I’ve been thinking a lot recently about ‘the difference that makes the difference’ when it comes to practicing Shaolin Chi Kung. I found myself wondering why it is that some people have great success with their chi kung practice whilst other give up feeling they’ve achieved nothing?
So, with that in mind, here’s a ‘Blueprint‘ for success with Chi Kung. 7 essential components that will allow anyone to gain the benefits of Chi Kung as quickly and as easily as possible.
1) Learn from the best Chi Kung teacher you can find – I know. I am the author of a book on Chi Kung and have created the most comprehensive 22 week online Chi Kung home study course. And here I am telling you to find the best teacher you can find.
The simple fact is that the best way to learn Chi Kung is directly from a Chi Kung master, or at the very least a competent instructor. Books, DVD’s and online courses can be great reference tools, but they are poor substitutes for a real ‘in the flesh’ teacher. I wrote an article: How To Find A Great Qigong Teacher which has more details that will help you in your search.
2) Make sure you are practicing Chi Kung and not Chi Kung form – I’ve written quite a lot on this, but it is of vital importance. If you practice swimming you will gain the skill of swimming. But you will not gain the art of cycling. Obvious.
If you practice Chi Kung form, you will gain the skill of Chi Kung form and the benefits of practicing Chi Kung form – i.e. gentle exercise, stretching, increased blood flow etc.
But you will not gain the skills of Chi Kung.
You will only gain the skills of Chi Kung by practicing Chi Kung. Obvious.
3) The 3 Core skills – To succeed with Chi Kung you must practice Chi Kung and Chi Kung consists of these 3 core skills:
- A Chi Kung State of Mind – a heightened state of consciousness, at it’s lowest level you are relaxed and alert.
- Energy flow – let go, do nothing and LET.
- Standing Zen – consolidate the benefits from your practice.
I’ve written a lot on the subject of the 3 core skills of Chi Kung, to find out more please read: The 3 Core Skills of Qigong.
You can be learning Chi Kung from the worlds greatest Chi Kung master in the universe, but without the next component of our blueprint, it counts for nothing. You must…
4) Establish A Daily Practice – The plain truth is that to gain the benefits of Chi Kung (health and vitality, longevity, internal force, mental and spiritual cultivation) you must practice daily. Chi Kung is not something you learn like history.
You do not memorise a list of dates and events. No, Chi Kung is an experience that you must practice daily so that you develop the vital skills of Chi Kung. Without these vital skills, Chi Kung becomes qigong form.
Let’s say you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t just diet for a day and then say: ‘phew, thank heavens that’s, that done!‘ – no you’d practice daily.
Because Chi Kung is an art, you must practice it daily to get the benefits of that art. Let’s say you knew all the theory of Chi Kung and TCM, but never practiced a single day of Chi Kung – all that knowledge would be useless to you, until you applied it.
To get the results of Chi Kung you have to practice daily. If you practice for 2 or 3 days, then have a day off, then practice for 4 days and then have 2 days off and so on – because your practice is sporadic, so will your results.
For more information please read: 10 Ways To Set Up Regular Chi Kung Practice.
Once you have established a daily practice habit you need to…
5) Set clear aims and objectives for your Chi Kung practice – if you know what you want to gain from your practice, you are in a much stronger position to reach those targets. The other benefit of having clear aims and objectives is that you can check your results against those you wish to achieve and see if you are moving in the right direction and make adjustments as necessary.
What cannot be measured cannot be managed. You practice Chi Kung because you want some definite, measurable benefit or result. If you do not set clear aims and objectives for your practice, how will you ever know if you are getting the most effective results for the investment of your time and effort?
Here’s a rubbish example of what I mean – let’s say one of your objectives for your Chi Kung practice is to be combat efficient against a boxer in 6 months. If you set this objective and keep measuring your progress against it, you will quickly discover that Chi Kung is the wrong vehicle for you to meet your target. And then you can start to do something about it, like learning Shaolin Kung Fu.
But, if you do not have this level of clarity, after 6, 12, 18 months you would be no closer to realising your target and you would have wasted much valuable time and energy in the process. I cannot emphasize enough that ‘clarity is king‘
Even with these 5 components in place it’s still easy to not get the maximum benefits of Chi Kung. Make sure you keep these two words close to heart when practicing…
6) Relaxed and Gentle – to succeed with Chi Kung you must keep these two ‘magic words’ close to your heart. You must remember that Chi Kung is not western exercise and therefore the ‘mantra’s’ of western exercise like: ‘no pain no gain‘ and ‘feel the burn‘ etc simply do not apply.
Pain is a signal that you are doing something wrong with your Chi Kung practice, feeling the burn is a signal that you over doing your Chi Kung practice.
In Chi Kung your movements are relaxed and gentle, even when punching in Chi Kung exercises like ‘Punching With Wide Eyes‘ from the shaolin 18 Lohan hands, you are relaxed and gentle.
Your breathing is relaxed and gentle.
And any thoughts are relaxed and gentle.
The gritting of teeth, the pushing past comfort levels is simply not a part of Chi Kung practice.
I’ve saved perhaps the most vital component of our success blueprint until last. It’s probably the second most common reason why Chi Kung practitioners fail to get the results they want. And what is this vital component? It’s…
7) You – you must be a good student – As a Chi Kung teacher, one of the saddest aspects I regularly experience is a student – who just cannot follow instructions correctly. I tell them to breathe OUT through their mouth and even explain why and they still breathe out through their nose. I explain that internal force is developed by being relaxed and gentle in their Fierce Tiger Pushing Mountains practice. And they insist on tensing and huffing and puffing.
And yet they practice daily, they are learning Chi Kung, they practice the core skills of Chi Kung, they have set clear aims and objectives for their Chi Kung practice. But they will ultimately fail. Why?
Because they are not a good student. A friend and fellow Chi Kung teacher once defined a good student this way:
- Do what the teacher tells you
- Don’t do what the teacher hasn’t told you
- Respect the teacher
I can’t really improve on that.
Remember, there really is no secret to success with Chi Kung. Just make sure you are practicing Chi Kung (that has the 3 core skills in it) from a competent teacher. That you are clear on what you want from your Chi Kung practice, that you practice daily. Always be relaxed and gentle in your practice and most importantly – be a good student. Then your success is certain.
Follow the 7 steps outlined in the success blue print and I think the next 3-6 months of your practice will exceed your expectations. Enjoy.