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Qigong Exercise - Zhang Zhuang - Big Tree

One of the main exercises of the set-up Wu Chan Zhong Qigong module is the exercise Big Tree (大树功 Da Shu Gong or Chan Chuan).

This is the best exercise to generate a good level of Qi energy quickly.

Before we get down to the description it is important to give some detail of the possible concomitant phenomena. Knowing these phenomena will help you to not get frightened during the practice and treat them calm with the fair awareness that all of these are transitory

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The Concomitant Phenomena while Qigong Practicing.

There are 8 sensations that are considered normal during the first stages of exercise practicing: THE WARMTH (sometimes it is so hot that it even hurts), THE CHILL (sometimes rather a lingering chill), THE NUMBNESS, THE CRAWLING SENSATION (as if insects of the different size are running or crawling along the separate parts of the body with the different speed), THE ITCH (sometimes it may be even hard to tolerate and you are even ready to scratch your skin), THE LIGHTNESS (sometimes it is a complete loss of the weight sense or the feeling that you’ve lost your body), THE SENCE OF ENLARGEMENT, THE HEAVINESS (it seems next to impossible to take the feet off of the ground), THE SLIPPERINESS (the impression is that your skin is slippery like ice).

The intensity of the sensation depends on many factors, but first of all on the body state as both physical and emotional. Besides, there are phenomena and feelings linked to certain diseases or just changes in the body; sometimes caused by the positive evolution of the practitioner. It may, for instance be vibrations within the body, or pain, or the sound, light and flashing. The most wide-spread will be briefly described here.

Normal Phenomena

1. Feeling of THE CHILL or THE WARMTH in the practitioner generally signifies the misbalance of Yin and Yang in the body.

The concentration of Qi in the Lower or Middle Dantian usually causes the feeling of the warm or hot ball. During the proper practice of Chan Chuan (Big Tree) and intensive Qi accumulation from the environment there may be the feeling of THE HEAT so strong that it you can hardly bear it. There is palpitation and excessive sweating. During certain stages of the practice, some people have a feeling of the different temperature in their left and right palms or the left and right sides of their body.

This is caused by the fact that one side has more of Yin and the other the more of Yang. There are methods and practices that allow one to keep up this effect. In the ancient time they were used by martial arts systems. One hand could burn the rival and the other could cast cold.

Sometimes a practitioner might have chills for several days; he starts muffling up but still is not able to get warm. Then the practice should be intensified, as what we are experiencing tells us about the start of reconstruction in the body. Sometimes after the completion of Chan Chuan, the sense of the chill is so strong that you feel your blood freezing in your veins. You should not be afraid of this feeling or try to quit it forcedly. It is a signal that despite you have stopped the exercise your body keeps changing. You should continue training or bear with this state until it is gone. This indicates that you have stepped onto the next level in the body development.

2. Active point opening is accompanied by the sense of the CRAWLING along your body or the ITCHING FEELING. If these points (especially those on the hands and head) were blocked then the itch may be nearly intolerable. Usually this intense feeling is soon gone and changed for the feeling of relief and a kind of lightness in this zone; as if the practitioner can breathe though this area.

Sometimes the crawling feeling is accompanied by vibrations in these areas, not continuous, but coming and going as waves. This is rather an interesting then uncomfortable sensation only sometimes on the edge of pain, that indicates the intensive opening of the points. After this the body seems to be porous as if air can flow through you. In this case, unless you have got used to this feeling you’d better stay away from water activities.

3. LIGHTNESS, WEIGHTLESSNESS arise when you are able to “forget yourself” while exercising. You come to this state when your body does not bother you and does not restrict your perception and sensing. This is the first STATE OF QIGONG stage. From this moment the next stage is available for you.

