A Daoist Practice Journal: Circle Walking, Qigong & Daoist Cultivation. 2016 Fall

Shifu Michael Rinaldini

May 16, 2016

I would like to get back to my April 24, 2016 entry from Professor Esposito’s book, Facets of Qing Daoism. Remember, I said her last point referenced a direct connection to the Eight Extraordinary Vessels and Anterior Heaven, which connects to our circle walking practice. Here’s a final quote from her book regarding the Central Channel:

That which follows this trajectory [i.e. jing and qi] temporarily stops in the state of utter emptiness and tranquility because it belongs to the state before Heaven (xiantian). The realization of an immortal or an ordinary embryo is dependent on that state. Although one speaks of three different [channels], in reality they are One. For that reason it is officially labeled “the path of the immortals” (xiandao). (Esposito 2014, 176)

The Central Channel, also called the Chong Mai Vessel, the Thoroughfare Vessel, the Thrushing Vessel, and the Penetrating Vessel is located between the Governing and the Conception vessels. This channel is of such importance for our qigong and Daoist cultivation that I cannot underestimate its value. Any book I pick up on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels gives it supreme ratings. It is said that the Chong channel “mirrors the energetic properties of the unfolding of the Tao” (Twicken 2013, 46). And furthermore, it is said that the Chong channel “creates all channels, and it can influence all of them” (2013, 46). Considering these spiritual and energetic aspects of the Chong channel we can understand why Tom Bisio in his circle walking book places great emphasis on the Pushing the Palms Down posture. Bisio says:

The Downward Sinking Palm is the first palm that you practice because the position of the arms and body particularly stimulates and opens Du Mai, Ren Mai and Chong Mai. When these channels are activated and opened, it is easier to open the other meridians and channels. (Bisio 2012, 176)

Perhaps the energetic portal to the state of Anterior Heaven is through the Chong channel. In our zuowang practices there is a strong connection between the breath awareness and the Lower Dantian. And the more we sink our awareness into the depths of the Lower Dantian through stillness and emptiness, the more we open and pass through the portal of the Chong. Thus, walking in a circle in the Pushing The Palms Down posture is an ally to zuowang practice in this process of opening the Chong channel
and emerging out the other end in the realm of Anterior Heaven.

6 pm
Just finished a short session of Pushing the Palms Down. One aspect of this posture to keep in mind is a feeling of pushing the qi down the front of the body and allowing the qi to flow up the back. You can encourage this up and down flow of qi by simply uniting it to the breath. Exhale, follow the qi/breath down the front, inhale follow the qi/breath up the back. The rest of the body should be relaxed with a feeling of sinking into the earth. You can go further in connecting with the Chong channel by narrowing your qi/breath to simply move up and down this channel in a single column. Allow yourself to dissolve away in your qigong state. Forget the circle, and forget the image of energy moving up and down the body. Forget the body, and forget the person doing all this. Walking, breathing, not thinking. The birds singing.

May 23, 2016
In last Wednesday’s qigong class I, and one of my long-term students, created a new qigong set based on the Chong channel and the Governing and Conception channels. I presented some guidelines as to help narrow down the selection of which particular qigong movements would best support these extraordinary channels. We came up with six qigong exercises taken from my complete list of exercises. We also came up with two circle walking postures. I explained to my student Tracy that even though I presented some guidelines in the selection process, there is not any actual right and wrong choice for what we did. My point is, we just made some choices based on simple qigong principles.

We started the practice with Swimming Dragon and emphasized standing straight and pivoting/turning/twisting side to side. We imagined qi moving up and down the Central channel, as well as up and down the back and front channels. We next transitioned to a modified form of Dragon Chases The Pearl and focused on the qi moving up and down these same channels as in the first step. In my version of Primordial Wuji Qigong, there is a middle phase of circulating the hands up and down in front of the lower Dantian. This was the third step. Qi moving along the pathway of these channels, top to bottom again and again. Then came the wings/arms rising and falling of the Crane Frolic. We stretched up and sank down as the qi followed its course. After this flapping of the wings, we slowly moved into the Compassionate Buddha Qigong. The movements allowed a complete letting go of any residual tension or stress . Double Hands Hold Up The Heavens is the last exercise to emphasize the qi moving along the Chong channel. The set closes with an extended gathering of the three breaths to the feet, the legs and the upper body.

My own personal experience with this set was very powerful. It created in me a deep qigong state of mind. And on a deeper level, I can see the potential for passing through the portal to the Anterior Heaven state of being, and feeding directly off of the Pre-Celestial Qi of the Universe. Not Two.

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