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Meditation

Meditation is many things to many people. The form of meditation described here is a very specific, restricted form of the art. In contrast with many meditative forms, this chapter focusses on easy seated and lying postures, with the accent on mental rather than on physical states. Although not strictly a form of QiGong, meditation is, in many respects, an integral part of the skills involved in QiGong. As QiGong itself can be divided into static forms such as Horse Stance, and active forms such as ShiBaShi or TaiJi, it is possible to view QiGong as a form of meditation. This is, of course, a simplification, but not completely incorrect. Due to this similarity, there are two direct results from practising both QiGong and meditation. The first is that meditation - or the achievement of a meditative state - becomes easier than it would be without concurrent practise of QiGong, and the second is that meditation has a positive or reinforcing influence on the practise of QiGong. There are many forms of meditation, as there are many forms of QiGong. This brief chapter on meditation only attempts to explore certain aspects of a basic form of meditation, with some variations. More complete treatments of meditation can easily be found in the more specific works dealing with this practise.

Goals of meditation
Amongst other possible benefits to be derived from the practise of meditation, some of the most common are : Reduction of stress and tension Concentrated rest and rejuvenation in a brief period Improvement of mental focus Accelerated healing Pure enjoyment and relaxation

Music
It is possible to use music during a meditation session, and if well chosen and at an appropriate volume, music can enhance a session. As a general rule, avoid music with an obvious beat, and for most people singing is a detracting aspect and should be avoided as well. For the beginner, it is recommended to stay with solo instruments (guitar, piano or flute would be good choices whereas strident instruments such as brass or the violin should mostly be avoided) and select music from the baroque or early classical period - sonatas by Bach, Mozart or Scarlatti or restful works by Debussy or Satie should work well. With practice (and experience with meditation to music) it is possible to use more -1-

complicated works. obviously you will have to breath through the mouth. to a total lack of concentration on the breathing process (generally a more advanced technique). as well as being very regular. shallow breathing is not recommended . which is quite important to QiGong practice in general.the chest should be completely still. nasal breathing should be commenced in place of breathing through the mouth as soon as possible. Note that if nasal congestion is due to inflamation of the membranes in the nostrils. breathing forms the absolute focus of the session. Breaths are extremely deep and slow. this inflamation will quite often subside shortly after commencement of meditation . Deep breathing At the extreme. Shallow breathing For most practitioners.should this happen to a sufficient degree. If at all possible.loud music will reduce the value of your session almost regardless of skill.it renders meditation -2- . Depending on level of skill and capability. volume levels should not be raised too high . Breathing There are many possible approaches to breathing in meditation. This form of exercise is not only healthy. it is very important (as for all QiGong forms) that you breath abdominally. These range from breathingcentric meditation. and the abdomen should expand and contract with in and out breath .after setting up a breathing pattern in the initial stages of meditation this should continue automatically during the entire session without specific focus. it should not be necessary to focus on the breathing process . in which focus on very deep breathing forms the heart of the meditative process. Regardless of experience. but also a good method for improving breathing technique. Especially in the early stages. Intermediate breathing For most purposes and at most skill levels. ranging through to relatively challenging works such as the Brahms symphonies . breath through the nose. but try to judge the results objectively and eliminate pieces that don’t enhance your meditation. quite slow. Whichever breathing technique you select. breathing may be as slow as one complete breath (in and out) per minute. If this is absolutely impossible. probably around 4 to 6 breaths per minute. but this is decidedly less advantageous and should only be used when the nose is too blocked for breathing to be comfortable. the best breathing technique is a mediumdepth breath.experiment by all means. use subdued volume levels. The diaphragm must expand downward. High sound levels will almost certainly detract from the results of your session unless you have acquired familiarity with this form of environment during meditation. When performing intermediate breathing during meditation.

