Chigong, an ancient healing art, is similar to Reiki and the laying on of hands. The basic principle is to use energy from outside yourself to heal yourself or others.
The principles of chinese medicine are complex, but luckily Chigong is an art that does not require a lot of study and understanding of principles.
The "chigong state", as taught me by Master Lyn Yao at the Yaolin Chigong center, is a state which is not fully a dream state or a conscious state, but a state inbetween, where the mind can consciously visualize, but it is more than just thinking about something, it is actually doing it.
The energy center, or Dien ten (pronounced DON TIN) is within the belly, in the space on inch below the belly button.
One word of caution, in the practice of chigong, as with other arts, it is best to consult a physician for serious recurrent medical problems. Chigong is powerful, but it is not magic.
I have found that it is best to experiment with chigong without placing a lot of expectations on the outcome. Contrary to what we are taught, I believe that the visualizations of chigong work without "faith", as without understanding. In my own experience I found that Expecting someone to "get healed" was more of a drain, and a disappointment and left a feeling of guilt with the injured person. Chigong is an experiment of sorts and I believe it is best done as such, without expectation, simply as an experiment. This helps to ease the mind into a more relaxed state. Chigong should be Fun, not work, if it is going to work.
I believe that the basic tenets to chigong, at least in my own process, are practice and being gentle with your self and your body. Tai chi is a flowing art, for example, not meant to be done as a rigorous exercise. The movements are not stiff and controled but smooth and continuous. A great thing about chigong is that you can practice simple movements over and over to build energy and it doesn't require a lot of memorization, physical stamina or study. After you learn just a few simple movements and ideas you can create your own movements and visualizations.
We begin by learning the standing form. It is best to do a little light stretching before hand in slow steady movements or gentle swinging motions. One exercise for the warm up is to stand with your feet a shoulder's width apart and your arms straight out at the sides or at an angle. Without moving your arms begin to twist at the waist in one direction until your hand gently taps your back or kidneys, then reverse the twist to the other side. This is repeated several times. It is important that you do not swing too quickly or abruptly, the idea is to be gentle with your body.
[For a full explanation of this exercise, it not only helps to loosen the joints, the gently tapping of the back also helps shakes toxins and waste from the kidneys.]
Another good warm up is to practice something Master Lyn calls "spontaneous chigong". This is simply very slow smooth small movements doing whatever your body feels it needs. ie. rolling your neck slowly around. (without forcing it) Chigong movements are "floating" movements. You do not force your muscles and joints, you flow as if you were floating in water, using the least amount of energy possible for the movement, moving in a relaxed and dreamy way.
You can also softly rub and/or gently tap any or all part of your body. This is really good for the body. Sometimes I even talk to a part of my body, for instance my knee and I encourage it and thank it and tell it what a great job it is doing. It is Very important that you never insult your body or mind, even in jest. I believe it is harmful to say "Oh that was so stupid of you" to yourself, or even to call an injured part "bad", such as, "Oh, that's my bad leg". It is not bad, in fact, it is doing an awful lot for you considering. I take special time with my injured parts, rubbing them gently talking to them softly. It does not necessarily "cure" the injury, but I know that the injury is not my leg's fault. I believe being gentle with your body is the best way to relax and relaxing is the best way to allow your body to heal as much as it can. I really believe that we need to be patient with our bodies and understanding and if we are we will find that they will treat us nicer too.
Now you are ready for standing form. Stand comfortably with your feet a shoulder's length apart. There is a slight bend in the knees, your back should be straight, chin slightly down so that the crown of the head is pointing straight upward. Hold your arms a shoulders width apart, at a 45% angle in front of the body. Let your wrists and arms lie limply.
(This can also be done with your arms at a 50% angle from the body held in a big circle in front of you as if you are holding a huge beach ball. The finger tips are lightly touching the ball and are about an inch or more apart from each other)
Imagine, as you breathe slowly and deeply in and out, that energy from the sun, or the universe is coming from the sky down into your head and down the front of your body. Imagine that it is warm inside the front of your body. Let it go all the way down your legs to your feet and into the ground. Reach this energy deep into the healing earth and bring up positive energy from the earth into your feet and up the back part of your legs, back, arms, shoulders, neck and head. This can be imagined to feel like hot steam (at a comfortably warm temperature) Continue the energy up into the sky again and repeat down the front of the body (feeling waterfall) into the ground, collect more energy and circulate it up the back part of your body.
(If you are using the "holding the ball" form you may chose to expand the "ball" as you breathe in and contract it as you breathe out, in other words, slightly move your arms to make the "ball" bigger and then let then fall back into their original place. In this way you "play" with the "energy ball" and make it stronger. You become more aware of the energy.
During standing form you can also do simple spontaneous chigong with micro movements. I find this very relaxing. To hold a posture can create stiffness and you want to acheive relaxation and fluidity. Later on I will tell you about Fragrance Chigong, which are slow repeated flowing movements designed for relaxation and building up of energy.
Standing form can be repeated as many times as you like and helps build energy. You can also circulate energy just within the body. I like to collect more and more energy from the outside however. I think it is more powerful.
Another note of caution. When placing healing energy within a person, always use the healing energy of the earth and the universe rather than your own energy! This is very important. Most people do not have a large reserve of energy of their own and the universe's is endless. Using your own energy is dangerous as it weakens you. It is best to use outside energy for healing purposes as it is powerful and will not deplete your energy stores.
Once you have practiced standing form for several minutes complete the energy circle by allowing the energy to go up the back, to the shoulders and down the arms to the hands. Holding your hand in a relaxed manner with the palms facing together gently begin to pull them farther apart with your arms, then push them slowly closer together. Continue this movement for as many times as you like, this is playing with the energy ball. Imagine that as you pull your arms apart they want to stick together, like a magnet, as you move them together it is as if they are being forced apart. (Important, do not use your muscles and physical resistance, this is purely done with the imagination. Your shoulders, arms, wrists and hands should be limply relaxed.) After a while you will feel this. This feeling is the energy ball as you squeeze it together and pull it wider apart.
(The standing form can also be down while seated in a chair or even while lying down. I find it works better from a standing or seated position however.)
Once you are satisfied with the pulling and pushing exercise imagine that the energy is again absorbed into your palms and body. If you have a particular injury you can also gently push the energy ball with your palms into that area, for example the knee. (put in dien ten)
This is the basic foundation of chigong. There are many other exercises and visualizations that can be performed, both techniques that are known and taught and movements and visualizations that are adapted and/or made up. Anyone can invent a chigong technique. It is not difficult. I like to imagine that I am taking the sun's brightness and energy and placing it into my injured knee. Sometimes I imagine that I am standing within an energy ball, like the sun, bright and shining and powerful energy and I absorb energy into my body that way.
I will, as I have time, write about more chigong techniques such as "the inner smile", fragrance chigong, the 6 healing sounds, and others.
For your visualization during chigong, to be combined with standing form or any other you can imagine either a ball or glowing light or a flower in your stomach about an inch below your belly button. You can imagine the energy growing bigger and brighter as you breathe in and dimming and getting smaller as you breathe out. As you continue to do this you can imagine that the light is getting bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger with each breath, fading and getting slightly smaller with each breath outwards.
Some people imagine the internal energy ball as if it is breathing within you, or your body is breathing with the energy ball. You can make it grow until it fills your body fully and radiates outward into the room you are standing or sitting in. Maybe this is like an aura?
For the flower visualization, imagine the flower opening and closing, getting bigger, or blooming with each inhalation and closing into a bud with each exhalation. Sometimes the flower is pictured in front of a person rather than in their belly.