August 10, 2007 at 11:07 pm #23347
Anyone have any pointers to good articles, links, books, etc on bigu? Thinking about partial or total fasting for a bit, but would like to learn to improve my ability to ‘eat’ chi.
Thanks in advance,
-MichaelLAugust 11, 2007 at 6:09 am #23348
I have a couple books/articles you might want to
check out (listed below):
1. “Daoist Body Cultivation” by Livia Kohn
One of the most comprehensive I’ve run across
on the subject. Actually the book is a collection of
articles written by different authors on different
topics in cultivation.
Chapter 4 of the book, is all about Bigu. It’s
about 25 pages long and covers the history of bigu,
the ancient techniques that were used, and some
modern techniques used. The preceding chapter,
Chapter 3, is about eating qi. Together, these
two chapters cover the topic pretty comprehensively.
2. “Five Animals” e-book by Michael Winn
This contains a 1-2 page discussion of bigu, and
is a nice summary of it with personal opinions.
StevenAugust 11, 2007 at 6:51 am #23350
There are really two different types of bigu.
The first is what I would call “natural bigu”.
This is when bigu happens naturally or spontaneously
with no effort or real initiative on the part of the
From my experience, this seems to happen due to
a period of prolonged practice. For instance, when I’ve
put myself into a practice intensive of practicing
several hours a day–sometimes multiple hours back to back,
I’ve noticed that after a while my appetite slowly starts
to fall away on it’s own. I have a feeling like “it’s time
to eat”, but I don’t really feel like I have to. Sometimes
I skip a meal, or sometimes I don’t eat much–not because
I’m trying to, but just because I’m not really hungry.
After a period of reducing eating, my weight starts to drop;
if I continue, after about a week and a half, my weight stabilizes
and I don’t lose anymore. Moreover, even though I’m not
eating much (maybe half of the normal intake), I don’t feel hungry
at all. Then after I stop my intensive, I usually decide to just
eat a normal meal (even though I’m not really hungry for it), and
afterward, I feel kind of funny. Then a couple hours later,
ravenous hunger comes back and my appetite is back
in full force (almost in a desire to make up for lost time).
Although I’ve never done it, I’d imagine that a longer
period of a sustained intensive practice coupled with even
more daily qigong would naturally lead to a state of complete
abstinence of food without any hunger or real difficulty, which
of course could be useful if you were practicing in a cave as
The second type of bigu is what I would call “forced bigu”.
This is when you intentionally set up a program to put
you into a bigu state. This is outlined in the book
“Daoist Body Cultivation” by Livia Kohn that I mentioned
in the previous post. Basically what you do is go through
the following program:
1. First decide in your mind why you want to do it and
what you hope to accomplish by doing it. Get your desires
and goals integrated into your whole being, so your
whole being is working from this perspective with no conflict.
2. Go into a 100-day practice program of “detox”.
This incorporates breathing exercises and qigong designed to
stabilize your emotions and eliminate toxic chi
(i.e. inner smile, healing sounds, emotional alchemy).
During this time, you eliminate all external toxic influences,
i.e. negative people, highly processed foods, refined sugar,
alcohol, strong visuals (pornography, sex, violence), etc.
You eat normal quantities during this phase.
3. You go into a reduction phase. You decrease the
amount of physical food you eat. Meanwhile you take
supplemental herbs (to reduce appetite and stabilize
yourself during the transition), you take vitamins and
minerals, and eat more and more fruit in replacement
of food. Meanwhile you continue your qigong, and
incorporate “qi-eating” techniques. Some of these
involve: slow, exaggerated breathing; breath reduction;
rhythmic contraction of stomach muscles to pull
breath and chi into it; mixing chi into your saliva and
swallowing your saliva, etc.
4. After your food reaches zero, you start reducing
the supplemental herbs until your reach zero–all while
continuing your “qi-eating” techniques.
Hope this helps,
StevenAugust 11, 2007 at 7:12 am #23352
Just a few last comments . . .
More importantly than what bigu is, or how to do it, is
uncovering within yourself why you want to do it. What is it
about yourself that finds the idea appealing?
Spending some time looking within and learning information
about yourself (perhaps in relation to this issue) is probably
more useful in the long run then actually attaining bigu itself
(respectfully, in my opinion).
My personal belief is that the bigu state isn’t really that
important. At least as far as the “natural bigu”, I consider
it to just be a cute side effect of extended practice–similar
to being warm when you wear a sweater–in that it has
no meaning in itself. Regarding the “forced bigu”, I’m
not so sure it’s a good idea. In fact, as a general rule,
I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to force *anything* . . .
Actually I could wax on philosophically on that last bit,
but maybe another time 🙂
Smiles to you,
StevenAugust 13, 2007 at 9:09 am #23354
I’m feeling a bit clogged as the practice deepens, and I notice some ambivalence about eating – usually signs for me I need to alter my diet. I have done many fasts in the past, but not while doing energy work, so I am also curious about what fasting or very light eating, in combination with energy work focused on eating chi, would feel like. I also like this time of year (late summer here) to clean and prepare for winter.
I also am concerned about ‘forcing it’. Many of the past fasts were forced endeavors, though I thought at the time that I was reaching for higher ground. While watching a very talented vocalist during my last retreat, a thought came into my head – ‘Allow, do not direct.’ As my tendency is towards directing, I’ve been keeping that idea in mind.
MichaelLAugust 15, 2007 at 3:57 am #23356
To keep things moving, eating high fiber foods (i.e. things like
broccoli) and/or taking a fiber supplement (i.e. Colonix) can help.
This can help to flush out released toxins as well.
As for eating/not-eating, I say “listen to your body”.
If you are hungry, eat; if not, don’t. Go with the flow, and do
what it wants–rather than some idea of what you think you should do.
As for wanting to “direct”, as you put it, I can definitely identify.
My personality is very oriented that way. Unfortunately that never works.
The more you try to do something, or make some change–the more it resists.
From past experience, forcing something into a fixed pattern
has one of two consequences: either it doesn’t work, or it does but
you pay for it in some way later on (often the pattern breaks, and
you are worse off than before). I think this is because the stress
of going against what feels natural gets stored and charged up and then
Instead of letting your head spew logic that is geared toward trying
to force a change, ironically I think the solution lies in the opposite.
Ignore its chatter, release all judgements, open your heart to
the lifeforce, and express heart-felt intent that you would like
to improve without providing any preconceived ideas of what that
might mean. By then allowing any changes that may come to unfold
without judgement, without encouragement or discouragement, you
will naturally be guided in a positive direction that will
ultimately be beneficial to you.
Oops, sorry I kind of went off tangent there. 🙂
StevenAugust 15, 2007 at 9:27 am #23358
good advice steven.
The reason that forcing/direction doesn’t work is because for most of us the forcing/directing pressuposes that we dont find whatever we’re forcing to be unacceptable. this kind of forcing is false yang.
When you can accept whatever you’re working on fully, and feel inspired to make a change, then you can lead/direct it in a beneficial sort of way.
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