Place the tip of the tongue against the back of the bottom teeth. but for most practitioners I would advise the following : Separate the teeth very slightly (approximately enough so that only the very tip of the tongue can fit partially between the teeth). Bearing that in mind. Relax the jaw and tongue into this posture so that it becomes not only comfortable and unstressed but completely effortless. this phase may be obviated either due to choice or lack of time. You should choose a time which allows you to take an uninterrupted time of at least 10 minutes. and depending on the goals. the structure of a meditative session can be divided into : 1.take this opportunity whenever available.more difficult in most cases. Become accustomed to one placement to the point where it is completely intuitive and natural. 2. You may find that on weekends you have the option of meditating on Saturday or Sunday morning for 20 minutes . Deepening Having arrived at an initial meditative state. Mouth and tongue arrangement There are several variations on jaw and tongue placement. The Meditative Process Again. or late at night before going to bed. or against the tip of the bottom teeth (depending on which feels more natural). If you have attained a level of skill which you feel convinced is adequate to perform shallow-breath meditation. late afternoon after returning from work. Time for Meditation There isn’t really a specific time to practise. a cycle of re-focussing and successively deepening relaxation lead to an initial meditative state. and complicates energy control and attainment of good energy levels. or a time of day which is better than any other. or initial relaxation of the muscles to arrive at a comfortable. Relaxation In this phase. experience and state of mind of the practitioner. Commencement Any one of several techniques can be used to arrive at primary relaxation. or an inappropriate environment. or due to insufficient focus or skills. 3. Whichever jaw and tongue arrangement you choose (and I would strongly suggest that you follow the method above) you should stabilize on one arrangement no matter what meditation posture you are using. Fold the tongue upwards so that the entire central portion of the tongue rests against the upper palate. relatively de-stressed state. -3- . you may attempt this but be sure to objectively assess your results and revert to intermediate breathing if your sessions are compromised as a result. it is important to note that this chapter only discusses one fundamental technique or type of meditation. preferably a little more. Possible times could be early morning.

to a prolonged feeling of calm euphoria . that if you realize after some time that you are being less successful at attaining deep meditation. 4. be sure to use a chair which is not too upright you want to be resting in a semi-reclined (at least slightly reclined) position so that your back is well supported. leading to a deeply relaxed state of mind with lessened sensory input from the environment. 1. do the best you can with the options available. two basic alternatives of which are described below. Either through inclination or selection. and experimentation will lead to the methods and variants you prefer. however. this period involves decoupling from the external world. The Steps in Detail Many variations on the following techniques are possible. under adverse circumstances even impractical postures may be dictated by physical surroundings. Termination On deciding to end the meditation session. this phase is of arbitrary duration (depending on time available. skill level and requirement) and could range from a minute or two to an hour or more. it has the advantage of being able to adjust to the most suitable angle. Meditation Whatever the level of meditation arrived at.extremely enjoyable and rewarding. After a successful session.if you find your neck to be tense or breathing strained with your head resting on the backrest your neck is too straight. Common sense will dictate whether a given posture not described below will be workable obviously. as required) to a normal awareness of the environment. Although a recliner is not mandatory.3. Posture There are several possible postures. The back of the chair must be long enough to support your head. the skills and the time allow. be sure to fall back to first principles and restore your confidence in the technique before trying simpler or altered techniques again. satisfaction and calm results which can persist for hours. Adjust with a cushion if extra padding is needed. if your neck feels inclined at all it is probably too inclined and should be straighter. Note. Where surroundings can be selected. a simple reduction of focus and a intent to surface leads quickly (or slowly. and your neck should be neither too straight nor too inclined . For some time a sensation of stiffness (not an unpleasant sensation) of the limbs may persist until they are moved. In these cases. -4- . the following basic postures are preferred. The dominant sensations during this time can range from comfortable relaxation through a sensation of stasis. most especially in terms of sense of touch but potentially also lessened auditory awareness. Seated Select a chair which is comfortable and either well padded or well contoured. a feeling of rejuvenation. Given that the environment. By contrast.

