November 8, 2015 at 11:20 am #45138
I am just in the beginning stages of my fusion 1 practice, but as someone who has struggled with depression for many years, I must say I am deeply impressed with the power of these practices. And as someone who has worked in the psychiatric field, I was very much taken with Michaels statement (in the article Clearing the Confusion over Fusion)regarding fusion as something that he had hoped would revolutionize the western psychological community. I have seen the many tragedies and broken lives in our mental health system, and I am all too aware of the intellectual and therapeutic poverty of western psychiatry. At the same time, I am a little confused to find in the beginning of Mantak Chias book on the subject his remark to people with mental or emotional disorders that Such problems should be corrected before you start training !!
I am wondering if the fusion practice has had any influence on or interaction with western behavioral medicine? What might be the barriers to its broader reception and use, besides, as Michael says, its being too esoteric or too Chinese? And what to make of Chias warning? Are these just pro forma caveats to ward off the ever present threat of litigation? Or what are the real dangers of the practice?
Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
elephantNovember 9, 2015 at 2:14 am #45139
Some of the warning is just the standard boilerplate “use at your risk” language to avoid lawsuits . . . we do live unfortunately in an “I’ll sue you for lots of $$” society, if one can find an excuse or reason to do so, even if the person hurt themselves due to their own recklessness.
However, there is a slight warning nonetheless. Fusion 1 is not a practice for beginners with no background. Even putting aside the complexity, it is intended for those that have already spent quite a bit of time:
1. Cultivating self-acceptance (Inner Smile, as in QF1)
2. Detoxifying active surface emotions (Six Healing Sounds, as in QF1)
3. Circulating and balancing the energy in your core (Microcosmic Orbit, as in QF2)
4. GETTING GROUNDED (QF3-4 course, Iron Shirt 1, Tai Chi 1)
All of these are prerequisites before getting underway with Fusion 1.
Without doing these important vital steps, there can be so much toxic emotional qi released as Fusion 1 commences that it can overwhelm the system. Without adequate grounding, the havoc on the emotional body can be destabilizing, in the event difficult deep emotions get brought up. For some, overall they can get worse before they get better, especially if there is a lot of deep trauma. There is a reason why there are prerequisites before beginning Fusion.
With that caveat, the question of whether the alchemy practices can be used as “therapy” is one that has great difference of opinion amongst the HT practitioners. Some, like Michael, are very positive and ambitious, because he knows that a devoted and patient practitioner can flush out and clear a lot, that many of the tools from alchemy can be much more effective actually than standard “western psychology”, just as you yourself have discovered. Several other HT instructors that I’ve encountered, however, have quite the opposite opinion. Their opinion is that the alchemy should only be used for folks who are already mostly healthy–physically and emotionally–and that the alchemy in that case should be used to tonify and enhance qi flow, but that it should NOT be used as a means of therapy. I’ve seen some HT instructors get quite indignant that it is irresponsible to suggest to people to try to treat/heal mental and emotional issues via alchemy, and that the appropriate recommendation is to suggest the person see a therapist for mental/emotional issues.
For me, I tend to take a bit of a middle road. I think that the alchemy line can be very beneficial for self-healing. It’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of the DHQ form and teach that course, as a direct example. I’ve seen how healing the alchemy can be, both in myself over the years and in others. I think that if a person is really serious about healing their issues, that this is the way to do it (with possible outside therapy support if they are having trouble) . . . WITH THE CAVEAT that a person go slowly and get HIGHLY GROUNDED via grounding practices first, with more of an emphasis on the grounding than perhaps Michael gives. That way, when deeper stuff comes up, and things get “more difficult”, that there is enough detachment from the emotional body that one’s life does not get turned upside-down when stuff arises. The reason for this opinion is from both personal experience and my observation of others progressing through the Healing Tao system. In particular, I’ve just seen too many ungrounded people progressing through the alchemy line–not focusing on getting and staying grounded–and ending up coming unglued via the practices. I’ve seen people go through fits of rage (e.g. one example I can give from the past involved one individual who was in such an ungrounded erratic state he started picking up ceramic dinner plates and smashing them on the ground); I’ve seen others go into identity crises; others go into deep-dark semi-suicidal depressions; all kinds of things. The commonality here is that these folks did not spend ANY time on grounding work. They may have taken the QF3-4 course (and/or IS1 courses and Tai Chi 1 courses *if they were lucky* [most don’t]), but they haven’t spent any actual real-world time consistently doing the grounding practices on a regular basis so that they can actually get deeply grounded. If a person gets very grounded, it DOES NOT MATTER what comes up emotionally (even traumatically), you’ll be able to stay stable and neutral as the storms come. The difference in experience between having emotional storms come up, when ungrounded vs. when grounded, is night and day difference. I can speak from experience on my many years in the system.
