Moving Jing to Change into Qi:
Method for Restoring Health from the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic
From a talk by Wang Liping
Written by Hu Qiao
Translated by Nathan Brine
(Translator’s note: due to the impact of the coronavirus, Wang Liping would like to share some Taoist wisdom with the world to help us stay healthy.)
The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic can be split into medicine based on human physiology, and medicine based on scientific inquiry into the relationship between humans and the cosmos. With the later, the Inner Classic discusses how people can stay healthy and live longer by understanding the correct time and space to do things, and the relationship between people and things. When external disturbances do enter, such as wind and cold, the inside of the body might go through some small adjustments, but will we not get sick.
The Inner Classic also pays particular attention to what a person should do if they are already ill. The Body’s Order of Life (人體生命之續 renti shengming zhi xu) is an important concept that arose out of medical research into organ function. The Order of Life refers to energetic processes in the body. In the old days, when illness had been basically cured after a serious illness or epidemic, there was still the issue of rebalancing The Body’s Order of Life. No matter if the person is still sick or not, there will be traces of the illness left behind. Mind and body, energy channels, and internal organs etc. will all be damaged to some extent. Therefore, we need to work with the four stages needed to rebalance the mind and body and bring The Body’s Order of Life back to normal.
The Four Stages
- Rebalance (調整 tiaozheng)
- Condition (調理 tiaoli)
- Repair (修復 xiufu)
- Rehabilitation (康復 kangfu)
In the rebalance stage, we follow the cycles of heaven and earth to rebalance daily life. We use the outer world, such as medicine and food etc., to rebalance internal energetic function (jing-qi, blood-qi etc.). Gradually, the Body’s Order is restored.
In the condition stage, the emphasis is on rebalancing a person’s mental state and mood.
In the repair stage, the focus is on repairing the harm done to the internal organs and energy system. At this time, The Body’s Order has already been restored to normal, but because of experiencing an epidemic, a person’s whole body will be weak, thus we will need to repair each internal organ one by one.
In the rehabilitation stage, people can work to recover the body by doing baduanjin, tendon changing practice, tai chi etc. to nourish vitality and return to full health.
During the repair stage we must make our body’s jing-qi (vital energy) full, and bring the blood-qi back to normal. At this time we must use the yi jing bian qi 移精變炁 (Move Jing to Change into Qi) method. Yi jing bian qi is an ancient method using yinian (意念 intention/awareness), yishi (意識 consciousness), and shenyi (神意 energy of our spirit and intention together) to move the jing-qi and blood-qi to rebalance the energy channels, internal organs, and surface of the skin etc. Thereby returning the disarray of the body’s energy system back into a state of ordered homeostasis.
In the old days, yi jing bian qi was divided into three stages:
- Use yinian to regulate the movement of the torso and four limbs to replenish jing-qi, to bring us back to normal in terms of daily activity.
- Use yinian and yishi to rebalance breathing and the movement of the torso and four limbs, allowing jing-qi and blood-qi to flow unobstructed. This will soften the breathing, still the mind, and relax the body.
- Use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to regulate the movement of jing-qi and blood-qi in our body. By using our yishi to regulate our qi, we will restore internal organ function, open energy channels, and allow the body’s entire energy system to run smoothly. This process reestablishes the Body’s Order of Life.
Yi jing bian qi has many techniques. Initially we recommend a Taoist technique to rebalance the upper and lower parts of the torso, what medical practitioners call the upper and lower burners. There are four methods to rebalance the upper and lower burners: standing posture, stool-sitting posture, cross-legged sitting posture, and moving posture. How to do the three static postures (including how to use the yishi, yinian, shenqi, and shenyi) are all the same. For now, let’s discuss the three static postures.
Use the wuji standing post posture. Stand naturally, feet shoulder width apart or a bit wider, both arms hanging naturally at our side with shoulders, arms, elbows, and wrists all relaxed, palms facing inwards, spine straight, chest relaxed, the two kua 胯 (two insides of the groin area) relaxed, two knees bent slightly, and two feet firmly planted on ground.
Sit on a stool with two feet naturally hanging down or touching the ground. Fingers naturally open, palms facing down, lightly placed on top of knees. This hand posture is called “Peaceful Form.”
Cross-legged Sitting Posture
Sit on a cushion or floor with legs crossed in front. Palms of both hands facing down on our knees. Relax whole body.
After settling into our chosen posture, use both eyes to look straight ahead, look afar, the farther the better. Put yinian in the distance. Slowly bring the light of our spirit (神光 shenguang) from the horizon back to between our eyebrows. Slowly close our eyes.
