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Qigong for Weight Loss I
Before commencing this or any other weight loss program consult with your appropriate healthcare providers. If any procedures in this article cause mental or physical discomfort stop doing them and see your doctor.
Rather than changing external behavior, this is an invitation to change who and what you are. You no longer need be addicted to overeating and physical laziness.
The technique herein offered is a fusion of Chinese Daoist (Taoist) and Qigong like-meditations with Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung's concepts of the unconscious. Academic purists may hate it, and call it no more than a simplistic reduction; but the author has personally used it and taught it and seen that it can work: it is possible to create a new more healthy you by assimilating the energy patterns of the slender person who is already in you.
Today there is an overweight/obesity epidemic in the western world. In the 2007 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 63% of Americans are said to be overweight, and 26% as obese. These figures are shocking.
Eating too much and not enough physical activity seem to be the cause for this. Diets and exercises are prescribed (or diet pills, or stomach surgery)however for most people this does not work.
The ancient and modern science and art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seeks out and tries to correct the underlying basis of an illness, rather than just an attempt to eliminate symptoms.
Eating disorders usually are the consequence of habitual thoughts, emotions, and behavior. This leads to an imbalance of Life Vitality Energy (Qi or Chi) which in a feedback pattern returns to create even more improper thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
As a baby, our needed love and security are to be found in the mother's breast (or its bottled substitutes). The problem is that for any baby there always comes a time when food is denied and therefore its attendant feelings of love and security.
We grow up, but for many of us food continues to equal the love and security that we so deeply desire, and so we overeat.
Eating too much does not grant love and security. The already unbalanced qi flow in the body and mind of the person is made worse. The pattern of emotional painovereatingmore emotional painmore overeating seems uncontrollable. However qigong can aid in correcting this situation.
Wen-chang, Taoist God of Learning, Literature, and (as Zhang Ya Zi) Transformations.
Qi is universal energy. It is the essence of life.
As electricity flows through a television causing pictures on a screen, Qi flows through our bodies and brains causing the sensations of conscious awareness and the images of our thoughts. In English it is sometimes written as "chi" or "ch'i."
Gong means accomplishment, as in "the achievement of skill through diligent hard work over time." Occasionally in English it is written as "Kung."
Qigong is "life vitality cultivation." It works with mind, breath, visualizations, and physical positions and movements. Those who practice it learn to live in the present momentand not stress about things in the past, or possible situations in the future which may cause mindless overeating. Qigong also aids in toning and sculpting the body and mind. Because you feel better you eat better and have the energy to move more vigorously. This article will focus on inner work rather than any of its external exercises.
The following meditation/visualization/contemplation begins with a somewhat simplified version of what is called the Microcosmic Orbit ("small heavenly circuit"). If you have your own methods of moving qi throughout the energy pathways of the body you may freely do that instead, then continue to the creation and absorption of the proper new slender you as described below.
Its visualization techniques are meant to delve deeply into the subconscious mind to effect change and are only proper for those with a healthy secure sense of personal identity. If you suffer or have suffered from mental illness do not practice this meditation by yourself. As with any advanced qigong, it is best to learn personally from a grandmaster (i.e., "a teacher of teachers").
Do these in order, mastering each step before moving to the next. If you have difficulty in actually perceiving the Qi in any of the steps then just use your imagination; in time that should make it happen.
1.Breathe abdominally. Fill the lower belly calmly and fully with air ("air" is also a basic definition of Qi.) A way to learn to do this correctly is on the exhalation gently press the navel back toward the spine.
2.Put your mental awareness (your intention and attention) on the breath/qi and store in the center of your lower abdomen, the area called the Dantien () The "Elixir Field" or Energy Storage Cauldron. Between inhalation and exhalation you may hold the breath and squeeze in the abdominal muscles to "compress" the Qi there.
3.With your inner eye perceive/see/imagine the "packed" Qi as a phosphorescent ball (in size between a golf and tennis ball).
4.With your Mental Intention-Attention (Yi in Chinese) practice spinning this Qi Ball to the right, then to the left.
5.Now with breath and mind move the Qi down to your perineum, the area between the anus and genitals called huiyin, the acupuncture point CV1. Between inhalation and exhalation "pack" the Qi there by squeezing in the muscles to as if you were holding back a bowel movement and urination. After you can sense the Qi there (usually as a electric-like tingling, or feeling of warm or hot heaviness) continue with the microcosmic orbit.
With your mind move the Qi from the perineum to the tip of the spine then up your back and down your front. The tip of the tongue should touch the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth to make a conduit for the flowing energy. It helps to very gently roll your eyes as you "follow" the movement and flow of the Qi. When beginning this practice, one or two complete orbit cycles per breath is suggested. More are possible after you have gained skill.
