First, I have a lot of difficulty in staying awake or focused during the small universe meditation. I fall asleep or lose focus very quickly. I have greater success when I do the meditation right after the Active exercises. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to do the two together. Any suggestions? I hope that I can have greater success with the tinnitus if I can improve my focus during meditation.
Opt for the Active Exercises, and do the Meditations when you can--however, if you don't have time it's okay to listen to the meditations as you are falling asleep, your subconscious will continue doing it, even if your conscious isn't. Of course, make sure that's okay with your wife to do so, she'll probably benefit from listening as well.
Otherwise you can use headphones, but usually it's 'less than ideal' to try to sleep with something on your head.
As for focus, this is probably the area that almost everyone has some/slight difficulty with. In short, just work through it. The mind loves tangents and distractions, and sometimes the energy labeled as 'distraction' or 'loss of focus' comes up for a reason, other times it's 'mind still getting used to it'. I would say, look at focus, as learning a new "Tae Kwon Do" at first you have to work with it, continually correcting yourself and eventually you can just 'perform the technique without much effort' Every learned skill is like this, so training focus is not much different, even though it 'seems' more difficult due to the fact that we view mind as nebulous and intangible and things like muscle memory associated with physical actions are 'more concrete'
It's all energy, and learning is an aspect of Spirit, so just make the intention to master it, and you'll get it. Of course, every time you notice loss of focus or that you got distracted, note to yourself that you've done so, and gently return to your meditation/practice and you'll train the mind to 'remember' to stay more focused.
Second, I feel like I am missing something with the Joining of Yin & Yang exercise. I have practiced Tae Kwon Do for several decades and have been exposed to energy exercises and Tai Chi exercises during this practice. As a result, I am very adept at feeling energy in my hands and have a great sense of the energy ball during the Joining of Yin & Yang exercise. Unfortunately, I have the impression that there is nothing beyond the energy ball in doing this exercise and lose focus. What, if anything, am I missing?
What you'll probably want to try is this: While consciously focusing on the dantien, and visualizing the energy ball--somewhere in your mind, blend you energy with the Universe, being "unable" to tell your body and the Universe apart, there is no separation. Don't think too much into this, it's mainly intent based. And at first it may seem 'difficult' to juggle that concept along with the focus of dantien and your visualization, so just flow with it. In fact, just like in the martial arts--the less conscious effort you use--and just 'flow with it', the better this works.
Sensing the ball, is a good part of it right there. That's awesome. The "spiritual Qi" we are working with, and attuning our senses to is subtler that the "physical Qi" associated with other arts. It's all energy so there's really no difference, but the vibrational frequency of the Spirit's Qi (in comparison to Physical) is like turning an AM/FM dial on a radio. Fortunately, you won't have to 'rewrite' your system, in fact, just keep flowing with it and you do great! "The really intense energy" may not be 'obvious' at first, ...and it might be (I don't want to limit anyone) We want to train our energy system to increase sensitivity, and in that, we find the Grandiose...that's why we go *subtle*. In being connected with the Universe, you are all the atoms, stars, galaxies, worlds, etc, etc, etc. You are LIFE.
We live in an inter-connected Universe and all energy affects other energies. Quantum Physics also tells us The "emptiness" is not empty, but filled with every potential possible, and then some. In your energy ball (which is your spirit "condensing emptiness/forming into a vibrational construct that your mind can 'work with' as a mental object"), you are holding Immeasurable Potential, countless possibilities. A trillion galaxies in the physical universe does not compare to what you have in that energy ball. By working with 'emptiness' you are tuning into and working with countless worlds, timeless knowledge, there is no limit or end--other than what you put on with mental filters. Yes, this is huge, it's Infinite. You have *that much* Power--that is your Immortal Birthright, the Great Gifts of Spiritual Abundance that the Oneness of God--Prime Creator has given to you and to all minds. On a Unified Level, all minds are joined and Infinite Awareness is ONE--Knowledge goes on forever, like simultaneous extension of the Whole, yet Totality can be Perfectly Known and Understood. To the external, it would seem that the 'separate entities' "out there" which are seeming opposites in cyclic conflict have no effect 'at large' In Perfect Oneness, what 'one mind' Creates, is instantaneously shared and known with the Whole. (Notice when you are 'in tune' and in a good mood, generally everyone else you meet that day is too?)
Awareness of Life's Origin--Prime Creator, is Immortality. You cannot lose this, ever. We can 'cover it up' with estranged concepts like 'death' 'reincarnation' 'ego' 'religions--and they're associated filters' etc... You can choose to limit the expression of your Power, but you cannot abolish it entirely. Think of a 'space' with nothing. In order for you to make that, you have to make a _space_ with "nothing", and mind has to be aware of it, in order for it to 'exist' --hence not nothing. Nothing does not exist. With God, Nothing is Impossible. There is only Everything.
You have the potential to tune into EVERYTHING, a 'databank' of Knowledge without limit or end. God's Perfect Love is so great that everything is given to you and everyone without cost. It's like, if God used our language and spoke upon our Creation it would be something like: "Welcome to Existence... Here is Knowledge of EVERYTHING--You don't even have to learn it, it's been done for you, For I am Perfect Love, and with that I have Created You. You are Flawless Perfection, and with My Knowledge, go forth and Create--adding to the Limitless Whole."
At some point we 'went through' something that made us believe we are separate, that we are here and this is what we are. It's just a filter of energy. Because of the 'filters' we have placed upon ourselves in our limitless exploration, we have to go into the subtle. And because potential is unlimited, the potential to "become limited and appear to be that way" IS a possibility. We got out of tune, but now we are returning, "in order for the pendulum to swing one way, it must have the momentum to return" Infinity is quite subtle to our current perceptions, it is also abstract...which includes Awareness of Itself--and here we are.
I hope that helps you in your working with the energy 'ball'
Third, I have a natural tendency to add exercises or steps during my Qigong exercises. For example, I move my neck in an opposite circular direction after the dolphin the neck Qi harvesting exercise. I have been taught to do “slurping dog” and “pigeon picking up seeds” neck exercises and one naturally follows the other for me. Additionally, I sometimes do a “soft” Tae Kwon Do form (a slow moving energy form) after my Qigong exercises. I have also thought about adding “nose” between the third eye and throat steps of Small Universe. Are such additions harmful or counter-productive?
It's not really 'harmful' per se. But not really recommended that you mix. SFQ has a slightly different 'flow' that the Classical systems and movements, so your energy might get a little confused while you are training upon it. I did this a bit in the beginning, it's not 'bad' to do. It's recommended that you put a half hour or so between 'mixing systems' You could do the Active Exercises, Meditations, then do you other practice and it should be alright.
However, in our lives "time's limits" ((there's one of them filters)) doesn't always give us enough to be able to get everything done so if you feel that you *must* mix to get all of your practice in......if you can put a few minutes of standing meditation (just stand there like a tree and feel the energy around you) so your energy circuits can re-calibrate, that should make it okay.
Finally, my visualization of nose and forehead includes my sinus cavities during the Seven Steps of New Life exercise. Is that OK?
Perfectly alright. At one point I added the 'Solar Plexus' (front) to the Small Universe, worked pretty well. That point would get opened anyways, but I wanted a little more work on it.