Tag Archive for: kundalini syndrome

Reprinted from Mandala Magazine September, 2004 DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK

By Paula Chichester (Lhundup Nyingje), Retreat Advisor to Land of Joy

Ordained for the last 13 years, Ven. Paula has devoted 24 years of her life to Buddhist retreat practice. She bridges the culture gap to enable Western people to attain Buddhadharma realizations by leading inspiring retreats and by giving advice on the support for and environmental needs of retreatants.

“The most important aspect of retreat is to keep your mind happy…. Practice should be free of looking for results. Even if you spend your entire life doing practice and have not a single experience, no results at all, it should still be a cause for great joy to have spent your life like that.”—Geshe Lhundup Sopa

Lung (pronounced “loong”), or ‘meditator’s disease’, happens to almost every meditator, even very experienced ones. It is similar to an athlete who strains a muscle and then has to rest for a while to let that muscle heal. We meditators strain our nervous systems. Some of us already have a strained nervous system when we begin our meditation practice. Unless the lung is very severe, it is nothing to be afraid of or to worry about, it is just a trade hazard that we can learn to work with and endure. Lung is our teacher because it is the feedback we receive when we are not meditating properly – or not living a balanced lifestyle. Lung is the Tibetan word for ‘wind’. Generally, meditator’s lung is congested chi in and around the heart chakra. We all learn about lung when we attend our first Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist group meditation retreat. Either we get it, or we hear about it from our friends who get it. Lung literally means wind but we can translate it, in this context, as ‘mental stress’. The mind rides on the subtle winds of the body, and when the winds don’t run smoothly, we feel stress. When many people begin a retreat on a Tibetan mantra yoga sadhana practice that involves visualizing complicated forms, reciting liturgy, and reciting mantras, they discover after a week or a month that their minds actually become more agitated than they were before. They may experience pain in the chest or back pain, or headaches; they may cry easily and anger easily, too. They may feel anxious or have panic attacks or insomnia. Some people become depressed. Some people have delusional paranoia, hear things, or feel strange sensations in their bodies. Others have indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. Lung is often experienced as a negative attitude toward the practice (your mind and body want to stop!) so you experience doubts about the practice, doubts about your lama. Lung can become bad if it is not remedied, and if the person continues the pattern that causes it, it’s possible to become severely mentally disturbed. But that is rare. Mostly it’s just a negative mind or a nagging obsession that won’t go away. Sometimes lung manifests as an aversion to meditating. You just don’t want to go back and sit on that cushion!

Anyone under mental pressure and strain experiences lung. Meeting deadlines at work, family stress, and studying for final exams all bring on lung. Everyone has their own style of lung. It’s a good idea to learn your personal pattern so you can know when to relax in your retreat. When you start to feel negative or can’t sleep one night or have indigestion, or when you uncontrollably growl at someone, then you know it is time to rest, to back off on the intensity of your practice. Often there are signs that indicate lung is on the verge of breaking out into major symptoms. For me, I almost always have an anxiety dream based on the theme of the night before a final exam at university when I haven’t studied at all and I’m frantic. That tells me, “Time to slow down, Nyingje-la!” When I used to start designing fashions in my meditation sessions while reciting a mantra, I knew it was time for a good long break and a walk.

When some of our wonderful Tibetan masters first encountered people from modern industrialized societies, they were impressed with our level of education and intellectual acuity; thus, they assumed we would make great practitioners. They taught us advanced practices and soon watched us all get lung! I think this is rather like a figure skating master who discovers a group of ballet dancers and thinks they will make great figure skaters. The ballet dancers get out on the ice and try to dance, and they all end up with sprained ankles and broken bones. We have these greatly activated minds, but they developed without any awareness of the winds that carry those mind-bytes. Watching our breath and learning about our wind-mind before we add all the visualizations and mantras is like skating round and round the rink for hours and hours before we even try to turn around on the skates.

Geshe Rabten thought all Westerners have tsog lung (chronic heart lung). After he spent a year leading a calm abiding retreat for Westerners, Gen Lamrimpa said to us that he thought Westerners could never learn to meditate: Our minds are too fast because we grew up with machines and computers. In other words, we all have chronic low- grade anxiety or tsog lung. It is so ubiquitous that we think it is normal. There is an epidemic of depression and anxiety in modern industrialized society that is growing rapidly, even among children. Our lifestyle gives us lung. This same source of most of our health problems is also what causes us to have a difficult time in meditation retreats.

When we talk about lung, we must distinguish between acute lung and chronic lung. Acute lung comes from concentrating too hard on the mandala or reciting mantras too fast or working too hard in service at our jobs, or frustration in relationships. Chronic lung can be treated with herbs, diet, acupuncture, Tibetan medicine, and talking therapies. I would try these options before going to pharmaceuticals because in the long run these chemicals may only compound the imbalance.

However, when symptoms are especially intense, people may need immediate relief. You might decide to take pharmaceuticals for a short time, with the help of other supportive therapies, and then slowly wean yourself off them. I would recommend checking with a lama before taking any pharmaceutical chemicals. It is my impression that they are dispensed far too easily, and they may harm the body and mind in the long term. If a person is willing to change their eating habits, take herbs, or go to an acupuncturist and/or a skillful psychotherapist, pharmaceutical medicines are most likely not necessary.

How and why we get lung

Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche told us that faith and intention are the main activities of tantric practice. This is so important. We get lung because we don’t know this essential ingredient. We get too serious and try very hard to see all the details of the mandala and to say thousands of mantras a day, thinking that more is better. This gives us lung.

