The Recipe for Rewarding Practice

Mixing all the elements of a good qigong practice.“Is it better to structure your practice to stay with one energy gate, such as the crown, until you feel some dissolving happening there, or should you just keep moving through the gates week by week moving onto another gate?”

Excellent questions like this one keep pouring in. Thank you for sharing your practice experiences with me. I know other folks who read the blog really appreciate it too.

I love hearing from you guys, especially when your questions are grounded in exploration, practice and thoughtful reflection.

Check this next one out too. I don’t think I’ve ever articulated the process of sinking chi as clearly:

“I’m basically aiming to keep my attention on each section of my body as I go down until I feel it has gone sung and has the sense that’s its as relaxed as I’m capable of – as well as the sensation that it has filled with qi (like the sponge analogy). Then I try to feel the leading edge of that fullness until it seeps down to the next section. Does this sound like I’m sinking or dissolving? Or am I somewhere in between perhaps?”

Do you see the common thread in both of these questions? Both of these questions are about “practice recipes.”

Practice Recipes for Skill Acquisition

I’ve been reading about learning models a little more lately and I wanted to share the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition with you. If you have the time, these slides give a great overview.

Dreyfus Model Of Skills Acquisition from cynthia joffrion

The big takeaway is that any time you are building a new skill, it helps to block everything else out and use a set of context-free rules to hone the skill….or in other words, follow a recipe!

Did you notice that experts fall back on rules, recipes, and analysis when things get too complex too?

Practice recipes help you separate signal from noise, what’s important from what’s irrelevant.

If you look at the five stages in this model, you’ll notice that at a certain point rules are replaced by patterns, then by decisions and intuition. As skills become ingrained, we subconsciously integrate more information than could possibly be explained and reduced to binary rules.

Practice Recipes in Standing Qigong

To apply this model to our standing practice, we need to adopt a novice mindset every time we practice a new way of standing.

Start out by asking yourself, “if I want to build this skill, what rules should I follow?” Practicing this way will give you focus and freedom: you won’t worry about a million different things and you’ll be able to give your energy over to one or two simple tasks.
So if we return to the initial question and think about recipes, what do you notice?

Is it better to structure your practice to stay with one energy gate, such as the crown, until you feel some dissolving happening there, or should you just keep moving through the gates week by week moving onto another gate?

This question is equivalent to saying, “I like my bread a little crispier and browner, I think I’m going to leave it in the over for a few more minutes.” The recipe says 25 minutes, but you’re making a choice to leave it in for 30. And that’s fine!
The person who asked this question is right on the edge of following the recipe to the letter and exploring, improvising and practicing “to taste.” I’ve worked with a lot of people who don’t play this edge enough. Either they lock themselves rigidly into a form or always go by feel. I don’t think either of those is a good choice.
Instead, you should run through the recipe many times, to really understand the steps and start to see the potential for variation, like “I could stay at this gate longer and feel more going on.” Then, when you’ve found a place to go deeper, break away from the recipe and really explore.
In this case, any of gate, if it’s a really productive area for you, could be a 2-week, 3-week, or month-long project.
In the Standing Dissolving Series, I’m giving you weekly recipes to follow and taking you through a whole process, which you could also look at as one 6-month-long recipe to follow.
My recommendation in this case is to follow the recipe until you feel confident and comfortable without it.

Deeply Ingrained Recipes

Re-read the second question:

I’m basically aiming to keep my attention on each section of my body as I go down until I feel it has gone sung and has the sense that’s its as relaxed as I’m capable of – as well as the sensation that it has filled with qi (like the sponge analogy). Then I try to feel the leading edge of that fullness until it seeps down to the next section. Does this sound like I’m sinking or dissolving? Or am I somewhere in between perhaps?

In addition to being a great description of sinking chi, I want you to notice that it’s also an interesting blend of a clearly structured recipe, but also something that’s done completely by feel.

When you get to this stage with a particular skill, where you’re feeling your way through it in a consistent pattern instead of thinking it through like a list of instructions, you’re ready to layer new skills on top of it.

In this case, instead of following the leading edge and the seeping sensation, you tune in more to the energy “behind” the area that’s releasing, without leaving that area. Hanging out here, with a listening attitude, sensing what unfolds next, will lead you into dissolving.

Do you have a Standing Qigong practice question? Ask me here.

More Energy in the Next 30 Days…

Take our free, email-based course and you will have more energy in the next 30 days than you’ve had in the last year.

How the course works:

We’ll take an in-depth look at moving your body, your energy, and your mind, all with the goal of smoothing out your nervous system and boosting your energy levels.

Throughout the month, you’ll receive these 8 lessons via email:

  1. How to Break through the Daily Noise
  2. How to Connect to a Natural Power Source
  3. How to Structure Your Practice
  4. Refining Your Standing Practice to Boost Your Chi
  5. How to Weave Together Tai Chi’s 3 Branches
  6. Take Tai Chi out into the World
  7. Finding Flow by Feel
  8. Boost Your Practice, Week after Week

These emails include audio practice downloads, tutorials, essays, and practice tips designed to get you deeper into the Energy Arts and expand your awareness of what’s possible with a personal movement practice.

Sign up and enjoy!

Related posts: