To feel energy, slow down your mind by Bill Ryan

Since 2008,  apart from the last two years, I’ve taught a CPD course at CICM named “The Art of Feeling Qi” and more advanced courses such as “The Art of Needling with Qi”. This year on April 23rd & 24th I will teach an online version of the Feeling Qi course.

Over this period of time, my experience is that some practitioners and acupuncture students – like many other people – have trouble feeling parts of their bodies. Many more acupuncturists and students have trouble feeling qi – their own or their patients’. 

As a result, acupuncturists throughout the world today are often trained to locate an acupuncture point not by feeling exactly where the point is, but through measurements that approximate its location. Rather than learning to feel and use the qi within and surrounding a point to guide a needle into an optimal position and depth, most acupuncturists rely on other indicators of successful needle placement.

There are multiple reasons why many acupuncturists cannot feel the qi within meridian lines and points. One common contributor is that many people don’t slow their minds down when they try to feel.

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The Taoist tradition I study considers your physical body and your qi to be forms of energy. Modern physics seems to be moving toward a similar view. As physicists have delved deeper and deeper into the fundamental nature of physical matter, they most currently subscribe to the theory that the tiniest fundamental building blocks of physical matter sometimes act like particles and sometimes like waves. A recent article in the journal Physics Essays proposes that such building blocks would be better conceived of as “fragments of energy”.

As for your qi, mainstream scientists have yet to accept its existence. In everyday life its relevance is not questioned. Who cannot answer accurately this question we often ask ourselves: “How much energy do I have today?”

Our Taoist tradition posits that your mind is also a form of energy. In our everyday language, we acknowledge this by describing aspects of our minds in energetic terms. For example, we say things like the following: “Sue has a quick mind.” “Just focus your mind on the problem at hand.” “He directed his attention toward me.” “Jane is such a clear thinker.”

To feel your body or qi, you must use your mind. The part of your mind that you use is what we call your “feeling awareness.”

The energy of your mind can move very fast. You can move your mind across the room incredibly quickly. You can look at and think about one corner of the room and then in an instant jump your mind across the room and engage with the other corner.

You can’t move your physical body across the room so quickly. You can move your qi more quickly than your body, but not nearly as fast as your mind.

If you want to feel your body or qi, you have to slow your mind down to match the speed of your body or qi. Think of your mind as energy vibrating at a very high frequency, and your qi as energy vibrating at a much lower frequency. In turn, your physical body vibrates even more slowly. For your mind to connect to and feel these lower frequencies, you have to slow it down and “tune in”, as the saying goes.

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For most of us, it’s easier to feel our body or qi if we are not moving, either physically, energetically, or mentally. The stiller our bodies are and our minds become, the more likely we will be able to feel subtle sensations.

When we are moving, it’s a little trickier, because it’s so easy to move our minds ahead of our bodies. We often first think of where we want our bodies or parts of our bodies to be, and then move our bodies there. When our bodies arrive, our minds are often still one step ahead – on to the next thing.

To feel your body or your qi when you move, instead of “getting ahead of yourself,” as the phrase goes, try letting your body lead and your mind follow, or try letting your mind “ride” on your body.

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Try this simple exercise – hold your palm in front of your face. Try to feel everything that you can in your palm and fingers, including any sensations of blood or qi flow. Wiggle your fingers, if that helps. Now turn your hand very slowly until your palm faces away from you. Try not to think about where your hand is going, just feel. Let your mind move at the speed that your hand moves. Notice whether you are able to feel more than you usually would doing such a movement.

Try applying this approach to other ways that you move, whether it’s when you walk, stand up, practice exercises, or whatever.

Slow your mind down and let it “occupy” your body and your qi.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Bill Ryan is running a two day online CPD event ‘The art of feeling qi’ on 23rd & 24th April 2022. Spaces are limited. To find out more and secure your spot click here.

Bill Ryan
Bill Ryan

Bill has studied qigong, tai chi, and related energy arts since 1980 with Daoist Lineage Master Bruce Frantzis. In 1992 Bill founded Brookline Tai Chi near Boston, USA which, under his direction, reached a peak enrolment of over 450 students. He now teaches qigong and practices qigong tuina bodywork. The approach to needling that he teaches is an adaptation of the approach used in qigong tuina for energy gate and channel work.

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