Consequently, because getting highly grounded allows one to remain stable and neutral, regardless of which emotions may arise, MY PERSONAL VIEW is that the correct approach to solve emotional problems is via grounding practices, NOT Fusion. It’s my opinion that this should be emphasized more. In fact, I’ve had some direct experience taking some folks that were near basket-cases and after giving them a lot of live training and practice in grounding practices, many of their “problems” evaporated.
So let me go off on a sidebar, elaborating this point:
In my view, equating Fusion 1 to solving emotional issues is equating ibuprofen to solving headaches. Sure, if you have a headache, and you take ibuprofen, the headache goes away . . . but in my view, it is more valuable to prevent the headache to begin with. By analogy, this is via grounding. When you get deeply grounded, you can remain detached from your emotional body as a neutral witness when negative emotions come up. The emotions are still present, but you are not hooked by them. You can see them clearly in a neutral fashion. You don’t become identified to them. Moreover, you are not constantly feeding and amplifying negative emotions via crazy storylines from the mind. If all a person does is Fusion (or higher-level alchemy), then a person can get stuck in a loop of endless processing. Negative emotions arise, and then you do Fusion (or other stuff) to heal it. Then there is another thing, and back to more Fusion. On and on. People can get stuck in a “therapy-mode”, where they are constantly needing to do “alchemy-therapy” to resolve their emotional body.
Yes, the Fusion does clear away some of the stored junk in the five vital organ spirits, but the problem is, is that without getting grounded, the hyper-active mind with its huge storehouse of crazy storylines and its expert machinery at generating new crazy storylines, it can be constantly poisoning the five vital organ spirits. The brain can thereby be constantly working at cross-purposes to your Fusion work. I.E. As you are fixing things with Fusion, you have a bully that is adding more problems. So you get stuck in a loop, where you constantly have to keep processing your emotional body all the time. However, if you sever the connection between the hyperactive mind (with its crazy storylines) and the five vital organ spirits, if you get deeply grounded and get deeply into your body so your mind is not going 90mph, then two things occur: one, you can become detached as a neutral witness to your emotional body, so that no matter what emotional tantrum is going on, you are not hooked by it . . . you can just observe it neutrally, without repressing it and without being overtaken by it; and two, you are not negatively adding gasoline to the fire with a hyperactive ungrounded body-mind. In my view and in my actual experience, this is true freedom.
If a person gets deeply grounded, one may not even need to do ANY Fusion whatsoever to address the emotional body. It’s like you’ve prevented the headache, rather than trying to cure one once you get it. In this case, it is not that Fusion is no longer useful; it’s just that it becomes a different practice. Now Fusion becomes a practice whereby this negative emotional qi (that no longer bothers you), you then simply harvest as food. The five vital organ spirits also stay “more clear” because you are not poisoning them so much. Fusion then becomes a qi-gathering practice and a shen-strengthening practice, rather than a practice that is used to try to solve emotional issues. The Fusion becomes more effective because you are not caught in the emotional qi as you are processing it. It becomes more efficient. At least this has been my finding . . . in my personal experience and in my experience with teaching others this stuff.
At any rate, let me end my digression.
In total, I would say that the alchemy IS an efficient means of self-therapy, better than western psychology, IF ONE GETS DEEPLY GROUNDED FIRST. I don’t suspect that western psychology knows much about Fusion or Healing Tao tools; unfortunately HT is too unknown to the general public. But maybe someday . . .
StevenNovember 9, 2015 at 7:46 am #45141
Very interesting and helpful.
you are not negatively adding gasoline to the fire with a hyperactive ungrounded body-mind.
Couldn’t help but think of Bowie!!!November 9, 2015 at 12:55 pm #45143
not familiar with any of David Bowie’s music . . . but lol nonetheless.
