Dissolving, Breathing, Structure, and Stillness: Follow-Up Q&A

Stillness of a Mountain LakeThanks to everyone who reached out with questions about the first standing audio practice in the Energy Gates Dissolving series.

I want to share some of the questions with you here. Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or comments or think there is anything the needs clarification. Hopefully we can approach this series together as an ongoing learning process!

What’s the Difference between Outer Dissolving, Downward Dissolving, and Sinking?

This first question is a clarification about 3 different types of standing practices.

She asks,

So we are getting acquainted with the the gates in this series in the context of downward dissolving, not outer dissolving.  Is that correct?

I also have a question about the progression of the standing practice.  Just for the sake of having the big picture, it would be useful to understand when to transition one’ practice from each stage.

From sinking to downward dissolving
From downward dissolving to awareness of energy gates
From awareness to energy gates to outer dissolving.

Is this the correct sequence and what are the markers that you are ready to move into the next phase?

 

I like the way she lays out the stages, around sinking, awareness, and dissolving.

Technically, dissolving a general area and working on a specific gate are both methods of outer dissolving.

As far as deciding which to know or knowing where you are at, these stages of practice are cyclical. You’ll get to a point on any given day or go through periods of practice where one way of standing may call to you more than another.

In this series, I’m going to be emphasizing awareness of the gates with the hope that it turns into dissolving the gates.

In my experience there is a tendency to try to force the dissolving process to happen based on the concept, so I try to encourage people to discover the process more naturally.

If you rest your mind in one area of the body and hold that area in your awareness with the intent to let go (paradox!), then naturally the energy that’s binding it will begin to release. The release goes through phases with “ice”, “water” and “gas” being good landmarks for recognizing and talking about those phases.

How Does the Weight Fall through the Feet?

Here’s an alignment question that gets a little confusing when you compare the standing we’re doing to other practices where we play with varying the pressure in the feet.

The only question I have is regarding letting the weight fall to the center of the feet (rather than the heel).  I understand how this is appropriate for the dissolving part of this standing.  But since, in Dragon and Tiger, Vol.2, pg. 24, Bruce talks about the Shi mian point causing energy to descend down the body, I was wondering if the weight should be more on the heel during the latter part of this standing when we do more of the sinking chi than the dissolving.

This is an interesting case where we look at several layers of the body.

Yes, it’s true that shifting ball to heel helps get energy going up and down. In this case, though, we’re working on a slightly different set of structural alignments, where we want the OVERALL feeling of weight falling through the structure of the pelvis, legs, and feet to be the primary goal. Eventually, these two different techniques are layered on top of each other, even though they seem to be at odds right now – that’s a common qigong experience!

How Should I Breath during Standing?

I received several questions about breathing – natural breathing, reverse breathing, breathing connected to energy flows, etc. To this list I would also add any techniques like lengthening, pulsing, twisting – generally anything you would do along pathways, with soft tissues, or joints.

The short answer is: at this point in the process, don’t focus on any of that stuff!

If we break it down a little more, you will want to go through all of these techniques, and more. But here’s the thing: there’s a tradeoff between a specific focus, like your breath, and the overall container that you create by “holding” the posture.

It’s always felt like two different volume knobs. If you turn up the volume on your breathing, at a certain point, you’ll drown out your sensitivity to other things. On the other hand, if you get just the right volume on the breath, you’ll find a harmony with the mind and your feel for the whole posture.

When you do practice a specific neigong element like breathing or lengthening or pulsing, work it for a few minutes, then stop. And feel. And see if what you’ve set up is primed to go on its own and, with minimal effort, integrate with the whole.

Techniques for Closing the Practice

Another student asked about methods for closing the practice.

You referred to ‘gathering’ . Can you describe that? Is that just maintaining the form at the end of a practice session and feeling the energy?

At the end of your practice session, especially if you’ve done a “form” like a downward scan, you want to reserve at least a minute or two (sometimes 5 or 10) to just let the inside of your body and your energy go quiet.

There are specific techniques for storing chi in the lower tantien, and we’ll get to those later, but at the very least, you want to create a layer of quiet between the activity of your practice and whatever you go about doing once you finish the practice.

The best part of adding this buffer in at the end: you begin to recognize stillness at other times during the “active” phase of your standing session. This is the key to really good dissolving.

Your Questions and Next Steps

Hopefully you found these questions helpful. Was there anything else you were wondering about during your standing practice?

If so, drop me a line here and I do my best to answer.

If you missed this first workout on the Crown of the Head and want to get started with the standing series, you can download it directly here.

Ready for the next audio? Download it here.

Also, check back with this page where I will be adding a new workout each week. I recommend you do them in order if you decide to take on the dissolving process as part of your practice.

More Energy in the Next 30 Days…

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Comments

  1. Joe Pitipong Lin says:

    Dan, when I associate these three sentences, does it mean that the objective is to release the energy at the Bai Hui point at the beginning of the Gates practice at the Crown of the Head?

    “If you rest your mind in one area of the body and hold that area in your awareness with the intent to let go (paradox!), then naturally the energy that’s binding it will begin to release. ”
    /and/
    “Starting at the Crown of the Head”
    /and/
    “1. Bai hui, or the crown of the head.”

  2. That’s right, Joe. When we’re working the gates, we always want to start at the crown (until the very end, but that comes later) and do a combination of settling in there and clearing that area. Each subsequent workout starts by checking in at the gates we focused on previously, so it’s always a crown-down process.