After about a year of the basic training - the first nine positions -you may feel ready to progress to a higher standard. To many Western people, a year may sound a long time, but if you understand that profound change and growth take time, you will have the patience to continue practising. Remember that you are learning how to realign - and even replace - some of the more distorted and disrupted energy patterns of your life. That sort of radical change cannot be accomplished overnight.
Over your first year of training you should have been aiming to practise standing every day. You have been building up a conditioned response in your body. That takes time and must be activated every day to become automatic. It would not have been surprising if, at the beginning, you had had days when you were tempted to give up. But maybe by the end of the first year (or even the second) you will have found that a period of Zhan Zhuang exercise has become a regular part of your daily life. Even if some days you have very little time to spare, always make sure to fit in even a few minutes of the standing exercises - it is essential not to lose ground. No matter how short a time you spend, you will make some progress every day, growing little by little, like a tree whose growth is imperceptible.
Now is the time to broaden your development by exercising the powers of your mind, as well as the power of your body. In Chapter 2 you learned how to begin to calm your mind. The exercises in this chapter teach you how to focus your energy, so increasing your mental stamina. The more advanced exercises on pages 134 to 136 take you on to a new level of awareness -your quiescent mind starts to become sensitive to the flow of energy both inside your body and in the world around you.
You do not need to practise all of the following exercises at once. Choose which of them you want to do, and fit it (or them) in at the end of your usual Zhan Zhuang practice session, following any additional guidance given with the exercise.
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