Part 1 of 2
People who practice Tai Chi and Qigong want to feel their Qi. Often teachers talk about Qi when teaching Tai Chi or Qigong. People like the idea of feeling their Qi even if they do not think they feel their Qi. The idea that there is a vital energy, a life force that can be felt and increased sounds cool, its appealing. “Feel the Force Luke” everyone knows we are talking about Star Wars and the Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi training his apprentice in the ways of the mysterious “Force”. Because people don’t feel a dramatic and enormous magical sensation or primal force the first day of Tai Chi practice they might not believe in the whole thing. Not feeling anything special they give up on this whole silly Qi business and just focus on getting some good movement exercise in. Frankly, that is a pretty reasonable way to go and it sure is healthier than sitting, eating snacks, and watching videos. Still the question remains: Is there actually something to the Qi business teacher keeps talking about? How come I don’t feel the Qi? And how can I feel my Qi?
When we are discussing feeling our Qi the first thing to note is that this is a subtle thing. You are attempting to feel a very subtle level of your being. This isn’t like watching dramatic fireworks full of flashing lights and loud sounds. Feeling your Qi, sensing your Qi, is a rather kind of sensitive, perhaps delicate thing.
For almost all of us, almost all of the time, where we need to focus our awareness is on the conceptual thoughts in our minds about ourselves, everyone else, and everything around us. In addition to all the conceptual thinking are layers of emotional reactions to our thoughts about everyone and everything around us. If we have any conscious awareness left after all this then we will be feeling our body and any number of aches and pains or other discomforts… There isn’t much bandwidth left available for tracking the subtler levels of physical sensations and distinguishing between them. Feeling your Qi in a stressful day of a modern busy life can be like searching for ping pong balls in a hurricane.
If we can calm down the mental and emotional hurricanes we can start to focus much more clearly on the present moment and on all the diverse sensations that make up our physical experience of being. Once we can focus at this level consistently then we can start distinguish the sensations of our body with greater clarity and perceive how our posture, breathing, and mental focus interact to influence and control the sensations we experience during practice.
When my son was younger, we played World of Warcraft together. There are really two games in World of Warcraft. Most people only play a single game. The obvious game. That game is where you start at level zero and start building your heroic character up. After playing awhile you gain levels and abilities and gear becoming more powerful. The limit is level 100. It is a pretty hard to reach this level without some commitment. I never did, but my son did. At level 100 you are ultra powerful, covered with epic magical gear, and riding a mythical beast. It seems like the game is over. Actually, a new game, the real game begins. This is when all the other level 100 characters do things that only Level 100 characters as a group or solo can do. Their game is no longer about becoming more powerful and better equipped, it is about achieving rare feats and nearly impossible tasks.
Stay tuned to unlock the secrets of playing the inner game within the game and unlocking the blissful state of relaxation and harmony through the practice of Qi infused Tai Chi and Qigong.