If you’re reading this, you might already know that Qi Gong has numerous benefits for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and health. For many practitioners, Qi Gong is a cornerstone of each day and helps to cultivate stability in a turbulent world.
Although the idea of Qi (pronounced “chee”) is quite simple to understand intellectually, some struggle to fully experience it in their Qi Gong practice. Initially, a lot of people may feel relaxed or energized when trying Qi Gong but not truly experience this innate energy we call Qi. This post will discuss the experience of Qi and how you can feel it more strongly in your Qi Gong practice.
Discovering Qi Within You
We all are born with an abundance of Qi that is inherited from our parents. Lee sometimes talks about how each one of us is born as a “Qi millionaire.” It flows within us, between us, and all around us. Each thought or movement has an effect on the state of our internal energy.
In daily life, we often pay more attention to our surroundings than what’s happening within us. It’s easy to feel a chair beneath us as we sit, or experience the sensation of a loved one’s touch. We experience our world as a physical place that we interact with on a physical level.
However, if we delve deeper, we can feel that there’s more that lies beneath the surface when we move our body or breath. We’re not used to directing one-hundred percent of our attention to something as basic as our breath, but when we do, our breath expands into far more than we might have imagined.
For many, it’s easiest to first experience Qi through a moving Qi Gong practice. Feeling Qi requires us to move past our usual limitations in perception. Instead of only paying attention to what your body is doing in a movement, pay attention to what your body is being. Rather than viewing a movement as an effort to get from point A to point B, experience it just as an act that you’re performing for the act itself. Allow the outcome of the movement only be in the periphery of your mind.
This is a different way of going about our actions. Instead of being focused on the external effect, in Qi Gong, we bring our attention inward and pay attention to what is taking place within us.
Putting Ideas Into Practice
It’s all nice and good to understand the shift in perception that must occur, but how do you consciously go inward and experience your Qi? There are several actional steps you can take that many find to be quite useful.
Stop thinking, start flowing: Sometimes people don’t experience Qi because they’re too focused on understanding the directions about what they “should” be doing in Qi Gong.
If you’re not familiar with the movements in a Qi Gong practice, you’ll likely put all of your attention into understanding what the external appearance of your practice “should” look like. Many practitioners encounter several questions running through their mind: How much do I bend my knees? How far do I move my arms? When do I shift my weight? When do I inhale and when do I exhale?
It’s a good idea to follow the right movements, but if that’s all you’re thinking about, then you’re doing exactly what we talked about above: Paying attention to the external and not tapping into what’s happening within.
To avoid this, many practitioners find it useful to practice the movements so they can happen naturally. Once you know the movements “good enough,” let go of worrying about your form and just practice. You’ll always return to the process of improving your form, but dropping into a deep, nourishing practice and experiencing your Qi only happens once you’ve stopped striving for the perfect form.
Wake up your Qi: Another helpful tip is to start your practice with some nice stretches and awaking exercises. Most of the routines that Lee teaches guide students through a similar progression that allows them to get the Qi awake and moving before dropping into a flow. Once Qi is livened up, it’s easier to really feel it in your flowing practice.
Take slow, deep breaths: Breathing is an important element of any Qi Gong practice. In fact, some practices focus solely on breathing as a way to work with Qi. In movement practice, the breath is still an essential element to dropping in and experiencing Qi.
Short, shallow breathing is a typical response to many of the stressors we encounter in daily life. Unfortunately, this kind of breathing isn’t helpful for much and only further prevents us from finding peace or experiencing Qi. Instead of taking the stress from your day into your practice, let it go by focussing on slow, deep breaths.
Sometimes, it can be good to start your practice by bringing all of your attention to slow, deep breathing. Once you’ve established a healthy breathing pattern, continue paying attention to your breath as you begin your movements. Let your breath be the foundation for the rest of your practice.
Consistency: Like all things, Qi Gong takes practice. If you’re only doing it a few times a month, it can be difficult to drop in and really experience your Qi. However, with consistency, you’re able to strengthen your practice and make it easy to return to that wonderful state of feeling your life-force energy and being in flow.