In Tibetan medicine, lung (wind) imbalance is related to attachment; bile imbalance is related to anger/aversion; and phlegm imbalance is related to ignorance. At first, it may not be so clear how unskillful meditation that leads to lung is related to attachment. If you think of attachment as the mind that wants, that grasps, that clings, and then check up while you meditate, you can see how a subtle version of grasping and clinging can abide with you as you focus on your meditation object. It comes in the form of wanting more clarity than you have, or wanting to finish up, or not wanting to finish. If you are in a neutral state of mind, and then think of something you want to do, you can feel a slight tightening in your chest, a little excitement or anticipation. Most of us think this is happiness, but it is actually a state of grasping. This can also cause lung.

Those who do – and don’t – get lung

People who meditate for stress reduction purposes only and aren’t interested in attaining enlightenment probably don’t get lung. We get lung because we are trying to do something, trying to attain something, instead of relaxing and letting it happen naturally. Lung comes from forcing our mind beyond its capacity to stay relaxed while meditating. The key to good meditation is a relaxed mind. Forcing the mind to concentrate only harms our development in the long run. This is very hard to learn because we don’t often know when we are forcing our mind – until we get lung! We are habituated to having a slightly grasping or excited mind when we do things, because this is often where we find the energy to do what we want to do; but this does not work for us when we want to meditate. We get lung from forcing our minds to stay on the meditation object when it is tired. We get lung from saying the mantra too fast and for too long. We get lung from forcing a visualization to be clear. We get lung from trying to keep the thoughts at bay instead of understanding that it’s okay for thoughts to come and go. What we are looking for is to stabilize on the mind that lies below the thoughts. No accepting and no rejecting…the ocean, not the waves…remember?

Lung usually comes on very slowly, after days of forcing concentration or reciting mantras too fast without being aware of it. By the time you realize you have lung, it’s very hard to dissipate without stopping the meditation altogether and resting the mind for a few days by engaging in fun and play. Lung just seems to be part of learning how to do Vajrayana practice. The more you practice, the sooner you identify the habits that lead to lung, and therefore it becomes less and less of a problem. The more you meditate, the more you are able to perceive the texture of your mind, so you can see or hear the mistakes just as an artist or a musician would. It just takes time on the cushion. Like any other form of discipline, it only becomes easy with a lot of effort…right effort: gentle, loving, relaxed, no expectation, no pushing effort. We need to remember that one of the four powers of joyous effort in Shantideva’s teachings on the six perfections is the power of rest. In modern industrialized society, resting is a sign of weakness. Rest is just as important as activity in manifesting any sort of production.

Tibetan masters describe the process of meditation as being similar to training a wild horse. If you tether it to a short rope and try to beat it into submission, you will have a very difficult time taming that horse. But if you give it a large corral to run in and approach the wild animal with kindness and love, you can ride that horse in a short while. Remember the movie, The Horse Whisperer? We have to learn to relax our minds and treat ourselves very gently. Ribur Rinpoche tells us over and over again, “…r..e..l..a..x….”

This is the key to meditation without lung.

Lung prevention and management:

1. Don’t push yourself, your body or your mind – more is not better and might is not right. Whatever you do, do it for others!

2. Prostrate before sessions or do chi gong in the breaks. Twice a day is good, if you can.

3. Begin your session with a quiet time, calming your mind, tuning in to your energy. Breathe into your lower chakras and let the anxiety come out. Melt the tension with the experience of refuge. Soothe your inner child; listen kindly to its complaints.

4. End your session with five minutes of spacious meditation, just relaxing into the three circles of emptiness of dedication or relax at the dissolution time. Even though you want to get up, just sit and breathe into the mental tension until your mind is relaxed. Aim to end the session before you are tired. Also, you can visualize your hollow body filled with five-colored lights radiating out all the lung and blessing all the sentient beings and the environment.

5. Spend a little time every day, if possible, relaxing your gaze by looking up at the sky or staring out at a long distance view as you gently recognize emptiness. This really lets the lung out.

6. Eat enough protein and cut back on (not cut out!) all sweets. Eat a well-balanced diet, suited to your body type and health needs, i.e., study nutrition. Exercise six days a week.

7. Learn to relax in all your actions. Meditation is play, not work. Relax: Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair or do chi gong for a few minutes after your session ends. (This is advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.)

8. Don’t force your visualization. Be satisfied with what comes.

9. Contentment is the key to a good retreat; cultivate contentment and a happy mind. Meditate on the innermost jewels of the Kadam geshes every day. The key to contentment is breathing with bodhichitta all the time. Detach yourself from grasping experiences by a deep understanding of karma, and let go of all notions of blame and shame. “Follow your bliss,” as Joseph Campbell used to say. 10. ‘Set your re-set button’ once a week, if not once a day. That is, recreate until you feel grounded, open, joyful, clear, and motivated.


Advice about Lung from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

[Excerpted from a forthcoming book of selections of advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche to students on everything from specific practice questions to personal problems. The book will be on sale later this year.]

