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The 4 Dragons - Clearing the Meridians and Awakening the Spine in Nei Gong .pdf

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The Four Dragons Clearing the Meridians and Awakening the Spine in Nei GongDAMO MITCHELL FOREWORD BY DR OLE SAETHERLONDON AND PHILADELPHIAFirst published in 2014 by…
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The Four Dragons Clearing the Meridians and Awakening the Spine in Nei GongDAMO MITCHELL FOREWORD BY DR OLE SAETHERLONDON AND PHILADELPHIAFirst published in 2014 by Singing Dragon an imprint of Jesscia Kingsley Publishers 73 Collier Street London N1 9BE, UK and 400 Market Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA www.singingdragon.com Copyright © Damien Mitchell 2014 Foreword copyright © Ole Saether 2014Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Mitchell, Damo. The four dragons : clearing the meridians and awakening the spine in nei gong / Damo Mitchell ; foreword by Dr. Ole Saether. pages cm Includes index. ISBN 978-1-84819-226-3 (alk. paper) 1. Dao yin. 2. Qi gong. 3. Back exercises. I. Title. RA781.85.M58 2014 613.7’1489--dc23 2014004432 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 1 84819 226 3 eISBN 978 0 85701 173 2Contents Foreword by Dr Ole Saether. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Disclaimer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Notes on the Text. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171. An Introduction to Dao Yin and Health . . . . . . . . . 21 2. The Jing Body. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 3. The Nature of Pathogens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 4. Dao Yin Principles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 5. Beginning Dao Yin: The Four Walks. . . . . . . . . . . 131 6. Intermediate Practice: The Four Sequences. . . . . . . . 151 7. Advanced Practice: Enter the Dragon. . . . . . . . . . 199 8. Moving into Nei Dan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221 About the Author. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239 Glossary of Pinyin Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241 Appendix: Meridian Points Referred to in the Book. . . . . . . . . 247 Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249ForewordIfirst met Damo in Stockholm in March 2012, during one of his workshops on Daoist Nei Gong. What really struck me about Damo was his incredible flexibility and his speed of movement, as well as the ease with which he taught. Daoist theory just seemed to come to him very naturally – and so did his explanations, his practical demonstrations and his Qi transmission. During the course, he went through different practices, including stretching, Zhan Zhuang (standing stake) and Qi Gong. He also helped us awaken our energy system. I had decided to attend this workshop mainly for health reasons. Prior to training with Damo, I had trained in Yi Quan/Taikkiken and this had proven to be great for my health. My teacher had helped me out with the Zhan Zhuang posture, which I found rather tricky at first. This standing practice actually cured the chronic muscular pain from which I had been suffering for the previous twenty years. But then, all of a sudden, the training gave me pain in my lower back. The more I trained the more pain I experienced, especially at night when I wasn’t moving. I made all sorts of adjustments to my Yi Quan training but nothing helped, so I had to stop training. I went to see four different acupuncturists, to no avail unfortunately; the fourth one actually made it worse as he caused some psychological disturbances! The fifth acupuncturist I met was my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) teacher. He was also a very good chiropractor and he found out that there was something wrong with my right sacro-iliac joint. Things improved after this adjustment. However, the tension in my lower back wouldn’t go away, even after a few more acupuncture treatments. Before receiving the treatment from my acupuncture teacher, I had been searching for workshops that could potentially help me. I had justfinished reading Daoist Nei Gong – Damo’s first book – and, to my surprise, it turned out that Damo was about to visit Stockholm in March 2012. I didn’t know what to expect when I went to that workshop; but I have been following Damo’s teachings since then and I feel very lucky that our paths crossed. I have learned various practices with Damo, including Ji Ben Qi Gong, Wu Xing Qi Gong and the Dragon Dao Yin exercises, as well as meditation. Although I have only studied the Dragon Dao Yin sequences for a year now, they have made my body much softer and more flexible. Who may benefit from this book then? I would say that if you are following Damo’s teachings, the book is essential because it will speed up the understanding of the system and make the Dragon Dao Yin exercises come to life much faster. For those training in other systems like Qi Gong or yoga, it