In both cases. If experience shows that you can successfully meditate in a reclined posture. provided the temptation to fall asleep is not too great.aim for a minimal inclination which allows comfortable breathing and a complete lack of tension in the neck. Commencement There are many possible variants in the commencement phase . your legs should be straight and fully supported but not touching (and most certainly not crossed over one another). Always remember to return to first principles if you find that a given new variant is not yielding an adequate result. select a chair with soft. The feet should be flat on the floor. it is a prerequisite to be seated or reclined comfortably. The seat of the chair should be long enough to support the thighs fully. 2. and if you select this posture by choice be sure that the armrests if any are wide enough that the elbows are not constrained. but the forefoot should comfortably and naturally rest on the floor without strain. the seat should exert no pressure at the back of the knee.the shoulders should be fully relaxed during meditation. the head and neck should be neither too straight nor too inclined . especially the head and neck. you should obviously be lying on your back. -5- .if seated. padded armrests at a height which allows your elbows to rest on the armrest without propping up your shoulders .a few are discussed below. and if reclined ensure that the arms and hands are stretched down so as to pull the shoulders downward. it is important that the shoulders be fully relaxed and unsupported . Whichever posture is chosen. In this position. the more experienced practitioner can experiment with variations. while the thighs are supported by the seat .at the same time. Reclined Lying down or using a reclining chair in deep recline with a footstool is a good posture. Some inclination at the ankle is fine. both on your abdomen. Alternatively. every part of the body fully supported.If you feel comfortable resting your hands in your lap (one alternative is to fold your palms and fingers over your thighs. As with a seated position. For each technique described below. ensuring full muscular relaxation. ensure that the shoulders are not propped up by arms resting on armrests. palm down. tips of the fingers of opposite hands close to one another) armrests are not necessary. and the feet should be comfortably splayed out. the angle of the ankles should not be too great. An initial and basic effort should be made to ensure that every limb is settled and that nothing will detract from the session. the basic options are : Arms beside you (but not touching your body) with the palms face down Hands placed over one another. without being so long that you cannot sit back completely and support the back from the thighs upward.

the sensation can be allowed to flow through the shoulders into the torso. lower leg. More advanced practitioners may be able to move successfully through hand centric initiation in as little as 30 seconds. wrists. legs and neck / head. muscles around mouth. if possible. upper arms. Starting with the feet. hands and fingers. Now feel the energized state and the vibration expand to include the forearm and. At higher skill levels. ankles. knees. This is not crucial to the technique. but always remember that meditating is not a race. -6- . Focus on the hands. shoulder into neck. As the energy increases. Stage 1 1.Note that although the techniques described below are graded for difficulty. the upper arm. imagine a slow but inexorable wave of relaxation flowing over the body. concentrate entirely on the wave of relaxation and the sensation of sinking into the support. but should probably take no more than a minute or two. skill level and exhaustion level. The total time taken should be at least a minute . and energizing the hands and forearms will be quite sufficient to initiate meditation. Take more time if necessary. 2. Hand centric This is a more advanced technique. hips. A common sequence would be feet.do not allow your thoughts to wander onto other issues. more advanced is not necessarily better. abdomen / lower back.spend around 10 seconds or so on each segment. forehead. whole head. In parallel with the wave of relaxation. a sensation of heaviness. and it should be possible to perform this technique no matter what your skill level. Wave of relaxation This is a very simple and extremely effective technique. can be coupled to provide a fuller sensation of relaxation. and feel a flow of energy into the hands and fingers.a basic control of energy flow is required for this technique to work successfully. chest / upper back. you may want to select a given (perhaps easier or slower) method as the most applicable for your session regardless of your level of experience. which should rapidly increase to a very palpable level. and should probably only be used by practitioners who are starting to make some progress with the QiGong form . mood. cheek muscles. with the section in question pressing against its support. Time taken will vary with circumstances. A sensation of separation from the support should now start forming. feel the hands grow and start vibrating. though. focus completely on the body segment being relaxed . muscles around the eyes. thighs. At each stage. and faster is not necessarily better. forearms. but do not rush through the primary relaxation as this is the basis for a good meditation session. shoulders. Depending on mood or state of exhaustion.

