I appreciate this is an old thread.
However this might be helpful to someone somewhere.
I will share a couple of cautionary tales from my own practice.
As a young man, of about your age, I had been reading about Chi Kung since I was a teenager.
I read all of Mantak Chia's books that were available at the time.
I had some success with "the inner smile" and "the six healing sounds" but began to have a few negative experiences with "opening the orbit"
Mantak Chia's stuff comes from a Neo Taoist tradition that has a lot of "Fire" in it. By concentrating on specific points, you are essentially "burning through" blockages. I started suffering from real pain at some points on my spine.
I'm not saying there is anything inherently wrong with the system, but the method did not suit my underlying physical and energetic constitution or my psyche. I was basically doing too much and creating blockages through too much tension in my attention.
You then get in to a nasty place where your attention powers up the blockage you have just created making them worse. You may get through the block eventually but you have then created a underlying tension in your practice.
The real problem for me came when I read "Taoist Secrets of Love" and "The Multi Orgasmic Man"
As a young man I was naturally interested in sex. I thought these techniques were worth investing practice time in. I hoped the practice would allow me to have lots of sex, conserve my jing, make love all night long, the ladies would like it, I would get healthier and stronger, it would give me power in my martial arts... Everyone's a winner right?
Sadly not. I had initial successes (and therein lies the danger) I started experiencing the contractions without ejaculation, the whole body sensations, all good ..... I thought....
Then things went wrong. Its difficult to say what happened or why, but I started feeling very agitated, my energy felt wrong. Worse I started suffering from alternating premature ejaculation and then impotence. For a young man this was disastrous!
I stopped training in any Chi Kung at all and it took about a year for things to come back to anything resembling normal.
Interestingly, years later, I found B.K Frantzis books and in "Energy Gates" he has a section in the back dedicated to deviation from practice. There is a tale there of a practitioner damaging the lower energetic seal through unwise Chi Kung practices. I suspect I may have done that somewhat.
I started training in Bruce's stuff. The Taoist Water Method. This is generally very much based on letting go, releasing, no strain etc. this is much better and helped repair the damage caused by my earlier training.
I don't know if I somehow attract trouble!
I have a tendancy towards liver Chi stagnation and arthritic conditions. So I thought I would deepen my practice of "marriage of heaven and earth" one of the Chi Kung sets Bruce teaches.
I have been practicing this for at least 10 years so it's a movement I am very familiar with.
So I started doing about 45 minutes a day, for about 18 months. Things were going well. I started feeling very relaxed and open. Each time I did the "washing through the brain" bit, I would get a rush of saliva in my mouth. The saliva started tasting like honey, all good...
After the first couple of months I had a strange experience. I was at work just after my practice session and I noticed a purple flickering to the left of my vision. I initially put this down to the fact that I had started a new job that involved a lot of staring at a screen. After about 30 mins it went..... This was a foretelling of bad things to come....
I'd like to point out that I did go to the optician and had my retinas photographed and checked. All was well. (purple light can be a sign of detached retina)
About a year later I was still practising "Marriage of Heaven and Earth" but I was alternating it with some standing practices "Zhan Zhuang" and "San Ti"
I started getting very sore after my practice in the region of the back of the neck and occiput. I decided to back off Marriage practice (following the 70% rule) and do some "dragon and tiger" practice to balance out my energy until the soreness had gone.
I had done my dragon and tiger practice one morning and about half an hour later, was looking at some paperwork. I suddenly realised that I couldn't see the words in the centre of the paper. There was a flickering shape in the centre of my vision.
Oh my god! I thought.
Detached retina? Stroke? I tried to remain calm. I noticed that if I closed one eye or the other it was still there, so unlikely to be detached retina. (unlikely to detach both at the same time) There was a very unpleasant rushing tingling feeling going on in my head.
I knew this was somehow related to my Chi Kung practice.
The flickering shape in my vision widened to the point of making me effectively blind. I went and lay down for a while. About 20 minutes later the flickering effect went away.
It left me with a sickening headache.
I got myself on Google and found the interesting world of "occular migraine" the symptoms I suffered were exactly that of "scintillating scotoma" you can look at this on Wikipedia and see an animation of exactly what I saw, even the shape of the shimmering patch of vision was exactly the same. No agreed cause and no real treatment.
