The effectiveness of qi gong depends to a large extent on the ability of the practitioner to "relax" or "fang song". This relaxed state is also known as "entering the qi gong state". Learning the forms of zhineng qi gong at level 1 is fairly easy and one can learn it within a short period of time of one month or less.
However to effectively enter the qi gong state and gain maximum benefit, the practitioner has to be able to use his mind or "yi" during the preparation stage to relax each and every part of his body from head to toe. According to the founder of zhineng qi gong, Dr. Pang He Ming, the eight verses or "ba ji kou jie" if practiced correctly constitute towards 30% (in terms of practice effectiveness) of each practice session.
Practitioners of zhineng qi gong will understand that after the initial relaxation stage brought about with the help of verbal directives from the teacher, the eight verses serves to enable the practitioner who has now entered the qi gong state, to expand into the heavens and at the same time stay firmly rooted to earth. In this state the practitioner is close to what is known as "tian ren he yi" or unity of man and heaven.
For practitioners who are initially "insensitive" to qi or unable to "feel qi", entering the qi gong state is no easy task and they end up struggling through their qi gong session... instead of using their minds to attract qi into their body effortlessly.
In my own experience, after 5 years of perseverence, I am now just starting to experience the true meaning of "xing song yi chong..." or "body relaxes... mind expands..." This is the result of supplementing my own practice regimes with a set of simple warm up exercises used by "tai chi" practitioners. These exercises methodically loosens the practitioners' legs, hands, neck, shoulders, waist, knees, etc. Thereafter it becomes much easier for me to concentrate and follow the teacher's verbal directives to enter into a profound qi gong state or "qi gong tai".
How precisely does one know that one has entered into a profound qi gong state? In my own opinion, this is highly subjective and depends on each individual's understanding as well as level of progress. What is considered by an individual to be successful entry into qi gong state at a certain level may turn out to be different when he progresses into a higher level. A good gauge would be for the practitioner to check that during his practice, he can truly keep his mind inside his body. In my own experience, I employ "yi shou dan tian" or focusing mind in dan tian to gauge how effectively I have entered into the qi gong state of mind.
For instance, if during a session of LCUPCD, I am able to "feel a connection" to my lower dantian at all times and in all my movements, I will be able to feel that my movements are all initiated or comes from my lower dantian and hence the yi or spirit is in all the movements and conscious use of muscles is minimised or even eliminated.
Hun yuan ling tong!