Here's another approach:
A) it is not necessarily the symptom
that you are transforming. It is the BLOCKAGE
. This can be anywhere in the body and not necessarily where the symptom/pain/weakness etc is. So, one does not have to focus on that place, rather one just imagines that somewhere in the body, the excess energy that is blocking the channel, thereby stopping the Universal energy from flowing is changing into whatever.
B) the "whatever" here is key. It does not HAVE TO BE SMOKE!
Many of the things that are taught in SFQ are "default" positions to help us use the tool. They are placeholders. This does not mean that they are not very useful in many cases. It just means that they are not written in stone.Take the "password" for example. This is the best example and one I use quite frequently when I teach SFQ. Just as you might get a default password when you join a new website or forum, and then you go in and change it to one that you like and is personal to you.
So "I am in the Universe, etc" can be changed to "I am in the Healing Light, the Healing Light is in me etc" Or one can use a prayer or mantra from one's own spiritual path or one that you create yourself.
So too with visualizing the blockage changing into smoke. Smoke is something Master Lin uses to "keep it simple" and for many people in many situations that will work just fine.
But what if it doesn't? Does that mean one has to use smoke anyway?
No. You can visualize anything you want. If you were under an x-ray or ultra sound or whatever, I am sure it is obvious to everyone that it would not pick up a picture of, say a tumor, turning actually into smoke.
Rather, what is happening, is we are using our mental energy (along with the Universal healing energy and our Master's energy, whatever that is for one) to to transform the blockages into things we can imagine "less solid" and/or easier to move through the skin back into the air and back to the universe. Smoke (or air as Master Lin says sometimes on some audio recordings) works well for this in many cases.
You can also think of this as "gas". You see, "Qi" in Chinese, is one of those words that does not have only one word in English into which it translates. Gas is a kind of "qi". Qi is also air, energy, steam, all kinds of somewhat amorphous things can be thought of as "qi".
This is why, a lot of the time when one is practicing qigong, one belches (along with other natural bodily functions), because the blockages, the "excess qi" (NOT the symptom necessarily) is actually moving and moving out of the body. This also applies to yawning, laughing, tears, sweating, thoughts and all kinds of effects people get when practicing qigong and the healing is experienced.So, you can use ANYTHING YOU WANT that will work well for you to help move the blockage (wherever it might be) out of your body. When we do swordfingers, sometimes we like to use things that make it easier to imagine actually grabbing it and taking it out. For example, Master Lin gives examples in Level 2 where he uses a rose, in one case, a bird in another, etc.
He uses Butterflies both in the Butterfly Guided Healing Meditation (my favorite of the guided mediations) and also in the free meditation he offers on the SFQ site. You can use light, a color, a flower whatever you want. Keep it simple. It is not taking anything away from the body, rather, it is thinking of whatever is stopping the healing, wherever that actually is, as turning into something else (this is an important first step, because it allows us to enter the process of transforming energy from one form into another, thereby allowing us to "play" with the energy more before we move it) and then moving it.
The theory that Master Lin operate under is somewhat different than both a lot of "orthodox" qigong theory as well as our typical material mindsets.
It is not the "bone" or the "bladder" or whatever that we are transforming. So it does not matter whether the problem is an "excess" (for example, a tumor), or a "lack" (for example, low blood sugar or low iron).
Rather, it is some excess energy, somewhere in the system that is blocking the natural Dao or flow of the energy. So even if we are thinking of the symptom, we do not have to use the Western diagnosis, rather we can use whatever the feeling is that we are having turning into something and leaving our body, whether it is pain, lack of control, depression, a fear, tiredness, heat, cold, mucous, dryness, etc etc etc.
Let go of the preconception and do whatever seems most easy for you to a) change the blockage, the excess energy, into something else, anything else and b) release it back to the Universe (and somewhere it is needed!
Hope that helps.