Do ya have a furnace that needs fanning?

‘Fanning the Furnace’ Guided Imagery Meditation Chi Kung

Tan Tien Breathing is also known as Fanning the Furnace Breathing, Lower Heaven Breathing, or Field of Elixir Breathing. These names refer to a type of ages-old guided imagery chi kung (chi kung/qigong means breathing in congruence with effort or in time with movement). The most common title that I’ve come to utilize is Fanning the (sparkling) Furnace.

In this tradition (Tao Chan/Ming Chia), it is said that there are two tan tien points/portals. With regard to the ‘real’ tan tien, it is located just behind the navel/CV-8 acupoint (also known as the sea of chi). This point is approximately two and one-half inches (two and one-half cun – e.g., personal thumb-widths – per one’s own body mapping) above the ‘curculatory’ tan tien/CV-5 acupoint (CV is the common abbreviation for the central vessel in acupressure/TCM/traditional Chinese medicine theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the body’s central bio-electric energy (chi/qi) point or ‘furnace’ and the circulatory tan tien is as per its namesake, for circulating the bio-electric energy stored in the real tan tien: This so-coined energy is viewed as our ‘original energy’ which has an intrinsic association with our kidneys, where, in an healthy person, it additionally resides. It is also said that this is the energy which one is born with -and/or brought us into this existence – one again, all in congruence with traditional acupuncture/TCM theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the place where our corporeal bio-electric energy is generally centered. Though through true effort, pertinent insight, and meditative witnessing/guided imagery, one can better and better learn to (QUITE healthfully) enhance this centering or storage of bio-electric energy/chi/ki/pranha – not unlike a ‘furnace’ or ‘field of elixir’ or ‘sea of chi’. Traditionally speaking, when one focuses one’s mind/attention/yi at this point & performs competent abdominal/diaphragmatic, it is believed to substantively enhance the quality of one’s health and well-being (which is such that words do not adequately describe – it can only be better and better witnessed).

Such breathing, relaxation, and guided imagery congruent with the execution of competent ‘witnessing’ (versus thinking) during any activity or level of ‘being’ is the centerpiece of true meditation. Such is traditionally and particularly performed with the practice of chi kung, tai chi chuan, kung fu, and yoga – albeit in can be embraced and practiced with almost all activity (sedate or moving through life’s general activities).

This practice is viewed as a potent means by which to promote health/wellness/greater longevity, e.g., centering/lowering/sinking/concentrating one’s bio-electric energy – enhancing one’s furnace or field of elixir – building the strength of one’s energy so that one can learn to feel the sparkling energy at will (AND all-of-the-time). It can only be realized when combined with skilled diaphragmatic breathing: such skilled breathing is what can be coined as fanning the furnace.

Once one becomes quite skilled in this practice, one can learn to use/move it in fashions congruent with various traditional and more complicated types of guided imagery/meditation/witnessing – consistent with succinct manipulation for health/wellness/treatment purposes (inclusive of stimulation of acupoints for self-treatment and using one’s hands to stimulate/treat the acupoints using one’s fingers and hands – coined traditionally as chi kung an mo): Theretofore, as one learns to fan the furnace competently, one learns to employ the circulatory tan tien in order to move the energy in one’s various guided imagery/visualization practices. Please realize that these skills, are just that – skills. It should be quite obvious that these practices cannot be learned ‘overnight’.

This basic guided imagery utilizes either the advance or reverse breathing methods (as described below). Even though this type of meditative breathing guided imagery is considered a most basic technique, it does not mean that it is easy or of lesser importance, e.g., most students of the art will not go further along (to even more difficult techniques), which makes this technique all the more important. AND this technique is the foundation of all other types of traditional guided imagery visualization.

It can be misunderstood that the real tan tien can be so much more important than the circulatory tan tien. Albeit, like the real tan tien point, the circulatory tan tien is viewed as a very important point also – each complement the other, yin to yang – yang to yin. As stated, the latter’s purpose is to circulate chi but not store it (e.g., IT cannot store chi). By practicing pertinent guided imagery, one can ‘fan the furnace’ so-to-speak AND healthfully promote the circulation of chi. Through time and effort, one learns to practice both types of tan tien breathing – which as stated are meant to intrinsically complement one another. Therein, one can attain a nearer and nearer to impeccable state of stillness. In working toward this, remarkable levels of relaxation and lightness can be realized/embraced. All of this must be complemented by what is coined as ‘witnessing’ – learning to play the part of a less and less blemished witness in one’s guided imagery meditation. These practices cannot be entirely rationally understood – but at best being a witness without thought or expectations (thoughts which most often serve to get in the way).

