Embrace the Cold to Feel Your Chi

Winter tree in the mountainsIt’s been such a cold winter in the Northeastern US this year, that even Niagara Falls has frozen over.

Every night, students come in to class shivering, that is, once they’ve resolved to venture out in the cold and the dark. And many haven’t even been up for that.

Today I want to tell you about an important practice lesson you can learn from all this cold. You will develop a better feel for the chi of your etheric body and stay warmer in the process.

Normally, when you step out into frigid temperatures, your reaction is to tense up, contract your body, and shiver to keep warm.

You should do the opposite.

Here is a short qigong practice you can use to relax, warm-up, and even improve your sensitivity to the energy that runs your physical body.

Embrace the Cold

  1. Stand, with your arms by your sides, legs relaxed and weight balanced through the feet.
  2. Feel the cold air around you and how it’s making contact with your body, through all your layers of clothing.
  3. Notice any reaction to contract or withdraw.
  4. Gently, from the outer edges of the body, expand to meet the cold, reversing the tendency to tense up.
  5. Focus on the contact between your body and the cold air around you.
  6. With time, expand the mind into the space around the body, feeling out into the cold, as if you were sensing for temperature.

Now, when we tell people to extend their minds beyond their bodies, that can often seem strange, esoteric, or even impossible, but we do this naturally.

Have you ever felt someone walk up behind you? Can you feel the heat without touching the fire? I hope so!

Learning to sense the chi in your etheric field requires the same kind of sensory activation that you use for many mundane activities. When you embrace this winter’s cold, you have another great opportunity to enhance your senses and expand your awareness of chi.

More Energy in the Next 30 Days…

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  1. Question on this, Dan – have you tried doing this for long periods of time and if so, have you seen a change in your metabolism? I’ve heard about this sort of thing being done by Buddhist monks in Tibet and I’ve always wondered how this might effect your energy level. My assumption is that extending your energy to provide warmth would burn more fuel (food), but I’d love to know more.

  2. James, I haven’t. I’ve read similar things and this is one site that explores the issue: http://hypothermics.com/home/ Check out the TED talk in the sidebar. Interesting topic. Maybe I’ll work on it more next winter. πŸ˜‰

  3. I just wanted to write that the recent posts about dissolving/ vs sinking, practice-recipe/adjustment, (and what you call Form vs Feel), have been neat- I espec found the slideshow about skill-acquisition (by Hubert Dreyfus) great [but I couldn’t comment there, so I did here :)]
    I just wanted to comment about above, as I used to work along these lines a bunch (even had a hypothermic ‘experience- unrelated, but interesting physio reference-pts, how wet-cold, fog with a “wind-chill” soaked, and tired, is much more debilitating than icy-cold.. of course, it isn’t nearly as cold around here as “frozen Niagra Falls” gee) – anyway, when I was in gradeschool I first read about the Tibetan tales, so it percolated in back of mind.. and I find interesting how in our Common-Sense understandings it is so often brought up about metabolism (as if Yogi’s living in caves have access to “as much food” as we in a city do, let alone “a lot more” as the model is more “metabolism-heat” produced from more fuel- so they eat “more” calories than we would? vs bowl or two meals a day…
    just a though for reference- even if only in contrast..

    Whether in chi work (dissolving or circulating as two extremes- and a third being quiescent-stillness… just as Sitting/standing still vs a moving practice should be kept distinct, they do transition -and inform- each other… likewise as Bruce mentions the different NeiGung sets, and TaiChiChuan and BaguaZhang should all keep their distinctive Flavors.. and yet there is a crossover connection: which allows for comparison-contrasting (over time).

    I think the key is to not try and Figure it out, but rather be exposed to a bunch of exper-data-pts.. and encounter the mass of them (as a whole) and let the Con of you sort of arise what it sees. (sort of like seeing a shape in the clouds, or those random-dot stereogram pictures), and each new observation Seen= a realization, when once integrated, affects .. which (once stabilized) can produce a new Seeing)… The key is to be in the state of unknowing (from the Hubert Dreyfus (re Skill-Acquisition): “To become competent, you must feel bad.” … which brings to mind for me the Concept of being able to Hold In Mind- two, mutually exclusive concepts, simulatneously for a period of time.. and that underlying tension/ literally cognitive-dissonance, will resolve itself (and to do so without: spacing out, or representing that dynamic by a label, nor locking it down). the longer it is allow to flex on its own, the parts reveal a new whole.)

    in short- that method (can) “reveal” in NeiGung (whether during a “doing” or during a “stillness” -both of which are in all practices) That “Ughnghh” undefinable is (sinking or Downward dissolving (different) changes to Either: dissolving (which goes outward inward); but also twist/turn or spiral.. or circ etc.. they are all like you just do it, the same way one “moves a finger” -how do you Move the left middle finger? (a valid question if someone is injured and having difficulty with that coord- its not just a non sequitur-gimme… but one can either do it a bit, or not (once you can- you can develop more familiarity, more complexity, more skill&strength, etc.).. but if can’t then- you try and do what you can to “brush up against it” and then stabilize some contact..

