How do You Sink your Chi?

by Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis

Bruce Frantzis_Meditation and Sinking Chi

Sinking your chi is a very important skill to learn to keep your body healthy. As we move from Winter into the Spring sinking your chi helps you clear out old energies in your body. The simple fact is that during the Winter most people do not sink their chi.  The chi in the body becomes stuck and does not easily move downward.

Chi becomes stagnant in the winter season because of the cold. Winter is the time when the kidneys are activated. This in general brings up the emotions of fear and a sense of loneliness. In the winter we have dark days without sunlight because of rain. Then there is the cold snow in some places.

All of these factors can get your Chi stuck. So, it’s very important that when you’re coming out of the winter to focus on having your chi drop or sink. Let’s explore two ways you can sink your chi…The basic idea is to get your chi to sink from the top of your head all the way down to your feet. There are in general two basic Taoist processes to sink chi. One is a simplified version of sinking chi and the other one is a Taoist method called outer dissolving.  There are differences in how they are done and when you might choose one method over the other.

The first method of sinking your chi is to develop the ability of having your energy drop from higher places in your body to lower places in your body. You develop the sense of chi moving downward from your head to your lower tantien and then into your feet. You simply stand/sit and take your concentration from to top of your head downward going area by area. It is that simple.

Sinking your chi is incredibly useful in clearing out basic stagnant chi in the body. That’s what it does. It’s based on the principle that energy which the body cannot use goes downwards. When that energy reaches the feet the stagnant energy releases down into the earth.

To do this simplified method you can start by standing or sitting. Place your the attention at the top of your head. Then move your attention from the top of your head downward through your body all the way to your feet and into the earth. Rather than focus on individual spots in your body you are dropping your awareness and attention through your body as a whole. Relax any area that is tense and let your energy drop to the next lower area until you are at your feet. If you are sensitive you will feel the chi drop and if not just know that it is possible and this method works.

If you want to become very strong and healthy, then this method of sinking chi is particularly useful. That is why for example when practicing internal martial arts, the first focus is not on outer dissolving but is on sinking chi. What this does is condenses the chi of the body and makes it more heavy.

We generally think of someone weighing 300 pounds will be dramatically stronger and more powerful than somebody who weighs 100. The purpose of the first method sinking your chi is by internally opening your chi downward so that if you’re 100 pounds your strength can start equaling the strength of somebody who’s 150, 200, or 300 pounds normally, or even more.

I described this in my book, The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi. It is as though someone who has a normal body, let’s say is made of just tin, hits someone whose body energy is more like led. In this case the tin crumbles, regardless of whether it’s bigger than them or not.

This basic method of sinking of chi is a very important practice as we move into spring. You want to clear your body of old stagnant energy. You want to release that energy into the earth. You want to start the spring feeling fresh and invigorated.

Now this version of sinking chi, sets the stage for the next method of outer dissolving. It is important to say here that neither method is better or worse. They both are useful depending on the circumstances. You may find areas in your body are tight or may feel that your energy is blocked for some unknown reason.  That is when you should use the next method of sinking chi, the Taoist method of outer dissolving.

The outer dissolving method of sinking chi is likened to the process of how ice dissolves to water and then water dissolves to gas. You start from the top of your head and go from point to point stopping at any blockages and dissolving that blockage internally from ice to water and then water to gas outward. It takes practice to learn this but once you have it in your system it is highly effective.

Outer dissolving is not necessarily for developing physical strength, where I would say basic sinking is more efficient. Rather it is goes beyond blockages that are just physical and works with your emotional and mental energy bodies.

Outer dissolving is more useful if you have a specific physical problem in an area of your body or if you have general disease. For example, if you have chronic fatigue syndrome or if you had liver problems, heart problems or any physiological problems then with Outer Dissolving you can target specific systems or areas.

If the energy of your internal organs is disturbed this often causes your  emotions to be disturbed as well. When this happens your emotional stability and balance is almost always effected.  In this case, dissolving is going to be more powerful because it will help you clear your emotional blockages as well as your physical blockages. However, if you don’t have health issues, as I mentioned then sinking can be more useful in terms of just developing physical strength and power.

This is a really important subject and this is just a brief overview of the topic. So I hope this was a helpful introduction to the two ways to sink your Chi. Please leave a comment below or ask any further questions…

For more info on sinking chi there is a chapter in my book Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Qigong for Lifelong Health that goes into more details.