These practices are coined as true skills, e.g., all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing consistent fanning the furnace through guided imagery meditation/witnessing, and true relaxation – altogether congruent with working toward true mastery thereof. The meaning of this ‘true mastery’ is enjoying such objective insight that one witnesses the truth – inclusive of, that the greatest blessing of all is that no matter how skilled one becomes, there is always room for improvement (most particularly on this Earth). Accordingly, it is learning to better and better play the part of an healthy conduit/diplomat between Heaven (OR just the heavens – whichever one prefers) and Earth…in harmony with better and better realization of true health.

Below find a most basic form of Fanning the Furnace guided imagery:

This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.

Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture. At more and more skilled levels, it can be performed in most any setting in one’s daily life – which is a primary goal. It is traditionally set forth that there may be nothing more healthful.

This exercise is engineered to be practiced in a spirit congruent with the following question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy? (it is additionally practiced as a so-titled ancillary guided imagery which is a preparation exercise for most other types of guided imagery meditation in this tradition)

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory – promoting of greater and greater homeostasis). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between. Constantly adjust one’s eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring – a ‘visual meditative demeanor’ (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Fan the furnace by getting the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen.

One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

A minority of people benefit more from reverse breathing – breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out pushing one’s abdomen in. Unlike the former advance-style breathing, this breathing is more for people who tend to be more so lethargic/cold/less active, versus those who tend to be more so stressed/anxious/very active/warm. Advance breathing is also coined summer breathing, and reverse breathing is also coined winter breathing. The former cools one, the latter warms one. Both can be utilized for fanning the furnace guided imagery.

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?” Don’t continue to work toward thinking about the question, but endeavor to be in that splendid spirit.

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, don’t hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword (h’uo t’uo) that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Using the above-stated criteria, move onto this variation of the Fanning the Furnace exercise: As one breathes in, imagine that one’s breath fans/strengthens the furnace behind one’s navel with fresh energy – not unlike a gentle fire or sparkling warmth. As one breathes out, imagine that the breath out further fans the furnace. Learn to relax and witness this, versus think about it. Over time, one can learn to feel/witness the furnace at will, all-of-the-time. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with the proper breathing and relaxation.

*Remember, this is all congruent with learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing and witnessing AND learning to truly relax. The diaphragmatic breathing complements witnessing and relaxation and vice-versa. These facets are intrinsically connected. They are initially learned separately, but are one or in harmony when realized at a skilled level.

**When one learns to feel the sparkling furnace at will, one moves onto moving the energy around the body in order to heal the body, and for general guided imagery purposes. Many complementary types of traditional guided imagery can be taught and are set forth in student handouts and in my blog posts. There are over a dozen guided imagery practices handed-down in this tradition.

***The ‘sparkling feelings’ have a truly significant association with the spine-tingling/sparkling feelings some experience in special (often sentimental) moments in one’s lifetime. Additionally (and not in any way to be in a spirit of being coarse), many people sometimes experience these types of feelings during urination. These feelings are completely in the realm of ‘sweet and innocent’, and not in any fashion sexual.

****The key is to learn to succinctly center/focus the so-coined energy at the furnace and strengthen it there – stronger and stronger and stronger, and learn to additionally use it, move it, in a splendidly healthful fashion congruent with tradition. This practice is traditionally complemented by the handed-down resonant healing/assertive Five Phases single and multisyllabic sounds.

*****Please know that all of the nomenclature/terminology utilized herein is just that, terminology – never meant to be misleading. It is said that “real truth can only be witnessed, not thought about or logically understood.” It is said that “the Way that can be told is not the eternal Way, the way that can be told is the mother of all things.” It is reflected in the madman screaming, “If the stars are not words, stop calling them stars.” Even so, we as human beings most often, at least in most settings, begin learning things by way of words. It can be a beginning, but at best not the whole or the end. – Dr Glen Hepker

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How important is it to learn to alleviate our addiction to cyclical (ruminative) thinking?