is also a very valuable book because it explains the difference between Qi Gong and Dao Yin exercises. The book goes through the Dao Yin sequences in detail. As an added benefit, the Dragon Dao Yin might be helpful to yoga practitioners, as they open the joints. Just as important, the book provides a comprehensive theoretical overview of Dao Yin and Qi Gong. When it comes to this type of training, people often worry about a number of things. How much time should I spend on this training? Is there really something called Qi in the body? Is this good for my health? What is the purpose of this Daoist training? If we wish to understand what Damo teaches, it is required that we put some time into it. Unlike Western medicine, Chinese medicine rests on the idea that everything is Qi. Damo teaches through the ancient Chinese way of looking at the world and understanding the energies that surround us. It isn’t easy to find teachers who have such in-depth knowledge. It is also very hard to find someone who speaks English and is actually willing to teach Western people. For these reasons, Damo’s books are, in my opinion, as rare as they are unique. While Nei Gong training is really good for your health, this is ultimately a by-product of the training. The meaning of the training is to try and understand Dao. But what Dao exactly is, no one knows. It is just a big question mark. Welcome to a journey on the road into the unknown… Dr Ole Saether Doctor of Western medicine, Chinese medicine practitioner and Nei Gong practitioner Gothenburg, SwedenNotes on the TextThroughout this book I have used the Pinyin system of Romanisation for the majority of Chinese words. Please note that much of the theory in this book differs greatly from Western science. The classical Chinese approach to understanding the organs of the body, for example, is based around the function of their energetic system rather than their physical anatomy. To distinguish the two understandings from each other I used capitalisation to indicate the Chinese understanding of the term. ‘Heart’ refers to the classical Chinese understanding of the organ, whilst ‘heart’ refers to the physical organ as understood in contemporary Western biological sciences.PrefaceThe first time I encountered the Dragon Dao Yin exercises was a number of years ago in Shandong, north-east China. There are a lot of martial arts practitioners in Shandong and I would say that there are more people practising the internal arts in the parks early in the morning there than in many of the other provinces that I have visited. I had originally come to Shandong to study an interesting variant of the Chen style of Taijiquan but alongside this I ended up learning from other teachers there as well. The Dragon Dao Yin exercises were a part of this extra study. They were originally taken from the Baguazhang martial arts style, as students there worked through the movements (mainly the walks) in order to soften the various muscles required for their forms training and get the spine ready for the demanding workout it has to go through during the early days of Bagua training. From this training it was seen just how effective the exercises were at conditioning the spine and so they gradually became adapted into a health exercise as well; though divorced from the martial principles and slightly adapted, it is still clear to see some of the movements of Baguazhang in the Dragon Dao Yin postures. Training the walking exercises was a lot of fun as I joined not only the morning Bagua training but also the medical Dragon Dao Yin group to work on strengthening my spine. Most of those going through the exercises in the morning were much older than me and mostly Chinese women, so I stood out like a sore thumb, walking up and down twisting my body each day. I was especially put to shame by some of the more elderly members of the group who regularly liked to show me up by dropping into low splits and the most demanding Dao Yin postures with ease. To be honest, I think I was something of a novelty to the group, something of a mascot to show off to passers-by, but I did not mind; I liked my ‘grandmotherly’ classmates and enjoyed the morning training.1718The Four DragonsWhen I first started teaching the Dragon Dao Yin exercises I was surprised by just how effective they were. Many of my students had been working on standing postures, moving Qi Gong exercises and countless stretches in order to improve their posture, but just one day of the first two Dragon Dao Yin exercises was enough to do the job. There were lots of clicks and cracks that day as bones moved and bodies opened up. Since this time I have taught the Dragon Dao Yin exercises in the UK, Sweden and the US, and each time students have enjoyed the dynamic nature of the exercises and reported a great many health benefits. Though I still use these exercises as body conditioning for Baguazhang, they primarily form part of my medical exercise repertoire and the majority of students in my school know the movements