The first hurdle to overcome is to do standing or seated meditation for a substantial length of time in one session, and to do daily session until one can feel this tinkling sensation in a few more areas inside one's body in addition to one's fingers. Substantial length of time essentially means half an hour to one hour. With such training, one can eventually feel substantial chi inside one's body, in addition to experiencing an increase rate of perspiration and a general feeling of bodily warmth.
As I said previously, many students can't pass the stage of a sensation of finger tinkling. They may not necessarily quit, they may still continue their practice without knowing they can never "get there". Unfortunately in our market economy, these students oftentimes generate a sizable portion of a coach's income, which, can act as motivator, for the coach, not to push such students further!
If a student can pass this first hurdle, he begins to enter the entrance of chi-kung and, assuming continual practice, solo or under a coach's supervision, he can have much fun in the practice, including but not limiting to the fact that he can now do and enjoy his tai-chi practice better, and he also can experience a renewed/deeper understanding of other related practices like yoga, dancing, if he is also interesting in practicing them. And probably he can also feel a better control of his bone-cum-muscular structure and can experiment with selecting his individual muscles for further conditioning, so that a better aligned or stronger structure can be trained accordingly. And he is on the road to better health and greater mobility towards old age.
Most students will be satisfied with this stage assuming that health and well-being is what one is seeking in one's practice. The best part is: he can stand on his own feet and can continue improve even without the direct supervision of a coach.
The next hurdle is more difficult, and is for the most devoted only. Risking oversimplifying things, I venture to explain the next hurdle according to two types of practices: one martial art (for ready-for-combat mind/body structure) and one meditation (for ready-for-spirituality mind/body entity). Guidance from a good coach is very important if not essential to tackle this next hurdle. And without proper guidance (though self guidance is possible), the whole venture might be dangerous, physically and psychologically, to a practitioner. Warning here!
For those who seek the route of martial art, the next step is to practice an advanced form of chi kung, like 24 styles tai-chi NeiGung or combat stance of YiQuan (not exhaustive). The key to a successful practice of either is, again, visualization*. In the beginning stage of the zhan zhuang, the most common visualization is holding a big (rubber) ball. In the advanced stage, the visualization is life-and-death combat - one needs to activate all the inborn (animal) power, either to block/withstand a powerful punch or kick, or to execute a powerful life-saving punch. Relaxation is needed to facilitate the liberation of such internal power; and a highly focused mind is needed to facilitate the gathering of the total body power as well as transmitting this totality to the point of contact. Needless to say, actual combat training is also needed in order that one's training can be transformed into actual combat.
For those who seek the route of spirituality, the next step, in Taoist meditation, is the practice of Neidan or, in Tibetan Buddhist, the practice of deity yoga (not exhaustive). Visualization is essential in both, but unlike martial art training the energy here is not directed towards one's physical body. Instead energy is directed inwards towards one's mind. This energy is made ready to confront what is going to evolve from our unconscious (whose opening presupposes a totally relaxed and focused mind). And the objective is to transform one's self into a super-human self or personality. Needless to say, a devoted study of one's chosen spiritual teachings and texts is also needed to gain a true and lasting spiritual transformation.
* Needless to say there are techniques one can choose from (like taking cold showers) in addition to the essential requirement of visualization
|Chi cultivation for spirituality|