The Sword Guided Imagery

In analogy, we can use a ‘sword’ as a form of guided imagery, e.g., in order to assist one in clearing one’s mind of internal dialogue, e.g., the next-best thing to actually emptying one’s mind. Being that many people find it fairly unviable to truly empty their mind of thought, the H’ou T’ou was invented…the Sword that works as a visualization/guided imagery technique which makes it a simpler matter to learn these techniques at the most basic level.

This guided imagery can be used in harmony/congruence with one’s exercising – walking, jogging, yoga, tai chi chuan, chi kung, etc., or simply sitting, standing, or laying down.

It is said that many centuries ago, a head monk at a Chinese monastery noticed that the latest monk recruits were not up to par. They had difficulty learning to empty their minds. Hence the warmhearted head monk invented the concept and types of the H’ou T’ou, e.g., the sword that alleviates/cuts out internal dialogue – abbreviation of the ‘weight’ of thought. This more easily allowed practitioners thereafter to be ‘lighter’ and to more easily learn to appreciate true meditation and all of its manifest benefits.

There are many versions of the H’ou T’ou guided imagery – in the traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow, ALL types of guided imagery fall under this protocol. Albeit this most basic guided imagery promotes a purely psychological and physiological harmony, e.g.:

Simply thinking the word “in” as one breathes in, and the word “out” as one breathes out.

As with all guided imagery, this is meant to keep one’s mind from thinking about anything else, curtailing the cyclical thoughts which most people have difficulty abbreviating. Most correctly, it is practiced in congruence with ‘advance’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in, pushing one’s abdomen out, breathing out pulling one’s abdomen in), or ‘reverse’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, breathing out, pushing one’s abdomen out).

Herein, each form of guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture. Eyes can be open or closed (it is recommended to practice it both ways).

A second most basic form of using this Sword is to again –

Breathe in and think “in” but count with each breath out, e.g., “one” through “10” and then start from one again.

This is especially important with treating insomnia, much like ‘counting sheep’, as they say. A third most basic form of using the Sword is set forth at the bottom of this article – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Simply put, one of the primary purposes of guided imagery meditation is to lessen or alleviate sadness, depression, frustration, anger, or any type of stress and anxiety; it is VERY difficult to feel those feelings if one is not thinking such thoughts.

In nurturing this tool, it can be utilized in stressful situations to promote calm clear-headedness. This and all types of guided imagery can lead one to the next step, which is to actually learn to genuinely empty one’s mind. In this tradition, it is working and working and working to play the part of a less and less blemished witness…a true and honest witness. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing AND fanning the sparkling spine-tingling ‘furnace’ behind one’s navel.

QUITE important in these traditions, is the notion that among the greatest gifts on this Earth is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement, greater and greater skill and insight – greater and greater mastery. It is also said that, employing these gifts, is a ‘glimpse of Heaven’ – True Meditation.

A third most basic Sword/H’ou T’ou guided imagery is set forth below:

How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between. Constantly adjust one’s eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, don’t hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’. — Dr Glen Hepker

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Wholeness: Is it just a concept or can it be more and more real? How important is true appreciation?

In these ages-old traditions, it is said that craving, desire, and fear of change, especially healthful change, are the root of most suffering. When we learn to better and better abbreviate clinging to our fear, desire, and suffering we can catch more and more common glimpses of what it is like to take genuine ownership of deeply healthful views…outlooks which in their practical application QUITE succinctly make the world a better place. It is SO much about learning to witness what it is like to be without our ‘walls of lies’ – to not be lost in the stagnicity of overt concern about the past or future. In learning to witness and take part in the living loving story of our lives (vs. just being a pawn to the story of our lives), we can better and better alleviate ourselves of the three portents (harbingers of all bad tidings) – hate, greed, and ignorance. It is ALL about being mindful and present, in a loving, selfless, altruistic awareness of what is genuinely important, i.e., a quintessentially resplendent light bright spirit of true appreciation of the miracle of the moment: This such splendid way-of-being allows us, enables us to genuinely embrace/deeply witness within ourselves a holistic oneness of the mind, body, and spirit. It allows us to lovingly embrace healthful change.

