite sure that even doing regular qigong or meditation may have been risky for him.
Basically to do this kind of practice, your mind needs to be fairly stable. If it isn’t, then you should not do it. If you have a lot of stresses in life, it probably is inadvisable also.
And really the spontaneous qigong moves can be quite bewildering if you have never experienced them before. Hence the need for an experienced teacher to guide you. In fact, some qigong teachers will instruct their students to avoid these movements. And I would concur with this.
However in my case, I feel that spontaneous qigong is safe to practice. Also I am practicing very lightly – just 10 minutes a day. So even though I will do this for 30 days, it is still a very light practice. Perhaps if I was doing spontaneous qigong 4 or 5 hours a day, then I would have to consider the risks more seriously. In this case, I would have gone way over the moderate level and would likely open myself up to stronger effects but also greater risks.
To be safe, here are some precautions. (adapted from Zhao Jin Xiang’s book):
- Find a teacher, who is versed in this type of qigong
- Leave the ego. Do not do this for success, material gain or the hope of supernatural powers. This is dangerous.
- Do not practice if you are mentally ill.
- Avoid doing qigong outside, when the weather is bad e.g. rain, thunderstorms. (The Qi is too erratic then).
- Do spontaneous Qi practice for no more than 30 minutes a day.
- Do not force spontaneous movements. Let them happen naturally.
- People in an acute phase of illness, also the very timid should not practice.
- People in a strong emotional state, e.g. anger, grief should not practice.
- Pregnant or menstruating women should not practice.
- Relax you body, when practicing. If the movement becomes violent, tell yourself to slow down.
- Keep a part of your mind on your dantian
Spontaneous Qigong Practice Log
Day 2 started off similar to day 1. It began with the bending side-to-side movement again. The movement was quite quick. Again, after about 5 minutes of doing it, I wanted to do something else. From then, the movements did change and I found myself doing some arm circles, spinal twists, shaking, as well as some hand trembling/shaking movements, which were carried out quite vigorously.
I continued my spontaneous qi practice up to 15 minutes and then something curious happened. The spontaneous Qi movements brought me back to a standard standing pose – ‘the holding the balloon’ posture.
This was a first for me, as usually my spontaneous Qi practice usually just continues with some kind of bodily movement. This was the first time it took me into a static hold. I stayed in the standing pose for another 5 minutes, but I noticed that I was more aware of the energy ball sensation between my hands than when I do the standard standing position.
Usually, when I do this ‘holding the balloon’ position and the teacher instructs me to expand and shrink the energy ball between my fingers, I don’t normally feel anything. I may feel the usual sensation of pressure between my hands, but certainly no shrinking or expanding movement.
But this time, I noticed that as I breathed in and out, the pressure seemed to expand or shrink. Sometimes it also expanded and shrank without regard to my breathing. I continued to feel and observe this and then I had to bring my practice to an end as it was time to take my son to nursery soon.
Whilst walking outside, I did notice that my body was more opened up and my posture was a bit better. So I think this early morning Spontaneous Qigong session helped open up my body, kind of like an early morning yoga session.
I don’t recall getting any residual spontaneous Qi effects in the rest of the day like in day 1.
I still continued to watch the Japanese TV drama ‘Soshite, Daremo Inaku Natta’.
I can’t make up my mind if the drama is really good or whether it is just designed to manipulate me into watching it, by adding in twist after twist after twist, where absolutely every character could potentially be the mastermind behind the whole dark story (possibly even the lead character Todo Shinichi). I am still halfway though the series.
Click here for day 3 of my spontaneous qi practice trial.
References & Links
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