and practise them as part of their regular routine. In 2011 I released a small self-published book that mainly included photographs showing the various movements. It was originally intended as a visual aid for those learning the exercises from me, but despite this I received messages from around the world saying how much people were enjoying ‘distance learning’ the sequences from me and how much their health had benefited from the practice. The book was adequate for learning the movements but lacking in any depth, with no theoretical basis for what people were doing. For this reason I decided to rewrite the entire book from scratch with a great deal of the information students would need in order to understand exactly how the exercises worked. This book is the finished product, with the photographs replaced with excellent hand-drawn images that are much easier to follow. I have introduced the basic theory which underlines the practice of Dao Yin training in general, before moving on to the exercises themselves which enable students to begin to put these principles into practice. From here I have moved on to some of the more complex aspects of working with these exercises and the energies of the spine. Namely this includes the generally misunderstood process of ‘Waking up the Dragon’ and the progression to more advanced Nei Dan training. These are difficult areas to discuss as when these stages are reached we are essentially working with something so ethereal it is difficult to tie down to an actual location in either the physical or the energy body. I have done my best though, and combined theory with my own rather limited experiences of working at these stages, so please show some understanding as I clumsily stumble my way through explaining the more esoteric aspects of the practice!PrefaceThough a book or video is never a substitute for hands-on teaching, I am confident that those who persevere will be able to work their way carefully through the instructions in the book and learn the Dragon Dao Yin sequences. I am happy to have had the opportunity to teach so many people the exercises contained in this book and I hope you enjoy learning the Dragon Dao Yin‌ Damo Mitchell Hong Kong December 201319Chapter 1An Introduction to Dao Yin and HealthPrior to the formation of Daoism as a systemised tradition there lived the shamanic Wu people. With a history stretching back into antiquity, exact details about their practices are few and far between. Mythological stories and ancient writings tell tales of a group who served as healers, mystics and spiritual guides to the small nomadic communities that made up Chinese society at this time. These early practitioners of the energetic arts are recognised as the forefathers of practices such as Chinese medicine, astrology and even callisthenic exercises that would later go on to form Qi Gong and the internal martial arts. The development of Qi Gong thus went through various periods of change and adjustment as the beliefs and understandings of the people practising them changed. Excavated tombs such as the recent treasure trove of archaeological findings uncovered at the Mawangdui dig1 have enabled us to glimpse more clearly how these changes took place. One such development was the change of emphasis that took place from Dao Yin to Qi Gong exercises. The term Dao Yin is generally understood to be much older than the term Qi Gong and many theorists believe that these two terms are interchangeable; this is not my belief and in this book I aim to outline the qualitative differences between Qi Gong and Dao Yin so that those practising the internal arts may better utilise the two different practice modalities in order to assist in their internal development. In order to understand the difference between Dao Yin and Qi Gong it is wise to look at the nature of the difference between the shamanic Wu people and the alchemical Daoists who appeared much later.1 Mawangdui is an archaeological site located in Changsha, China. The site contained the tombs of three people from the western Han Dynasty. Many classical texts were found in one of the tombs, including depictions of Dao Yin exercises. 2122The Four DragonsThe Wu people were worshippers of the land. Historical evidence shows that, like most ancient cultures on earth, the Wu venerated the spirit of the planet, the elements, the weather, the animals and the energy of life that permeates all living things. Their study was an attempt at understanding the position which mankind took in the great cycle of life. Ancient practices such as circle-walking, star stepping and other ritualistic dances seem to have their roots in the practices of these ancient people. In short, though they may well have had a deep understanding of the inner workings of the human consciousness, the majority of their practices were ‘outwards’ in nature. Sickness was seen as the result of unwanted entities entering the body; misfortune was due to unhappiness amongst the spirits that governed the earth, and