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Muscle/Tendon Changing and Brain/Marrow Washing Qigong

by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, January 25, 2010

China has more than seven thousand years of history. The greatest contribution it can make to benefit the human race is to share the knowledge it has accumulated in the field of Qi. The study of Qi has contributed to the development of medicine, religion, martial arts, and methods for maintaining health and increasing longevity. Thousands of years of Qigong experience and experimentation have built up solid proof that this ancient medical and spiritual knowledge can help the human race.

In order to be content with life, you must do more than just keep your physical body alive—you need to achieve mental and spiritual balance. The happiness comes from your feelings, not just from the enjoyment of material things. Looking at American cultural history, I see that people here have considered the material sciences more important than the spiritual. The only place most people in past decades knew of to find spiritual solace was in religious institutions. But now I see an increasing number of people who can find comfort and mental balance within themselves. Until recently, Western culture has never placed much emphasis on researching the energy field which we have within ourselves, and so this spiritual inner science has never had a chance to develop. China has been a pioneer in this field, but it is now time for the West to adopt this science: to see what it can learn from it, and what it can contribute to it. I deeply believe that Qigong is able to help people understand themselves better, re-establish their mental balance, and gain peace of mind.

I believe that the 20th century was a material century, in which all humans were searching for the solutions to material lack, and the enjoyment of material satisfaction. Now, many of us have reached a stage that allows us to be free from material bondage. In the last two decades, more and more people have been searching for spiritual freedom. During this transition period, the ancient Qigong methods seem to be more important than ever. The Muscle/Tendon Changing and Brain/Marrow Washing Qigong classics have been the crucial guidelines and textbooks for the cultivation of spiritual enlightenment in Chinese Buddhist society for centuries. The methods taught in these two classics have been practiced and experienced for more than fourteen hundred years. Therefore, we should consider how they can provide us a correct path for our study today. Though many practices are not practical for today’s society, they can offer us experience and theory, which we can then interpret through modern science for logical analysis and explanation. It is hoped that through this understanding, we can find an accessible way of reaching the same spiritual goals in today’s world.

We should respect the documented experience of past practitioners, and study and practice carefully. Whenever we are able to use modern science to explain something, we should dare to challenge the traditional beliefs and re-evaluate them. Only in this way will this ancient science be recognized and accepted in the present and future.

Dr. Yang performing Qigong
Dr. Yang performing Qigong

Longevity Qigong for Both Men and Women

I have collected, translated, and cross-referenced many published documents on Yi Jin and Xi Sui Qigong. Once I understood them, I filtered out the questionable parts and, based on my own knowledge, added some theory and commentary. Although I am able to provide an in-depth discussion of these two arts, there is one deficiency, namely that we only discuss the training for the male. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the available documents have very little information on women’s training. The second is that as a male I do not have the necessary experience. I do believe, however, that it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, the training theory remains the same. Female readers who would like more information about these two arts written specifically for women, may refer to the book "Bone Marrow Qigong", by Mantak Chia and Maneewan Chia.

Muscle/Tendon Changing (Yi Jin) and Brain/Marrow Washing (Xi Sui) Qigong have been known in China since the Liang dynasty (502 a.d. ). However, they were kept secret, and only in the last fifty years has this knowledge gradually been revealed to the general public. Within a short period of time, these two arts have not only been widely adopted by Qigong practitioners, but they have also interested many Chinese medical scientists and bioscientists.

Muscle/Tendon Changing Qigong specializes in circulating Qi in the twelve primary Qi channels and the two major Qi vessels (Conception and Governing Vessels). The training will strengthen your physical body, including muscles and tendons, and maintain the smooth circulation of Qi in the primary channels and the internal organs, which is the key to maintaining health and slowing down the degeneration of the physical body.

Usually, after a practitioner becomes familiar with the Muscle/Tendon Changing Qigong, he/she will enter the deeper field of Qigong training, that of Brain/Marrow Washing. This teaches the practitioner how to fill up the Qi in the “eight extraordinary Qi vessels.” In Chinese medicine, the vessels are considered reservoirs of Qi, and they regulate the Qi in the body’s primary Qi channels and organs. A strong and abundant store of Qi is the key to keeping your body healthy and extending your life. Theoretically, your body deteriorates as you age mainly because your blood loses its ability to feed and protect your body. The red and white blood cells are produced by your bone marrow, but as you grow older, the marrow becomes “dirty,” and produces fewer and fewer useful blood cells. However, if you know how to “wash” the marrow, it will start, once again, to produce fresh, healthy blood. Your body will begin to rejuvenate itself, and restore itself to the glowing health of youth.

Most important of all, the practitioner of Brain/Marrow Washing Qigong is able to lead Qi to his brain to nourish it, and to raise up his spirit. To the Daoists and Buddhists, Brain/Marrow Washing Qigong is the path to reach the final goal of enlightenment or Buddhahood. Part of Brain/Marrow Washing involves stimulating the sexual organs. In their thoroughness, the ancient Qigong practitioners discovered that, in addition to providing hormones, the genitals are also a potent source of the Qi which is necessary for the training.