At this point. but you who are failing to achieve meditation. be sure to re-trace your steps in order to regain confidence and appreciation of meditation .time and further experience render the transition more frequent.you may want to try it again after another year or so of QiGong practice. Note that in order to achieve this transition.3. you may safely ignore it. and pause slightly to allow for concentrated focus. note that even advanced practitioners may take a wrong turn. experience with deep meditation and a good control of mental state can be utilized to sink right through primary meditation and enter a most rewarding meditative abstraction. Punctuated immersion A variation on the total immersion technique. There are several variants on this technique. as a deep familiarity with the stages leading to a meditative state is required before the mind can control this very rapid transition into meditation. the mind and body are merged and lowered into meditation in one swift movement. it is not meditation that is failing you. Total immersion This technique requires relatively advanced control of energy levels.probably several hundred or even a few thousand. In addition. at some point your level of skill should be adequate to perform the technique successfully. it will probably be necessary to perform the full transition into deep meditation completely unbroken within no more than 3 or 4 seconds.never forget that if meditation is not working for you. it should be noted that this technique probably requires having performed many successful meditation sessions . and will not be successful for all practitioners. If you try this technique and are not successful. After a few further seconds of mental preparation (almost like a preparatory pause). After settling into a posture . do not despair . If the technique is unsuitable to your tastes or does not work for you. punctuated or rhythmic immersion is a -7- . Finally.by the time you have reached this level of skill. At this point. If you note that your sessions are becoming less rewarding as a trend. and even very experienced practitioners may not be able to perform this total immersion at will . Hesitation at the intermediate stage will probably render deep immersion unlikely until a stabilization and re-focussing stage has been performed.careful focus. it is possible to continue through commencement straight into deep meditation . the advanced practitioner is already in a very shallow form of meditation after probably 10 to 30 seconds of preparation. which may be perceived as a flow or inrush of relaxation transiting from virtual consciousness into a moderate level of meditation within seconds. you will certainly be capable of inventing your own variations on the technique without further guidance. depending on level of skill and circumstances. Once again. the technique does not suite everyone. and different ways of approaching the visualization and energy flow . 4. quiet the mind first. Note that this is a very advanced technique.

the same principle as total immersion holds. with rhythmic immersion an intermediate-depth breathing pattern is required (or certainly recommended).most especially in the muscles surrounding the mouth and eyes . Punctuated immersion is considerably slower than total immersion. each synchronized with an out-breath. On the out-breath. but that to your surprise this leads to a further (if marginal) relaxation of the muscles around the mouth. The total transition should occur within 10 to 15 breaths. Similarly to total immersion. the result is achieved synchronously with the rhythm of breathing. Here. strive in each session you perform to be more aware of facial tension. and will limit your enjoyment of meditation and the achievement of deeper meditation Firstly. The untrained person will think that his facial muscles are completely relaxed when in actual fact the levels of tension around the mouth and eyes are almost completely prohibitive of meditation. a brief period of preparation is followed by the immersion technique. In this case. Work at relaxing the facial muscles by focussing on one group at a time. and prepare for the next immersion step.slightly easier method.are totally counterproductive in meditation. attempt to achieve a better level of relaxation while trying to be as aware as possible of the levels of tension in the facial muscles in general. and those around the mouth in particular. immersion is accomplished in a series of small steps. Attempt to relax the cheeks further. You may find at this point that not only can you relax your cheeks to a perceptible degree. however. Focussing on the mouth. Stage 2 Having successfully completed stage 1 you should first pause to improve the relaxation of facial muscles before continuing with the next phase (this probably won’t be necessary if an immersion technique has been performed . After a few sessions of meditation you will start becoming aware of the persistent tensions in the facial muscles. -8- . You should be able to achieve at least a degree of additional relaxation after completing stage 1. Once you feel that you have achieved as much relaxation of the mouth as you can. but instead of performing immersion in one sweeping movement. Again. a further step into meditation is taken across mind and entire body. but still quite a rapid transition to meditation. regardless of how relaxed you feel at commencement of the attempt. Clearly. These tensions . Each in-breath is used to secure the new meditative state.practitioners at that level of skill will know what is required). Start with the muscles around the mouth. focus on the muscles around the eyes. aim to achieve at least a perceptibly better level of relaxation than initially.