    I don’t know if that might make sense to any (but in case: my concept- 3 stages- not sure, grasping in dark (thus linking up to what is known, feel on the edge a bit further, etc.), then sort of maybe- I’m not sure… and then ok there is “that”… (which stage at depends on how clearly one is doing whatever)..
    last in terms of above about applications of Tumo Ideas, my thought (each their own) is that I avoid the temptation to see some practices that seem related and just lump them.. (ie if operating in Neigung via Hsin/heart-mind with “Chi” one is operating in a bit different than ‘chi-gung’ think-effort-do… vs Shengung.. and all of these I think are different from what seems to be a physiological mitochondrial elicitation (as an example, I’d recommend the talks-and Demonstrations by Wim Hof.. did a TED talk (where the “presenter” seemed a bit more motivated to make it a show, rather than his demo of what humans can do) but other demos- and he co-wrote a book (with another that learned his “non-dogma” approach, that seems less like Tibetan-Tumo (psychic-heat), and actually (in my learnings) to be like Indonesian Tenaga Dalum (see “Becoming the Iceman- pushing past perceived limits”, pub 2011)

    I hope this message isn’t way to long, or off topic (just saw Rise: 300 this evening, and then online read these posts, and it seemed to connect and inspire πŸ™‚

    *my two sense (cents) on adding to the above 6 steps- is the key of watching the Awareness (not the forcing-pushing energy, although the “thing” mentioned is like the pilot-light behind which-shines through that (as that forcing-pushing sense of “awake” is more a result of organ-E-flow, while the Con that underlies is that which either: swells up (feels larger/fuller and more present , or that can (rather than be larger/fuller) it can dim and drift back (retreating away
    its that more primary source which can increase and back-away a bit, and yet not be really noticable from within “normal-con-awareness” (as the awareness dims along with its sense of where it is dim or not- if that isn’t too convoluted).
    Sensing when in contact with DisComfort (in above ex by Dan- cold.. but also the “unknown” repressed- gunk parts of Energy, or stuck in a loop/not want to complete a pattern and thus it is a blockage.. in other words “don’t go there” for whatever reason)- when contact that, how does that deeper Con react (which happens prior to, as well as underlying, our slow-ponderous reaction/programs…. (that part if is starts to dim and turn off from a discomfort, like cold, ends up not Adapting to it… vs if you encounter that discomfort (cold) and from that first encounter-contact that con not only doesn’t dim- but enhances/expands.. and further shines upon it. (all of which is observed and perhaps recognized, but if that is “done” purposefully, that is like using your toes to “move your finger”.. the finger moves on its own- the right “tool” used by the right “person” for the job (ie part of mind-con).

    (that sense of subtle-delicate “crystal matrix” ie gentle and not shatter it, over time that indefinable whiff, becomes more stable and solid and more resilient, like stacking up thin-“onion” tracing paper.. sheet by sheet, hardly makes a pile.. but eventually a slight thickness.. then longer is thick (at that point the dyn-flips: if take-off, ie “use” a few sheets, one hardly notices)
    Anyway, I hope that might contrib some thing on these topcs (not boiled down- so a bit long, vs the succinct posts by Mr. K)
    another ref is that works by Jack Schwarz (who discovered he could encounter and adapt to physiological “discomfort” also.. and then he tried to “interpret” what he did (thus he ties in to the “topics of the day” saying its like XYZ.. and yet I read that was an attempt to bridge, as what he did was (move the finger)- he didn’t use cold, as much, more skewer shoved through & rapid healing- etc.
    (book I read way back was: Voluntary Controls: Exercises for Creative Meditation and for Activating the Potential of the Chakras (I wouldn’t read it as literal- “recog those terms” etc. as his use-model…
    not sure about the other titles, although having read talks/articles he did over time.

    -also if one find the Tenaga Dalum: the vibrating from either: A) the most-closed: (HE?) via the moment reaching exhaled, just as one is beginning to inhale (so feeling that change-over vs that extension held)… or B) the most expanded (KAI?) via the moment reaching inhaled, just as turning over to ex…. two different feels of one force- seeing through the common one can sense a “current” which is both beyond both, and is neither, yet underlies (contacted via evoked by teacher- ie transmission)… just as a reference comparison.

    tried to give a few examples in case relavant or find a way to relate (if this needs to be edited down)
    luck to all in practicing

  4. Just a quick(er) comment: I think both the cold-practices, let alone other ChiGung concepts, might be seen in the context of Bruce’s comment that most (I read nearly all) “Taoist” practices out there are Fire Method (which is also “neo-taoist”), vs Water Method (older/original? taoist)…
    so if that is the way that Taoist practices are (which Tao-trad seemed to makes those a polarity and thus explicit concepts).. how much more so are other practices? (ie nearly all seems to be a Fire Method approach?)

    Further I’d say that most are Seen-Through a perspective/interpretation of a “fire-method” Post-modern viewpt of a “fire-method” modern practice
    a fuzzy viewpt of a “water-method” pre-modern practice

    ie practice not only in terms of the underlying logic of the world-view that structures that practice, but also how to make sense of it- so not only the concept of doing it, but even how we (re)-interp it.
    -let alone the difference in how one-“gets it” when:
    I) first approaching an aspect (as an introductory fumbling all the way up to being certain what one is doing- not skill or mastery, just solid, ah this is what I mean to do..); then once a solid sense of do or not:
    II)developing stability (vs that butterfly on it-lost it), which can develop to the separate (and after that- to a sense of combo)
    just to throw in those two pts (I vs II) within the above Fire-water practice, in addition to the interpretation seen through, could help reveal how the lens can distort (not to be something to try and figure out- just a sense of 3 or 4 different “areas of affect” which float attention on, and allow what arise to reveal itself.

  5. Thanks for the link, Dan! This is something I’ve been wondering about for a long time. I’ve put a lot of effort into changing my diet and fitness patterns, in the last year. While this was going on, I moved to Colorado where I’m at 8,500 ft. and the weather is much different than what I’ve been used to. I’ve always thought that there has to be some physics that needs to be accounted for, in terms of thermodynamics, so it’s interesting to take a look at what Science has to say on the subject.