1. To a monk who has lung “I understand about lung. When one is bored and tired of doing prayers, one sees the prayer book, and lung comes. Things that are difficult and things that we don’t like bring lung. I don’t think that the things you really enjoy give lung. Do you agree? Sometimes when you do something with so much energy, sudden- ly the energy changes and then you change; you give up. For example, a monk worked so hard for a very long time with computers, even through the night; then it suddenly changed, and he couldn’t do it any- more. The energy just changed! “So in this case, something that you get bored with and don’t like will give you lung. Psychologically, the antidote is to accept. Whenever you encounter problems, rather than being unhappy about it, accept it as a result of past karma, then it no longer becomes a problem, or it is much less of a problem. Think especially of the benefits. Kadam Geshe Karab Gomchung said that even a small suffering in the present finishes heavy past negative karmas that cause us to be reborn in the lower realms, where we would experience suffering for many eons.

As a result, there will be a happy life in the future. “Therefore, one should meditate, rejoicing in the suffering. Of course, as you know from thought trans- formation, you can use your problem to practice bodhichitta, use it for the ‘taking and giving’ practice — taking all sentient beings’ suffering in the form of pollution through the nostrils, taking it into the heart, destroying all the ego and the self-cherishing thought completely, so there’s nothing left. Do this a few times. At other times, think, ‘I’m experiencing this for all sentient beings.’ “By doing this, you collect skies of merit, and the body becomes like a wish-granting jewel. With this body, when you experience suffering for others with each taking and giving, many eons of negative karma are purified. Each time you come closer to enlightenment. This is the best practice, as you know! “You can also use the lung incense made by Tibetans, apply Tiger Balm, or take the Tibetan medicine, Agar 35, for life-wind sicknesses.”

2. To a student who could not sleep “People in the West think that if you do not sleep there is something wrong with you, but is it is only a problem if it is causing harm to your health; other- wise, it can be very useful. Maybe people who need to do clear light meditation need to sleep. Actually, my job is putting people to sleep, I think you know this! “If you can’t fall asleep, one method is to do prayers and read the Lam-rim. Maybe if you try to meditate for a long time you will fall asleep. For problems associated with lung eating meat can be very beneficial, and eating garlic and onion can help as well. Also, one can drink broth made from bones, boiling the bones in hot water [see Mandala June-July 2004 Tibetan Medicine]. “The best thing to do is the practice of the 35 Confession Buddhas, with prostrations and recitation. This may help because it purifies your negative karma and creates the cause for you to achieve enlighten- ment. You can do it in the morning or evening.”

3. To a student who said she had had lung for the past three years “Visualize the guru on your crown. Nectar flows from the guru’s heart down into your body, speech, and mind, purifying illness, spirit harm, negative karma, and obscurations (especially lung energy). As you visualize this, recite the guru’s mantra. “This method can also be used for any heavy sickness. While the guru is still on the crown of your head, make strong request with total reliance on the ‘ guru for this negative karma to be purified completely. Do this before absorbing the guru into the heart. “When you have strong lung, while standing, visualize an iron nine-pronged vajra at your heart, inside your body. This iron vajra is red-hot, blazing oneness with fire. Concentrate pointedly on that vajra. That is the main practice.”

4. To a nun was suffering from lung in the heart, and depression. Rinpoche recommended acupuncture and the following Tibetan precious pills: Moon Crystal, three a week for seven weeks, and Rinchen Jumar, four times a week for seven weeks. This completely got rid of her lung.

5. To a monk who had been experiencing serious lung while attending the Basic Study program. He had begun having difficulty studying, to the point that he requested permission to become a part- time student. He requested Lama Zopa’s advice as to whether he should remain at the study center and do part-time study, or work part-time. He also asked Rinpoche to recommend a practice for him to do. Rinpoche responded as follows: “Early in the morning, and at night, breathe in very strongly and then breathe out very strongly. Think that the lung has gone out as negative karma. Do this many times. Also do the physical exercises from the Six Yogas of Naropa. Chi Gong is also helpful.

“There is a special lung practice called Mani Hardun that Lama Tsongkhapa came across when he was studying and was manifesting the aspect of lung. He received the practice from an old Sakya monk. It may be difficult to find, but you could ask a geshe. A student received the transmission for this practice from Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and was cured just by receiving the transmission.”

LungTheMeditatorsDisease PDF






Including: four stages of wind disturbance along the spiritual path

(a special contribution by Segyu Choepel Rinpoche)

By Carolyn Chan

A grasp of the three humors: wind, bile, and phlegm, (tib. rlung, mkhrispa and badken), and their relationship to the development and functioning of the body-mind, underlies any understanding of Tibetan medicine. Good health which also includes mental and emotional wellbeing, depends on their balance, and because each person is different, the point of humoral balance varies from person to person. In western societies, the balancing of rlung has been problematic, with the modern high performance, furious paced lifestyle proving fertile spawning ground for numerous rlung disorders, many conveniently labelled “stress related”.

Over the past year I have had many chances to observe rlung disorders up close, as three of my close friends manifested symptoms and suffered terribly for many months. (Names changed to protect identity). Debra, after an unpleasant medical diagnosis, spiraled uncontrollably into anxiety, sleeplessness, panic attacks and rapid weight loss. Though her diagnosis pointed to something potentially serious, it was at a curable stage, and she planned to start treatment right away. She said she knew all this, but couldn’t seem to help herself. Then there was Linda, whose daughter had taken up a new set of friends and been in trouble twice at school. Linda like Debra, became anxious, sleepless, and full of fears that left her incapable of even simple tasks such as driving to the supermarket or clearing her mailbox. Both said they knew the root of the problem was their own minds, but neither were able to control the irrational thoughts which persisted. Ray was different, he had been experiencing a sharp stabbing pain on his right side for over a month. His doctor had sent him for a battery of medical tests and scans which turned up nothing, leaving him with the suggestion that it “must be muscular”. This was unhelpful to Ray who had been trying to sleep nights sitting up in a chair for a month. I told him about “drang rlung”, the cold abdominal wind, and though a cynic about all things esoteric, he dutifully followed instructions. After a few days his pain started to move, sometimes to his side, then to his back, till it gradually lessened and went away after another long month.