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Octagon Community Health − Breaking Apart Winter Stagnation
March 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Rapaport March 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

In most of my classes, I start with sinking chi from the top to the bottom as a way of settling students down after their work days. It takes 5-8 minutes and really helps to clear their heads, especially when they are learning new moves.

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sh March 25, 2010 at 3:10 am

Thanks! That was great….

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Adrian March 25, 2010 at 3:55 am

What i want to ask if what happens when you decide to sink chi during the day, do you just leave the chi at your feet for as long as you can, before it goes back up due to you doing other activities?

And by sending all your energy to your feet and into the ground, would you also be sending your good energy through the ground, and so you will be losing chi if you do it too much?

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Allen Lalumia Reply:

The idea is to bring new energy into the body as the old leaves…your chi body is a circuit that has the ability, through consciousness, to open and to close…the perineum for instance…you don’t want to have a constant leakage at this door of the body, or a leakage at any of the gates…but you do want to renew your chi from top to bottom (yang / heaven energy transforming to yin / earth energy) as often as possible….one also wants to release any energy that has become extreme yin or stagnant…and this is the purpose of B.K.’s Outer Dissolving techniques and they are very effective if done correctly and with care…read his books, attend his seminars…but pay close attention to what your energy is doing…this is most important.

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vernal Reply:

hello my chi all ways gets stuck in my head i try to bring i down but it dosent com down after practice my head all ways feails heavy and and jerks about . what can i do about it

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Allen Lalumia Reply:

There are any number of specific ways to bring the energy out of the head and into the lower Tantien and I suppose the simplest thing to say is you need to understand embryonic / longevity breathing as well as the specific channels that allow one to move energy from the head to lower centers i.e. (central channel & the front [ren] meridian of the microcosmic orbit); as well you need to understand that chi moves in three ways: 1) on the current of the breath 2) through specific pressure changes within the body 3)through conscious intention. Also sounds like you need to return to the basics of learning to sink your chi. If you are having these types of experiences with your practice it sounds like you need to find a teacher to guide you. Bruce’s book Relax Into Your Being is the one to study the techniques of the breath and this book is always gently guiding you to the lower tantien. Also, self massage of face, head, neck, and shoulder with the intention of releasing chi to the lower tantien can be effective. Be careful.

Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis Reply:

What you’re experiencing is the result of one of the three:
1. A problem in the brain, which is unlikley and on which I am not qualified to comment.
2. The blood isn’t dropping out of your head; I teach how to deal with this kind of stuff all of the time. Any one of my Senior Instructors know these methods well and could teach it to you, see the Instructor Directory on my website.
3. Something could be wrong with your spine, which any osteopath or chiropractor could probably fix–even doing qigong would probably help.

Craig Davis March 27, 2010 at 12:14 am

I have found that I really need to focus on the physical lifts in my body in order to release and sink my chi. For the longest time I had trouble getting blood to move through my feet and toes. Then I learned that my some areas in my body were collapsed- including my ankles. Now when I stand and dissolve, I pay extra attention to getting even the slightest sense of a lift inside my ankles. As a result, my toes literally go from cold to warm when I practice.

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Joao Belo April 1, 2010 at 8:10 am

As usual, a great and relevant post by Bruce. I certainly feel the need to sink chi myself at this time of the year!

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robyn bunting April 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Is the inner dissolving process similar/the same as the body scanning in Vipassana meditation? I note the focus on making blockages insubstantial in each case.

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Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis Reply:

No the process is not the same. In vipassana the body scanning is recognizing whats going on but it is not doing something extremely proactive to specifically release what is going on.

Sometimes vipassana people get similar health results because they scan so heavily. Whereas if you apply your complete attention to releasing that blockage (as in dissolving) instead of just recognizing it, you will get different results.

Vipassana does not have agendas where you specifically go to release something that is bothering you. It does not have specific methods to deal with specific things bothering you. Dissolving does, so it’s not just by doing enough of the general that you get to the specific, instead you can dissolve generally or go straight to a specific problem and dissolve that.

I have personally not done a lot of vipassana, however this is what I have heard from good practitioners.

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Jamie Reply:

I have done two ten day sits at Vipassana I thought the same thing and I actually wanted to break the rules an do dissolving . Its rare to have that setting to dissolve. Out of respect I only practiced Vippassana and found it of great benefit ! However it only led me to the conclusion that if I can get my mind that sharp why not just melt the mofo, couldnt resist .

