This post is a book review for a book about Spontaneous Qigong. The book is called ‘Zifa Gong’ and is written by Alexander Brighton.
It is a very short book and very simple. It has some intriguing insights and a simple guide for carrying out the exercises. The book is a quick read – maybe 20 minutes.
In Zifa Gong, Alexander Brighton gives a very basic explanation on how to practice spontaneous qigong. Alexander first discovered spontaneous qigong twenty years ago in Vietnam.
Alexander Brighton also uses the term – ‘the hypnagogic state’ or ‘qigong tai’
The Qigong Tai or Hypnagogic State
Hypnagogic refers to the state immediately before falling sleep. It is during this hypnagogic pre-sleep state that a person may experience lucid thought, lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
In Zifa gong, Alexander Brighton defines this ‘qigong tai’ or ‘hypnagogic state’ as “life’s third natural state”. During this state, the body’s breathing rate slows down, the pulse slows and there is lower brain activity. The body enters a trance-like mode.
It is also in this state that the body’s own ‘involuntary control’ can be switched on. The body then”emits special energy patterns” and the “circulation of vital internal energy increases greatly as it moves unhindered throughout the body”.
In this state, the body’s self repairing and self corrective abilities are heightened.
In my own words, I would describe this state as being a ‘Meditative or Healing zone’.
Alexander Brighton advises that it is more important – not to concern yourself on whether you stand or breathe correctly or on carrying out the postures perfectly. But rather with being able to enter this trance like state. It is in this trance state, is when the Zifa Gong (and self-restoration) work can begin.
The Hypnagogic State corresponds to the ‘Healing Zone’
In my upcoming book – The Genki Self health Guide, I made a reference to something which I call the Meditative Zone’. It is a trance-like state that can be entered in, through meditation or qigong practice. But there is a component of spontaneous qi about this zone. What Alexander Brighton describes here, exactly matches what I term the ‘meditative zone’.
Mind you, the term ‘hypnagogic state’ does sound more scientific than ‘Meditative zone’.
I interpreted Alexander Brighton’s meaning to be that spontaneous qigong occurs during this hypnagogic state because the qi energy “carries out self-repair and self enhancement” during this state.
Alexander also makes brief mention of latent abilities that can be opened up through Zifa gong. Some of these abilities may be: “a healing ability” or “a specific ability to increase your body’s grace of movement”.
Other experiences may be:
- The ability to percieve energy flowing into and out of the palms of your hand
- The opening up of specific channels in your own body
- Enhancing instinctual learning or understandings.
Unfortunately, there are no examples given of this, but I wonder is this could be interpreted to mean like your body becomes so attuned to nature that you can feel if a storm is coming, or even an earthquake?
Or how about picking a winning lottery ticket…? 🙂
Instructions on how to enter the Zifa Gong state
Alexander Brighton gives a simple explanation of how to enter the Zifa Gong state:
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold your arms in front of you – (a basic standing qigong pose)
- Relax. Stand in position for a few minutes. Close your eyes.
- Let the body relax
- Eventually most people will feel the urge to move, for example movement in your arms, legs or neck. When you feel this sensation, let your body move. Do not use any effort to control these movements.
- Don’t grip the floor with your feet or hold any force in your legs.
- Let the body relax as much as possible
- Do not pay any special attention to the body, posture, breathing or any movements. Your body may enter many different types of movements.
- Don’t be concerned with any thoughts. Let them flow though your mind. Don’t stop and consider them.
- As you enter the hypnagogic state, some people will feel a charge in the body. The limbs will feel warm. The force inside will grow stronger. If your body starts moving, just let it go. You may start leaning, rocking, swaying, revolving or circling the waist.
- Let your feet move naturally, as they will naturally stop you and stabilise you if your body leans too far forward. Don’t try to control or obstruct the movements. Do not force your feet back to the beginning if they move elsewhere.
Get a Spotter
In weightlifting, a spotter is another strong man, who stands nearby when a weightlifter is attempting to lift a heavy weight (usually over the chest). This is to protect him from injury, in case he can’t push up the weight and he finds himself pinned underneath the weight.
