Over the decades I have had the opportunity to answer many questions about the Qigong that I teach, including questions about the Eight Exceptional Vessels (AKA the Extraordinary Meridians) Qigong that have been asked by my students. I’m sure that there are plenty of other questions out there and that some practitioners may already be asking some of the same questions so I thought that it would be a good idea to add them to the Pro Holistic blog. That should, in theory at least, give practitioners who are not my direct students the chance to find the answers that they seek. If you have a question, or can add to an answer, please use the comments box.
Questions about the Eight Exceptional Vessels
Question from Steven
Repetitions & Pauses to Listen to the Qi?
Could you kindly remind me of the traditional way to practice the entire set of movements i.e. Is there a recommended number of repetitions as per Shibashi (6 times for the majority and 12 for 3 of the movements)?
Also, is it generally okay, (or even recommended) to stop at any chosen place and just listen to the Qi?
Thank you very much. I really am enjoying how the set is unfolding for me when I practice it.
Answer from Des
As with all Qigong, I do not recommend counting the number of repetitions. Just practice until you feel like stopping, or moving to another exercise. If you are counting you are not focused on the Qigong.
Once familiar with the exercises you should be listening to the Qi throughout. Think about it like driving a car………….. you are inside the car, in control of the car, but your awareness must also be outside in order to drive safely. With listening it is not about safety (but that is also a reason for listening). As a beginner it is easier to listen before and after so that any differences can be observed.
As an advanced practitioner, you can stop and listen without losing the thread of the exercise. Indeed, there should always be a pause that is just long enough to acknowledge the triggering/opening of the Master and Coupled points in the feet.
Question from George
How to perform entire set ?
So, I have learned all 3 exercises. Do we practice thw entire set of exercises by doing 1,2,3 in succession and then repeating that 8 times in a row or do we perfom exercise 1 eight times followed by exercise 2 8x in a row and then 3 8x in a row? Is it like heaven and earth where we do the entire sequence and then just repeat that ?
Answer from Des
As they were all developed to do the same job, you can do these Qigong individually and do not need to do them as a set.
I usually recommend, to my students, that they practice one exercise a day (with eight, focused, repetitions). By working in this manner it helps to maintain real focus during the Qigong. It also allows you to note the subtle differences.
Question from Willem
is there a comparison between this course and the 8 Brocades?
Answer from Des
The 8 Brocades works with the 12 Meridians (Heart, Small Intestine,Heart Governor, Triple Warmer, Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Large Intestine, Kidney, Bladder, Liver & Gall Bladder). These vessels can be likened to streams, or rivers.
The Eight Exceptional Vessels enhances the Qi in the Extraordinadry Meridians (Governing Vessel, Conception Vessel, Bridge Yin Vessel, Bridge Yang Vessel, Thrusting Vessel, Belt Vessel, Yin Linking Vessel & Yang Linking Vessel). These vessels can be likened to storage reservoirs.
Question from Vinay
Excellent course.Have a few questions (please dont mind it might be silly questions). From India and concept of Chi is unheard still.
1. Am currently doing exercise 1, how many minutes a day should i do it?
2. Do you recommend learning one by one , or first learn all three of them.
3. I am currently focusing on the point when you refer to chi how is to feel (heat in the point etc).
Answer from Des
It is good to hear from you. One thing that I have learned on this journey is that, if they exist, I have asked very many silly questions about Qigong. Were my questions silly? On reflection, I now realise that each was necessary for my growth. So, don’t be shy………… ask as many questions as you need to.
Remember that Qi is just a word. It is the Chinese word for the energy that is named “Prana” in India.
Q. Am currently doing exercise 1, how many minutes a day should I do it?
A. To begin with you will be concentrating on the sequence and in this type of practice you can take 15 minutes, or so. Once you have progressed beyond that point and you start to focus on activating the points and “listening” to the Qi. I would, normally, only repeat each exercise about eight times.
Q. Do you recommend learning one by one, or first learn all three of them?
A. In a live class I would teach exercises 1 & 2, letting the student become intimate with them before teaching exercise 3. However, in a course (Where I only get to work with the students over one or two days) I would teach all three. The main point is that there is no rush, no cutting corners, and that the student has to learn at their own pace.
Q. I am currently focusing on the point when you refer to chi how is to feel (heat in the point etc).
A. The experience of Qi (how it manifests) is different in each of us, different within each exercise (dependent on what Element is being worked), different within an environment. These qualities will only be truly appreciated if you “listen” (be passively aware……. not reaching out for, or expecting, a particular sensation). During any Qigong you should focus on the areas, or points, that the particular exercise requires…………….. Then (To begin with, this is easier after you have completed the exercise) be still, be quiet, and “listen” to what your body/mind is telling you. It is then that you will experience the vastness of Qi. It is then that you will find the difficulty of expressing those experiences in words.
I hope that this helps.
Question from Jeni
Not getting stuck just not sure how you listen to Qi. I can feel the Qi but I certainly can’t hear it or I am not sure how to listen to it?
Answer from Des
Listening Jing (Listening to Qi) involves passive awareness. By that, I mean that you are, tangibly, aware of the Qi and paying attention to what it is doing……………. what you are experiencing.
One method that I use to help students understand what this means is that I get them to imagine that they are standing in the middle of a forest, Standing silently and still…………… That is when the forest becomes alive with sounds, with smells, with observation of the flora and fauna. If you go tramping about, making lots of noise, you trample the flora and scare off the fauna.
During Qigong there are two processes being used with Qi.
1. One is to direct the Qi (using the movements, focus, etc.).
2. The other is being quiet, having no input, not tramping about and reaching out to “feel” it. Initially this is done after performing an exercise but with experience you can “listen” to the effect as you do any Qigong.
The Active (moving) Qigong exercise is the cause……………. Take time, in stillness, to be aware of but not disturbing the effect. The quieter your body/mind the more you will experience.
If you always feel Qi in the same way it is probably because your mind is moulding it in that fashion. In that case you are not “listening” you are reaching out, having input,and shaping the result.
I hope that this goes some way to explain what “listening” means.
Reply from Jeni
This was really helpful. Thanks
Interested in Qigong? We have a group of Qigong enthusiasts (on Facebook) that you might want to join that is used by students and teachers to exchange ideas and ask questions. It is part of the San Bao Qigong.