It was painful watching my friends suffer through these disorders. I learnt the big lesson that once a rLung disorder takes hold firmly, it is very difficult to displace and requires vast knowledge and understanding of the nature of rlung and its effects on the body-mind, to successfully treat at its root. My rudimentary knowledge of Tibetan medicine coupled with even less experience was not enough. I realized that while more obvious gross physical wind symptoms such as Ray’s pain, or the shrinking, drying skin and crooked arthritic joints of the elderly can be easily discerned, what is not obvious but just as painful, is the suffering of the mind caused by a rlung disorder.

It was with a view to learning more about the ubiquitous rlung disorder and its subtle effects on the body-mind that I spoke recently with Segyu Choepel Rinpoche, holder of the Tibetan Buddhist Segyu lineage of the Gelug school. Rinpoche has an extraordinarily rich, colorful background and is considered an expert in Transpersonal psychology as well as the healing traditions of his homeland, Brazil. With his deep roots in Tibetan Buddhist traditions and great personal interest and expertise in “treating holistically rather than specifically”[1], Rinpoche was naturally drawn to Tibetan medicine[2]. Rinpoche is very approachable, with a warm dimpled smile and kind twinkling eyes that see everything, including the questions you really want to ask. A razor sharp intellect quickly organizes his answers into bite size pieces to be chewed and digested by novices, such as myself. While I was particularly interested in Rinpoche’s perspective on rlung disorders in western society, I had the extreme good fortune of receiving much more, as Rinpoche shared his insight and knowledge of rlung disorders commonly found on the spiritual path. Rinpoche says that while rLung disorders are found in the general population, he observed some time ago that there seems to be a disproportionately higher incidence occurring in dharma centers. It is his opinion that the reason for this is because on top of any psychological problems that may be present in an individual, Vajrayana practices may further disturb the person’s rLung, as “spiritual practices go to the core of neuroses”.

tsa lung

According to Rinpoche, there are four stages of wind disturbance, which can take place along the spiritual path.

1.    Prior to spiritual practice.
Person recognizes their own emotional disturbance or psychological imbalance and goes to the dharma looking for solutions. The disturbance may manifest as unhappiness, depression, anger and aggression, and basic inability to deal with situations encountered in daily living. There is inability to control winds in the channels and blockages are present in their most gross form.

2.    Early in spiritual practice.
Person starts dharma practice and feels different, calmer, and is happy to have found a way to calm emotional disturbances. Spiritual practices create movement of the winds, in some cases it may increase the winds. The channel blocks remain and disharmony and agitation of the winds continue. The practitioner is however learning how to calm the mind and mental afflictions so there are less bouts of anger, craving, jealousy, etc., and the wind disorder manifests at a more subtle mental level as depression, agitation, insomnia, “spaciness”, and psychological angers.

3.    Seasoned spiritual practitioner.
After some time and effort in the practice, the person’s reaction to the practice is noticeable in resultant behavioral changes that have been incorporated into daily life. For example, the person has become more patient, kind, and compassionate in dealing with others, and because of these changes and knowledge gained, may even become sought after as meditation or dharma teachers. However, even with long spiritual practice that include purification practices, subtle blockages can remain. These blockages become more subtle, continuing to agitate the mind at a mental level, and the disorders above in #2 can persist in more subtle or hidden manner. It becomes difficult to eliminate these subtle blockages as due to prolonged spiritual practice the mental condition is very strong.

4.    Advanced spiritual practice
Where a practitioner is very advanced in spiritual practice, blockages can still exist, but they will exist at an extremely subtle level. They will therefore be very silent and very deep blockages. At this level the only way to uproot the blocks will be through a process of transmutation to the completion stage of complete enlightenment, where the rLung flows freely and easily through the body channels (tsa), “tsalung therapy”.

Experienced Doctors of Tibetan medicine are able to identify and calm the disturbed winds of the more gross types of wind disorders, using the tools of diet, behavior, medicines and external therapies. However, as practitioners advance in spiritual practice, channel blockages can become increasingly subtle. Where subtle blockages exist, practitioners may seek Tsalung trulkhor therapy (rtsa rlung ‘khrul ‘khor), which can restore natural channel function by cleaning the channels and removing blocks. Tsalung therapy is an advanced body-mind healing practice in Tibetan Tantric yoga meditation, where by tradition, its practice is restricted to only highly qualified Tantric practitioners.
Rinpoche is of the opinion that many western doctors do not understand the nature of the disorder, and therefore do not address the winds, ending up only treating the symptoms. Doctors of Tibetan medicine who are capable of diagnosing and treating the disorders effectively, are simply not available.
I am extremely grateful to Rinpoche for sharing his views on rlung disorders on the spiritual path. I believe this insightful breakdown can be most helpful in understanding the type of wind disorder present, and the most effective therapy to be applied. It seems obvious to me, that Doctors of Tibetan medicine with their long experience of dealing with rlung, should be considered as experts in this field. They are capable of rendering invaluable assistance to people living in western societies where rlung disorders are becoming increasingly commonplace.