Maybe someone could suggest to him to do grounding practices, ha ha. 🙂November 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm #45145
“And I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline”November 10, 2015 at 10:29 am #45147
Excellent. Very interesting. Thank you. I think what you’ve done, to some extent, is lay out some basic principles for structuring a qigong practice, regardless of whether one is working with psychological issues or not; principles which I haven’t found articulated elsewhere. Pacing oneself, learning to deal with healing/detox reactions, laying a foundation with basic practices, getting grounded – I think any practitioner could benefit from an awareness of these guidelines. I have somewhat followed this kind of a program, mostly because prior to starting qigong I worked pretty extensively with grounding practices from another (Tibetan) tradition, but which quite likely have Daoist roots. I’m just now exploring the HT grounding line, so it’s possible I have a lot yet to learn about grounding. My experience, though preliminary, for the most part tends to confirm what you’ve written. Your emphasis on grounding is well placed. However, I would like to point up one difference in perspective. I suspect that if one is already relatively healthy going into the practice one can proceed more as less as you’ve outlined: get grounded directly, experience neutral witnessing of one’s emotions, interrupt the story lines, and thus potentially dispose of a whole raft of emotional issues. In my experience, the process is rather more painstaking than this implies. Grounding itself, for some of us, may present a deep developmental challenge. Obstacles may include deep holding patterns in the body, or spiritual issues relating to ambivalence about incarnating, and so forth. The gradual deepening of one’s capacity for grounding and embodiment thus has to proceed synergistically with other aspects of practice. Once some grounding is achieved, neutral witnessing may need to be cultivated as a separate practice in order to stabilize the awareness. Compelling storylines may need to be cognitively dismantled in order to loosen their hold, and so forth. From this standpoint, fusion can perhaps be a key component in the overall program, supporting, and supported by, the others.
I believe a lot of people who are suffering from significant psychological problems are enmeshed in a thicket of personal, karmic, and ancestral issues from which there is no easy exit. It seems rather heartless to me that one would simply send them away and say “come back when you’ve corrected it”. There is no easy way to correct it. Many will wander in the maze of psychiatry, and get lost, and become damaged through aggressive, toxic therapies. At the same time, I can see that many of these same people are not at all qualified to negotiate an extensive path of healing that can be quite rigorous, quite demanding of a individual who may already be near the breaking point…
elephantNovember 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm #45149
>>>I suspect that if one is already relatively healthy
>>>going into the practice one can proceed more as less
>>>as you’ve outlined: get grounded directly, experience
>>>neutral witnessing of one’s emotions, interrupt the
>>>story lines, and thus potentially dispose of a whole
>>>raft of emotional issues. In my experience, the process
>>>is rather more painstaking than this implies.
>>>Once some grounding is achieved, neutral witnessing
>>>may need to be cultivated as a separate practice
>>>in order to stabilize the awareness. Compelling
>>>storylines may need to be cognitively dismantled
>>>in order to loosen their hold, and so forth.
No, it’s not easy. In fact, it can be quite miserable. I went through a few of my own little hells on the way there myself. But two things: one, when you are putting a lot of energy toward the grounding, somehow even though you are facing hell, you can handle it . . . you don’t turn into a basketcase or nutcase like some do; and two, I should add a caveat that when I myself do grounding practices, or for that matter teach them, I encourage doing it from a Zen approach of actively letting thoughts go as they arise, letting go of storylines, cultivating the neutral witnessing, etc, rather than what is often done is to fill the time of grounding practice by doing alchemy meditations (e.g. running the micro, or doing some HT meditation, while doing grounding practice) [i.e. the point of grounding practice, in my view, is to sever the hyperactive mind by getting into the body, not keep it going via other activities] . . . so these extra things that you mention that are adjuncts to grounding, I somewhat consider to be part and parcel of the practice.
I also should point out that once a person is doing a good deal of grounding practice, they should be adding onto it with other supportive tools, e.g. Six Healing Sounds, Fusion, etc. There is a lot of crap stored deep in the infrastructure, the vital organ spirits, the shadow areas, etc., that is quite poisonous . . . traumas, ancestral issues, structural personality overlays, existential issues, deep internal conflicts. The grounding just simply provides a supportive space where you can begin to flush this stuff out. Some of it can be very deep and require powerful tools, such as the DHQ form for example. This is why I teach that course. Getting grounded just provides a way to manage your everyday life and to provide a supportive space to do the hard work. But I still feel that true healing needs the hard work of getting into the deep areas.