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Mark Patrickson June 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Hi Bruce

I’ve just started working through your Energy Gates and Taoist Meditation books.I’m doing some sinking chi work to start and have intense sensations.I tend to take a deep breath from the diaphram and then ‘let go’ trying to feel my energy flow downward.The more I try to feel chi sinking it seems the more I tense up,It’s almost like an involuntary tensing up when someone tickles you.I can definately feel the chi moving but it’s like a heavy sludge.
Does this just mean I’ve got a long way to go but am doing the right thing?

Regards

Mark

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Hans Braumüller Reply:

Mark,

if you are doing the exercises relax you are on the right way, a litte smile helps.

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sh August 23, 2010 at 12:18 am

Hi Bruce,

Should one be sinking and dissolving Chi on a daily basis?

Thanks

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Nicoleta January 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This is interesting and I may be taking a session on Maui.
How does Taoism relate to Christianity? In its meditation, can one still pray in quietness to our Lord Jesus?
Thank you.

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B. Reply:

Yes

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Kevin Hartwell April 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Ive recently begun learning energy gates and have been practicing sinking for about 2 weeks now. When I reach my arms Im assuming that I focus on my torso as well while sinking. I find myself struggling to focus on both. Any suggestions?

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Kevin Hartwell April 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Im still practicing sinking and have been basically starting at the top of my head and feeling my whole body from skin inwards, down till I reach the bottom of my.feet. Im not sure if I can feel the chi continuously throughout, so I think I may be partly visualizing and focusing on sensations (if any) as I move down; not necessarily feeling chi.
It also feels like as Im learning its a bit of guess work, but I understand that eventually it will be a clearly felt sensation the entire time moving down; like a wave.
Does it sound like Im on the right track? Any suggestions?

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Kevin Hartwell June 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Still workin at it; I feel as though when sinking downwards, the sensations which Im gathering are chi are going down in sections for example feeling my neck, then shoulders and entire arms at once rather than a thin laser like sinking inch by inch. .

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sina July 16, 2011 at 2:48 am

i like to know when you saying moving energe in the different part in body, is this the power that cuses for example move a heawe thing? if not what,s conection of that energe and the phisical power in our body? thanks.

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robert July 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

Dear friends,
I have a lot of inspiration of this new qi-gong side for me.
Althought i am not so healthy the last years, a colon and gallbladder that are removed. So long doing sport Athletics, 400-800m till end 58 year i was amased that i could have such heavy problems.
Trying to find and strenghed my tandien, doing every day exercises barefoot on gras. Of course missing such important organs like galbladder and large intestine, it worries me a bit. How will the body compensates that loss ?
I see on many you tube video’s that many masters doing their exercises with shoes on, or doing it on concrete. I do it barefoot on grassland, is that the good option ?

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Kevin Hartwell August 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Im still practicing sinking and have been basically starting at the top of my head and feeling my whole body from skin inwards, down till I reach the bottom of my.feet. Im not sure if I can feel the chi continuously throughout, so I think I may be partly visualizing and focusing on sensations (if any) as I move down; not necessarily feeling chi.
It also feels like as Im learning its a bit of guess work, but I understand that eventually it will be a clearly felt sensation the entire time moving down; like a wave.
I feel as if Ive gone “sung” after practicing so Im wondering is it more of a passive thing that just “happens” after one maintains alignments and proper breathing etc (practice of course)?

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Kevin Hartwell August 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I think Ive finally felt what blocked chi feels like. After a bit of a tense day, I did sitting meditation for 30 min then stood practicing sinking when I suddenly felt a sensation which felt subtle yet fairly obvious after standing for a few minutes.
On the back of my neck down to my shoulders I felt a feeling of contraction that was there for a minute or so while I focused on it but slowly it went away and I lost feeling of it as I continued to practice.
Im wondering could it be that the sensation of a blockage to go away but still remain only to be felt once practicing again?
Its been over 4 months of practicing sinking and scanning with no real obvious progress so I feel good to know that Im getting somewhere with learning strictly from the book and cds. THANKS BRUCE!

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Tvc15 May 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Thank you, Sir,
When I practice Qi Gong, I always start by bringing enery up from the Earth, thru my feet, Then up to head, up and out thru my out stretched hands to clear out. Now, I wil try it the you said. Is the way I was practicing wrong? Or is there a wrong?
Thanks, Again

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richard Reply:

Energy naturally rises, the more difficult task is to get it to drop. In the Taoist water method this is what we focus on first to ensure grounding.

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neal February 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

this might be a silly question and this thread might be a bit old to get an answer but does sinking chi down the body to feet and beyond happen more easily if done outdoors in nature stood on ground, as opposed to indoors stood on floor boards on the second floor of a house? or does chi respond the same whre ever you are?

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