What is it that allows life to exist? What is it that separates a living body from one that has passed away? Western medical doctors and scientists can observe clear physiological differences between living and non-living entities, but there are still many mysteries about the power and existence of life.
While some cultures have focused on the physical, measurable qualities of the body, others have looked at the energetic ones. In ancient China, medical practitioners paid special attention to the more intangible elements that exist within each of us.
Many characteristics of the body are known because they can be seen or heard. A stethoscope can measure the heartbeat, an MRI can look at the bones, and a microscope can see certain qualities of the blood. However, none of these tools can see the true origin or nature of life’s existence.
Life-force energy, or Qi, is what drives the manifestation of life and nature. It is the foundation of all living things, yet it cannot be touched or seen. Like the wind blowing through the trees, we know it exists because its influence is undeniable.
In ancient China, Qi was represented by a pictogram of steam evaporating from rice. This symbolizes the relationship between form (rice) and formless (steam). In creatures, the physical body is the form and Qi is the formless energy that is associated with it.
There are many ways to think of Qi, and one of these is through your own experiences. Each emotion, thought, or action is an experience of Qi. When you feel sad and start crying, that is a manifestation of a certain kind of energy moving within you. When you feel happy and start laughing, that is another. Any experience you can think of or imagine is a creation of the energy that moves within you.
Western medicine doesn’t acknowledge the existence of Qi, but it does recognize bio-electricity. It’s well known that electrical impulses control important functions within the body, including the heart. As Qi Gong practitioners, we view bio-electricity as a clear and tangible expression of our life-force energy.
While many of our conversations in Qi Gong focus on the Qi that flows within us, it’s important to note that Qi is not specific to humans. In fact, Qi isn’t even specific to living creatures. Rather, this illusive life-force essence is something that flows throughout all aspects of nature.
Why do people find waterfalls or other majestic natural sites to be beautiful? One belief is that we can see and feel the abundance of energy and vitality in them — the same energy that exists within us. In a very real sense, both humans and nature are fueled by the same life-force energy.
Based on that realization, it’s not hard to understand why nature is so nourishing for us. You don’t need to practice Qi Gong to appreciate the feeling you get when you take a nice walk in a vibrant forest or along an expansive coastline. Without ever hearing the word “Qi,” humans can feel it when they’re immersed within it.
In Qi Gong, we often seek to cultivate a mutually supportive relationship with the life-force energies that exist around us. We recognize that trees, oceans, and stars hold great wisdom in their way of being. While we can’t expect natural forces to ever speak the languages of humans, it doesn’t mean we can’t still learn from them.
Just like you can plug a lamp into a wall socket and watch it illuminate with electricity, humans can do the same thing with nature. By learning how to really drop-in and find flow with the forces around us, we can be charged up by the abundance of universal energy that exists at all times.
While Qi is one universal energy, it can take a vast variety of forms. As we mentioned earlier, each thought, feeling, or physical sensation is a manifestation of Qi.
Of course, we all know that our thoughts, emotions, and physical state all influence one another. When this happens, we are experiencing our Qi transforming from one state into another. For example, when you think of something positive, your emotions often become elevated. Similarly, if a stressful thought enters your mind, your emotions might be aggravated and your body will become tense.
How can Qi transform so quickly? Lee often compares it to H2O. Depending on the temperature, this substance can be a solid (ice), liquid (water), or gas (vapor). Similarly, Qi can be a physical form, emotional feeling, or mental thought. In humans, these states of being are constantly transforming into one another and effecting how we experience the world.
For anyone who might still be questioning the existence of Qi, there’s another simple way to understand this energy. Instead of thinking of Qi as something philosophical or intellectual, try to think of it as the experience of your own body and mind. Whatever it is that you experience within yourself is Qi.
When you think of Qi in this way, it reveals an empowering and exciting approach to viewing your own body and mind. Instead of viewing thoughts, feelings, and physical experiences as things that just are, they become something you can actively work with in order to cultivate the states of being you wish to experience…
Introduction to Qi Gong for Beginners Workshop
As we’ve belabored in this post, Qi Gong is something that is best understood through experience. Therefore, we’ve decided to offer a brand-new workshop called Introduction to Qi Gong for Beginners.
During this three-and-a-half hours workshop, Lee will be teaching the fundamental principles of Qi Gong as well as powerful practices that embody the lessons. While this workshop is geared toward helping new students learn about Qi Gong, it is also a wonderful opportunity for seasoned practitioners to deepen their practice and enjoy a nourishing Sunday afternoon. Additionally, those who have completed Teacher Training will find some great inspiration about how to host their own classes.
The positive effects of Qi Gong are many, but some of the core benefits include reducing stress and fatigue, increasing energy, cultivating emotional tranquility, and nurturing physical and mental wellbeing.
Introduction to Qi Gong for Beginners will be taking place on Sunday, August 23rd from 1 to 4:30pm Pacific time. Although students aren’t going to be attending in-person, the workshop will be streaming live so participants can enjoy the lessons in real time from the comfort of their own homes. The last virtual workshop we did was a lot of fun so we’re really excited for this one as well.
If you aren’t able to participate during the day of the event, don’t worry — we’ll be posting a replay so you can go back and watch the footage whenever you’d like. Qi Gong is an ancient practice that can provide powerful tools for wellbeing in our modern lives. Click on the banner below to learn more and sign up today.
Written by Ian Drogin