[1] Since 2003, through Juniper Foundation in California, Rinpoche has been fulfilling the instructions of his root teacher Kyabje Lati Rinpoche (1922-2010), which were to, “…focus on the west, make the essence of Mahayana Buddhism available and accessible to the people over there”.

[2]Rinpoche recalls in 2010, his serendipitous encounter with an advertisement for the TME 3 year online course, which was just about to start. Rinpoche completed the 3-year course and is currently enrolled in the Advanced TME online course. Rinpoche speaks openly of his “pristine admiration”, for his teacher of Tibetan medicine, Dr. Pasang Y. Arya, and the ability with which he is able to “translate, update, and transmit Tibetan medicine in its true form to the west”.



Photo by Shashank Kumawat from Pexels
Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels

Written by Jampa Mackenzie Stewart, M.S.O.M., L.AC.

The term Qigong Deviations refers to the adverse reactions that may occur in the course of Qigong training. These reactions can be physical, energetic, and/or mental.

Qigong is like medicine. It can be tremendously healing if prescribed correctly and used according to directions, but if you are careless in how you practice and do not treat it with respect, you can incur negative side effects.

Common causes of Qigong deviations are:

1. Exercising or practicing under the guidance of an inexperienced teacher or a teacher who is ignorant of Qigong theory, or imitating a Qigong exercise without understanding Qigong principles or without instruction (imitating Qigong seen in a movie, magazine, book or video).
2. Attempting to guide Qi internally without adequate fitness or preparation. This can occur due to a weak constitution, faulty posture or due to trying to forcefully circulate Qi when one has weak or blocked energy channels.
3. Failing to respond to the flow of Qi or Qi sensations correctly or overreaction due to fear, ignorance, being overly anxious for results, or due to psycho-emotional imbalances.
4. Failing to master and apply the “three regulations”, failing to follow the teacher’s directions or to practice according to the given guidance, or following one’s inclinations to “improvise” on Qigong exercises prematurely without sufficient mastery and understanding of the principles and safeguards.
5. Being frightened, startled (such as telephone suddenly ringing, abrupt loud noise, etc.) or suddenly irritated or vexed during Qigong practice.
6. Practicing Qigong in a toxic environment or during extremes of weather, such as wind, cold, heat, dryness, thunderstorms, right after an earthquake, etc.
7. Excessively practicing Qigong (too long, too much force, too much tension, over- concentration) out of fanaticism, or impatience for quick and dramatic results; overdosing on Qigong.

The following are the major differentiations of Qigong deviations:

1. Deranged Qi Flow
2. Qi and/or Blood Stagnation
3. Leaking of True Qi
4. Mental Derangement
5. Unchecked Flow of Pathogenic Qi

1. Deranged Qi Flow


Qi may become deranged, pathological, or out of control either during or after Qigong practice. Deranged Qi flow may give rise to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, panic, respiratory distress, palpitations, shortness of breath, uncontrolled movements of the extremities, tremors of the whole body, suddenly feeling faint. It may also cause intense, uncomfortable, uncontrollable and unstoppable sensations of Qi flow along a certain channel or channels, or these sensations may be confined to a specific location. In most cases, the person will be able to tell the location and direction of the pathological Qi flow.


a) Stop the Qigong exercises which have caused the symptoms.
b) Stop any panic, calm down, and shift your focus of attention to conscious movements.

c) For dizziness or vertigo, press and rub Baihui (Du-20), Hanyan (GB-4), Shuaigu (GB-8), and Xuanlu (GB-5), followed by kneading Taiyang, digging and pressing Fengchi (GB-20), and pressing Mingmen (Du-4).
d) For respiratory distress, palpitations and shortness of breath, finger-knead Shanzhong(Ren-17), Rugen (ST-18), Yunmen (LU-4), Zhongfu (LU-1), and Neiguan (PC-6).
e) For sudden faintness, press Yintang (Extra) with your fingertip, then press Renzhong

(Du-26) with your fingernail, dig-grasp Hegu (LI-4) with your thumb, and Zusanli (ST-36) with your middle fingertip. Follow this treatment with a cup of warm tea, and guide the Qi back to the Dantian. Place your two palms over the Dantian as you guide the Qi there.

f) For excess Qi flow or intense Qi sensation, first pat the locations where the Qi is flowing or gathering to excess. Then pat the face, scalp, neck, chest, and back.

Next, extend your right arm in front of you, palm up, and massage the Three Yin Channels of the arm by lightly brushing with your left palm and fingers down the inside of your right arm from your shoulder to your fingertips. Then turn your right hand palm down, and massage the Three Yang Channels of the arms by using your left hand to brush up your right arm from fingertips to shoulder over the back of your hand and up the back of your arm.

Repeat 9 times altogether. Then do the same procedure on the opposite side.

Next, massage down the Three Yang Channels of the legs by using both palms to lightly brush down the outside and back of the buttocks, flanks and legs to the toes. Then massage up the Three Yin Channels of the legs by brushing from the big toes up the inside of the foot, ankle, calf, knee, thigh and groin. Repeat 9 times altogether.

g) If none of the above self-treatments work, one should immediately seek out a reputable Qigong doctor or practitioner of Oriental medicine for treatment.

