Ask Me Anything [May 2016 Edition]

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Time for another edition of Ask Me Anything! Here’s how it works:

  • Click here to submit a question for a future edition.
  • I’ll answer your question in an upcoming edition of Ask Me Anything.
  • Click here to read more about why asking questions (not just reading answers) is so crucial.
  • Comment below if you have follow-up questions, even if the original question wasn’t your own.
  • Comment, like, or share this blog post if you’d like to see more of the same in the future.
“Have you ever treated anyone for tinnitus?” – Karen

Yes, but it’s tricky.

To treat treat tinnitus effectively, you need to treat the underlying causes. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, tinnitus is caused by an organ deficiency, usually the Kidney Meridian.

Qigong is the undisputed champ when it comes to treating deficiencies in the Kidney Meridian. But even this may not be enough. In my experience working with students, you’ll need a multipronged attack to really battle tinnitus.

You need – at the absolute minimum – a combination of qigong and acupuncture. You will probably need Chinese herbs as well.

Traditional Chinese herbs.

Traditional Chinese herbs.

That covers 3 branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine – qigong, acupuncture, and herbs.

But it still might not be enough. For example, you might need to rest – really rest, for 6-12 weeks. Or you might need to stop eating junk food.

If you’ve had trouble fixing your tinnitus, it’s probably because you haven’t thrown enough at it. Throw more.

And include good qigong in the mix. Not all qigong is the same. My method gets results much faster than other methods. The standard 10-15 minute routine that I teach is also much, much easier to practice regularly. Click here for more info about my upcoming online workshops.

“We recently had an interesting discussion in response to a question posed by one of Vickie’s students about what can be done to relieve stiffness, etc., while traveling by air that can borrow on qigong practice. I’ve tried meditation focused on the breath and even visualized qigong forms while listening to one of your guided meditations. Any thoughts?” – George
 There are many techniques we can practice on an airplane.

My #1 suggestion would be to practice Metta, or Loving Kindness. An airplane is a great place to do this because you’ll have lots of people to practice on!

You can learn the Metta Meditation right here. (To save this audio file to your computer for future use, just right-click here and then choose “save as”.)

Here are some other suggestions for practicing on an airplane:

  • Practice the Small Universe (if you know it)
  • Practice 1% Forgiveness (audios can be found in the Flowing Zen Online Academy)
  • Practice the Gratitude Spark
  • Go through a tai chi form in your mind.
  • Go through some qigong forms in your mind.
  • Practice some covert Sinew Metamorphosis

Back when I was traveling to Malaysia to learn these arts, I would also get up and stretch.

These were big planes and long, intercontinental flights from NYC to Amsterdam or Amsterdam to Penang. While everyone was asleep or busy watching a movie, I would just find a corner in the back and do a few qigong stretches. The flight attendants always smiled at me.

If you get creative, the sky’s the limit. (Ha!) 

Is it worth doing tai chi that doesn’t use flowing breeze swaying willow, where it’s just learning the form?” – Jim
 Sure, it’s worth it — as long as you’re clear about what’s going on and as along as you’re having fun.

The fact is most tai chi schools do not teach Flowing Breeze Swaying Willow. Most teachers don’t even know what it is.

Most schools just teach the form. Other than a quick warm up, all they do is form. Form all day. Nothing but form.

Schools that teach internal power training or energy flow are rare. They do exist, but they aren’t easy to find.

It’s good to spend some time learning forms. I’ve learned dozens of different kung fu forms, including many tai chi forms.

A Shaolin Kung Fu pattern called "Hungry Tiger Catches Goat"

A Shaolin Kung Fu pattern called “Hungry Tiger Catches Goat”

You might consider learning some other forms of kung fu. Remember, tai chi is just one of many forms of kung fu. Learning other forms of kung fu enhanced my own tai chi.

It’s also good to socialize. You can do that in any kung fu school though.

In your case, you have it better than most people. You can go learn forms and socialize, and then go home and cultivate qi.

Also, I’m adding more and more tai chi lessons to my online academy. Those videos will teach you some of the secrets of energy cultivation with tai chi. Just add that to whatever you learn in your classes.

Whatever you decide, remember to have fun!

How can you help a beginner Tai Chi student strengthen the hip-thigh muscles to make Snake Creeps Down posture easier?” – Jill
 Snake Creeps Down is a complex posture that – quite honestly, very few practitioners do correctly, including teachers.

