Qigong practice* can cause disturbances in people who either don’t practice properly, have little supervision and/or don’t have a good internal sense of balance between play and work. There are other factors that also can cause energetic imbalances. These imbalance are called “Qi Deviations” or zouhuo rumo. It is because of this possibility that I am listing practice pointers that should be observed:
1. Avoid practice during times or places where there are a lot of disturbances: phones, doorbells, outside noises. If you can practice before the family arises early in the morning or late in the evening before you go to bed, that will help you avoid these disturbances and allow a tranquil practice period.
2. Practice with a master who can observe your performance of movements and your posture so he can correct any imbalances or incorrect alignments.
3. Do not overdo practice. Practicing for hours at a time is not recommended for beginners. Your body is not ready for the energy. Also, if you sense of play is not a part of your practice, relax, let go and enjoy the time you spend during its performance.
4. Don’t overdo or force your concentration. Your intent is important, but forceful use of concentration is counterproductive and can have unintended effects. Using the mind too much can cause the qi to move upward from the lower dantien. Gently use the mind. Excessive visualization is not recommended. I like the advice used centering prayer practice (a meditation practice that I know) by the Catholic monk, Father Keating, where he advises use of self-humor when bringing back the attention – be able to laugh at yourself and softly return your intention back to your center.
5. Avoid improper breathing techniques. As with your concentration, gentleness and even breathing on the exhale and inhale will foster deep relaxation. Imbalanced breathing methods are not recommended and can reinforce imbalances in your breathing patterns that you already have.
6. Don’t practice when you are emotionally upset. If are going through a difficult period with anxiety or depression, avoid practice. Practice when you are feeling better.
7. Diet and Eating. Eat a balanced diet and don’t eat for an hour or so before practice. If you do need something, have a light snack to help settle the stomach. For general eating advice, it is better not to eat heavy meals often. Lighter, more frequent meals are best.
8. Get adequate rest. Your body does a lot of work while you are resting to help heal the body.
9. Choose a Daily Practice. There are several advantages of doing a daily practice that can keep you on track and avoid deviations. First, you don’t have to think about what you are doing. This will help you maintain internal awareness and tranquility. Second, it helps reinforce muscle memory and it gives you a set point for checking in with yourself. For more information in this regard, see Choosing a Daily Qigong Exercise
*Imbalances can occur in other practices, like yoga and other meditation traditions, which are done without proper supervision.