It is NOT about living for the moment, but living in the moment: If there is a Heaven, a key to the universe, even a sixth sense, they are rooted in true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less to hide behind. It is a loving, selfless, and sweet and innocent sparkling spine-tingling/shivering appreciation – a glimpse of a so-to-speak existence where there is no time, no space, no distance – no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow. It is a glimpse of an existence where all is known – once again, nothing to hide behind.

It is a beautiful key to true health and true responsibility. It is a path of heart – a way of life more and more without unhealthful fear, unhealthful pride, and blind greed. It is SO much about being healthful conduits/diplomats between Heaven and Earth, aka True Appreciation! — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Learning how to breathe…

Sounds silly or crazy – doesn’t everyone know how to breathe? Only on a most basic level they do – and such breathing, e.g, using only the upper part of our lungs to breathe shallowly, genuinely isn’t the most healthful way to breathe. And this is proven empirically. Most people do not breathe in a most healthful fashion.

Shallow breathing can have a negative effect on most of the functions of one’s body – inclusive of one’s sleep, mood, energy levels, and all of our neurovegetative systems, together with the quality of circulation in every cell of our bodies. Shallow breathing abbreviates the amount of oxygen and energy circulated throughout one’s body.

Learning to breathe properly every moment (not just when we are conscious of our breathing), allows us more energy, overall improved health, inclusive of greater homeostasis, relaxation, circulation, less anxiety and fear – better preparing us for the stressors that life throws at us. It can even can have a positive effect regarding our realization of happiness, self-fulfillment, and clear thinking. This breathing paradigm better promotes secretion of relaxing, pain-killing hormones. Our bodies are meant to breathe in this fashion, but in Western culture, this isn’t commonly taught or promoted – people generally aren’t aware of this way of breathing, and/or its importance. Healthful infants breathe this way naturally, but it is believed that, through the stress of life and chronic raising our shoulders, the quality of our breathing devolves and we breathe less deeply – more at our chests. In many cultures, the importance of belly breathing is taught as children move toward adulthood.

1. This all relates to what is coined as diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. Singers learn this type of breathing, as do many of those who learn ancient arts such as yoga, chi kung, and tai chi chuan. It is set forth in those arts that nothing is more healthful than learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It is said thereof, that if one practices diaphragmatic breathing at least five minutes twice per day, within 30 to 60 days, most people will have trained their central nervous systems to accept the rhythm of this type of breathing all day, every day.

There are two types of diaphragmatic breathing: Advance abdominal breathing is performed by breathing in and pushing one’s abdomen out, and breathing out and pulling one’s abdomen in – much like pretending that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. At first one needs to do this consciously, but with practice over time, one learns to do it unconsciously; the same goes for reverse abdominal breathing, e.g., but it is just the opposite – breathing in, pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out, pushing it out. It is up to each person to decide which works better for them. Albeit, it is believed that in these stressful times, more than not, people will benefit more with focusing most on the advance breathing methodology. That said, ‘one size does not fit all’. It is believed that advance breathing releases heat and reverse breathing creates heat (quite generally, the former being for stressed-out people and the latter being for people who are more lethargic in nature).

2. It is significant to breathe in and out through the nose, or in through the nose out through the mouth. We should generally not breathe in through the nose, unless one has congestion, or if one is performing highly aerobic exercise such as running (then one should breathe in through both the nose and mouth, as necessary).

In addition, the nose is designed to filter raw air, warm it if cold, make it less dry if dry, etc. It serves to filter the air, it cleans it of debris, such as viral, bacterial, fungi, and toxic matter – even just dust/dirt. Hence, it is generally more healthful to inhale by way of the nose.

3. With diaphragmatic breathing, each time one inhales, it should feel like the air is going all the way down to one’s stomach. The muscles most succinctly associated with breathing, most especially deep breathing as such and ideally, consist of the diaphragm, abdomen, chest, neck, and shoulders.

It is extremely important to learn to keep one’s shoulders relaxed with regard to this means of breathing – undue raising of the shoulders pulls on and tightens the diaphragmatic muscles, making it much more difficult and less natural to breathe deeply. Raising the shoulders also pertains to the ‘fight or flight’ response, e.g., is very much associated with fear, anxiety, and stress – and these feelings can prompt the adrenal glands to secrete hormones that make one more tense.