Outgoing Qi Therapy

  1. a)  Open the confluent points of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels in accordance with the Eight Methods of the Sacred Tortoise (Ling Gui Ba Fa) and its rules for point selection according to the hour of treatment and the stem and branch of the day of treatment.
  2. b)  Select relevant points along the affected channels. Use flat palm or sword hand gestures and apply pushing, pulling, and quivering manipulations to activate and normalize the Qi flow along the disordered and related channels.
  3. c)  After that, apply pushing and leading manipulations to guide the Qi along the related channel or to the related organ, or back to the Dantian.
  4. d)  Regulate the activities

Herbal Treatment

The following herbal formula may be prescribed with appropriate modifications, and decocted in water for oral administration (dose per day):

Dang Gui (Radix Angelica Sinensis) 12g Ci Shi (Magnetitum) 30g Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthes Bidentatae) 18g Shan Yu Rou (Frutus Corni) 15g Sheng Long Gu (Os Draconis) 30g Sheng Mu Li (Concha Ostreae) 30g

2. Qi and/or Blood Stagnation


Qi and/or Blood Stagnation may occur either during or after Qigong practice. Qi and/or Blood Stagnation may give rise to symptoms of pain, heaviness, sore and distending sensations and sensations of compression, which may not disappear automatically, and may become worse if not treated.

Outgoing Qi Therapy

1. a) Select appropriate local acupoints at and around the affected location of the problem. Tap and knead the points digitally, and push and stroke along the channel along the natural direction of the affected channel’s flow.

  1. b)  Use flat palm hand gesture along with pushing, pulling, leading and quivering manipulations to dredge the channels and to guide and normalize the functional flow of Qi in the channel along the natural direction of the affected channel’s flow.
  2. c)  Refer to Qigong Empowerment, pp. 311-316 for additional treatments for problems at specific locations.


  1. a)  Stop the Qigong exercises which have caused the symptoms.
  2. b)  If you feel a compressing sensation on the head along with severe headache, massageGV-20 (Bai Hui), GB-20 (Fengchi), Tianmen (Extra), Kangong, and Taiyang (Extra). Then pat and massage along the natural direction of the Governing and Conception Vessels. Then concentrate the mind on KD-1 (Yongquan) and LV-1 (Dadun) and continue with the face and head massages above.
  3. c)  If you feel a tight and compressed sensation at the forehead, first massage Tianmen (Extra), Kangong, and Taiyang (Extra), and then pat from GV-20 (Bai Hui) down to CV-6 (Qihai, Dantian) along the Conception Vessel several times until you feel the energy descend and the pain reduced. Then apply pushing massage from GV-20 (Bai Hui) down to CV-6 (Qihai, Dantian) several times.
  4. d)  For distending pain around GV-14 (Dazhui), press-knead GV-14 (Dazhui), GV-16 (Fengfu), GB-20 (Fengchi), and GV-6 (Jizhong), and pat downwards along the Governing Vessel and Bladder Channels several times.
  5. e)  Continue to push, rub, knead and pat the painful and uncomfortable areas.

Herbal Treatment

The following herbal formula may be prescribed with appropriate modifications:

  • Dang Gui (Radix Angelica Sinensis) 12g
  • Tao Ren (Semen Persica) 9g
  • Hong Hua (Flos Carthamus) 9g
  • Yan Hu Suo (Rhizoma Corydalis) 12g
  • Lu Lu Tong (Fructus Liquidambaris) 30g
  • Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthes) 18g
  • Si Gua Luo (Retinervus Luffae Fructus) 9g

3. Leaking of True Qi


During or after Qigong practice, one may feel Qi leaking out of their external genitalia, anus, or urethral orifice, and other points. Leaking of True Qi may lead to wasting, weakness of the extremities, pale grayish and dark complexion, vexation, lack of concentration, impaired memory, spontaneous sweating, night sweats, pathological seminal emission, insomnia, and reluctance to speak or move.
Outgoing Qi Therapy

  1. a)  Emit Qi with flat palm gesture and pushing, pulling and quivering manipulations towards CV-6 (Qihai; Dantian) and GV-4 (Mingmen).
  2. b)  Again emit Qi to CV-6 (Qihai; Dantian) with flat palm gesture and vibrating and quivering manipulations for 9 or 18 breath cycles.


a) Knead Zhongwan (Ren 12), Qi Hai (Ren 6), and Guan Yuan (Ren 4); push and rub the abdomen; knead Shen Shu (BL 23).

b) Concentrate your mind on your Dan Tian for 5-10 minutes.

c) Inhale quickly through your nose and simultaneously contract your anus and PC (pubococcygeal) muscles. Hold for 10 seconds, then exhale and relax those muscles. Repeat 9 times.

d) Knock your teeth together 36 times.

e) Roll your tongue around in your mouth 18 times to generate saliva. Accumulate the saliva, and then swallow forcefully in three gulps. Rest.

f) Massage your Ming Men 49 times. Then pat your torso and limbs.

Herbal Treatment

The following herbal formula may be prescribed with modifications: Shu Di Huang (Prepared Rehmanniae) 30g
Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng) 9g
Shan Yu Rou (Cornus Fruit) 30g

Ci Shi (Magnetitum) 30g Rou Gui (Cinnamon Bark) 6g Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthes) 18g Shen Long Gu (Os Draconis) 30g Mu Li (Oyster Shell) 30g

4. Mental Derangement (Qigong Psychosis)


Most participants report profound health and wellbeing benefits from qigong practices; many achieve significant relief from longstanding physical or psychiatric ailments.

