Chapter 14 – Yixingong -
Standing Like a Tree For Strength, Health and Longevity
by John P. Painter PhD ND
“In the end whatever you call it; it is no more than the mind and the breath becoming as one. It is simply the Yin and the Yang influenced internally with their spirit energy entwined.”
Master Wei, Boyang “Can Tong Qi” AD 142
As a young sickly boy growing up in East Texas one of the great gifts I was given from my teacher of Li family Way of Life Force Boxing (Daoqiquan) was his version of a standing at post practice (Zhang Zhuang). Master Li, Long-dao who’s forte was Baguazhang called this method, intention palm (Yi-zhang). Today after years of research, medical study and consultation with many grand masters I have changed the name of his standing method to Intention Heart Skill (Yixingong). The term refers to mind intent (YI) combined with heart mind or attitude (Xin) developed as a skill (Gong) in other words using mind and heart skill.
At The Gompa Center in Arlington Texas my research team and I have devoted years to investigating the methods of Li, Long-dao’s standing practice. With the aid of experts in bio-mechanics, human-kinetics, neurology and physiology and psychology we have updated both the explanations and training methods to allow students a better understanding of the science behind this practice.
Now we have updated and created Yixingong to show you exactly how to produce the amazing benefits of standing practice through the use of special imaging exercises that activate the skeletal system, nervous system, endocrine systems, blood and lymph circulation and muscular systems in a way that works harmoniously to produce a calm mind glowing health and increased longevity. This is not mystical pseudo-science. Properly taught and practiced you will be able to feel the effects in a very short time if you understand and follow our instructions.
Yixingong Advanced Principles
What makes Yixingong different from standard traditional Chinese practices of standing exercise / Zhan Zhuang is that we do not emphasize non-scientific theories or focus on Qi development except where it is linked to correct breathing methods. There is no emphasis on meridian circulation or pseudo-science. Yixingong draws from the first master of Chinese healing modalities Wei Boyang, quoted above, who also said, “The Mind Commands, The Body Responds and The Result (Qi) follows.” Therefore we place strong emphasis on learning to use the mind to control the body through a process of developing a heightened sensitivity to ones internal and external environment.
Yixingong makes use of imagery and sense memories to improve circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids and to improve the functioning of the neurological system for increased strength, speed and reaction time. To fully understand this concept would take a large volume of hundreds of pages. The best I can do here is to give a general overview of these methods in hopes that my efforts may be of some benefit to the reader.
Does It Work
All indications and research point to the efficacy of this method. From personal experience as a young sickly boy who was given a death sentence by doctors to be executed before the age of 20, I have beaten the odds and then some. Today at 70 years of age I am healthy and full of energy, often running rings around my 20 and 30 year old students. I am also cold- and flu- free for 30 years with a full (but slightly receding) head of dark brown hair and supple skin tone. Then there are the hundreds of testimonials from current and former students attesting to the usefulness of the methods for all manner of complaints. But, don’t believe me; try it and be the judge for yourself.
Six Core Principles of Yixingong
1. Find Structure
Structure refers to you posture. It is the way you align your joints in the arms, legs and spine so as to be capable of allowing the whole body to work as a single unit to produce maximum force with minimal effort. This is known in the internal and external martial arts as Whole Body Power (Zhengti-jin). Included in finding structure is also finding your center of control or balance. In China the term for the location of this center is called the cinnabar field (Dantian) located in the center of the pelvic region at approximately three inches below the umbilicus.
This imaginary point is actually the center of balance for the human body. Learning to move, walk, sit or act from this point aids in the achievement of physical and emotional balance.
2. Learn Song
Relaxation of the muscles with dynamic stability while retaining muscle tonus is called relaxing forces (Song-Jin) and is necessary for success in standing. Tense muscles create stress in the mind-body feedback loop diminishing quick response times in emergency situations. Tension also prevents flow of blood, lymph and innervation from easily functioning. Simply put, all postures used in standing practice must contain a high state of relaxation to a level that any lesser tension used to hold the posture would result in the arms or body collapsing. Just enough and no more is the key to feeling relaxed internal energy. Each posture must be examined to find this relaxing force.
