Questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth Qigong

connecting heaven and earth qigong
#qigong #trueqigong #DesLawton

Over the decades I have had very many questions about Connecting Heaven and Earth Qigong asked of me. Many are repeated 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.

Question from Antione

Cold Hands
I’m wondering what the indication is for getting colder and colder during exercises. Underneath soles of feet remains warm, but hands get cold. I’ve worked with a Five Element Acupuncture practitioner and know my primary element. Even working with just that element hands are going cold. Is this the wrong exercise for me at this time?

Answer from Des

Hello Antione,
before I can give you an answer I will need some more information.
Does this happen during all exercises that you do?
Does this only happen during all the Qigong that you do?
Are there certain Qigong, or Qigong movements, that cause this?

Kind regards,
Des Lawton

Reply from Antione

Hi Des,
Thanks for your response.
It seems to have worked itself out. Originally, my hands were getting cold only when doing connecting heaven and earth qi gong, even if I worked on only one element at a time. A few days later the cold was gone and now I’m experiencing regular heat and tingling which I usually equate with the qi experience.

Best Wishes For The Winter Holiday,
Antoine

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Question from David

What’s the different doing Tai Chi or Qigong?

Answer from Des

TheTaiji forms can, in one respect, be alikened to Qigong as they use posture, movement, breath and focus to align and direct Qi. They are like long, complex, Qigong.
However, there are a number of differences too:-
Taiji is a martial art, Qigong isn’t.
Taiji forms can take years to learn but many Qigong exercises may only take a few hours to learn the movements.
The benefits from practicing Qigong are quicker to attain.

This isn’t a comprehensive list but these are the main differences.

Reply from Steve

There’s an interesting video on YouTube about this called “Should You Learn Qigong, Tai Chi, or Both?” by FlowingZen.  Just thought I’d mention it as it maybe helpful to some.

Answer from Des

Having practiced both for three and a half decades I can say that both are excellent for health and well being. However not everyone has the time to learn Taiji in depth and it can take many years of practice before the real benefits are achieved. On the other hand, Qigong is much easier to learn and the practitioner can gain the benefits in a much shorter time.

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Question from George

Full Exercise
So unlike other Qigongs I have done in the past, we are supposed to practice the full cycle of movements many times as opposed to repetitions of the an individual movement…. In other Qigong programs they would have you do “raise hands” 6 times in a row and then move on to “sliding hands down mirror” 6 times in a row etc. until the end.

Answer from Des

Yes. If you follow the instructions in the course you will see that all six movements, in the order that they are taught, makes up one exercise.
As explained in Lecture 11, the videos of each component are there to help you understand each and then perform them as a sequence/exercise as shown in Lecture 18.
CH&E, as taught in this course, is a Five Element Qigong. What you appear to be describing, from your past experience, are Qigong that work with one meridian, or one pair of meridians.

I hope this helps.
Des

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Question from George

Dan Tien meditation
Great course! At the end of the exercise movements you tel us to be still and listen to our Qi.. At the end of alot of Qigong teachers say to focus and meditate on breathing in to the Dan Tien to bring the qi back and store it there….. should we do that for this exercise?

Answer from Des

Hello George,
The last movement of Connecting Heaven and Earth is doing just that………….. it is drawing Qi to the dantien. Each cycle (from Raising the Hands to Saying a prayer) should be practiced as an individual exercise…………. What I mean by that is do not just flow from Saying a Prayer into Raising the Hands without acknowledging the end of one cycle and the start of the next. This helps keep you focused and helps build up that reserve of Qi.
Why spend time “listening” to your Qi? How else are you going to appreciate the changes that are occurring during the practice of and as a result of any given exercise.

I’m really glad that you have enjoyed the course.
Des Lawton

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Question from Albert

Lung meridian
Hi des, Thank you for this amazing course. I’ve been learning the movements and inner workings, but i’m wondering if I have to focus on both lung meridians points during raise hands or only the one on the right?
Besides that what is the max time you can do the exercises? 
Regards
Albert

Answer from Des

Hello Albert,
You focus on both sides (by getting the hands and arms in the correct position) with all of the movements.
Regarding the maximum time, or number of repetitions: –
Don’t count as this means that you are counting rather than doing Qigong.
Immerse yourself in the exercise as long as you are comfortable.
My own experience is that it is such a calming and beneficial exercise that I set an alarm if I have other tasks to do that are time oriented. That was through the experience of bein late for appointments because my “let’s do this for around 10 minutes” turned into half an hour……….