Some, however, may develop a syndrome known as qigong psychotic reaction, described by DSM-IV as “an acute, time-limited episode characterized by dissociative, paranoid, or other psychotic or non-psychotic symptoms”, and that “especially vulnerable are individuals who become overly involved” in qigong.

During Qigong practice, mental derangement (also called Ru Mo, “being infatuated” or “Zou Hou Ru Mo”, “fire [qi] wild, devils enter”), or simply “Shen disturbance” may appear.

Mental derangement of this type is usually the result of overzealous and excessive practice, or in practicing to a fanatical degree. It also occurs in practitioners who regard the extraordinary sensory or mental perceptions experienced during Qigong as real. It may manifest in either a Yin or Yang form.

In Yin Qigong Psychosis, the patient’s Qi will be compressed; the patient may become withdrawn, depressed, introverted and uncommunicative, exhibiting an eccentric disposition, a withered and dull expression and appearance, idle movement, apathy, and trance. The patient’s eyes may appear clouded, may avoid direct eye contact, or the eyes may waver from side to side.

In Yang Qigong Psychosis, the patient’s Qi may become stuck in the head or heart, the patient may exhibit manic, overly expressive, impulsive or volatile behavior, over-talkativeness, incomprehensible or inappropriate speech or laughter, inappropriate expression of feelings, insomnia. The patient’s eyes may become burning, piercing and fiery.

With both types of qigong psychosis, some practitioners may lose self-confidence to the extreme of becoming suicidal; others may experience disorientation, and continuous auditory and visual hallucinations similar to those experienced in schizophrenia and other forms of acute psychosis.

Generally speaking, most of these disorders are related to a pathological accumulation of Qi in the head or heart. Both the brain and the heart are related to Shen and consciousness, and are Yang in nature. The over-accumulation of Qi in these centers may either over-activate (Yang) or cloud (Yin) the mind. In either case, the basic treatment principle is to ground the patient, to guide the Qi down to the Lower Dantian, and to regulate the Qi.

Outgoing Qi Therapy

  1. a)  Open the confluent points of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels in accordance with the Eight Methods of the Sacred Tortoise (Ling Gui Ba Fa) and its rules for point selection according to the hour of treatment and the stem and branch of the day of treatment.
  2. b)  Press and knead GV-20 (Baihui), GV-14 (Dazhui), GV-10 (Lingtai), and BL-13 (Feishu). Then use either flat palm or sword finger gestures and pushing, pulling, and quivering manipulations to emit Qi and guide Qi to flow down the Governing Vessel.
  3. c)  Pinch GV-20 (Baihui), Yintang, GV-26 (Renzhong), SI-19 (Tinggong), ST-6 (Jiache), LI-11 (Quchi), LI-4 (Hegu), BL-40 (Weizhong), and BL-57 (Chengshan).

     4. d) Use middle finger propping gesture and vibrating manipulation to emit Qi toward CV-15 (Jiawei) and CV-12 (Zhongwan) for a period of 18 normal respirations. Then guide the Qi downwards along the Conception Vessel back to the Lower Dantian.


a) Stop the Qigong exercises which have caused the symptoms.

b) Apply Qigong massage according to the symptoms: knead Taiyang (Extra) and Bai Hui (Du 20), pat along the spinal column and Bladder Channel from upper to lower, and pat the back and extremities.

c) Guide the Qi from the head down the Conception Vessel to the navel. Collect the Qi at the navel by spiraling outwardly 36 times (clockwise for males, counter-clockwise for females) and inwardly 24 times (counter-clockwise for males, counter-clockwise for females).

Herbal Treatment

The following herbal formula may be prescribed with appropriate modifications:

  • Sheng Di Huang (Fresh Rehmannia) 30g
  • Bai He (Lily Bulb) 30g
  • Sheng Long Gu (Dragon Bone) 30g
  • Sheng Mu Li (Oyster Shell) 30g
  • Niu Xi (Achyranthes Root) 15g
  • Yuan Zhi (Polygala Root) 12g
  • Suan Zao Ren (Zizyphus Seed) 12g
  • Ci Shi (Magnetite) 30g
  • Shan Yu Rou (Cornus Fruit) 30g
  • Zhu Sha (Cinnabar) 1g (taken following it’s infusion)

5. Unchecked Flow of Pathogenic Qi

In healthy practitioners, there may be a struggle between the righteous healthy Qi and pathogenic Qi during exercise. Because the righteous Qi is reinforced due to Qigong practice, the pathogenic Qi may flow unchecked to certain locations and cause pain, soreness, distention, heaviness, coldness and heat.

Outgoing Qi Therapy

  1. a)  Press-knead the Jing-well points of the affected channel with your fingernails to open the channels and allow the pathogenic Qi to leave, guiding it out with your mental intent.
  2. b)  Use flat palm gesture and pulling and leading manipulations to guide the pathogenic Qi out. Alternatively, you may open the affected point to dispel the pathogenic Qi.


a) Massage the affected areas with digital pressure to relax it fully

b) Inhale naturally. As you exhale, use your will to lead the Qi to the affected location, and imagine the pathogenic Qi is being expelled. Repeat for 49 respiratory cycles.

c) Practice the Hua Shan Qigong exercise, “Expelling Toxins” 9 to 49 times.




by Jampa Mackenzie Stewart, M.S.O.M., L.AC.