If you cannot do a full squat, with your butt sitting on your calves, then forget about doing snake creeps down correctly. You just don’t have the necessary strength and flexibility yet.

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A cool drawing of Snake Creeps Down. Unfortunately, it’s not correct.

The solution is to cultivate strength and flexibility. The mistake that a lot of tai chi practitioners make is to try to build that strength and flexibility through the form itself.

This would be like a basketball player trying to build strength by playing basketball. That doesn’t work, which is why pro basketball players lift weights.

Tai chi practitioners don’t necessarily need weights, but they definitely need strength and flexibility exercises. Bodyweight exercises like squats are essential.

If you can’t find a good tai chi teacher to help you with develop this strength, then consider joining my online academy. I teach a lot of strength and flexibility qigong exercises in there.  

“My question is this: Could you explain and expand upon the feeling of chi I get in my body even when I am not in a session? For example if I pray, exercise in certain ways, or even am combating an illness I will feel strong vibration in my hands especially. Thank you!” – Arthur
 I’m working on a blog post on sensing qi. It’s such a complex issue, and it needs a lot of attention.

The quick answer is that science now tells us that we have far more than 5 senses – at least 8 and possibly 20.

I believe that we use some of those other senses to feel the qi. But in my experience, different people feel the qi differently. Or at least, they describe it differently – perhaps because we don’t have the vocabulary necessary to describe sensations outside of the normal 5 senses.

Let me add that it’s not a bad thing for qi sensations to be creeping into daily life! If you are praying or exercising mindfully, then the qi will flow better. Your qi is always flowing! The only question is how strongly. The more mindful you are, the stronger it will flow. 

“Hello Sifu Anthony, I want to say thank you! With your help I was able to find a great taijiquan instructor here in Austin, TX. I have cured multiple injuries sustained from years of contact and extreme sports and no longer suffer from bouts of depression or insomnia. The information from your posts really helped me develop my daily practice sessions outside of my regular classes. Without your wonderful website I would not have accomplished so much.” – Jonathan

Thanks for the kind words. It’s always nice to hear that I’m making a difference. And congrats on finding a good teacher and getting such awesome results!

“Since high school I have maintained a fairly consistent fitness regiment. I run, do body weight workouts and occasionally have done weight training. I have struggled to find a way to incorporate this into my daily taijiquan and qigong practice.

“Would you recommend doing fitness exercises immediately before, or after my practice, or should I mix them together, or do them at a completely different time of day?

“Also are there any particular fitness routines or exercises that you think complement taijiquan well? Please let me know your thoughts.” – Jonathan

I’ve wrestled with the same problem. Unless fitness is incorporated into my tai chi practice, I struggle to keep it consistent. My solution was to mix the two.

Some things are easy to incorporate, like squats and bodyweight exercises. The warrior stances (zhan zhuang) can be considered a form of strength training. Of course, the heavy kung fu weapons are also a form of strength training.

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The tai chi ball – a weighted ball the size of a volleyball or basketball – helped me a lot. Once I incorporated that, I was able to combine strength, mobility, and qi training — all in the same session.

In the end, you’ll have to find what works for you and your goals.

Remember, there’s no such thing as “being fit”. It’s all sport specific. A marathoner is fit, but so is an Olympic weight lifter, and their fitness couldn’t be more different. So you have to make decisions about what kind of fitness that you want.

“Hello Anthony, I teach both tai chi and qigong. My question pertains to the wood posture that is associated with the gallbladder in Five Element Qigong. A student brought to my attention the fact that she had surgery to remove her gallbladder two years ago. Therefore, when the chi travels through the meridian, that leads to this organ, what happens to the chi, where does the path lead, or does the pathway become a dead end? In that case, does the chi rest at the dead end, if so, will it become stagnant?” – Sifu Cindy
Rest assured that removing the gallbladder organ does not remove the Gallbladder Meridian.

Acupuncturists all over the Western world are dealing with this issue. My wife sees lots of patients who have had their gallbladder removed.

The Gallbladder Meridian will be weaker without the organ, but it still functions. The qi may become stagnant, but that can happen even when the organ is still there.

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Remember that the Five Elements must be viewed as a whole. We cannot and should not try to isolate the Wood Element in this case. For example, removing the gallbladder may have made the Wood Element weaker, but the result might be a case of Wood not nourishing Fire.