Diaphragmatic breathing assists one’s lungs in their function of gas exchange – the quality of which is significantly enhanced when taking place deep into the lower lungs. When breathing at the diaphragm, the diaphragm better massages the liver, stomach, and intestines – promoting an enhanced rhythmical balance/circulation. The lymphatic system has an important function with regard to the immune system – it can do its work much better when congruent with diaphragmatic breathing – most particularly in ridding the body of waste products from the bowels. Diaphragmatic breathing diminishes pressure in the chest and belly – relaxing the heart, making its work easier. It also allows the proper breathing muscles to do their job, versus other muscles having to do unnecessary work when breathing is shallow, e.g., just in the chest: as the chest becomes more relaxed as such, the neck and shoulders will have less tenseness, misalignment, and discomfort/pain.

4. True relaxation is of the upmost importance. We ALWAYS come out further ahead the more relaxed we are. The better we learn all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, the more relaxed we are, and the more we avoid abbreviated levels of oxygen, which unto itself, makes the body and brain more stressed.

By strategically taking control of one’s breathing and making it more relaxed, it is like a positive domino effect. It is like tuning up one’s mind/body connection, therein and everything in-between. Our bodies respond in kind, prompting overall enhanced functioning. When the body and mind are relaxed, health is good, energy is high, and it becomes a more simple matter to be happy, appreciative, and loving – toward others and within/toward oneself.

5. Everything has a natural rhythm and vibration. This includes everything in our world, our universe – just like a finely-tuned clock: The seasons, earth, oceans, moon, stars, all of nature, etc. Our bodies are just the same…at best. For us, proper breathing promotes this clock to function better – inclusive of homeostasis (a healthful balance of the central nervous system), and the healthful secretion of hormones, on and on. When our bodies are tuned, they function the best – and proper breathing is a significant facet of this rhythm of true health.

— Dr. Glen Hepker

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Health & Healing With Small Cycle Breathing Guided Imagery…

This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.

Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.

Ancillary preparatory exercise: titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between.

Constantly adjust one’s vision so that one is looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring: herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s external environment – ideally without expectations…as if all is new to you, you know nothing (it isn’t genuinely possible to do this, but it is important to try). After a bit of time (as one chooses – but try not to hurry), continue with one’s eyes closed. Keep one’s eyes in their sockets as if one’s eyes are open and looking just slightly above straight ahead (don’t let one’s eyes droop or drop): herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s internal environment, without fear or discomfort.

Unlike most of the gratitude-based ancillary preparatory guided imagery in this tradition, when the ancillary preparatory exercise is preparing one for Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery, one gets the ‘engine’ of the diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going with ‘reverse’ abdominal breathing, vs. advance abdominal breathing: Breathe in, pull one’s abdomen in, breathe out, push one’s abdomen out. Make certain one’s shoulders don’t rise, especially with the inhalation.

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Again, endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, try not to hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

*Per tradition, the primary diaphragmatic breathing type utilized when performing Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery is reverse breathing. Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery is meant to complement the power/benefits of reverse breathing. It is also one of the types of guided imagery utilized during the practice of tai chi chuan.

**Taking into account the overall stress-laden and anxiety-provoking mien/demeanor or way of life within modern societies, it is believed that, through the eye of this tradition, that a majority of people benefit more from advance abdominal breathing than they do with reverse abdominal breathing. Albeit, it is up to each practitioner to decide which works best for them. Reverse breathing works better for people who tend towards lethargy, low energy, or feeling cold a lot – hence it can be also coined as ‘winter breathing’. Advance abdominal breathing works better for people who tend towards being more on the ‘hyper’ side, anxious or stressed, and for those who are often more warm/hot vs. cold – hence it can also be coined as summer breathing. That said, many people can be ‘on the fence’ in this regard.

It may be important/beneficial for such on-the-fence-type-people to learn and gather greater and greater insight into this premise, and act accordingly – sometimes utilizing one, and sometimes utilizing the other. Having said that, it is traditionally believed that almost all people can benefit from Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery, no matter which side of the fence they tend towards, and even if they most commonly practice advance breathing.

