Errors In Method
Updated: May 11, 2022
Having discussed the correct way to practice, it's time to explore things to avoid. Many people have trained longer than I have been alive yet have only grown more unhealthy because they maintain bad habits. We must try to do better. One of the reasons for this video series is to correct the bits of misinformation I taught before I knew better.
Watch the video online: 3B: Errors in Method - YouTube
For example, it's common for a student to copy a teacher's movement without understanding its purpose. Comprehending the objective of the practice is what allows you to transform. Otherwise, you are reinforcing old patterns of tension without developing new skills. Always take the time to learn the "why" as soon as you know the "how."
Often, the first step is to be a bit less rigid during practice. However, sometimes it's difficult for beginners to know when they are holding muscular tension, pushing their emotions, or clinging to thoughts. This confusion is why it's essential to develop the ability to pay attention and listen as we begin these practices. Imagine that you are cutting vegetables with a knife. If you were to meet unexpected resistance with the knife, you would want to be attentive enough to stop your cutting. This skill could save you a lot of pain. During practice, notice your bad habits as they arise, and you will free yourself from your constraint.
At this moment, scan your body and practice letting go for 5 seconds. What do you notice?
Are you feeling a little better than before?
We want to avoid adding more stress to our system as a rule. Each session should leave us closer to our goal of wholeness, softness, deep peace, clarity, and embodied wisdom. We will heal our symptoms and develop a healthy back with these qualities.
Of course, you mustn't center your mind around negative patterns. As mentioned in the last class, attention should rest upon healing qualities like spaciousness, softness, and interconnection. Begin to develop those, and you will notice when they are obstructed by tension. That makes it simple to release the blockage immediately.
Another widespread mistake is either not practicing enough or training too hard. Once again, mindfulness will protect you from injury. When you become uptight, you will feel the desire to do a bit of relaxing. If you train too long and feel fatigued, only noticing will give you the chance to prevent exhaustion. It's like eating delicious veggies at an endless buffet. The experience will slowly shift from nourishing to sleepy sickness if you gulp mindlessly. Usually, people pay more attention to their cravings than their appetites. Listen to what your body tells you, and you are far more likely to succeed. Some students say, "Oh, this is wonderful! I will train 8 hours a day!" After a week, I never hear from them again. It would have been better to start very slowly and learn how to be consistent. Suppose you followed my earlier advice of cultivating a solid but effortless daily practice. In that case, you already might have avoided this bad habit. Master Zhicheng often shares the traditional training proverb, "Don't be afraid of going slowly, only be afraid of stopping completely."
When I was first studying qigong methods, I traveled with friends across the planet to check with the best and most open instructors we could find. In New Zealand, an instructor shares a system that emphasizes long periods of standing posture. He was wonderfully kind and generous and spent many hours each day teaching us about the basics of this system. He casually mentioned that the most earnest students train with standing postures for 3-hours each day. Of course, when we returned home, my friends and I began to stand for at least 3 hours each day. Sweating and shaking, we compressed our bodies into smaller and smaller packages of tension and resistance. Because we didn't gradually develop our ability to stand effortlessly, we only improved our capacity to become rigid. It has taken years to undo that damage! It's much better to develop slowly and cultivate a nourishing practice.
As your connection and attention improve, you will finally feel those body areas that have been numb or neglected for many years. A stiff back ignored for decades may unexpectedly demand your attention. You may also abruptly be able to perceive suppressed thoughts and feelings.
Now that you are listening, which spots in your body are letting you know they need help? Write them down in your journal, and keep track to observe your progress.
For many new students who are not expecting an awkward phase of their healing, the sensations may become unbearable. Rather than recognizing that they must inhabit their own experiences before recovery, they assume that the practice makes them worse. The big mistake here is to stop progressing in the middle of healing. They may decide that ignorance is bliss and choose to quit practicing rather than experience their hidden imbalance. Everyone wants to improve, but few want to change.
As you cultivate the ability to attend to your practice, some students (like me) become hyper-focused on a single aspect. Or they might use visualization methods to force qi to move. This kind of intention is just another form of tension (in-tension?). It doesn't allow you to return to a naturally clear mind. Remember Master Feng's advice to practice light-heartedly with only a gentle awareness of what you're growing. Maintain a light touch with your thoughts and expectations, and don't take yourself too seriously.
As you gain skills over time, incorporate each into your daily cultivation. For instance, soon, you'll learn about proper postural relationships. Afterward, don't throw out that knowledge to discover the next lesson. That would be like going to a store, buying healthy veggies, loading them into your car, and never taking them out of the trunk again. Not only did you waste good food, but you ended up with a smelly car. Bring your new skills along with you, and avoid skipping steps or moving too quickly through the sequence. Allow each lesson to grow upon the last, progressing into the next. Small skills combine like threads interwoven into a coiled rope.
The Next Step:
Now that we have discussed general errors in method and approach, it's helpful to examine specific mistakes that would derail your healing process. The next lesson will help you avoid some of the most common stumbling blocks on your path to healing with qigong. Remember to maintain your daily training routine and continue your momentum.
Take your time to explore, intuit, and journal about each noted mistake. Which are most likely to cause you trouble? What steps can you take to make it easier for you to correct them immediately? Ask your training buddy about how you can support each other, and write down ideas in the comment section below. Your words and experience may help students years from now.
You're on your way to discovering how your practice will influence your entire life! Happy training!
Remember that this is only a tiny part of a more extensive system and sequence of teaching videos. Subscribe to my channel to learn more!
Make sure that you begin your practice at the beginning of the sequence
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