Previously. Starting in a fairly relaxed and comfortable state resulting from successful completion of the commencement phase. (Note that in the case of the total immersion technique. How do you know that you have arrived at a meditative state? There is no easy answer to this question. Cycle through the process at least once more. This phase of relaxation is achieved especially for the beginner . Most people without experience of meditation understand focus to be something which causes the brow to furrow in concentration .the envisioned relaxation. At this point it is probably worth discussing (very briefly) the common methodology proscribed to achieve meditation . Relaxation This is the true commencement of the meditative process.this is exactly the form of focus not meant here.your state of facial relaxation can only be as good as your ability to detect tension in these muscles. focus of a very calm nature is required . that the word ‘realizing’ in the previous sentence is used in the sense that you need to make this vision a reality through willing it to be. and if necessary several times in order to achieve as close as possible to a total relaxation of the face . In this phase. It is difficult to describe this phase in exact detail. The muscles on the forehead and in the brow should also be relaxed as far as possible.you will notice that at no point have I mentioned -9- . In the simplest terms. since the realization of this reality must be achieved without tension . the word ‘cycle’ was used judiciously. always attempt to improve your awareness of facial tension .the importance of facial relaxation to successful meditation cannot be over stressed. a cycle of increased focus and deeper relaxation leads to a true meditative state. a technique which is frequently successful is that of realizing deeper relaxation through a cycle of closer focus and physical relaxation.Now move to the forehead. which should spread through the body almost as seawater softens the sand on a beach as it seeps into a small mound of sand from one edge.through a repeated application of small steps of relaxation. This is a moderately complicated issue.tension is the antitheses of meditation. must be achieved very softly . (and this clearly applies to the beginner at meditation) your state is meditative when you can say with honesty that you have not been there before. the following description should serve as a guideline until personal experience can provide you with a more accurate own method and perception. here. In this instance. or ‘focussing on only one thing’. each leading to a slightly deeper meditative state. this phase is probably unnecessary as total immersion passes straight through into meditation).almost a focus through stealth. Again.this includes advocation of ‘clearing the mind of all thought’. Bearing this in mind. Once you have completed the first cycle. as both the personal experience and the exact technique to use to achieve success are completely individual. You should understand. you should not be surprised if tension has once again crept into the mouth and eyes.

Given this state. If you have achieved this. Deepening As mentioned before. the upper torso and the neck. you are in a meditative state. it is important that primary meditation be very comfortably achieved and well controlled. Hand focus Firstly. The technique described here can be used to achieve this transition. a description of a meditative state in QiGong terms could be a state in which the mind is set free. description of technique becomes difficult. the form of meditation described here has little or nothing to do with voiding the mind or focussing on only one thing. In order to attempt the transition. Whichever it may be. One further method is described below. Probably. Allow this growth to firstly separate the hands from their support (a feeling of floating). Bearing in mind the aforegoing.such concepts. growth and separation to spread up the forearms. the most effective method to promote a partial transition into deep meditation is to create a pathway combining the arms. this stage is strictly optional. then allow the vibration. the practice of meditation as related to QiGong is indeed somewhat different to common or garden meditation. in which the consciousness is decoupled from the environment to a sufficient extent that you are able to differentiate between your consciousness and your environment in that there is a perceptible barrier (void) between the two. Use this pathway to lever yourself into deep meditation. There are further options. but it is by no means guaranteed to do so (no technique is). you have arrived. At this point. Continue with this technique until the separation and floating sensation creeps into the torso. It relates more closely to decoupling the mind from an immediate and dominant perception of reality or the environment. One technique . Once achieved. place full focus on the hands. Another possibility is that meditation takes on sufficiently variant forms that this approach to meditation can indeed deliver results. Even relatively advanced practitioners who have achieved deep meditation multiple times may not be able to guarantee the transition to deep meditation in any given session. Having done this. FC-form -10- . This is not an accidental omission. first cement and stabilize the meditative state. but in general practitioners who have achieved sufficient skill to reach deep meditation will find their own techniques. and intended only for the advanced practitioner.total immersion has been described briefly. it is important to understand that transition to deep meditation is not trivial. however tenuously. At this time. Channel energy flow into the hands at a sufficient rate so as to allow the hands to grow and vibrate in significant degree.

