I have received many benefits from practicing Taoist Light Qigong though I also experienced going off-track. Energy practice is like a tool, and when a tool is more efficient and sharp, it needs to be handled with more care.
I left my hometown Xi'an and went to a university on the East coast in China at the age of eighteen. There were eight girls sharing a dorm room, so it was challenging to find a quiet and private space to practice Taoist Light Qigong. I got up earlier than everybody else and found a secluded spot outside surrounded with tall evergreen bushes. I had a few great practices there until one day when I was deep into the Qi State with my eyes closed, I heard someone talking to me. At the beginning, I tried to ignore it, then I felt that the breathing was getting too close, so I opened my eyes: a man was looking at me with the strangest laugh on his face. This man was not a student, but a mentally retarded son of a mechanic on campus. His voice, face, and laugh scared the daylights out of me. My heart was racing and I felt disoriented, and for the next a few weeks I felt irritable, sensitive, scared, and unsettled.
At that time, the library on campus had just been rebuilt and so many newly published Qigong books became available. The mistake for me was trying to calm myself down by reading a bunch of Qigong books written by other masters in different modalities. I read about a sitting visualization, and felt a lot of energy. So I decided to work with this new meditation plus visualization on myself after all my roommates had gone to asleep. In the beginning, I had some amazing experiences when doing it, such as seeing my own energy in my body and light filling in the dorm room. But soon in the daytime, I felt sleepy and sluggish, and I was suffering from a severe headache I could not get rid of, which made me depressed. My academic scores that first semester were awful, and studying became tedious work, more so than any other time during my school years.
When the first winter break began, I went back home and visited Master Zhou right away. I shared with him that my head was hurting so badly, and I almost could not study. Actually at that time, I was still "hoping" that it was just a detoxing process like most Qigong books said, and my brain was just rewiring itself.... Master Zhou looked at my energy with his eyes closed and said, "What have you been doing? Your practice has gone off-track." Then he held my head with his big hands, and I felt so much pressure but was comforted as well. When his hands let go, my headache was gone!
He re-initiated me into Taoist Light Qigong, and asked me not to mix it with any other energy practice. I definitely wanted to follow that advice after my personal experience of going off-track. And I am forever grateful for Master Zhou's help, support, and wisdom.
When I was ready to go back to school again, everything was back to my normal self. I was happy, centered, and my brain worked pretty well. I even started to receive some small scholarships because of my improved scores.
Because of this personal experience of going off-track, it is easy for me to spot the student who like me is starting to deviate from the practice. It has been always challenging to tell people to please stay in on track and not to mix in other practices when they cannot understand, or ignore the consequences of doing so. Usually, the detoxification process only takes a short period of time, such as a few days in a row, and then it gets better. It will not be like what I have experienced during the months of irritation and headaches.
When we are startled or scared during practice, we need to restart from the beginning of the practice. It is like rebooting the computer to make sure the data in our brain and the Qi in a different circuit will come back in order. When you practice correctly, you will feel happier, healthier, and calmer; If you feel scattered, unsettled, unsure about the benefits, and so on, it is time to have your practice checked.