Reply from Albert

Thank you for your prompt reply. I was a bit confused with the diagram, showing only the right meridian. From now on I will be focusing simultaneously on both sides of the body.
It’s my first time doing qigong exersizes focusing on the meridians. This is exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks again.

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Question from Cecilia

What types of Qi are being stimulated during the sliding hands down the mirror and saying a prayer positions, please?

Answer from Des

Hello Cecilia,
There are actually three answers to your question. CH&E can be used as a Five Elements, an Eight Exceptional Vessels, or Qi/Shen Qigong.

As a Five Elements exercise, in Sliding Down a Mirror your awareness should be focused on Gall Bladder Meridian. This awareness builds during the last part of the raising of the hands when you position the arms so that you feel a slight stretch across the lateral rib cage during the last part of the upwards arc. Doing this promotes Qi flow from GB21 to GB25 and once you are aware of this you guide the Qi down the legs using the Yi, the breath, and the movement of the hands.
Saying a Prayer is used to close the exercise by drawing the Qi to the Dantien.

As an Exceptional Vessels exercise, in Sliding Down a Mirror you are activating Heart Governor 6 (Neiguan) and Lung 7 (Lieque).
In Saying a Prayer you are activating Small Intestine 3 (Houxi).

As a Qi/Shen (AKA “Inner Alchemy”) both of these movements are used as part of the mechanism to raise the Shen, raising the awareness above the head so that the awareness is beyond the physical body. I have not covered the Inner Alchemy version in this course as it is too advanced and requires close monitoring until the student is adept enough to be safe.

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Question from Gerardo

Hi, Des. I really like your courses and your teaching method. My question right now is, in this series, Connecting Heaven and Earth, the excercises are done according to the control cycle, rather than the creation cycle. Why is that? Also, I’ve noticed that for the wood and earth elements we work with the yang meridians, whereas we use the yin channels in the rest. Is there a particular reason for this?

Answer from Des

Five Elements exercises use both of the Cycles and there are also some that do not follow either. I have given an example of each: –
– The Five Elements Dance follows the Creation Cycle, starting with Fire, and also has two movements that utilise Chong Mai.
– Connecting Heaven & Earth follows the Control Cycle, starting with Metal, and also has a specific closure that centres the Qi (using Chong Mai).
– Change the Sinews, from the Ten Fundamental Treasures follows a mixture – Water, Fire, Metal, Earth & Wood.

Five Elements Qigong is more beneficial (more efficient) for keeping balance in the Qi rather than attaining that balance. So, if there was a chronic/long lasting imbalance I would deal with that by using an exercise, or exercises, that would feed or control to bring about that balance. Then use a Five Elements exercise because it is better at maintaining that balance. My personal choice would be to practice a Qigong that followed the Creation, or the Controlling, Cycle.

Regarding whether the Yin or the Yang meridian is worked on………… As they are intrinsically linked, working on one will affect the other. I believe that the development of any Qigong will have gone through many changes (sometimes by more than one Master) in order to create an effective, flowing, exercise. This would mean that, dependent on the final choice of movements, it was the movement that dictated which meridian would be focused on. At some point during its development it must have been decided that Connecting Heaven and Earth would be performed in Wuji stance. This effectively stops the practitioner from being able to apply focus to Liver meridian, or Gall Bladder meridian, in the legs. This left those parts of the meridians in the upper body to place the focus.  Likewise for access to Stomach and Spleen meridians.

I hope that this goes some way to explain.

Response from Gerardo

Thanks! As usual, good answers bring new questions, but I’ll save them for later.


