During Zhan Zhuang we experience many different types of ‘organic sensations.’ These sensations or feelings reflect the diverse changes and adjustments the body goes through on the way to refining our Zhong Ding and eventually achieving Song.
These organic sensations many times preoccupy the new student throughout the first several years of training. These sensations are often so powerful they drown out our ability to maintain the unified focus of our feeling-awareness in our low Dan Tien.
Eventually however after enough practice, many of the body’s issues resolve themselves and the pull of organic sensations begins to greatly diminish. When this happens, seasoned practitioners often feel an expansion of consciousness followed by an increase in perception that allows them to become aware of a different kind of sensation. Although these ‘new’ sensations are linked to the physical body, they also contain within them elements of what might be called ‘supra-physical’ energy. The Taoists identify these particular sensations as related to the various layers of our ‘energy-body(s.)’
After this transition begins to occur we slowly find ourselves dwelling in this new arena for longer and longer periods. At first we feel both a physical element and an energetic one simultaneously. However, as our training progresses we are able to shift and hold more and more of our feeling awareness solely in the energetic arena. When this happens we find ourselves in a whole new world of possibilities. When asked what he felt while doing Zhan Zhuang, Master Cai Songfang replied, “I feel my energy.” Master Cai’s teacher learned Zhan Zhuang from Yang Cheng Fu and was one of only about a half-a-dozen people to whom Master Yang taught this skill. In his younger days Master Cai was the push-hands champion of Shanghai. His daily Zhan Zhuang training consisted of 90 minutes per session in the Wuji posture.
Although these energetic feelings or sensations vary according to the individual consciousness and are at best, difficult to translate into words, there are a few commonalities that may prove useful in identifying when this transition begins to occur.
One thing that happens is that we feel like our whole body is immersed in a watery-like substance. Although this feeling is a bit more subtle and somewhat different than pure physical sensation, there is a clear and definite substantiality to it. Following this, in the next stage the body’s interior seems to ‘hollow out,’ or loose its feeling of density, all while the sensation of the ‘exterior’ part of the body being ‘immersed in water’ remains present. After this, and often quite rapidly, the deep Central Channel and many times the Left and Right Qigong Channels ‘appear’ or emerge. This is often followed by the Du and Ren meridians opening and linking to this inner architecture such that we can ‘see’ and feel energy simultaneously coursing through all of these conduits while still being peripherally aware of our body’s exterior ‘immersed in water.’ I’ve used the word ‘appear’ to describe the feeling of something manifesting out of apparently nothing. Of course this probably has more to do with a shift or expansion in our perception.