As I share neidan practice with my students I realize the hardest part is tuning into the energy body. Neidan qi is different from the qi developed in qigong or internal martial art practice, and although many have experience with qi of some sort it’s getting the first taste of jing energy that takes a little work.
Below I talk about some of the things that have helped me to experience my jing energy. There are many factors involved. Here are a few.
In our lineage neidan sessions are usually divided between intentionally applying methods and sitting in stillness. And it is usually when sitting in stillness that the magic happens. Methods are fun, no doubt about it, and without the methods things would take a lot longer, but it’s the power of stillness that nourishes the qi and allows results to manifest.
Therefore, stillness of body and mind is essential. If we are not getting results chances are our stillness is not deep enough or long enough. Another way to think about stillness is focus.
During a session, after we have applied the methods we forget about them, we forget the physical body, we forget our breathing, we simply observe within, observing the changes in our human universe. To do this effectively we need to stay focused. The focus does not need to be strong but we do need to stay inside the area of the torso we are working on. Our awareness can only focus on so many things at once. So the more random thoughts we have the less we can focus inside. Also, the more our physical body moves, even small adjustments, the less our focus stays inside.
Going inside the torso is like entering a deep ravine. The sounds of the outside world become muffled and the world darkens as our focus descends downwards into the torso. During the stillness portion of the program it is our job to keep our focus anchored inside the body. Therefore, the first thing for tuning into the qi is keeping the body and mind still and staying present within.
Of course, there are no rules in Taoist practice. Every session is different. If we get inspiration to do something while sitting in stillness go for it. For example, we might be observing the lower space when suddenly we feel the urge to breath with it, then do it, apply a breathing method and see what happens.
Another factor for tuning into the qi is that the body needs to be open and relaxed, especially the torso. When we sit the body needs to relax, sinking down onto our sit bones. Also, the structure of the torso needs to be aligned and open. When we get it right our torso will feel like an empty container. Holding the container open in a relaxed way through out the session will also help tune into the qi.
And then we wait. The longer we can wait the better. If we are not getting results in our practice chances are our sessions aren’t long enough. My sense is that under 90 minutes we can’t get much done. The best is over two hours, of course why stop there? Go long!
Be present. Hold the space. Don’t move. Don’t think. Forget time. Just focus inside for as long as you can, that’s when things start happening. Initially what we want is to feel a non-physical movement. This is usually a vibration, pulsing, or hum. Jing energy will be different for everyone. In the beginning it is subtle. Super subtle. And delicate too. When I first felt it it was liking tuning into a distant radio station on one of those old analog radios with the nobs that you turn back and forth. The more I tuned in the louder it became. The funny thing was that the sound/feeling felt like it had always been there in the background, it was just that now I was consciously aware of it.
Once you can feel the jing energy neidan practice really opens up. Many of the basic neidan methods work with jing. The first stage of the alchemical work is Refining Jing into Qi. To do this we need to first feel, then move and finally transform the jing. So if you haven’t felt the jing yet, keep going, it will happen.