Signs that the orbiting is working are feelings of warmth or other sensations in the body, and especially, as the qi is flowing, a tingling at the tip of the tongue. Another good sign is increased quantities of saliva in the mouth; if that happens drink it down as liquid qi and send it into the dantien.
Mandatory Requirement: At the end of the meditation, by the use of your breath and focused mental intention and attention, guide and bring the orbiting qi into your navel and back into the dantien. The dantien is the basic storage battery for qi life energyIt is proper to finish any qigong meditation/visualizations by storing the qi energy in the dantien in the lower abdomen.
The Macrocosmic Orbit adds a Qi Flow through the arms and legs. As with the Microcosmic Orbit there are many variations. I use the technique of during the inhalation breathing qi into the tips of the fingers and toes and leading this qi into the "river" of energy running up the back and down the front. On the exhalation I allow any qi which may be stagnant, or excessive, to drain out from the balls of the feet, and perhaps to a lesser amount from my hands. As always, end with storing qi in the dantien.
Nuwa and Fuxi, an ancient painting discovered in Xinjiang
According to legend the earth was swept by a great flood (circa 3000 BCE). Only Fuxi and his sister Nuwa survived. Like Adam and Eve, they began procreating the human race. That they seem to be hermaphroditic--therefore a manifestation of joined yin yang--and that the intertwined serpents or dragons appear to relate to primordial creative energy--what the Hindus called "Kundalini," and the chinese called "Jing Qi"--is pertinent to this article.
The Creation of the Slender You
"The Chinese alchemist begins from the point of energetics and used guided visualization and physical techniques to effectuate the fusion of the energies. The fused energies are then purified, transformed and projected to create an energy body or energy double." Katchmer, pg. 92.
The body is activated by the interplay of two psychic structures: first, hun, which because it belongs to the yang principle, I have translated as animusp'o which belongs to the yin principle, as anima." Carl Gustav Jung. "Secret of the Golden Flower", pg. 14.
Yang is archetypal Masculine energyas in father, sun, fire, phallic, aggressive, logical, left brain.
Yin is archetypal Feminine energyas in mother, moon, water, womb, receptive, intuitive, right brain. They are not separate entities: all yang contains yin, all yin contains yang. Every man has a hidden female alter-ego that Jung named "Anima." Every woman has a hidden male alter-ego Jung called "Animus."
The interaction of yang and yin (as in father and mother) gives birth to the child. By imagining the anima or animus within you, then externalizing, and returning she/he into you, it becomes possible to give birth to a new slender you.
Projection and Assimilation for Physical Realization of the Imaged Slender Self
See (imagine) sitting facing you, a healthy slender, full of youthful energy, beautiful/handsome you. A truly perfect you: all you would ever want and wish to bebut of the opposite sex. Feel their presence by fully imagining with your senses. Now run the microcosmic circling energy up their back and down their front. Then add the energy coming in the fingers and toes through the limbs and jointing the flowing inner-river of qi. Imagine/see/perceive them radiating qi from their entire body. See their radiance increase. Picture their energy pathways aglow. Their radiance is almost blinding. Then go to this image, hold and turn them so their back is to you and bring them, squeeze them, into your body. As they enter you their sex changes to your sex. (They were in so many ways the true you anyway.) All the glowing radiating energy pathways in their body have now become yours.
After you have drawn in your projected perfect-self, do another short micro-then macrocosmic orbit in your body to cement in their energy circuits. As always, finish by cycling qi into your navel into the dantien, the storage cauldron in the center of your lower abdomen.
Daphnis and Chloe (1827), Jean-Pierre Cortot. Louvre
Present day media improperly and potentially dangerously offers too thin models or actors, or professional athletes as goal models. Here Daphnis and Chloe, and David are offered as artistic examples of a perfect weight; something to strive for in theory.
In a second century C.E. Greek story, as infants they are found by shepherds, and grow up secretly in love with each other. After adventures they are happily married. In the sculpture their bodies seem to represent an anima/animus perfection.
Repeat this meditation as needed.
The slender anima (female soul in the male) or animus (male soul in the female) now exists inside you buried under your excess weight. Like a butterfly crawling out of a chrysalis spun by its former caterpillar self, she/he willif allowedgrant you the power to almost automatically become slender in time.
Of course they eat properly and are constantly moving; that is why they are slender. And that is why you (if you allow it) will do the same as they do: thereby becoming slender and more healthy(and even gain an introduction to esoteric spiritual work).
Personal Comments by the Author: My anima alter-ego does things I like to describe with words my parents used: "Such a finicky eater." "Just picks at their food." "Eats like a bird." "Never finishes what's on their plate." And "Always running around. Never gives it a rest." Every time I am around foodshopping, at a restaurant, cooking, or eatingI feel her presence in me automatically guiding me to do the right thing.
