(8 pages total)
Page 5 - Finding Qi in Internal Martial Arts
Perhaps the best way to think of qi is as an energy matrix. A brilliant scientist who had once conducted classified research on the subject suggested this model to me. Qi, this scientist told me, most likely acts as a kind of information-intelligence system operating within the bodys subtle electro-magnetic system. This system, while working within the confines of the subtlest of detectable electro-magnetics, is busily conveying data, the function of which is to organize nervous system, thoughts, and emotions throughout the holistic-unity seeking human body. In this light, the qi energy matrix may be a conveyor of intelligence between the bodys life support, emotional and survival systems that work alongside of, yet independent from, the central nervous system. The researcher used this model to explain a type of internal energy punch he witnessed.9 The strike was delivered to its recipient from a few inches away, with no obvious mechanics or weight behind it, and appearing to be no more than a light tap, had a significant effect on the experimental subject. The demonstration also produced physical evidence in the appearance of an approximately 3-? inch spot on the opposite side of the recipients body. The scientist suggested that this type of punch and its demonstrable effect was most likely not due to direct electro-magnetic or other energy, but was brought about by a subtle information set encoded in the strike.
I first felt qi as a real experience about 22 years ago. My ability to sense and work with internal energy directly in an experiential and tactile way began shortly after I treated Sri Surath, a Bahki yoga master from India. Surathji was suffering from a serious illness, but refused to take any modern Western medication. On one of his trips to the West, a disciple asked me to see if I could help. After an interview and subsequent approval, I was granted the rare privilege of being allowed to treat the Brahman with traditional Chinese bodywork.
It was only a short time after my work with Sri Surath that I began to experience increased and (to me at that time) strange energetic sensations. Later, as I look back on those experiences, I realize that I was beginning to experience aspects of the internal pole. I will not write about my experiences in detail here, except to say that my thinking about human energy changed radicallymoving from the theoretical to the experiential. Whether my working with Surathji had anything to do with it, or whether by chance, coincidence or blessing, I cannot say for certain. However, the way I trained and thought about such things had forever changed. I began to sense subtle bio-energetic life fields both internally and externally to my body. As I became more sensitive to these fields, I was able to achieve greater success in both martial and healing practice. It was very empowering to experience the reality of a subtle bio-energetic field and to find that it was possible for me to sense and control it. Increasingly, I became a believer in the value of personal experience of internal energy as well as an adherent of the dual pole theory: one that placed importance not only on physical mechanics, but that also included developing awareness of, and training for, the internal energy field.
Keeping the timing right. Beijing senior internal artists Yang and Jou regularly train in application as well as form.
Developing Qi Awareness
Students often ask how they can develop their sensitivity to internal energy. I tell them that the two most important things that encourage personal experience with internal energy are open-mindedness and trust. By trusting that the subtle energy field exists as physical reality, the mind opens to the possibility of increased awareness of the qi energy matrix. On the other hand, when one is overly suspicious of the energetic fields existence as a physical reality, the minds filter works overtime to preserve the status quo or create the world that the unconscious mind has decided is safe and really exists. However, being open minded does not mean abandonment of critical thinking, only becoming aware of the power that ones attitude plays in the perception of the external world (i.e. the perception of reality is personal and subjective). In my own practice, I work on remembering the power of the unconscious mind to oppose changes to the way reality is perceived.10
More on being open
It is easier today, when compared to three decades ago, to be open to ideas about qi and subtle energetic fields. When I was a young student (and we used to walk 20 miles uphill and barefoot in the snow to get to class), even the most basic aspects of energy medicine such as acupuncture were suspect. These days there is enough scientific evidence to allow one to be publicly curious about the human energy field. without being burned at the stake. Consider the pioneering work of respected scientists such as Dr. Robert Becker, who has done research to support the existence of the subtle human bio-energy field or that of Harvards Dr. David Eisenberg,11 currently a premiere investigator involved with placing traditional Chinese and energy medicine into Western scientific understanding. Thus, it is no longer unscientific to consider the physical reality of the bio-energy field. However, training of a human to develop sensitivity to the field still requires faith.
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