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How It Happened

I volunteer in state politics. It was the night that insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in D.C. I have friends that I love and care for that work there and the fear hit my system really hard. I was doing a solitary retreat and a cleansing new years’s juice fast, which makes you particularly open, feeling and vulnerable to, well, everything. I made the mistake of doing some pretty powerful yogic exercises with breath retention too, that, in retrospect, I should not have been fasting while performing them, a lesson now learned.

That night, with the confluence of everything, I had a full on panic attack. I could not sleep, and it got so bad that my nerves just gave out, shaking, overcome by fear. I could feel this odd overheating going up the spine to my head, pretty classic Kundalini syndrome or what Tibetans call a wind imbalance or Tsog Lung. This struggle went on for 3 nights. I finally broke down and took one exceedingly strong sleeping pill, for one night, that acts also as an anti-convulsant called Clonazepam, that cut the momentum of the fear and got me to sleep. However, I wanted to fix this and come back into balance by myself. I’m happy to say, I found a full cure, and was sleeping soundly by night 4, naturally, with no sleeping pills!

If you ever have your practice go wrong, anxiety or insomnia, or life and fear just hits an overwhelm, I wanted to offer what helped me get through it and come back into balance. I took 5 full days and I limited my work time to do an immersive, home self care intensive to recover. I’m happy to say that I came out better then ever, calm, healed and sleeping soundly.

The Natural Cure

I am not a doctor and cannot offer medical advice. Please do see a doctor, teacher or acupuncturist for professional advice if needed, but here is what helped me:

  1. I called my meditation teachers who know me- and they gave me some personal meditation instructions that I was so grateful for, and told me to discontinue all breath-work and yoga practice for some time.
  2. I went in for a full checkup with blood-work to my medical doctor, got acupuncture and a Ku-nye warm oil massage with a Tibetan Doctor.
  3. I took a relaxing Epsom salt bath twice a day with lavender essential oils in it and then rubbed rose body oil or sesame oil all over head to toe! I dried off and kept my body really warm, extra clothes and blankets, and a fire.
  4. I stopped the juice fast and ate heavy, oily, grounding, deeply nutritive foods- organic bone marrow broth, steamed vegetables with butter.
  5. The Chinese doctor had me take a safe, herbal formula called “Jitters Away”* along with goat’s milk colostrum to mend the nerves. *take with supervision
  6. At night before bed, I took some vitamins and amino acids including: 5htp, Magnesium, Inositol, L-Theanine and Gaba. *Dosages should be taken under the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner.
  7. I rubbed a small amount high quality CBD salve with arnica onto my arm, on the soft spot where the arm bends.
  8. I had this happen on retreat a few years back, so reread the VERY BEST INSOMNIA BOOK, and followed the author’s advice that puts you back on track for sound sleep. In sum, you do a mantra before bed that says: “I’m a good sleeper, my body knows how to sleep.” You can rub you feet together and rub your belly to bring the “energy” down.
  9. I stopped all caffeinated coffee, went to decaf and calming teas like chamomile with natural, non-stimulating sugars like monkfruit or coconut. Before bed, warm milk with Ashwagandha.
  10. I worked out on a elliptical gently each morning and /or went for long gentle walks in the sun, and did some very gentle stretching, sun salutations and hatha yoga.
  11. I listened to calming music and kept my space clean, and fresh. I lit candles and incense at night, with some simple formless meditation.
  12. I shut down ALL social media, and turned off the news for a few days; what wonders that does to heal the nerves!



What I Learned

Well, I recall a few years ago the same thing happen to me while I was practicing these intense yogas on retreat. It took me eight months to fully recover and it was hard fought. I wanted to see if the same problem would recur and sure enough it did. I was consulting with the Tibetan medical doctor and he told me that we all have a certain elemental propensity, what they call the humors. Some people have: wind, phlegm or bile imbalances or propensities. People that have a lot of thoughts and ideas and are emotionally sensitive, tend toward having a wind imbalance. It means that your life force energy can quickly move upwards, to the head, and so when you do certain yogic practices this can definitely exacerbate this and cause an imbalance.

I almost think nowadays that the spiritual path is body based and it’s a process of getting to be in touch with yourself physically and emotionally, to notice how you’re doing. We use the analogy of the mastery of being able to “ride the horse” of your life force, rather than have it trample over you. If we’ve taken on too much, heartbreak and stress buildup and can cause insomnia and anxiety or other health problems, like heart disease and ulcers. It’s your body and mind’s way of loudly telling you that you have to go into self-care and give it more support.

Nowadays, with media and 24/7 global television, we can feel everything that’s happening in the world. We all know it’s been a very difficult past few years. Those of us who care and are sensitive can be really affected by these things, so we have to protect our energy and be mindful of how much news we take in, and how much time we spend on social media. We can’t help the world if we are overcome by fear and anxiety.

Self-care, a feeling of inner love, warmth and well-being is the basis with which we can live a full and meaningful life. I realize that if I can take care of myself, support myself, and be in mind/body/spirit balance, that warmth can extend to others. I learned a lot from this process and it developed more of an awareness of how to ground and stay in tune throughout the day. I’m also grateful to know that if anything does happen, any type of trauma, loss or overwhelm, I have this immersive self-care method to calm down and reconnect to myself as an ultimate protection. Try some of these lifestyle changes, and you might find that you are free from anxiety and can sleep very deeply, waking ready for each day!

Wellness wishes to everyone, and if you’d like any more details about what methods I used to heal, please contact me anytime.

Dawn Boiani-Sandberg



Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels