Sifu Mario here; I trust you are well. Let’s address another of these excellent questions brought forth my a group member. (For the previous question, why practice zhan zhuang refer to the discussion board.)
What’s the timeline of Practice? Well, my answer is simple, straight forward, and based on personal experience as a student and teacher. Here goes…
From the moment you direct your will in the mental/physical posture of zhan zhuang a “stopwatch” of sorts begins. As moments accumulate in zhan zhuang, they compound upon each other and build your competence and capacity. Often people will refer to their sifu (father/teacher) as having trained for…e.g. 40 years! In reality that is not precise. More likely the sifu has spent thousands of hours practicing…he still has to eat, sleep, work etc, right?
It takes about 100 hours of zhan zhuang to truly become a student of the practice. The practical way to approach this is to train in 10-20 minute sessions. Do it daily, a few times a week, or morning and evening. However often you train, once you have accumulated 100 hours of zhan zhuang training you will have a foundation of competence and capacity. You will notice improved health, pain free movement, vitality, and the presence of warmth and tingling in your hands that you can start to manipulate (this is simply the growing surplus of yang chi) You will be stoked! (If you train twice a day for 10 minutes you will complete this stage within a year.)
The next benchmark is between 100 and 1000 hours of training. This stage can be exasperating! Why you ask? Simply because your initial experience of success, as exciting as it is, leads to the realization of just how messed you really are!! (ha ha) However, after you “get over yourself”, one progress begins to accelerate, as your competence and capacity radically improve. In this stage you will begin to notice how much better (in health, vitality, sanity, etc) you are becoming relative to the untrained people around you. The seeds of rootedness begin to sprout here. You will feel like a person with a secret you want to share…but most people don’t get it (agh!) This next 900 hours of practice tends to happen at a faster rate than the first 100, as success and positive feedback tend to make training a priority instead of a chore. I would suggest that within about 7 years a student will accumulate 1000 hours of training, because it’s my job to make damn sure they are practicing correctly.
The third stage of training is the longest. It is also by far the most rewarding. The process from 1000 to 10000 hours of training is where the seeds that were planted in stage 1 and cultivated in stage 2 bear their sweetest fruit. Here rootedness become pronounced…even to the point of disbelief. Health, vitality, and sanity are developed to a degree that they become largely unaffected by age or external conditions. They also change in nature to become available to others around you. The third stage is where the teacher, healer, and warrior is born and matures from the abundance of cultivated Qi.
The third stage always has the fastest rate of progress…it has to, because it is the longest part of the race. It isn’t uncommon for people in the third stage to begin training for more than 2 hours a day. The desire and willingness grows in you, as the Qi does. To complete 10000 hours of training is to achieve just about all that most of us can. Bottomline? 10000 hours=enlightened (yang chi) person.
Even at age 75, one could begin training and still accumulate 10000 hours (training would lengthen their life long enough to finish). At 1 hour of practice a day, it would take a little under 30 years to finish.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The difference here is that you won’t get full, but rather become hungrier for more, and willing to do more, as you progress in Qigong Meditation.
Next time I’ll touch on in greater detail what that 10000 hours does to you.