4. The feeling of a HEAVINESS arises because of the lack of experience in relaxing and taking the right posture ( the unusual posture of the body causes a heaviness or an ache, sometimes numbness and so on), and when you are identifying yourself with the image and are generating Qi. Filling yourself up with Qi also causes a sense of enlargement; the fingers swell during Chan Chuan exercise, and they become hard to bend and the feet become swollen... As time passes, energy automatically redistributes itself throughout the entire body.

5. The sensation of VIBRATION is often connected with the new Qi supply from the outside and energy flow along the channels. Sometimes it seems as if the “wires are buzzing” within the body.

6. THE BLOCKED EARS, RUMBLING, as being aboard the plane during the height change, reflects the great supply of Qi energy and its absorption by the brain. Potentially the practitioner will be able to hear the sound at a very long distance.

7. LIGHT FLASHING in the mind are connected with the activation of biologically active points in the Third Eye area being provided with enough Qi energy.

8. VISIONS: seeing images or communicating with Jesus, Buddha, saints, talking to them, the different age pictures of the Earth existence, the other world pictures, voices, pieces of advice and so on...

At the first Qigong stages these are no more than just a models of our mind, consciousness, and psyche, based upon the current information and its subconscious level. These are not true. No more than just phenomena. They should not be fixed upon, whatever they are. Both visions and feelings tend to be changing, for they are linked to the body and mind changes. Paying much attention to these may easily lead you out of the right way so you never reach the final destination..

It may be compared to driving along a stretch of highway which you have to finish in certain time; various landscapes are flying by. You may like them or leave them or store them in your memory but you follow your main direction and remember the destination. If you stop at every beautiful spot and go out sightseeing, it may so happen that you get stuck in the very beginning of the trip and never know that it was only the starting point; the Threshold, and beautiful and various landscapes stay unseen beyond your perception..., and you risk getting lost or be late, or not reaching the destination at all. In this case this lifetime is not enough to reach the destination.

Remember: These are only illusions. Ignore them. Do not indulge your weaknesses and the desire to touch the Unknown. The Unknown and Uncommon will reveal itself in the natural way and will become your everyday reality.

9. SENSATIONS OF PAIN can be caused by different factors. If a practitioner is healthy and he generates enough Qi which rises up to the crown and the Third Eye area then :

) pain may arise during the activation of bio- active points in the zone of the Third Eye and during the opening of Third Eye itself as well as during the activation and opening of the points around the crown of the head. This is how your body is preparing for the future release of the soul

b) if a practitioner has or used to have some diseases, traumas, injuries, operations, then painful sensations are inevitable. Let’s expand on this.

Phenomena connected to the diseases and disorders in the practitioner

1. Sensations of pain. From the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, in every area of disease location (current disorder or the past one) the channels of Qi circulation are blocked or narrowed. This leads to stagnation or impassability of Qi in this area, and together with it, to disorders of blood circulation. This channel condition may be compared to the bed of a dried river, where only some deep ditches keep some moisture.

During Chan Chuan practicing, the body is filled with Qi from the outside. As it accumulates it mechanically “spills over” to those areas that have been deprived of it and the Qi redistribution takes place. When Qi starts going through a narrowed or blocked channel, the person has some painful sensations. The Chinese say: “Qi is fighting with disease”.

The pain may be of the different intensity or duration:

) It often happens that one feels sudden and acute pain during the exercise at home or sport hall, but it quickly goes away and never comes back. It means that the one has received enough Qi to unblock the difficult to traverse section of the channel with one blow. And then the disease retreats.

b) Sometimes the aroused pain looks like the usual disease exacerbation and lasts for a long time; even for days or weeks. But as soon as you stop practicing, the pain disappears. It happens in the case of long-term chronic diseases. Sometimes the whole body hurts. It means you have too many disorders in your body or it is oversaturated with medicines. Qi accumulation is a long process. It will take time to heal all diseases and remove all the “dirt” (medicines, toxins, waste) from your body. This is why you are recommended to not quit practicing. You have to give Qi a chance to complete the process of healing. Practically any treatment entails a short period of exacerbation to precede convalescence. The same holds true with Qigong. But in comparison with usual therapeutic methods, this practice, first of all, has no side effects (contrary to possible side effects of drug therapy), and second, you treat yourself with our own native and natural resource (Qi). You only have to accumulate enough of it. That is why it is unable to cause harm to you, because it is not some stranger who treats you, it is you who treats yourself. This is not the effect of someone else’s manipulations, it is your Qi that automatically flows in where it is the most needed and it fulfills the work that has to be done. If you want to become healthy, try not to hinder it.

c) It may happen that a practitioner has never had any discomfort and has felt well until he started practicing. Only after he has started does he feel some pain sensation. This is a reliable self-diagnosis.

Remember: one never feels any discomfort in the area where Qi flows freely.

The pain prompts us that there is some disorder in this area. If you felt this sensation, try to remember first if you ever had any fractures, operations, traumas in this area; not necessary recent. It could be 5, 10, 50 years ago, or in early childhood. If you are sure that you have not had any previous trauma, then you are having some disorder in its early stage and some measures should be taken. If this pain is quite tolerable, continue practicing and it will leave taking the disease with it. In case of severe pain you should consult a doctor and have this area examined, for some obscure disorders may develop into a serious disease. Thus, if you had any operations, fractures, contusions, traumas, chronic inflammatory processes, back pain, arthritis, sinusitis, etc, then some pain is inevitable during the correct exercise practice. Sometimes in these problem zones you may not feel not a pain but only obvious discomfort.

2.Feeling faint. If a practitioner had recent surgery and has not totally recovered yet; if he is physically weak and feeble after the illness; if his blood pressure is unstable or he suffers from some cardiac disorder or he has a cervical spine disturbance, then a short loss of consciousness is possible during the third preliminary exercise and Chan Chuan. The cause is an intensive Qi supply into the weakened body and especially to the brain. It is not dangerous. As a rule, a person is able to come to his senses on his own in few minutes. Sometimes this short loss of consciousness turns into a usual sleep. Pressing the fingers on ZhengZun point (under the nose on the upper lip) usually returns the consciousness. After this the practice may be continued. During further practice such states do not re-occur and the practitioner starts feeling stronger, more vibrant and quite capable of working.

3. Intensive vibrations in the whole body. It occurs if the practitioner is not able to relax properly. He might have survived some severe stress and has not recovered completely or has some nervous system disturbance or an unbalanced emotional state. This leads to numerous “compressions” of nerves, muscles and energy channels in different parts of the body. So, Qi supplied to the body during Chan Chuan starts “breaching” these blocks and seeks for the “roundabout ways”. This state should be controlled by trying to relax as much so as to help Qi to bring your body back to a normal condition. In case the vibration becomes overwhelming and beyond any control, you should intensively press the Haghu point (it is situated at the base of the thumb on the backside of the hand between the first and the second metacarpal bones closer to the radial edge) and then put your hands on Sia-Dantian.

4. Heavy nausea and heaves during Chan Chuan practicing occur when there are some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly gastritis and peptic ulcers. If you are exercising at home you should not hold it in; and after emptying your stomach, the exercise should be continued. Regular practice improves the condition of your health, and the recuperation starts.

5. Intensive motion, or strong swinging during Chan Chuan:

a) if the practitioner has a Yin-Yang misbalance, then having his body relaxed and “set free” may cause him sway a little. Usually it lasts for the first 2-3 practice sessions or just at the beginning of every practice session (depending on the scope of misbalance). Then the body gets settled and the practitioner can stand still;

b) if the Qi passage in some sectors of energy channels is disturbed, the body sways while Qi is trying to pass through these zones;

c) intensive to and fro motion or the body swinging arise in the case of nervous system state instability, birth injuries, stuttering, during remission stages of some mental disorders, and also in the case where there are numerous chronic diseases or traumatism which lead to spasms or blockage within the energy channels. If you have any of these and you have intensive swings of your body during Chan Chuan, you should not practice it for longer then 30 minutes.

6. Loud noise (crying, sobbing, laughing, singing, shouting and screaming) during Chan Chuan occur in the case of some cardiac or lung disorders:

a) usually while correctly practicing in the State of Qigong, the negative and ill Qi is leaving the body with these sounds, to be replaced by the positive Qi. But you should not make yourself cry or laugh if you have these disorders and want to get away from them. Everything must go its natural way, in the STATE OF QIGONG, just as it goes;

b) if you are sensitive enough to feel the unhealthy state of the person next to you, it may cause you to react. Then after you cry, for example, his state will turn better. This is the manifestation of the therapeutic effect.

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Now let’s proceed with description of Big Tree exercise.

This is the upright standing starting position as it is described in the chapter of preliminary exercises. Knees slightly bent, the tip of the tongue touching the upper palate. Rise up your arms in front of you as if holding a big sphere in front of you.

You have to keep holding this posture for at least 30 minutes.

It is designed to teach and practice relaxation and give energy the possibility to flow smoothly along the whole body. On one hand, it requires the most convenient and the least physically strenuous posture, and on the other hand, is quite capable of helping your energy circulate well... That is why you should not keep your arms too high, otherwise this would entail a waist of energy.

The rule is: the ping-pong balls (the ones from the table tennis) are said to be able to fit inside the armpits.

In fact, it is not exactly like this. The Chinese are smaller in stature than us and they developed these recommendations for themselves. We usually have a bit different proportions, our arms are commonly thicker, the chest and sides are wider; this is why a ping-pong ball is not what is required. A bit bigger... Say, if you are of an average constitution, the tennis ball would do.

In other words, it is up to you, you know yourself better; the armpits should be slightly open and no more. Do not make it more difficult than it makes sense. If your armpits are a little open the energy already flows in normal fashion, with no obstructions in these places and the goal is achieved.

More about the arm position.

There are three areas in our body, these are three Dantians – the Lower, the Middle and the Upper...

The Lower Dantian (Sia-Dantian) is a kind of a fire-chamber where Jing-Qi energy is generated. It is called sometimes “the energy of mist” for it looks like a mist or a fog…

This mist energy is kept in Sia-Dantian, it also fills our channels and is the basis of the healthy body. With the help of Jing-Qi we heal ourselves, work our channels and may treat other people. To generate much Qi you should practice Sia-Dantian.

Imagine a refraction derrick, remember the Chemistry lessons.

There is a crude oil in the bottom, then the sublimation starts... Under the temperature impact the oil splits into fractions and the lighter (Yang) substance starts going up. The same happens to the human energy system. With the proper practice of Dantians, energy in each of them improves the quality, becomes better, lighter, more delicate and starts going up.

When there is much Jing-Qi and it is of a good quality it starts rising along the middle Zhong-Mai channel into the Middle Dantian...

The Middle Dantian (Zhong-Dantian) energy is also called the “energy of light” for if you calm your mind down you might see this energy as the light of different color tints.

If the Mist Energy (Jing-Qi) is our channels, the energy of light (Qi) is our internal organs... The energy of light is what provides the good work of our insides. Each organ has its own “light”, its own type of Qi energy. For example kidneys are black (so, they are surrounded by Qi of black or very dark blue color), the liver is green, heart is red, spleen and stomach are yellow or light brown, lungs are white or transparent...

Energy of mist and energy of light cannot be clearly separated, Yin has Yang within and Yang always contains Yin... All the divisions are always relative, but never the less, to ease the understanding of the practice we have to separate them. To say correctly, Qi has three components – mist, light and information. All these components are inseparable; they interact and turn from one quality to another in their natural way.