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Question from Celeste

The embrace. You say in the set-up to cross the wrists as you link with CV-17. Are you using the inner and outer gate points (PC-6 and TW-5) at the same time you are moving the qi along the CV or is there some other reason you crossing at the wrists instead of say aligning the lao gung? Thank you.

Answer from Des

Hi Celeste,
There are two functions happening during this part of the exercise, both working with Chong Mai (the Thrusting Vessel).
Firstly, by crossing the wrists at HG6 (Nei Guan), you are activating Chong Mai.
Secondly, you are strengthening the connection between the Heart Chakra (Ren 17) and the Solar Plexus Chakra (Ren 12). Ren 12 is the gate, or connection, between the heavens (spiritual) and the earth (physical). This connection must be strong so that the heavens can meet the earth at the Dan Tien.

I know that different traditions have their own point from which they connect to the universe and I am not contradicting any of them. However, I was taught that we root through the feet because of gravity……….. rooting being a physical act. We also tend to use this direction when sinking the Qi. But at a more advanced level Ren 12 is used to connect with the universe (the Tao) with that connection radiating out in all directions.

Comment from Steven

This is a vital answer and information like this is needed to appreciate what the simple postures of this form are really doing for us. I would like to see a section added to the end of this course where Des describes what each posture is doing for us in terms of stimulating energy points and how that effects us. Without this information the student upon learning the form is still left wondering why he would want to continue doing the form. In other words, what am I supposed to be getting out of this? Knowing the benefits could be a great tool for motivation.

Reply to comment

Hello Steven,
It is understood that the Universe links us all (I don’t want to get too flowery here) and your message appears to be additional proof of that.

Less than 48 hours ago I was covering CH&E during the Qigong section of a class. I was explaining just how versatile, beneficial and powerful it is (No need to explain its beauty or the peace it brings as everyone who practices it experience that quickly). I went on to explain some of the movements and what they are producing in relation to opening points and stimulating Qi flow.

Some of the students had already experienced and acknowledged a few of these “triggers” but I could see their faces light up as other points of focus (“triggers”) were brought to their attention and they became aware of the changes in the Qi that were occurring.

So, as we finished, I thought it would be a good idea to add a short video to the online course………………… However, it would need be added to the end of a long list that I am working on…………… Your message has promoted it and I will try to get it filmed next week.

Thanks for the prompt!
Des

Reply from Steven

Thanks Des for the reply and the great news that eventually you will be adding an informative video to the course. Having a sense how thorough you endeavor to be, I thought my request might make sense to you. Almost every qigong dvd that I have seen neglects to provide enough information about what exactly is going on during the form. The result is that you might have found a diamond necklace but not knowing the value of it, you might consider it as a string of rocks and thus discard it too soon.
Steve


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Question from Joshua

Questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth - guiding the Qi.
Questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth – guiding the Qi.

Hi Des, just a question regarding where i should keep my awareness during the exercise. Should my mind be focusing on guiding the qi throughout the meridians mentioned on each exercise or should I just keep my mind empty and focus on listening/feeling where the qi goes during the exercise.
Thanks

Answer from Des

Hello Joshua,
Initially, as in the vast majority of Qigong exercises, you should focus on guiding the Qi through the meridians. In CH&E this is done by making sure that the postures are correct for you to open/activate the acupoints/meridians. Also by using the focus to actively guide the Qi along the meridians. Once you have practiced this way for a while you can move on to keeping the mind empty and “listening” to the Qi flow. Most students find that the transition from guiding to listening is done incrementally as they guide, then listen to make sure that they are accurate in the guidance.
Regards,
Des


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Question from Steven

Hi Des,
Next course? I have just learned Connecting Heaven and Earth and I would like to know how long should I wait until I then add the next course that I selected, The Embroidered Qigong? I plan to do both of them as part of my daily qigong practice.

Answer from Des

Hello Steven,
You can practice both in tandem as they are complementary. By doing this you should start to be aware of the differences in the Qi flow and the quality of the Qi from each. The Embroidered Brocade, practiced properly, will develop good posture and a quiet body/mind as well as providing the benefits from healthy Qi flow.