***Whichever type of breathing one prefers or finds more natural, one of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

Small Cycle Breathing Guided Imagery…

According to the ages-old traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow – inclusive of acupuncture theory, this type of guided imagery was engineered to enhance the connection of, and the circulation within the Governing Vessel/Du Mai and Central/Conception Vessel/Ren Mai. These two ‘vessels’ are thought to rule all the bioelectric meridians and other six vessels. This means that this type of guided imagery will significantly invigorate the practitioner, in its own fashion promoting a greater holistic connection within, and healing of/for the whole self. This is inclusive of splendid homeostasis – a healthful balance in the central nervous system. All guided imagery is meant to do this in somewhat different ways, though this type does it through connecting these two primary vessels and enhancing the quality of the movement of the energy thereof.

Continue in the humble stance with the gentle Swaying Willow chi kung. In all forms of chi kung, be as relaxed as one can be while still standing (or like earlier, this can be done sitting, but without the Swaying Willow mien). Keep one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth. Keep the engine of the reverse diaphragmatic breathing going.

Bring all of one’s attention to ever-so-slightly just below the tip of one’s tailbone (which is Governing Vessel Acupoint #1/Chang Chiang/Long Strong). As one inhales, imagine a warmth, a light, a sparkling cursor moving up one’s spine (just beneath the surface of one’s skin – moving steadily/fluidly) and over the top of the head along the centerline, and down the centerline of the face to the top of one’s tongue by the end of the breath out.

Then, in time with the breath breathing out, bring all of one’s attention to the bottom of one’s tongue, and imagine the warmth, light, sparkling cursor moving down the the centerline, all the way to the midpoint underneath, between the top of one’s legs (which is Central Vessel Acupoint #1/Huiyin/Meeting of Yin). This cursor moves down the centerline, and reaches Governing Vessel Acupoint #1 by the end of the breath out. Ideally once again, the cursor moves steadily/fluidly.

Repeat the cycle 10 or more times, or at least until one feels a significant level of benefit. It can be done as often as one likes. Please realize that the practice of guided imagery is a true skill, AND always room for greater skill/benefit.

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Significantly reduce stress & insomnia with Long Breathing Guided Imagery…

This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.

Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.

Ancillary preparatory exercise: titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between.

Constantly adjust one’s vision so that one is looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring: herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s external environment – ideally without expectations…as if all is new to you, you know nothing (it isn’t genuinely possible to do this, but it is important to try). After a bit of time (as one chooses – but try not to hurry), continue with one’s eyes closed. Keep one’s eyes in their sockets as if one’s eyes are open and looking just slightly above straight ahead (don’t let one’s eyes droop or drop): herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s internal environment, without fear or discomfort. 

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance versus reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going: Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Again, endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, try not to hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Long Breathing Guided Imagery:

In the ages-old traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow, this type of guided imagery was primarily engineered to assist in the treatment/healing of insomnia, stress/anxiety, excess heat, inflammation, and additionally is the primary guided imagery utilized during the practice of moving chi kung and also tai chi chuan.

Continue in the humble stance with the gentle Swaying Willow chi kung. In all forms of chi kung, be as relaxed as one can be while still standing (or like earlier, this can be done sitting, but without the Swaying Willow mien). Keep one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth. Keep the engine of the advance (versus reverse) diaphragmatic breathing going.

As one inhales, imagine that this inhalation is a cool, refreshing, soothing, healing breeze – imagine that one can actually feel this healing ‘breeze’ as it moves down one’s centerline (just beneath the surface of one’s skin). Move the breeze in behind one’s navel by the end of the breath in, and then hold for a moment. Ideally, the breeze moves steadily/fluidly.

Then, in time with the breath breathing out, imagine there is a light, warmth, sparkling cursor moving forward and down the the centerline, e.g., beginning at governing vessel acupoint #20 – the slight concavity/depression just behind the crown of one’s head on the centerline. As stated, this cursor moves forward and down the centerline, and by the end of the exhalation, the cursor has reached just behind one’s navel. Ideally, the cursor moves steadily/fluidly.

*If one has trouble with one’s imagination, e.g., envisioning the breeze and cursor, then put one’s index/middle fingers together (from one or both hands), and train/trace the lines of the guided imagery in proper time with the inhalation and exhalation.

