first steps in neigong training
The overarching goal at this step of the journey centers upon the body's midline and practices that promote both differentiation and integration of the body's left and right sides. For instance, in the Hindu yoga tradition, nadi shodhana (transliterated: nāḍī śodhana; Devanagari: नाडी शोधन), commonly called alternate nostril breathing in the west, reigns as the preeminent first step in pranayama that will genuinely lead to higher consciousness for the sincere and diligent aspirant. The practice simply involves alternating one's breath through each nostril—for instance, breath in through the left nostril, then out thru the right, then in thru the right and then out thru the left. This constitutes one round. Such rhythmic breathing sequentially stimulates each hemisphere of the brain which gradually normalizes electrical activity and blood flow throughout the brain. Gradually a fragmented brain (and hence, consciousness) becomes integrated leading to whole brain processing and higher states of awareness.
This level of work opens the door to energy flows within the body. It sequentially integrates deeper levels of these flows with the qi already activated from preceding weigong and core practices. The first two-hour practice block for Level 3 consists of:
Mindfulness (at abdomen; at nostril; with Big Sky gaze [whole field]) (each part practiced in a 7 minute segment)
Hatha yoga (eye exercises: vertical/horizontal; far/near) (concentration and warm-up for phowa later in session)
Mantra (circulation of qi inside body along with mantra/visualization; phowa to related out of body chakra)
Bagua Zhang Circle Walking (mindfulness; static arm postures; qi cultivation)
Yantra (concentration on mandala)
This set begins to knit outer qi flows with the midline flows that are a hallmark of advanced meditation in all traditions (sushumna in Hindu yoga; tummo in Tibetan Buddhism; neidan in Daoist yoga).
Very advanced yoga—in whatever guise—towers far above any other approach to health or well-being. This follows simply because yoga, at this level, addresses the fundamental processes of nature. No yoga system to date really integrates all three approaches with the best modern tools of the west, such as psychotherapy and integrative energy medicine in a methodical and effective manner. These pages introduce you to just such a rapprochement. How? The fundamental idea pins on linking specific bilateral neural regions (the training wheels) with midline neural structures (the bike).
The midline, an imaginary line which divides the body into symmetrical left and right parts, appears to be the center of the cyclone for spiritual development. In yoga, awakening of midline energy flows (kuṇḍalinī – Indian yoga, tummo – Tibetan yoga) heralds the approach of journey’s end. These advanced flows only stabilize after intense concentration on midline points (chakras – Indian yoga, khor-lo – Tibetan yoga). Practices that aid movement of body energy along the spine and midline help facilitate this effect (kriya or kuṇḍalinī practice – Indian yoga, completion stage practice – Tibetan yoga, inner elixir qigong – Chinese yoga).
If midline meditation represents the fundamental bicycle needed for travel toward journey’s end on the spiritual path, then focus on regions around the midline represents the bike’s training wheels. To illustrate, in Daoism (Chinese yoga), practitioners often concentrate on special off-midline paths in the body known as acupuncture meridians. Outside the nervous system, these meridians act as conduits for electricity, light and other forms of energy. Likewise, in Tibetan yoga (Tibetan Buddhism), practitioners often focus on specific regions of the body and space around it. They visualize intricate patterns extending out many yards from the body in all directions—front, back, to the sides, above and below. For a child, a little extra help at the start of her bike-riding career makes all the difference. The same rings true for midline meditation—nailing one’s intent solely to the midline towers as a nearly impossible task but with the aid of some skillfully selected training wheels a meditator may gradually carpenter enough scaffolding for true midline concentration to take hold.
All three yogic traditions recognize the need for such preliminary off-midline focus and so introduce their concentrative methods in a staged approach with the earliest procedures targeted more toward whole brain integration (prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra and dhāraṇā – Indian yoga, generation stage practices – Tibetan Buddhism, outer elixir qigong – Daoism) rather than the pure midline concentration which eventually induces a vastly more profound integration at the deepest energetic and informational levels of being (dhyāna and samādhi – Indian yoga, completion stage practices – Tibetan Buddhism, inner elixir qigong – Daoism).
Orthodox and more modern hands-on tools for brain integration include eye circles and alternate nostril breathing (Indian yoga), imagining a ball of light or energy moving around the body (Tibetan yoga and Chinese yoga), swinging the opposite arm and leg across the midline at the same time (alternative health) and circle walking (Chinese internal martial arts). The micromeridian meditation introduced through these pages enhances this artistry by knitting additional simple but highly potent and innovative brain integration techniques in to the mix. For instance, whether actual or imagined, perception which crosses the midline invokes an integration of bilateral neural processes. By directing attention and intention along related but contralateral micromeridians, you can rapidly learn to control selected neural and bioenergetic flows and thereby craft some amazing gains in mental clarity and focus.
neigong breathing with midline focus
You will find a number of useful techniques related to this level of practice on the References page. If there's something of interest for you—try it out—if not then just make sure your current practice includes (or will include) something roughly similar. Remember, ALL spiritual paths address the same energy matrix and so must find solutions that lead to similar fixes.