I know that there are a lot of “qigong” exercises being taught and it can be frustrating when there is a lack of progress. You might become more physically flexible and strong but there is no advancement with regards to your Qi. Take your time with the Qigong that I am teaching. Be diligent in your daily practice. Take time to listen to the Qi.

Through inexperience, I thought that I knew the Embroidered Brocade once I had learned the physical movements………. I hadn’t! I was doing slow aerobics. It took me a long time to understand the need for quiet. It took me a long time to truly experience Qi. In these courses I am guiding students so that they do not experience all the dead ends that I did before I found the right master, one who provided me with the compass I needed.

I “learned” the Embroidered Brocade over thirty years ago and I learned Connecting Heaven and Earth Qigong twenty odd years ago………… and I am still learning from them and from the other Qigong that I practice. Treat your Qigong as an adventure, keep an open mind, keep a quiet body, and enjoy.

Regards,
Des


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Question from Robert


I have more questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth Qigong than any other set.

I notice that in the embrace then washing the face you have first the left then the right hand inside is there a reason for this please by the way the best description of listening jin I have heard.

Answer from Des

Hello Robert,
I am often asked this question, or similar questions, relating to the hands crossing in Qigong. There are two schools of thought……………… two answers……………….. but one of them can impede on your Qigong.

The first method is to alternate with each repetition. So it would be left, right, left, right, etc. This, like counting off exactly how many repetitions you are doing, takes your focus away from the Qigong. It weakens the Qigong. This is why I never use, or teach, this method.

The second is to let the hands/arms cross naturally. They will alternate to suit the needs of your Qi (not in a left, right, left, right pattern but they will alternate to maintain balance) as your consciousness guides the movement. This is when the Shen works in tandem with the Yi.

With no need to keep count, or to keep note of what way we are crossing the arms, we can focus the Yi on guiding the Qi. This is best practice for Qigong.
I hope that this is of help.

Regards,
Des


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Question from Steven

Hi Des,
Next course? I have just learned Connecting Heaven and Earth and I would like to know how long should I wait until I then add the next course that I selected, The Embroidered Qigong? I plan to do both of them as part of my daily qigong practice.

Answer from Des

Questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth - guiding the Qi.
Questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth – Practicing other Qigong in tandem.

Hello Steven,
You can practice both in tandem as they are complementary. By doing this you should start to be aware of the differences in the Qi flow and the quality of the Qi from each. The Embroidered Brocade, practiced properly, will develop good posture and a quiet body/mind as well as providing the benefits from healthy Qi flow.

I know that there are a lot of “qigong” exercises being taught and it can be frustrating when there is a lack of progress. You might become more physically flexible and strong but there is no advancement with regards to your Qi. Take your time with the Qigong that I am teaching. Be diligent in your daily practice. Take time to listen to the Qi.

Through inexperience, I thought that I knew the Embroidered Brocade once I had learned the physical movements………. I hadn’t! I was doing slow aerobics. It took me a long time to understand the need for quiet. It took me a long time to truly experience Qi. In these courses I am guiding students so that they do not experience all the dead ends that I did before I found the right master, one who provided me with the compass I needed.

I “learned” the Embroidered Brocade over thirty years ago and I learned Connecting Heaven and Earth Qigong twenty odd years ago………… and I am still learning from them and from the other Qigong that I practice. Treat your Qigong as an adventure, keep an open mind, keep a quiet body, and enjoy.

Regards,
Des


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Question from Simon

What to ‘look’ for?
Hi Des. I’ve been practising the first three movements daily now (am slowly adding more each week). I have two questions that are related that I wonder whether you can help with. Firstly, I know you elude to this in an earlier part so the course, but what is it that I should be ‘looking’ for in feeling Qi? Secondly, should you do the exercises with eyes open or closed? The reason I ask, and the next bit might sound daft, but with my eyes closed, after a few minutes of the first movement, I get a pretty consistent ‘tingling’ for want of a better word (a bit like goosebumps but without the bumps?) from around my right knee that appears to travel upwards. With eyes open this doesn’t happen. Sorry, having written and now re-read it, it sounds rather mad, but I’m curious.
By the way, I love the clear and simple directions, along with the theory to back up the movements – great stuff.