If this ever happens to you it's also worth looking up "spreading cortical depression" there's quite an interesting animation of the spread of electrical impulses through the hind brain....
I'd like to point out that before this period of practice I had never had a migraine or any visual disturbance of any sort in my whole life.
Following this was a very bad few weeks. I could feel painful blocks in my head at the occiput, side of head, forehead and where the top of the nose is.
One day the nose one powered up and it was like having a nine inch nail hammered in to that area!
The problem is, you think of the block, it starts powering up, thus making you think of it more.... and it starts building in a exponential way. I actually felt like I was going to have some sort of fit at one point.
Things I tried....
1. Standing dissolving down... Nope even remotely putting attention on head powers up blocks.
2. Standing dissolving down from below the head. Better but still powers up the blocks.
3. Attention on Tan Tien and attempting to drop chi there. Very bad idea! Powers up whole orbit thus leading to instant sickening headache.
4. Massage down front. Very slight temporary relief.
5. Intense physical exercise to take attention off the head. Helped a bit.
6. Movement 5 of Dragon & Tiger to drop energy in to the earth. Nope... very bad idea! As your heels hit the ground a lightening bolt of chi shoots up spine in to the now tenderised mush of your occiput.
7. Acupuncture. Finding a good acupuncturist is difficult, and one that will take you seriously! There are acupuncturists out there who don't believe in Chi! Never mind understanding chi kung and chi deviations. It helped a little but only temporarily.
8. Meditation. This helped eventually I basically focused on my feet initially in sitting meditation for 30 minute periods. While doing very gentle connected breath.
9. Taoist breathing... (longevity breathing) this really did not help. It increases chi and blood flow to the head ..... Ouch!
10. Doing no practice at all for several weeks. Yup this helped.
11. When head powers up, continuously moving a ball of chi from crown, down front channel to Tan Tien in a stroking fashion. This helps a fair bit. But you have to do it very quickly to stop attention on the head powering up the blocks. You have to do it a lot. It's like skating over the surface of your energy.
12. Reversing the microcosmic orbit. Again this caused problems related to focus on the head.
So now many months down the road. I can do about 20 minutes of standing dissolving down with no negative effects and maybe 5 -10 minutes of "cloud hands" but I have to be very careful with that bit.
If I attempt anything that moves a lot of chi (Marriage of Heaven and Earth , Dragon & Tiger, Gods etc) the dangerous thing is nothing bad happens immediately. You walk away from the practice session feeling good and relaxed and energised. Then a couple of hours later... Blocks in the head power up!
So why did this happen?
As a child and adult I have always enjoyed lying on a bed with my head propped up on pillows and reading. This has over many years caused poor posture and my neck to "bug forward". I think that while doing "marriage" the chi was hitting the occiput area and due to some misalignment was going where it shouldn't and getting blocked in occipital cortex (which of course controls vision)
Secondly, after years of late nights, partying hard in my misspent youth and my earlier experiments with sexual Chi Kung, this has left me as a study in "Kidney Yin Deficiency" one of the side effects of this is you don't have enough yin to control your yang and there is a tendency for energy to rise to the head.
It's a very frightening and humbling experience to go through this type of thing. You realise that essentially there is no one that can help you.
I can imagine turning up at an NHS hospital and saying "Errr yeah, I've been like doing these ancient Taoist exercises and compressing chi in to my occipital cortex and am having some mildly Kundalini like symptoms..."
You are more likely to end up being sectioned under the mental health act! as it's completely outside the western medical model.
The majority of acupuncturists, healers, herbalists etc in the west (believe me I've tried a lot) are completely unqualified to even know where to start with something like this.
I'm sure Bruce could work his Chi Kung Tui Na magic, but sadly he has yet to train any of his teachers to the level of brain rewiring yet. And as he is fond of saying "he doesn't do that kind of work any more"
I have yet to see him since this, so I will ask him (if I pluck up the courage) next time I attend one of his trainings.
1. Daverick Leggett book "Recipes for Self Healing" is very good for dietary advice to address Kidney Yin Deficiency. There's also a .pdf available with the basic principles here:
Any comments or suggestions welcome!