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Page 3 - Qigong FAQ
Here are five of the most common methods used to help enter such a state:
Fixing the Mind: Here the mind concentrates on a point on the body, most commonly the "Dantian". When concentrating the practitioner must rid one's mind of all extraneous thoughts, though not over-concentrating, remaining relaxed and natural, keeping one's thoughts at the point, yet not stuck there. Following the Breath: Here one concentrates on the breath, essentially on the undulation of abdominal breathing, making sure that conscious control of the breathing is avoided. One practices until they reach a quiet state where breath and mind are united. Counting the Breath: One inhalation and one exhalation form one breath. Silently count each breath until it reaches ten, then from ten to one hundred until your ears hear nothing, your eyes see nothing and there are no extraneous thoughts in your mind. Silent Reciting: Words or phrases recited in the mind (not aloud) should be simple so as to help the practitioner enter a quiet state. One can, for instance, recite the words "relax" and "quiet," which have proved to be of great help to many people in calming the mind. Listening to the Breath: Use your ears to actually listen to your respiration. It is best to reach the stage at which one cannot actually hear one's breathing, and so by attempting and concentrating to hear when one cannot, it aids the process of entering a quiet state.
To begin with, the practitioner may practice fixing the mind, then gradually turn to following the breath and listening to the breath; or may choose to stay with fixing the mind from beginning to end.
Breathing (regulating the breath)
Regulation of the breathing has proved to be an important aspect in Qigong therapy. One aims, through practice, to change from breathing in the chest to abdominal breathing, thus developing one's respiration from the shallow to the deep. This deepening of the breathing has the effect of expanding lung capacity, promoting circulation of oxygen in the blood, massaging the internal abdominal organs, and helping digestion and assimilation of food. Styles emphasizing the practice of breathing usually distinguish four major types or methods:
Natural Breathing:This is one's innate way of respiration, normal to everyone, without any interference or control by the mind. Although it may well be soft and even, it has the disadvantage of not being very deep. Complementary Breathing: In this form one expands the abdomen outwards as one inhales and contracts it as one exhales. As the movement of the abdomen develops, one gradually achieves abdominal breathing. Reversed Breathing: This is the opposite of complementary breathing. As one inhales the abdomen is contracted, and as one exhales it is expanded. This method gives greater scope and intensity to the use of muscles in breathing. Stopping the Breathing: Here, during or after inhalation or exhalation the practitioner stops the passage of air for a short while and then continues. This method helps focus the mind on the action of the control of breath.
Other than those mentioned above there are certain special breathing methods which should only be used in accordance with certain illnesses. No matter which method is used, however, one must be sure to develop it slowly and gradually by degrees, without forcing it or striving for quick results.
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