Simon

Answer from Des

Hi Simon,
Not mad at all………….. They are questions that I get over and over.

“………………..what is it that I should be ‘looking’ for in feeling Qi?” You are “looking” for two things………. nothing and change. This might appear to be an ambiguous answer. It is anything but! Qi is experienced in many, many, ways and a common error that is made by practitioners is that they look for, or feel for, the same sensation/manifestation every time they practice. By using “Listening Jing” and being passively aware you open up your opportunities to experience the vast array of Qi. You experience these by noticing change……… The experiences of the subtle changes that occur in the Qi are almost always impossible to describe to your satisfaction and (when it is the Qi that you are describing) you find yourself saying things like “It is a bit like…..” “……… It kind of reminds me of………” Do you recognise that difficulty in description?  It can get very frustrating if you are trying to describe what you are experiencing because you are fettered by language that describes the physical as you try to describe the energetic.

“should you do the exercises with eyes open or closed?” Open or closed eyes are dealt with in stages. Initially the eyes should be open as this assists you to guide the Qi during the movements. Once you start to become aware of the Qi (and you are) you can close your eyes and “Listen” to how it moves and changes. For beginners, having the eyes closed can be a disadvantage and slow progress. However, as I have said, once you start to be aware of the Qi there is an advantage in closing the eyes as this removes visual distraction and you are then using the Yi (cognitive mind) to guide the Qi while getting the feedback (experiencing the changes and movement) using “Listening Jing”.

“The reason I ask, and the next bit might sound daft, but with my eyes closed, after a few minutes of the first movement, I get a pretty consistent ‘tingling’ for want of a better word (a bit like goosebumps but without the bumps?) from around my right knee that appears to travel upwards. With eyes open this doesn’t happen.” When you are closing your eyes your body/mind is becoming quiet. With your eyes open your surroundings, what you are seeing, is creating “noise”.

It is great to hear of your progress!

I hope that this helps. Des

Reply from Simon

Hi Des, thanks, your reply is much appreciated. In fact this morning I experienced that same feeling running along the neck and side of face whilst performing ‘Sliding down the mirror” – more or less along the same path as noted in the introductory notes there.

Best wishes
Simon

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Question from Hugh

Hi Des, I’ve recently joined your Qigong course, Connecting Heaven and Earth and now practice daily. I’ve really enjoyed learning this form and would like to learn more. I note you have some other courses and I was wondering if you might suggest another to try or perhaps a sequence in which to take the courses on? I would also like to develop some knowledge of the theory behind the forms. Could you recommend a book perhaps that would give some theory regarding the points that are mentioned and perhaps how different movements relate to the body and health.
I also practice Wing Tsun which is focused externally. At a recent seminar I cam across Qigong and the tangible reality of internal arts fascinated me and started me on this path. I am now very keen to learn more. Connecting Heaven and Earth has been wonderful, so I would be delighted if you could offer some further advice.

Regards,
Hugh

Answer from Des

Hi Hugh,
Given your Wing Tsun background, I recommend the Embroidered Brocade as your next course. As well as being excellent Qigong these exercises really make you work on posture, rooting the body and sinking the Qi………… All of which are necessary in Qigong. But they will also have an effect on your Kung Fu as they were developed, in part, to increase Peng. They were the first Qigong that I learned and I still practice them regularly over thirty years on. Testament to their quality.
Regarding books. I do not know of any that are Qigong specific (a project that I have been wrestling with for many years) but there is a book on general TCM called “A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth” by Tom Bisio that is well worth having in your reading list.
I’m really pleased that you enjoyed CH&E and that your Qigong journey is well and truly started.

Des

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Question from Leigh

When crossing your hands either at the heart, or at the third eye does it matter which hand is closest to the body for each move?

Answer from Des

No it does not really matter. You could focus on alternating left and right but this is an additional distraction. What you will probably find is that your arms will start to cross in an apparently random manner as the Yi guides them, subconsciously, to maintain balance in the Qi.

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Question from Linda

For ‘eagle spreads its wings’, should the fingers be spread as wide for both the upward and downward movement?