In any case, it is often going to be hard, no matter what a person does. But, I’m not going to necessarily advertise that fact, as that’s not very encouraging to people. However, if I did, I would also say that if a person devotes most of their energy to the grounding, with the other alchemy tools as an overlay, that they will also be able to handle it. And that’s what’s important to me. I want people to get healing, but I want them to proceed in a fashion where they will be able to handle the healing process and not have their lives comes unglued because of what they are processing.
Sidebar: This can be one of the advantages of doing retreats. A person can get a comprehensive program and in a supportive space with others that are similarly doing self-work. Such retreats can, depending on the course content and the group of students, can end up being a little bit like “group therapy” as students often can have sharings of issues they are working with, during sharing session periods. I think they are highly beneficial, and provided a person isn’t going too fast, or skipping important grounding work, a person can progress much more rapidly in the supportive group environment rather than simply via solo at home work. This is both from the sharings of others, as well as simply the group energy field that is created in the room by so many folks jointly practicing in the same space. It’s why it gives me a lot of joy to teach HT retreat weeks, as often you can witness many students get healings as the week goes on. It’s also why even now, with 1200+ live hours under my belt, I still take retreats myself as a student for my own personal progression. Even if it’s a course I’ve had 10 times before, and I don’t need it to “learn the material”, it gives me the opportunity to do my practices in a group space. It’s one of the reasons Michael teaches so many retreats over the summer, as well as weekend workshops. Yes, it is for the students, but the group space is also for him too. 🙂 He gets to practice in a group field, and capitalize on the group energy. 🙂 Anyhow, I digress. A little bit of a sales pitch on retreats I suppose, but I also think it is entirely true as well, and needs to be part of the picture of navigated self-healing, as it is important component that is often overlooked.
>>>I believe a lot of people who are suffering
>>>from significant psychological problems
>>>are enmeshed in a thicket of personal,
>>>karmic, and ancestral issues from which
>>>there is no easy exit. It seems rather
>>>heartless to me that one would simply
>>>send them away and say “come back when
>>>you’ve corrected it”. There is no easy
>>>way to correct it. Many will wander in
>>>the maze of psychiatry, and get lost,
>>>and become damaged through aggressive, toxic therapies.
Yes, I don’t much agree with this alternate viewpoint, despite having some HT associates that are quite adamant about it. Mostly their comments come from some anal-retentiveness that a person shouldn’t try to help others in a therapeutical/clinical psychology way, unless that person has gone to school and gotten a degree or some credentials. But at the same time, I feel that what is missed is that . . . studying a set of coursework on other people’s theories of correct psychotherapy–in say a social work or psychology curriculum–doesn’t necessarily translate into that person being a trustworthy source for mental/psychological healing as opposed to someone else who didn’t get this training. Maybe the tools will help, but maybe they won’t. Moreover, people can be just as unethical with a degree as without.
I certainly don’t believe that the liberalness today of “prescription-based medicine” as the go-to approach is the right way, nor do I feel that counseling sessions are necessarily going to be able to solve deep issues in and by themselves. In other words, while I feel some good can come from psychotherapy, I don’t put it on a pedestal like some, and give the folks who run that field an undo reference.
In reality (in my view), a person who is helping another progress with healing, whether that be in psychiatry or via HT techniques, is really only a guide. And how good of a guide a person is, in some ways I feel can only come through experience, not through a degree. So if based on my experience in working with others (as well as myself), I know very clearly what is needed in grounding/alchemy/qigong way, I’m going to suggest my idea, rather than defer to the person to a mental health program. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t suggest to someone to avail themselves of counseling services if I felt it appropriate, but for me, I’m not going to discount my own gathered knowledge from my experience of working with people and defer to someone else, just because I don’t have a degree in social work or clinical psychology. Nor do I feel particularly impassioned to spend years in school, just to justify what I already do now, especially if I don’t plan on following their particular protocols.
So this is why I feel there is a little bit of a balance point. I understand the cautionary tale promoted by the indignant rigid folks, but I feel they are too extreme. Really what it all speaks to–on both sides of the coin–is a level of ethical responsibility to the student/client, and whether what you are suggesting is truly in the best interests of the student/client.
In total, in my mind, it’s whether you feel you are trying to be ethically responsible, whether you have some experience, and whether you have some tools that you know can work. If a person has those three, I see no reason why they can’t assist a person in their healing, without automatic deferral to a counselor or psychologist.