Diagnosing and prescribing using the Five Element theory is best left to licensed acupuncturists. For example, it would be a mistake for a qigong instructor to tell this student to focus entirely on Wood Element exercises. (I’m not suggesting that you would do this.)

One of the things I love about my style of qigong is Flowing Breeze Swaying Willow. This technique is a wonderful way to naturally and holistically circulate the energy through all Five Elements — without having to diagnose. If the energy needs to flow to the Gallbladder Meridians, it will naturally flow there. If Wood is not nourishing Fire, then that will naturally start to balance itself out.

I teach Flowing Breeze Swaying Willow in my online workshop. It’s a beautiful technique, and worth learning.

“I have a question about feeling Qi. Are we talking about feeling it while doing the postures or just any time? After 6 months of regular practice I can feel wave – like motion running between my head and toes when I am practicing. It seems to follow my hands, up and down. Once I felt it in my lower back, also moving up and down like following my hands moving. So is this the way to feel Qi or is there any other aspect of it?” – Gina
 As I mentioned above, feeling (or sensing) the qi is a big topic. I’m working on a blog post.

What you describe is great for 6 months. Many people go years without any real sensation of qi. So you’re doing great!

Feeling qi in other parts of the body takes time. Generally speaking, people feel it in their hands first, and then maybe their head, then dantian, and then other energy points like hui yin, ming men, and bai hui.

Feeling energy in the feet or legs takes time.

Eventually, it becomes totally natural to sense qi in all parts of the body, including the organs.

But that’s not the end of the journey. After you can sense qi in your own body, you start to sense it outside of your body – in nature, in the feng shui of a house, in other people. Qi is everywhere. Learning to sense it is a lifelong journey!

“Thanks for doing this! At some point, while discussing the closing sequence of the five phase routine, you said to think of your dan tian as tennis ball sized. I’m sure this advice is based on individual progress so I’m wondering if I should stick with it or move forward.

“I can feel dan tian pretty well, especially during zhan zhuang or the consolidating part of the closing sequence, but it feels, well, tennis ball sized and nebulous, certainly no pearl. Should I continue thinking of it as a tennis ball or can I try to consolidate it further? If I can move forward, do you have any advice?” –Dave

You’re already moving forward. If I could give you any advice, I would say – relax and enjoy the journey.

You’re a talented student. I think you first learned from me 2-3 years ago? In that time, you’ve made some amazing progress and gotten terrific results.

Don’t be in a rush to move faster. You can sense qi at dantian already. That’s fantastic! It took me like 6 years.

Consolidating the qi at dantian happens with the Small Universe. Whether you learn that now or later, you’re still doing the important groundwork of gathering the qi at dantian. Otherwise, there’s nothing to consolidate!

“HELP! The pollen in Florida is overwhelming this year! Is there any relief possible using qigong?” – George
 Qigong can help, but there’s a faster solution. It’s called NAET. This is an allergy elimination technique that many practitioners use. My wife does something similar.

The combo of NAET plus qigong is magic. I’ve seen people get rid of lifelong seasonal allergies. It’s worth trekking to a local practitioner for the treatments. It usually takes 2-6 sessions to eliminate something like a pollen allergy. 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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4 Responses to Ask Me Anything [May 2016 Edition]

  1. Dion Short May 12, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

    I also had a bit of a struggle incorporating my other exercises, for example pushups and running, into qigong practice. I had to and am still restructuring my practice. For now, I have had to add more minutes to my workout. I’m still tweaking it.

  2. Jim May 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    Thanks for your answer to my tai chi question. I think it would be really cool to get into Kung fu forms.

  3. MuhammadSaqib Ali May 21, 2016 at 3:49 am #

    when people go to religious areas they often feel light or relieved. I want to ask is that, that do these areas that people believe to be special or to be holy have a higher concentration of qi or energy or is it just a picture that they have in their head that that particular place is special. because as i said before they feel light or better. I have just started visiting this page and dont know much but this question came in my head so i thought that id ask

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 21, 2016 at 7:43 am #

      Hi Muhammad. I don’t know if I can give a definitive answer, but I think it can be both, i.e. the mind as well as the feng shui (local energy) of the temple or church or area.

      For example, the practice hall at our mountain retreat in Costa Rica has powerful energy. The feng shui is wonderful up there, and the energy is strong.

      But people who make the journey to Costa Rica for our retreat are also in the right mindset. They are ready for a powerful experience.

      The combination is magical.

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