Answer from Des

Yes, you need to keep the fingers spread for both movements.

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Question from Karen

Why do we splay the fingers slightly for eagle spreads its wings and then keep them closed for saying a prayer?

Answer from Des

The hands are opened like this so that the acupuncture point, Heart Governor 8 is opened/activated. The point is in the centre of the palm.

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Question from Karen

Saying a prayer
When guiding the Qi down towards the Dantian is it 3 dimensionally through all meridians in the body or should I be guiding the Qi through a linear channel like chong mai, ren mai or just between the hands or a different specific pathway?

Answer from Des

The focus is between the hands. The intention is the Dan Tien.
With the intention on the Dan Tien, the Qi starts to accumulate there even before the hands start to lower.The lowering of the hands enhances this attraction to the Dan Tien and the accumulation of the Qi.
Even though the hands, the physical part of the exercise, are downward the Qi is drawn from all directions to your “centre”.
This, effectively and efficiently, guides the Qi through all the meridians and extra vessels.
NB. For beginners. You are not drawing ALL your Qi to the Dan Tien (not possible). You are, for want of a better description, putting newly earned cash in the bank.

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Question from Lesley

Dominant hand

Is it helpful to use your dominant hand as the ‘receiving’ hand, or vice versa?

Answer from Des

Most people usually use their dominant hand for transmitting Qi. However this is not really necessary and you can use both hands for both tasks. It is, actually, only the Yi that gets in the way……….. the brain, and old thought patterns, making things difficult.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a lady who was a healer who worked with Qi on a daily basis, and who had real control over its transmission. She never called it Qi, but Qi is only a word. Anyway, her lineage taught that women transmitted with the left hand and received with the right. Men were the opposite. My martial arts background had taught me to transmit and receive with both…………… so we just kept working that way.
It’s a case of whatever floats your boat 🙂 ………….. Dogmatically following rules closes the mind and restricts your growth.

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Question from Lesley

Qualities of Chi/Qi
If you are constantly ‘sinking the chi’ in Wuji, what distinguishes this from guiding the chi along the various channels? Is there a different quality to the Chi that sinks and the Chi that is being guided, or is it being divided in some way?

Answer from Des

Short question……………. Longer answer! This is going to take me a while to get the wording right (or as correct as my vocabulary will allow).
I’ll answer the last bit first…………. No, you are not dividing it. You are connecting it……… sort of. That is to say that, through the action of sinking the Qi and raising the Shen, YOU are consciously connecting to your energy body. Although we are looking at this, thinking about this, in a two dimensional manner…………. Up and down……… the expansion of our awareness of the energy body is in ALL directions (even though we might not be aware of this initially).
This action is only possible when our body/minds are quiet (I know that I keep on repeating this but it is crucial) and it is through this expansion of awareness that you become, truly, aware of your Qi. This awareness goes beyond the physical body.
All of these essences, these qualities are always connected (ie. They are always interacting and communicating) with these connections explained in the Five Element Theory.
The distinction that you ask about is that the sinking of the Qi and the raising of the Shen expands your awareness of self, of the energy body as well as the physical body. You are then using this awareness to guide the Qi to various points and in various directions, depending on the accuracy of your Qigong. During this guiding you will experience the quality of the Qi that you are working on.
Additionally, how you experience the sinking Qi and raising Shen, and how you experience the Qi of the meridians (How your brain interprets what it is “feeling”) will not always be the same. This is because of what is known as your “condition”, the effect that your environment and life in general is having on you, affects the flow and the qualities of the Qi.

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Question from Craig

connecting the shoulder
I was wondering if you could clarify the method used to keep shoulders dropped and connected during raise hands and sliding down a mirror movements, are there any visualizations that can be used to train the correct movement in the shoulder joint?

Answer from Des

The method of visualization that I prefer is to have “heavy” elbows. By that, I mean that the elbows are always hanging down, that the shoulders are not strong enough to lift them. Even when the hands are above shoulder level, or above the head, the weight of these “heavy” elbows keeps the shoulders down………….. and connected.

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Do you have questions about Connecting Heaven & Earth?

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.

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