The Purpose of the Yi Jin Jing

Yi means “to change, to replace, or to alter,” Jin means “muscles and tendons,” and Jing means “classic or bible.” Therefore, it is commonly translated as “Muscle Changing Classic, .... Tendon Changing Classic,” or “Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic.” “Muscles and tendons” does not refer only to the literal muscles and tendons. It actually refers to all of the physical system which is related to the muscles and tendons, including the internal organs. The Yi Jin Jing describes Qigong theory and training methods which are able to improve your physical body, and change it from weak to strong. Naturally, these methods are also very effective in maintaining your physical health.

The main purpose of Yi Jin Jing training is to change the physical body from weak to strong and from sick to healthy. In order to reach this goal, the physical body must be stimulated and exercised, and the Qi in the energy body must be regulated. The main goals of the training are:

  • To open up the Qi channels and maintain the appropriate level of smooth Qi circulation in the twelve primary Qi channels. This maintains the health and proper functioning of the related organs. Smooth Qi circulation also makes it possible to greatly strengthen the physical body.
  • To fill up the Qi in the two main Qi reservoirs—the Conception and Governing Vessels (Ren Mai and Du Mai, ). The Conception Vessel is responsible for regulating the six Yin channels, while the Governing Vessel governs the six Yang channels. When an abundant supply of Qi is stored in these two vessels, the twelve primary channels can be regulated effectively.
  • To open the small Qi branches from the primary channels to the surface of the skin and maintain healthy conditions for the muscles and skin.
  • For those who also wish to train Xi Sui Jing and reach a higher level, Yi Jin Jing is the fundamental training to build up the necessary level of Qi.
Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing
Meridians and Acupuncture Points

The Purpose of the Xi Sui Jing

Xi means “to wash” or “to clean.” Sui includes Gu Sui , which means “bone marrow,” and Nao Sui , which refers to the brain—including cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla oblongata. Jing () means “classic or bible.” This work is commonly translated “Marrow Washing Classic,” but “Brain/Marrow Washing Classic” is a more accurate translation. The first translation probably became popular because of a misunderstanding of the scope of the work, which had been kept secret for a long period of time. Also, the goal of “brain washing” is enlightenment or Buddhahood, which, in addition to being difficult to understand, is less interesting to laymen. It was not until recently, when many of the secret documents were made available to the general public, that a clearer and more complete picture of the training emerged. A correct translation shows that Xi Sui Jing training deals with the bone marrow and the brain. However, the training does not actually focus on the physical matter of the bone marrow and the brain. Instead, it emphasizes how you should take care of the Qi part of your body, and how to lead the Qi to the bone marrow and brain to nourish them and keep them functioning at an optimal level.

The main purposes of Xi Sui Jing training are to use the abundant Qi generated from Yi Jin Jing training to wash the marrow, to nourish the brain, and to fill up the Qi in the other six vessels. The main goals of the training are:

  • To keep the Qi at an abundant level and continue to build up the Qi to a higher level from other sources. An abundant Qi supply is the key to successful marrow washing and nourishing of the brain for raising the spirit. Experience has shown that the genitals can be an important source of extra Qi. Therefore, one of the main goals of Xi Sui Jing training is learning how to increase the production of sexual hormones and improving the efficiency of its conversion into Qi.
  • In order to keep an abundant supply of Qi, the Jing (Original Essence/hormones) must be conserved, protected, and firmed. Therefore, the second purpose of Xi Sui Jing is to regulate the usage of Original Essence.
  • Learning how to lead Qi to the marrow to keep the marrow fresh, and to lead Qi to the brain to raise up the spirit of vitality. Marrow is the factory which produces your red and white blood cells; when the marrow is fresh and clean the blood will be healthy. As this blood flows to every part of your body, it will slow down the degeneration of your cells. Practicing Xi Sui Jing can therefore slow down the aging process. When the brain has plenty of Qi to nourish it, you are able to maintain the normal functioning of your brain and also raise up the spirit of vitality. When the spirit is raised, the Qi in the body can be governed effectively.
  • For a sincere Buddhist or Daoist monk, the final goal of Xi Sui Jing is reaching enlightenment or Buddhahood. For them, the training purposes listed above are considered temporary. They are only steps in the process of building up their “spiritual baby” (Ling Tai) and nurturing it until it is independent and has eternal life.

From this brief summary, it is clear that the Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing can change both your physical and spiritual qualities and lead you to a higher level of physical and spiritual life. But to understand exactly how these two Qigong exercises help you to reach these goals, you must have a profound understanding of the relationship between your Qi, your physical body, and your spiritual body. Only then will you be able to grasp the keys of the training.

During more than 7000 years of culture, China has brought forth many brilliant accomplishments. Qigong is only one of them. In all of human history, there has never been such open communication among different cultures as is happening in our time. It is our responsibility to encourage the general public to accept, study, and research other cultures. In this way, the human race will be able to use the good parts of other cultures to live in a more peaceful and meaningful way.

To learn more about Yi Yin Jing and Xi Sui Jing, read " and "http://ymaa.com/articles/history/history-qigong"

This topic is discussed in-depth in the book "Qigong-The Secret of Youth".

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, is a renowned author and teacher of Chinese martial arts and Qigong. Born in Taiwan, he has trained and taught Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese martial arts for over forty-five years. He is the author of over thirty books, and was elected by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the 10 people who has "made the greatest impact on martial arts in the past 100 years." Dr. Yang lives in Northern California.



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