For shuilong practice look for a natural body of water (lake or river) deep enough near the water’s edge to cover your body’s height if possible, with an area for building a fire (beach campfire, or a barbecue stand in a park), and privacy. The ocean isn’t recommended due to the hazards of the undertow. If the water you find is shallow, or the currents fast, you may want to plan on a few trips to observe the water. A sunny, clear day gives a good view of any large rocks underwater.

You may want to observe the current at several places to find a calmer area for your first practice. You may want to plan your practice times around the weather so that you can use the warmth of the sun in place of a fire when campfires aren’t allowed.

The practice is meditation,
so minimal distractions from other people
who are not practicing with you
will help you be receptive to your experiences.

As a rule we dive late in the evening, around 9-10 pm, so there is no one on the island where we dive, and we can dive naked. If you dive during the day you may not need a fire to warm by afterward, but it is always better to have a fire, even if it is only a small one. It is possible, however, to dry under the sun. If it’s not possible to dive naked, change your wet swimsuit to a dry one before drying by the fire or under the sun, but don’t use any towels to dry off, let the sun or fire and the air dry you.

If diving naked, don’t be afraid of the coldness of the water. The water will give you warmth, not take it from you. There is no need to fight with the water and resist its coldness; simply accept that the water is cold, but that it can’t hurt you because when you practice shuilong you are under its protection. For beginning practitioners, standing at the edge of the water and practicing some simple warming breathing exercises can help. The exercises shouldn’t be quick and have lots of movement; it’s better if they are slow, and use muscle tension with strong and deep breathing. Inhales are short but exhales are long with force; you should hear as air leaves from deep inside your lungs and nostrils.

spring shuilong practice, volga river, astrakhan, russia

Enter the water with reverence, and leave it the same way. Bow before entering the water, and allow yourself to be open to all the sensations it gives to your body (not only the feeling of cold). Calmer waters help beginners to be receptive to all the water’s different qualities. Allow your body to be completely open to the water, as if you are a child and no one ever taught you swimming or taught you to be afraid of the water.

If the water feels cold as you wade in, exhale loudly through the mouth so that the air strikes the palate, while moving your hands, in prayer position, from in front of your throat down to the lower dantien (belly). Bring the hands back up on the in-breath, move them down on the out-breath.

When you have waded in so that the water’s level is as high as your heart (if the waters are shallow, you may need to squat or kneel) , you can dive headfirst into the water or simply bend the knees and jump up to sit down on the bottom of the lake or river. Face downstream so that the current will carry you once you begin your dives. Your head should pass through all the depths of water, from the surface to the bottom. Dive or immerse yourself in this way for an odd number of times: 3, 5, 7 or 9 times. If possible, make all the dives or immersions in one single breath.

After diving or immersing yourself, wade back out, bowing again and thanking the water for the energy you have received. Stand at the water’s edge, facing it, letting the energy of the surrounding nature enter your body. After standing this way for 1-3 minutes, you may then either repeat the diving/immersion process or stay by the fire to work with the fire. If repeating the diving a second time, do the same or more number of dives/ immersions. Try to work with odd numbers of repetitions (as odd numbers are yang, they give more energy and balance the yin of the cold water). Yet pay attention to how you feel in the water on that particular day of practice. We change from day to day (moment to moment) as does nature, so it isn’t necessary to always make each practice longer than the previous one. Trust your intuition.

winter shuilong practice in the volga, astrakhan, russia If possible it is best to enter the water naked and stay naked near a fire for some time afterward. Especially if practicing in a climate where the winters are below freezing, working naked prevents the hazard of having wet bathing suits freeze onto your skin.

If the areas available to you for shuilong practice don’t provide privacy, and you cannot dive naked, choose natural fibers (cotton, linen, rayon or silk; these can be found affordably and in useful condition in second-hand stores) and something loose fitting and easy to change out of  and slip dry clothes over. The dry clothes are also best if they are natural fibers and loose fitting. Keep in mind you are using the clothes only for propriety, not to keep yourself warm: in fact, the shui long practice in the water will warm your body so much that your body will begin to dry the wet clothes! Also, if the place you practice has large or sharp rocks on the river or lake bottom, wear a pair of shoes that will stay on while you dive.

If at all possible, avoid showering or bathing on the same day after your shui long work; this will wash away some of the energy gathered from the immersions. Instead, bathe or shower the next day.

Women on their moon may not want to dive, however, until they are comfortable with diving they may want to wade during this time, allowing the water to come above the knees, then immersing the arms to above the elbows. Wash the front of the throat (where the thyroid and carotid artery is), and under the arms (where another major artery runs), however, if getting chilled during one’s moon is a problem, don’t wet the top of the head and hair. This technique is also good for someone recovering from an illness or injury who doesn’t feel strong enough to get completely into the water.

Other cultures have gone to the river or lakes to purify themselves or deepen their spiritual awareness; the use of cold water in shui long is not new, or unique: “Magic & Mystery of Tibet” by Alexandra David-Neel (Dover press, ©1971) contains an account of a competition between Tibetan ascetics in developing imperviousness to cold; “The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan” by Carmen Blacker (new edition ©1999 Curzon Press) describes how standing three times daily under waterfalls, or pouring 33 vessels of cold water on each shoulder, was part of shamanic training. Additionally, going to the river for purification—no matter what the weather—is a tradition of the Tsalagi (Cherokee Nation); and diving in cold, high altitude lagoons or lakes is one form of treatment that Peruvian brujos and curanderos prescribe.

for information on  local weather reports at shuilongers’ cities worldwide,,,

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