and often a sense of quiet elation. Meditation This is the easy part. After a few repeats it will become easier and more familiar. Note that you should not attempt to fix the entire world in one session . start -11- . Use a separate session for the second injury. only be attempted by advanced practitioners. Termination When you reach the end of the session. but without urgency. Coupled to this. a clear and unambiguous definition of such a technique is near impossible. and predictability will increase. An image which you may wish to use is that of a passing cloud. for example) you may be spending this time focussing on the injury and directing energy to that region. allow yourself to surface. Relax. One further issue bears some explanation. end your meditation by allowing your senses to merge with reality. and you may have a distinct feeling of floating. The world becomes more distant. Once you have arrived here. for example.all you have to do now is avoid increasing mental activity.allow a minute or two to let your senses adjust.This form of meditation. When you do move. it will happen automatically the first time (probably without utilization of any specific technique). while calmly damping out the thought and allowing it to die out quickly.allow it to play out over a few seconds. Despite the above description of a transition technique. If you have made it this far. Initially. When a stray thought enters your mind. When this happens. there is a feeling of calm euphoria. do not be surprised that it is difficult if not impossible to achieve deep meditation as a matter of choice. and probably for the first few years. focus on your hands. don’t start thinking about problems or appointments. you should accept the achievement of deep meditation as a gift. If you are specifically working on a problem (such as an injury. unfortunately. It is an unforgettable experience. You will know. In other words. This said. select only one for a given session.if. On entering deep meditation. allow the cloud to pass across your vision and then disappear from view. even after many successful deep meditation sessions. do not react by attempting to immediately banish the stray thought (or external sound) . described fully in the chapter on Faculte Charpente below. In other words. think of it as a cloud appearing in your field of view. FC-form can. Just relax. you have a knee injury and a stretched arm muscle. everything changes. There is one possible exception to the above. there is nothing to do except enjoy. allows for deepening almost automatically. you will already have quieted your mind to an adequate degree . How do you know when you have achieved deep meditation for the first time? This you will know without doubt. In time. Without reacting in any way. If in doubt. the ability will grow. Even the most advanced practitioner will have thoughts of unrelated issues intrude on a meditation session. Suffice it to say that when you have acquired sufficient skill in QiGong and meditation. That is what it is all about. Don’t get up or move immediately after meditation .

This has the potential to lead the advanced practitioner to a different world. Competence will grow with regular practice. An alternative form A more advanced form (FC-form meditation) is presented in the section on Faculte Charpente. A few years of consistent and regular meditation will provide you with another facet to your life which is highly rewarding. and the results will augment your progress and the benefit derived from QiGong practise.you will probably feel a reluctance to move in any event. -12- . Break these pathways gently and slowly. Conclusion Meditation isn’t magic. This may be explored by students who have total mastery of basic techniques. not only in terms of health benefit but also as a means of sharpening your mind and improving mental focus and concentration. see FC-form meditation in the section on Faculte Charpente. This is referred to as a pathway. This basic guide to meditation will serve as an introduction to a rewarding and worthwhile skill. For a final meditation form. with wide horizons and vast potential. as your limbs will seem a little stiff.off slowly . meditation can be a very enjoyable and highly beneficial counterpart to QiGong. That said. Many popular authors make it out to be more than it really is.