StevenNovember 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm #45151
There are lot of powerful technologies out there that would be very beneficial to people … but that are poorly taught.
The damn shame of it is that people who are suffering are willing to try something and often do, they try many things … but after a while, after disappointments, that window of opportunity can close up.
When in a bad way, sifting through ancient Chinese philosophy is not what you need.
It’s the same with may psycho-spiritual technologies, meditation and so on, in the end it’s not very hard to do … but finding someone who can explain it coherently and enjoyably is a challenge.
There are very real opportunities for cohering ancient technologies for modern people.
Some things I have learnt about this :
A. Visual references of the body and what is occurring within the body are crucial, because people respond to pictures … lots of words are not getting through … but people area able to copy what is happening in pictures or video
B. Just watching BKF’s Dragon & Tiger, he shoots the same form 5 times, one very slowly with all the instruction, 2nd time with linking movements, 3rd time with fine tuning, 4th time as finished article, and 5th time with modifications for the less-able. And this works because you see the same thing over and over again from different angles. It’s a high quality material.
With the Inner Smile CD I ended up doing a lot of audio editing because the CD has tracks that are at the same time theory and background and also guided meditation. But in my view they should be separate. The theory etc.. gets in the way after you have heard it the first time.
C. In Brief > Fleshed out > Detailed
I think it can be very useful to give an overview of the practice first, and then flesh it out, and then do any fine tuning / linking / additional material. In this way from the outset you know where you are going and the teaching can hang in your conceptual model of what you are learning.
D. Certain types of teaching need continuous reinforcement and encouragement over a long period of time requiring a lot of material.
My experience is that even very powerful and profound technology is in the end quite straightforward to do inside … once you know how.
But most of it is buried in ancient sutras and texts and incomprehensible materials, to the detriment of the teaching.
In fact both the purchaser and the author of such materials probably feel like they are doing something “really profound” by writing and reading long complicated books. But it’s all bullshit.
The only thing that counts is if there is a technology, and if there is a successful transmission of it.
Often it seems that burying the technique in a 300 page book of thick text is masking the lack of confidence the author really has about it, and the technique could be expressed in 5 pages. And authors I believe often do not want people to really test their technology for fear it will fail. Everyone needs to make a living, so you can’t blame people.
But, one hope there is for mankind is for these materials to be exposed directly, efficiently so that someone who seeks help gets it quickly first time rather than after 30 years of being messed around.
And that efficient technology actually comes to the fore. Who knows what it could do for this species.November 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm #45153
All of that makes a lot of sense to me. I learned grounding as an adjunct to mindfulness / pure awareness meditation, so it seems a very natural pairing. Regarding the usefulness of “mental health professionals”, I think a lot of us who should know better have been effectively propagandized by the pharmaceutical industry to believe that depression (to use that as an example) is just a “chemical imbalance” and that we now have medications that correct that imbalance and the whole problem is thus disposed of in a very tidy and scientific way. None of that is true, but correcting the pervasive misunderstanding is virtually impossible and I still hear even professionals spouting this stuff. More disturbing still is the accumulating evidence that these medications engender various kinds of chronic impairments, creating a patient with a very diminished capacity for full recovery. I will stop there before I get into on a rant on this, because I have seen too many of the tragedies, especially the children. But here is a link to some work by Robert Whitaker if anyone cares to look into this. http://robertwhitaker.org/robertwhitaker.org/Depression.html
Or read his anatomy of an epidemic
To bring this back into the context of the present discussion. I think if one can give people an opportunity for real healing, one should not underestimate the meaning of that. Also, I believe there are psychotherapists doing really deep work as well, though they may be few.November 12, 2015 at 8:36 pm #45155
It does seem that the quality of instruction varies a lot, and to a degree that is somewhat baffling. I been in tai chi classes that were just like mere calisthenics, and others that were catalysts for deep healing. If I may get a bit speculative, I think it might have something to do with the odd historical moment we are in, where the spiritual technologies of Asia are being assimilated in the west. New containers, cultural forms, and techniques are emerging to carry the living tradition. So it creates a situation where the new, vital, growing forms coexist with the older, sclerotic, dying forms. The latter tend to be more imitative and there is an emphasis on maintaining the cultural forms that were borrowed from the country of origin. You can see that in a lot of Buddhist communities in the west.
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