cures for these ills involved appeasement of the spirits. Whilst it is true that many of these beliefs are still strong in Daoism and the arts that are heavily influenced by the philosophy of the Dao, such as Chinese medicine, there was a major shift at some point towards ‘inward’ focused practices. The major change came with the development of alchemical theory which, once again, started externally with the ingestion of various substances but then gradually shifted towards a search for the immortal elixir based around internal, energetic substances. Whilst the basic understanding of humankind being an integral part of the wider environment was still present, there was now more study taking place of the nature of the human microcosm. In ancient writings we see the term Dao Yin appearing as early as Chinese written records. Ancient scrolls such as the Dao Yin Tu show that these were being practised in at least 2000 bc and almost certainly much earlier. References to Dao Yin training appear in many classical texts including such influential pieces such as the Huang Di Nei Jing and the Chuang Tzu; these references appeared much earlier than the term Qi Gong, which most people in the internal arts community are familiar with today. Dao Yin exercises are discussed in terms of the key words: stretching, expelling, leading and guiding. The last two terms, ‘leading’ and ‘guiding’, are a direct translation of the Chinese term Dao Yin. The Chinese characters Dao Yin are shown in Figure 1.1. The aim of these stretching exercises was to purge stagnant energy from the body, which, classically, was seen as the result of evil spirits, or negative environmental energies invading us from the outside. The emphasis of Dao Yin exercises was therefore on the outer world. Sickness developed primarily from an external source and now, through opening the body and guiding the negative Qi out, this sickness was pushed back into the outside world.An Introduction to Dao Yin and HealthFigure 1.1: Dao Yin CharactersIn contrast to this, Qi Gong exercises were formed later when understandings had changed. Although it was still believed that negative influences could come from our environment there was more of a study of our own inner nature and how it affected us. Alchemical teachings, along with the philosophy of realised human beings such as Lao Tzu, showed that sickness could come from inside as well through the effects of our own mind. Stagnation was seen as the key enemy, along with the concept of deficient or excessive energetic qualities, and the emphasis was more on internal practices. Although Qi Gong still purges toxins from the energy system, it primarily works to nourish and regulate our already existing energy. The movements tend to be gentler, the mind is kept inside (most of the time) and the aim is rarely to push out into the environment. These qualitative differences really distinguish Dao Yin and Qi Gong from each other, although they share common elements due to Qi Gong being developed from Dao Yin training. Confusion comes in modern times when different teachers use different terminology. One of the first challenges when studying under a new teacher is learning exactly how they use the terminology to describe what they are doing. Essentially it does not really matter. Terminology is just that, a way of labelling something; it is the practice itself that matters, but at the same time it can be useful to understand what quality an individual style of exercise is supposed to have. According to my own definitions there are actually many groups practising Dao Yin, which they call Qi Gong, and vice versa. I believe that it is useful to be able to understand and practise both forms of exercise as distinct entities in their own right. The exercises that we use are only tools in order to move through a process, a process of internal growth, development and understanding. This process of change is classically known as Nei Gong and moving through it requires that2324The Four Dragonswe do not see the exercises themselves as the end goal. Once we become fixated on simply repeating the various movements we have learnt without any larger direction, then we cease to develop. Our practice has resulted in stagnation, which will not lead us towards any state of realisation. As we move along the path to Dao, the path of Nei Gong, we must understand how to use our different tools at the correct times and in the correct manner in order to keep progressing. Sometimes I believe the more Yang Dao Yin exercises are more suitable, whilst at other times it is wisest to focus upon the more Yin Qi Gong exercises we have learnt. One teacher explained stagnation in the body to me as being like rust blocking up the pipes in a radiator system. The rust which has built up will prevent water from flowing effectively, which will then lead to problems; this is like stuck Qi in our meridian system. If we use Qi Gong to dissolve this rust then water will
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