First, become still. Put yinian on our breathing. Make our breathing fine, even, and long. Inhale and exhale evenly. Slowly let our physical body relax. Let our heart beat more calmly.
Regulate Upper Burner
Take a deep breath with our nose. Put yinian in our chest cavity and lungs. As we breathe in contract tightly. Let the qi reach the chest cavity and lungs (this is called Qi Fills the Metal Chamber). Breathe in until we cannot breathe in anymore. Do our best to also tightly contract the ribs.
Now, do not breathe. While holding our breath, use yinian to expand the ribs, chest cavity, and lungs forcefully, at the same time let the spine become straight and centred. Hold it for a bit.
Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together). As we exhale relax ribs, chest cavity, lungs, spine and whole body. Completely expel the old air from the lungs.
Again, take a deep breath with our nose, use yinian and yishi to tightly contract the chest cavity and lungs. Do our best to fully inhale, filling the tips and lower parts of the lungs.
Do not breathe. While holding our breath, figure out how to use yinian and yishi to expand our lungs, ribs, and chest cavity forcefully, and slowly extend the spine upwards. Hold it for a bit.
Slowly exhale through nose (or nose and mouth together), and completely expel the old air.
Use yinian and yishi to breathe into our lungs, lungs contract at same time. Then breathe in again, and again contract lungs tightly, until we cannot inhale anymore.
Do not breath. As we hold our breath use yinian, yishi, and shenyi to expand our lungs, chest cavity, and ribs. Figure out who to let the chest cavity expand to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli 腠理 (protective layer between skin and muscle in the body) of the body with jing-qi.
Endure for a little, and then slowly and completely empty the breath out of the lungs.
Regulate Lower Burner
Take a deep breath with our nose. At same time lift up anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu 小腹 (lower abdomen. We lift up anus to seal in digestion qi, and contract genitals to seal in qi from our urinary tract). Use yinian to contract xiaofu. Contract as tight as we can, the best is to have the front and back of the body stick together. Inhale until we can not inhale anymore.
Do not breath. Hold it. Use yinian to let the outside of the xiaofu and the xiaofu to expand. Then hold it some more.
Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together). When we breathe out, the xiaofu and the outside of the xiaofu relax.
Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Contract as tightly as we can.
Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand the xiaofu inner cavity. Again hold it.
Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together).
Breathe in, lift anus, pull up on genitals, and contract xiaofu. Increase yinian, yishi, and shenyi, contract as tightly as we can.
Do not breath. Hold it. Forcefully expand our xiaofu. Make the xiaofu inner cavity, xiaofu, and outside of xiaofu expand. Expand until we cannot expand anymore. Again, hold it. Think of a way to expand the xiaofu cavity to a point where the whole body gets hot, this will fill out the couli of the body with jing-qi.
Slowly exhale through our mouth (or mouth and nose together).
The six steps above are done together as one set of practice. If our body still has strength we can repeat the whole set again, or even a third time.
Things to Pay Attention To
- The upper and lower burner must be practiced one after the other. When we work on one area the shenyi will be in that area, if other parts of the body move ignore them.
- When working the upper burner, eyes look straight ahead and then move down slightly to look within the chest cavity. When we start working the lower burner, eyes look down. Use yinian to quickly move the eyes from chest cavity to the abdominal cavity.
- All the practices related to the yi jing bian qi method must be used with the Hold Breath and Cease Breath segments, otherwise nothing will change! In order to make it convenient for casual practitioners, and to avoid confusion, we have omitted the segment for Cease Breath. After doing this set of practices the body will be very hot. The body becoming hot is a manifestation of qi changing, this is the point of the practice.
According to how tired we are after the practice, we can also Bathe and Cleanse (do silent sitting). Let the whole body relax. Let the hands hang at our sides and stand or sit quietly. Wait for the body’s internal energy system to change. No random thoughts. Do not think about anything. Just think about our body. When our random thoughts start up again, finish off practice by rubbing hands and face.
The main point with regulating the upper and lower burner is to strengthen our defensive qi, and replenish our internal organs. This practice will definitely heat up the chest cavity and abdominal cavity, and even the whole body. This is an indicator that the defensive qi is full. The body’s couli is inflated by the defensive qi, and using yi jing bian qi is a great way to get it activated. Defensive qi goes from inner to outer to protect our physical body’s skin and body pores. When our couli is filled out then bad qi cannot come into our body. Therefore, if you are stuck at home with nothing to do (due to the coronavirus), I suggest giving it a try.