4. Train non-localization
After achieving relaxation ability (Song-Jin) the student begins the next phase of training, non-localization (Meiyou Fenhua) in which the center point (Dantian) is mentally expanded internally so the entire body becomes the center point. This prevents investing tension or strength in any one location within the body. Localization of mind in any one place is a mistaken process which prevents the use of whole body awareness and power. Various images selected by the student may be used to produce the feeling of whole body integration. This is a process know as non-differentiation or non-localization.
5. Develop Guided Imaging Skill
Guided imagery (Chengxiang) is the true gateway to using any power, strength or speed development or healing modality in standing. For best results imagery (Chengxiang) must be coupled with relaxation skills (Song-Jin) when training with Yixingong. Guided imagery is used during Quiet Sitting meditation and standing training to stimulate various functions of the external and core muscle groups responsible for aiding in healing, circulation of blood, lymph, and producing increases in the quality of movement, strength and speed. Imagery increases in affect in relation to the levels of relaxation skills.
6. Retrain the Nervous System and Muscle Function
Using Guided imagery coupled with Song-Jin for martial art or sports applications we are actually using the mind to retrain muscle motor neurons in order to increase firing capabilities of skeletal muscle. This process works to increase muscle fiber hypertrophy thus improving strength potential and speed capabilities. Guided imagery used in this way is believed to change or influence the capacity of stabilizer muscle fibers (Slow Twitch) normally used to maintain joint stability and balance to function as if they were mobilizer muscle fibers (Fast Twitch). Yixingong training has been shown to help recruit muscle stabilizer fibers within the functioning mobilizers enabling them to support the mobilizer fibers during the production of force thereby adding to the power of each individual muscle group through increased contraction capabilities. Imagery also has been shown to improve muscle function, strength, size and speed. The interesting point is that to achieve this type of power with the mind during training one must be in a state of profound relaxation (Song-jin) and not moving while visualizing moving against a high level of resistance from outside the body. In other words feel as if moving a resistance but do not tense the external muscles used in the imagined action.
Guided Imagery For Health, Fitness and Martial Training
While it is generally believed that imagining oneself as being faster or stronger to enhance performance is relatively a new idea we can find examples dating back thousands of years of individuals using imagery throughout Chinese health and martial arts training. Since ancient times primitive tribes, shamanistic healers and martial artists have imagined themselves becoming ferocious animals or elements of nature through a process of visualization or mental imagery.
As we move into understanding the visualization or imaging process we should begin by defining the word imagination. Imagination is whatever is occurring in your mind not directly caused by what you are experiencing from the outside world. If you look at a tree, what you see is not an "image;" you are seeing a real tree. But when the tree is not there, and you picture it in your mind, then you are producing an image from your stored memory of the tree. These images or sensations are called sense memories (Gan Jue Ji Yi). Normally "imagination” is not truly imagery as it refers to imaging things or events that don’t exist except in your "imagination” for example, dragons.
Your mind has the ability to see in three specific ways (1) observation of external real objects in real time, (2) A memory of visualized real objects as images in your mind, and (3) visualized imaginary objects in your mind. Each of these three ways of seeing involves imagery, because in all cases you are seeing something or sensing something, and "seeing" is a mental event, happening in your mind. When a person cannot tell whether he or she is seeing, smelling, tasting or touching a real object or just imagining it this is a hallucination.
This ability to activate guided imagery is one of the most powerful concepts for health or ill health in the world. Science has shown clearly that what you think is what you become and what you think or desire affects your health and longevity, speed, strength and healing potential. The process of guiding your thoughts into the body moves from the conscious mind into the unconscious control centers of the brain that controls all aspects of the sympathetic and Para-sympathetic nervous system. It can even affect the immune system and the growth or dissolution of cancers as proven by Dr. Carl Simonson in his landmark mind-body cancer research. This is the real science behind what traditional Chinese Medicine calls Qigong.
Below I have presented a series of basic methods for developing these concepts as found in our Yixingong methods. This training is derived from Li family arts and is by no means a complete manual on the practice. By training these simple methods on a daily basis it will be possible for your mind to awaken to its latent potential of influencing the body. Through this understanding you can enter the door of unlimited possibilities. To know more you may contact us through our website, www.TheGompa.com .
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