There is also the Upper Dantian, Shen Dantian; but it should not be worked with on one’s own; skipping the many-year practice on the Lower and the Middle Dantian development. During the practice of the Upper Dantian, Shen-Qi, “spiritual energy” is formed. The extrasensory abilities are developed. And the favorable conditions for “pause” state are formed. To deal with Shen-Dantian, both lower Dantians should have been practiced on for a long time. The exercises for clearing the channels, preparing the head for the large Qi supplies and for dumping excessive energy out of the head zone, should be practiced for many years; particularly these 1st stage exercises: Yang-Qi and the Microcosmic Orbit.

Sia-Dantian and Zhong-Dantian are the fundamentals, especially Sia-Dantian. If one has been practicing lower Dantians (especially Sia-Dantian) with the proper diligence, then Jing-Qi sooner or later starts turning into Qi and goes up to Zhong-Dantian and then continues rising to Shen-Dantian.

It is unreasonable to precipitate the events and practice “cool” upper Dantians, when you have not built the basis, the substructure and resources for all the further upgrades. Moreover, there is no such a thing as “cool” Dantians; each has its own purpose and function. The function of Sia-Dantian is health and the building material for the soul development; that is, Jing-Qi, which is going to “nourish Shen or Spirit”.

It is not good to think that we are the ones to “command” the processes. Everything happens on its own. This is the Law of Nature. If Qi did not circulate along the Microcosmic Orbit, we would not live... Jing-Qi generates itself. Always... Qi is produced every second and is constantly going up in amounts that are needed at any moment.

But, practicing, we stimulate the processes.

When you finally get the money, at first, you are to pay the debts, then buy the food, clothes, the apartment and furniture and only then you can go for a vacation to the Canary Islands. It goes the same with spiritual practice. When you first start generating more energy, it is directed to the body treatment; and only when there is some basis for the physical health the effective spiritual development starts. This is the way of energy and of the Master of this energy, the Master of Qigong.

How to practice Dantians? This is what the adept does when he raises his arms during the “column” standing, and imagines a ball; “meditating on the ball; and to the sensations within the arms holding the ball”... Qi is where our Mind is.

If one is holding the ball (feels it mentally in the arms) on the level of Sia-Dantian, then he is stimulating Sia-Dantian; and while holding the ball in front of Zhong-Dantian, he is stimulating the Middle Dantian.

During the first step the arms are held on the level of the Lower Dantian.

About the images...

Some Qigong schools do not pay attention to this aspect, just keep standing in a “column” position... Much energy is accumulated... What else is needed.

Spiritual Systems, so called “the systems of high practice levels” consider Qi itself to be not as important as its quality, its informative structure; and this is Qi information that is to affect our body, changing its inner energy and consciousness.

When you take the position of the Tree... imagine your feet starting to grow roots... they are coming into the ground... deeper and deeper... here they are running through all the lower worlds and start getting the energy from the earth and all the lower worlds... Picture this energy going up the roots, coming to your body and getting up further... You start growing... becoming larger and pierce the sky with your head... You turn into the Great Cosmic Tree, you start growing the crown and it spreads all over the Cosmos... Energies of the Skies and all the Upper worlds penetrate through this crown into you and go down... You are not a human any more, but the Great Tree... Take several deep breaths by your roots to feel the energy flow better... It comes in through Yongquan points on the soles of your feet... Then take several breaths by the crown feeling the Sky energy spill in through the Baihuei point on the top of your head... This imagery is not necessary but it is very effective for a start to stimulate the process… See yourself as an Enormous Tree with roots, branches, leaves, crown, bark... And here you are, filled with the vital Sap of the Universe...

The entire imagery takes one or two minutes or even less. Once you have imagined this, - that’s it... – you may forget about it. Do not think about anything deliberately during the further exercises. Do not come back to your thought, “I am a Tree.” You are a Tree; for some mechanisms have been started... Mental picture of the Immortal Tree and structure of this image have already started changing your structure and you are developing Its qualities. If you practice this exercise regularly you will change your energy and information structure.