Alexander Brighton recommends having a ‘spotter’ for the first time, in case the movements in the beginning are wild due to blocked meridians.
For the first time, you don’t know what kind of blockages your body have to deal with. As a result, you may be led into all sorts of dramatic movements – running, jumping or spinning.
Yep, I’ve had some of that.
Ending the practice
He also clarifies that it is simple to end the spontaneous qigong practice, simply by taking yourself out of the hypnagogic (pre-sleep) state. All you have to do is “open your eyes and call a halt to whatever you are doing”.
It is that simple.
The goal of Zifagong
Alexander Brighton states very clearly –
Your goal is to let energy flow unhindered through your body.
By doing so, you will remove blockages, enhance the flow of qi and improve your health.
Alexander warns that some people should never practice zifa gong. These are: (italics mine)
- People at risk of falls. Or who are unstable on their feet. (Definitely I agree – I would clarify that this refers to the elderly or those with neurological conditions).
- People who bleed easily (maybe – depends on the propensity to bleed)
- People with serious mental illness ( I agree with this one)
- People in poor health (depends what you mean by poor health? – If this means a debilitated state or convalescing, then yes, I agree).
- People highly excitable or highly strung. (This is a curious contraindication. I am not sure about this one).
He also provides other useful bits of advice:
- Stay calm and relaxed throughout
- Don’t consciously interrupt the movements unless you become fearful for some reason
- Let the energy follow its own course.
Duration of a practice
Alexander Brighton states that a practice can conclude naturally or you can stop it. I have found both to be true.
If a Zifa Gong practice is allowed to continue and end naturally (by itself), it can carry on for 1 to 2 hours. Otherwise you can bring it to a close yourself.
If you allow the Zifa Gong to end naturally, the body may being you into a relaxation pose – sitting or lying down just before it is ready to end.
However, if you want to end the state yourself, just stand straight and put your hands on your abdomen (dantian). Then imagine the energy spiralling out into the universe and then back into your dantian again.
Alexander also recommends you write a diary. Or you can share your experiences with me here, by adding a comment.
You are now ready for meditation
Alexander Brighton ends by saying that after two years of practice, he no longer gets any spontaneous qi body movements. Instead the movements lead him straight into a sitting cross legged position “as if to declare me ready for meditation”.
He concluded this to mean that his channels were finally unblocked.
Initially, he thought this meant he had no need to continue practicing. Howver, as he discovered, this really meant that it was just the beginning of his practice. Not the end.
A useful guidepost
So what I like about this book, is we can see what happens if you continue to practice. Alexander Brighton has had years of practice. In fact from this book, I can see there is a real purpose to spontaneous qigong practice.
It is to clear your body of blockages (and impurities) in preparation for the real work to come – Meditation.
Also, from what I can know of the Meditative zone (or hypnagogic state), I can understand that meditation carried out in this state is much easier, than when trying to force myself into meditation.
In my own case, I can see that I have a lot of practice to go. I still get a lot of spontaneous qigong movement when I practice. It is definitely not as much as as when I first started Spontaneous Qigong but it is still a lot.
The book – Zifa Gong is short and does not go into too much detail. But there is not much need to go into details. The idea is to just get started and doing it. The price is acceptable for the short size.
Where to buy the book?
As far as I know, the book is only available as an e-book through Kobo. It is not on Amazon or I-books. To purchase it, you will need to register with Kobo and download the Rakuten Kobo app to your smartphone or computer. Here is a link to the Rakuten Kobo website- Zifa Gong by Alexander Brighton
The book is very short. Probably around 2 – 3000 words, so it can be read very quickly. However, the good thing is that it is inexpensive – less than a dollar.
- Katsugen and Richard S. Omura: Encounters with Spontaneous Qi (9)
- Interviews with Qigong Masters in China: Encounters with Spontaneous Qigong (8)
- John Chang: Encounters with Spontaneous Qi (6)
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