**As with all forms of guided imagery, ALL of one’s attention is on just what you are doing, in this case your breathing and visualization – ideally nothing more nothing less. Endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness, e.g., try not to think, just witness your breathing and guided imagery (the cool breeze and the cursor). Please realize that these techniques are true skills, and that there is always room for improvement, greater awareness and skill.

***Additionally one should ideally realize, that one should do this guided imagery until it works, e.g., if you are using it to treat insomnia, then in each given circumstance, keep doing it until you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and pleased with the outcome. The same goes for using this guided imagery to treat stress/anxiety, “do it until it works.”

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Healing With Five Gates Guided Imagery Chi Kung…

This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.

Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.

Ancillary preparatory exercise: titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between. Constantly adjust one’s eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, don’t hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Five Gates Guided Imagery

As coined, the five gates are: one on each foot, one on each hand, and a single gate just behind the very top of the head.

Continue in the humble stance with the gentle Swaying Willow chi kung. In all forms of chi kung, be as relaxed as one can be while still standing (or like earlier, this can be done sitting, but without the Swaying Willow mien). Keep one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth. Keep the engine of the diaphragmatic breathing going.

The Foot Gates:

Initially one side versus both, focus all of one’s attention at kidney acupoint #1, also known as Bubbling Wells, e.g., on the bottom of one’s foot along the centerline, just behind the ball of the foot.

Imagine one can breathe in through that point or bring fresh energy in, like a light, warmth, sparkling cursor, up one’s leg, into the hip, and over across and behind one’s navel and hold (holding one’s breath and attention at that point for a moment). Then reverse the flow along the same pathway, sending the stagnant, used-up, even ill energy down and out the point on the foot in time with the breath breathing out.

If one has a discomfort, malady, or any such in this area of the body, then during the breath in, imagine one can take a little detour with the cursor/attention to the problem area, wash, soothe, and heal it, and continue on along the main pathway, placing one’s attention behind the navel. Then reverse the flow, sending the stagnant energy out.

One then can switch to the other side and do the exercise. Eventually when one becomes more skilled, one can perform the visualization at both sides at once.

The Hand Gates:

Initially one side versus both, e.g., at the center of one’s palm, imagine one can breathe in through that point or bring fresh energy in, like a light, warmth, sparkling cursor, up one’s arm, into the shoulder, and down across behind and one’s navel and hold (holding one’s breath and attention there for a moment). Then reverse the flow along the same pathway, sending the stagnant, used-up, even ill energy out the point on the hand in time with the breath breathing out.

Again, if one has a discomfort, malady, or any such in this area of the body, then during the breath in, imagine one can take a little detour with the cursor/attention to the problem area, wash, soothe, and heal it, and continue on along the main pathway, placing one’s attention behind the navel. Then reverse the flow, sending the stagnant energy out.

One then can switch to the other side and do the exercise. Eventually when one becomes more skilled, one can perform the visualization at both sides at once.

The Head Gate:

Moving on to the head gate, e.g., governing vessel acupoint #20, the slight concavity/depression just behind the crown of one’s head on the centerline, imagine one can breathe in through that point or bring fresh energy in, like a light, warmth, sparkling cursor, down through one’s head, and down one’s spine or down through the center of one’s torso, and on behind one’s navel and hold (holding one’s breath and attention at that point). Then reverse the flow along the same pathway, sending the stagnant, used-up, even ill energy out the point on the head in time with the breath breathing out.

Again, if one has a discomfort, malady, or any such in this area of the body, then during the breath in, imagine one can take a little detour with the cursor/attention to the problem area, wash, soothe, and heal it, and continue on along the main pathway, placing one’s attention behind the navel. Then reverse the flow, sending the stagnant energy out.

*According to acupuncture theory, governing vessel acupoint #20, when stimulated by acupuncture/pressure, is a significant relaxation point, promoting the secretion of relaxing, pain-reducing hormones. When one uses one’s imagination to breathe in through that point or bring fresh energy in, imagine that this visualization stimulates that point, much like acupuncture stimulation.

**This is an ages-old form of guided imagery – even so, it has been empirically researched and found to be of significant benefit in assisting practitioners in abbreviating pain and promoting relevant healing.

***According to acupuncture theory, illnesses of various types are forms of stagnancy, hindering the healthful flow of blood, lymph, and energy.

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