KEY POINTS IN LUOHAN TRAINING
Luohan Gong is a natural method in which the body, through activity, is the source of its own health and wellbeing. It is a Qigong system that utilizes body movements (Tong) together with a breathing system and mindfulness to activate Qi flow through the channels (JIN-LUO). It is a soft exercise that was devised with ingenuity to perfectly harmonize the positive (Yang) and negative (Yin) forces, thus balancing the mind, controlling energy (Qi) and leading us directly to a state of deep calm, of “Meditation in Movement” .
Important items for a better understanding and practice:
-Begin your training with the proper attitude, that is, be patient. “Let Go and let God”. Deeply understand the importance of what you are doing: mastering your breath, your mind, your emotions, and your body is no easy tasks, but definitely worth your dedication. Let go of desires and objectives, do not try to “learn” but rather to enjoy the learning process. Do everything with ‘alegría’ (joy). Advance step by step, begin by mastering the right postures, continue learning the breathing system and then become aware of your thoughts as you coordinate it all.
-The movements should be performed slowly, with no rush, fully living in the “Present”. Doing the movements slowly will help you to relax mentally and to eliminate tightness. With practice we should carry that state of peace and tranquility to our everyday activities: “Stillness in movement”
-Relax the body from head to feet. Loosen your face, shoulders, arms, back, chest, stomach and belly as if they were made of gelatin. Always keep the abdomen relaxed and the spine straight. To move the Qi one of the most important factor is to do the movements gently, to be relaxed. To be relaxed, have a correct posture, calm the mind, and soften the muscles.
-Avoid distracting thoughts and everyday concerns; maintain a quiet, peaceful state. Take the Luohan training as an opportunity to stop excessive restlessness and mechanical behavior of our mind-body and enjoy these simple movements
-Regulate the breath to eliminate body tensions and distracting thoughts. The breath links body and mind and is a formidable tool to manage them; coordinate them well. Breathing should be slow and natural using the diaphragm. When you inhale, the air should come in through the nose as a very thin thread. The breath should coordinate well with the movement and the mind. The breast is a powerhouse.
-Extend very posture as much as possible without tightness and engaging the minimum number of muscles in any given movement.
-Unify the movement, the breath and the mind (Yi). Physical exercise will be governed by the mind. Begin by putting your attention on the body movements in general and in particular on the Dan Tien, spine and hands. Then train to be aware of the breath and the emotions that accompany the movements. In time just feel everything and nothing in particular.
-Be constantly aware of the Dan Tien, it is the center of the body where every movement begins and finishes. Maintain the top part of the body, above the umbilicus, light, soft and free and the lower part heavy and stable, rich in Qi and mind.
-Be aware of the internal changes in your organism that comes with the practice: increase blood flow, state of physical wellbeing and mental tranquility, etc. Learn to visualize the flow of energy through the meridians and to look, feel, communicate, see, your inner organs like if you were using a flashlight to see in the darkness.
-Pay as much attention to rest as to training. Be sure to apply Houhou, that is ‘fire control’, to your practice (fire means the degree of inner heat or “cooking” as a consequence of your training). Moderate your training to the degree and duration of your capacity at that moment in time. This does not only apply to the degree of physical effort but also of mental intention and concentration. If your training is too small you will not make the right progress, if it is too much it will drain your energy and even hurt you. Learning to genuinely listen and follow your inner voice, and to accommodate your practice to it, is not only a sign of great wisdom, but a guarantee of health and steady progress on the path…
-Protect and nurture your Qi in your day to day living.
While in training we manifest Qi in movement, the nurturing refers to the importance of replenishing it and of keeping this energy in the body.
As important as training, which will increase your Qi level and improve its circulation in the body, it is to lead an even life which will restock it in different ways and maintain it.
To nurture or foster your Qi it is indispensable to have healthy living habits which include right eating habits, sufficient rest and sleep, regular life activities and the cultivation of positive thoughts, joy, humour and happiness. Fostering Qi, can also be thought of as avoiding useless Qi expenditure in trivial matters and supporting, in daily living, our efforts to lead a healthier, wiser, happier life.
General recommendations during the practice:
1. Time of day to practice: The best time to practice is that moment of the day that is easier for you to keep practicing all your life. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine however, the best time to practice Qigong is in the morning when the Yang energy is rising, that is, the day and its light. The night, Yin, is for resting and non action, and we should learn to accommodate ourselves, if our personal life allows it to the natural rhythm.
2. Clothing. Wear loose clothing without belts that constrict the waist area. Shoeware should be comfortable with small or no heel. After and/or during training, depending on the weather, protect your neck and upper back from drafts.
3. Be aware of the place and weather during practice. Avoid extreme weather (wind, cold, heat, humidity) and traing areas that are dirty, humid, dark or other wise unsalubrious. Be conscious of your surroundings and your reactions to it.
4. Do not exercise Qigong right after a big meal allowing approximately two hours for digestion.
5. Observe the reactions during training. It is usually recomended to carefully observe the reactions the training has in our minds and bodies, much more if there is a personal history of mental disorders.
6. Dispel fears of dangers to health in the practice of Qigong. Luohan Gong is a very safe form of exercise in form and theory. It was conceived to help people recover or maintain a top level of physical and mental wellbeing, and is especially suited for people suffering from disease. There are two ways a practitioner can be hurt when practicing Qigong: Doing the movements wrong or exerting himself or herself too much for that specific moment in time.
7. Avoid any uncomfortable feelings. Qigong practice should be pleasurable, agreeable. If you have any sign of discomfort, physical, mental or emotional be aware of it and analyze the reason for it, slowing down of stopping your practice until you know the cause.