You won’t get ill. The Great Immortal Tree never does.

No one will be able to hurt you, to harm you... Is there a creature able to harm such a great Being as you are, Enormous as the Universe…

Sooner or later, you will integrate Earth and the Sky information, becoming a mediator, medium, an integral Being... You will acquire the Universe, reach Harmony...

This cannot be analyzed or explained. It should be experienced…

After you generate an image of the Tree and forget about it; rise you branches slowly to the level of the Lower Dantian... Imagine the ball between your arms, as it touches your arms and the Dantian... Imagine this ball for just some seconds... And forget it too... Just be staring somewhere into the area between your arms where you used to imagine the ball... DO NOT IMAGINE ANYTHING any more, just watch, feel some thing between the arms… this area...

The state of your “watching the ball” is similar to what you have when you are watching the fire, quietly and peacefully... Everything has turned silent, disappeared... You seem to be there, or not there”... So with this... watch “the ball between your arms”… lightly, no concentration as if you were watching the fire... Seems to be, seems not to be... get dissolved, disappear, do not get strained…

Relax… EVERYTHING IS DONE since that moment... Do not think about the position... If you found yourself to change the position (say, one arm went higher or got lower), there is nothing to worry about, you energy system requires that... Keep practicing... just watch the area between your arms...

Do not think about any muscles, you do not need to feel them and relax them...

Forget about everything... Carry out NO WORK... there is nothing to look for, nothing to care of... including the breath... it goes as it goes... Just sense the area between your arms slightly touching it with your attention.

How should the exercise be finished?

Come into yourself, concentrate your attention on the ball, imagine it again, squeeze it with your hands and push into the Dantian… As you squeeze and push… finally, you have to find your palms on the navel. Men usually put the left hand under the right, women should do visa versa. Imagine a small red hot ball under your palms in your abdomen. Concentrate your attention on it and on sensations of the Lower Dantian. Then squeeze this red hot ball into a little dot...

If you failed to imagine a ball, don’t keep trying to do it for the next half hour.

All visualization is done quickly... you just have to understand that this is the Law of Universe: Your Qi is where your mind is. If you just gave a mental order and could not picture, it is not a tragedy. Just telling yourself “the ball is going along the channel” makes the ball go along the channel, and telling “the ball shrinks to the dot” causes it to shrink...

If you do not feel it immediately, you will feel it sooner of later... if you do not see it, later you will. It neither increases the effectiveness nor decreases it.

After the exercise, remember to rub your palms to make them hot, then thoroughly and attentively slap your head and all your body with the warmed palms, shake your whole body slightly, rising at your toes and going down at the heels… continue these jumps for some minutes... Then rub your face and massage your ears intensively and thoroughly...

ATTENTION!: Women during period of menstruation and pregnancy should hold the ball in front of the Middle Dantian. Upon completing the exercise they should press the ball, placing it into the Middle Dantian and then imagine the hot red ball and send it down Zhong-Mai channel to the Lower Dantian, there they shrink it into the dot.

COMMENTARY:

During Big Tree exercise the powerful accumulation of Qi takes place.

Energy, moving along the body like a lamp-chimney brush in the bottle, dumps all the slag and waste from the body tissues into the blood; they are to leave your body with urine. That is how the cleansing and renewal go.

Besides Qi generation, Big Tree exercise contributes to changing the consciousness and some fundamental information structures of our energy that encourage the new understanding of the Universe and perception of Harmony and Unity with the world.

And finally, Big Tree contributes to the growth of physical strength; some fatigue helps the further relaxation, it will help experience the State of Qigong in “quiet” exercises (Yang-Qi and the Microcosmic Orbit).

Big Tree is the most important multi-dimensional exercise, and it is next to impossible to explain all the nuances. Only during the regularly practice you can understand what it may give to you.

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