She loves to do body movement qigong and exerciseand so do I. And we both love to walk. I try to do that at least a half hour a day.
She seems immune to hunger and being physically tiredno wonder I am glad I have found her and that she is me.
About Food and Qi.
Everyone's needs are different. However most often, a proper diet should be 80% yin and 20% yang. Lightly cooked vegetables, and fruits offer the best yin. Whole grains (rice, oats, barley) are harmoniously balanced. Fish, and in moderation: low-fat meat and dairy, nuts and vegetable oils have proper yang. You need some fat in your diet: wild fresh salmon, and small amounts of walnuts are excellent sources.
For men tomatoes, which are strongly yin, are recommended as an aid to counterbalance intense yang of possible future prostate problems. For women small amounts of flax oil (supplements and pills) seem to help counterbalance intense yin problems that may lead to breast cancer.
In an attempt to establish a qi balance, food that is too yin or too yang demands its opposite. Therefore the urge for a sugary dessert after a steak dinner. Overly processed carbohydrates (white sugar, white bread, pastries) have "bad" yin; animal fat in meat and dairy products has "bad" yang. If we do not get the qi we need, we are forced into eating too much and become overweight or obese.
Food that is naturally or better yet organically raised or grown and that you prepare is best.
Generally speaking anything that is highly processed that comes in brightly colored boxes or cans (and with additives) should, if practical, be avoided. However, frozen vegetables many say are good.
The qi of a food shows in its appearance: the brighter and deeper the natural color of vegetables or fruit means that it is betterfor example, dark leafy spinach or broccoli is better than pale colored lettuce. Blueberries are especially good. All colors apply here; for white try bananas, onion, garlic.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that lightly cooked vegetables are much better than raw vegetables; that hot foods and drinks are better than warm; and that most anything cold is bad. You should never have ice in your drinks.
For those on restricted intake of food (such as vegans, or low calorie dieters) it is strongly recommended to take a multivitamin - multimineral supplementthe "One a Day" type. It is especially important to get sufficient vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. But once again it is best consult a professional nutritionist who if possible is familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) is often used by health professionals to judge what is an individual's proper weight.
Your BMI may be calculated for free on the WWW. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute site is http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
The U.S. Government site is http://www.consumer.gov/weightloss/bmi.htm
An excellent site is http://web4health.info/en/answers/ed-dia-weight-bmi-calc.htm
If you suffer or may suffer from anorexia or bulimia see a doctor immediately. If friends, co-workers, family members tell you that you are already too thin pay attention to what they say! The above web4health site may offer needed answers in such situations.
Trying to have the body of a model, movie star, or athlete is counter productive for most of us. Never-the-less, the healthiest, longest living, most energetic, most beautiful people are usually not overweight or obese. Achieving and maintaining the proper weight for wellbeing is a very honorable goal. Over time, through qigong, it may be accomplished.
After knowing what healthy medically approved weight target is for you, move toward it at about a pound loss per week. (See the sidebar: Body Mass Index).
Eat slowly, thoughtfully. Eating quickly and mindlessly is inappropriate.
It is highly important that you do body movements such as exercise, yoga, taijiquan (tai chi), and my favorite, qigong. But always be mindful of your internal qi-energy flow as you do them.
Unconfirmed experimental techniques: If you are hell-bent on taking off the pounds, instead of eating when feeling hungry, just breathe air/qi into your stomach, then squeeze in your abdominal muscles, and hold it as long as you can. Another technique is to take an amulet that emanates qi (a Daoist one would probably be best) and store it next to a covered jug of water. Instead of eating for your qi, just sip some of that! I have not personally had any beneficial results from these methods, but never-the-less they were told me by two deeply respected teachers of mine.
John Voigt is currently writing a book on Asian Spiritual Weight Loss. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mantak Chia. Awaken Healing Energy Through Tao. Aurora.
Alex Gray. Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art. Inner Traditions.
George A. Katchmer. The Tao of Bioenergetics. YMAA.
Lu K'uan Y. Taoist Yoga. Weiser.
Master Shou-Yu Liang & Wen-Ching Wu. Qigong Empowerment. Way of the Dragon.
Nan Lu. Traditional Chinese medicine. Quill.
Wikipedia website was consulted for the following subjects or images: Body Mass Index. Daphnis and Chloe. Fuxi. Alex Gray. Carl Jung. Microcosmic orbit. Taoist alchemy. Wen-Chang, and Yin Yang.
Michelangelo's David at http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/1264661/
As a possible aid in imagining how a resonating anima/animus might appear look at the art of Alex Gray. I suggest "Adi Da Samraj," "Alex," "Holy Fire," "Namaste," and "Psychic Energy System." All are on the WWW.
©Reprinted from Qi Journal, Spring 2009
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