Qi is a very powerful word which draws a lot of it’s power from it’s very broad openness to interpretation. Even the symbolism of the Chinese/Kanji character gives opportunity for esoteric content and associated ideas. The literal meaning of this character has two parts: upper part, rising steam and the lower part, pot of cooking rice.
Qi is everywhere. There are many different types of qi energy and within each type there are further forms still. Qi is a very empowering concept and can be used to explain complex things with ease. Whether one believes in a metaphysical force or not, qi does exist, it is a strong symbol to explain a multitude of phenomena that we can impress our volition unto and it has the power to affect our mind, body, and environment.
One Western science-oriented explanation for sensations of qi is somatic bodily awareness, the same thing responsible for one being able to put her/his hands away to both sides of the body and then touch the nose with eyes closed. Another example is electromagnetic fields and interactions with different elements in the body; some people are very sensitive and there is scientific documentation of people experiencing light, vibrations, and sound in presence of obnoxious Electro Magnetic (EM) fields. Another thing very observable is infrared and heat emission, which is actually a form of electro magnetic radiation. Then there are people that rationalize the more mysterious types or properties of qi, by saying that we don’t understand enough about quantum physics to denounce phenomena just because we can’t explain it. Physics and biophysics are just a bunch of formulas to describe observable quantifiable phenomena, and it’s a continuously evolving science with many horizons that haven’t been pursued yet due to a lack of monetary incentive.
Qi gets a sort of reverence in the Qigong community. The term gets slapped on everything. Everything that has saliency has qi. Qi is substance and it is how we recognize that substance by feeling. There are different descriptive types of qi including light qi, heavy, bright, dull, spirit, essence, food, clear, turbid, foam, sticky, organ, defensive, upright, color, air, positive, fire, water, sound, vibrating, shaking, spiraling, leaky, solid, female qi and the list goes on. Different people have various levels of ability to sense qi and experience it in different ways.
For people that do not believe in qi, or the phenomena of objects having fields which can be sensed, here is a demonstration: The palms of the hand and fingers are very sensitive to qi fields and layers. One can argue that the way we sense the fields would differ due to the composition, active components and nerve type and density of the tissue doing the sensing. Another area of the body that is very sensitive to qi, is the forehead region. So this is where I will demonstrate sensing of a type of qi field.
I should also warn, this is not healthy to do for long periods of time or if one is particularly sensitive to fields already, it can cause harm as it breaks through the defensive barrier. The use of sharp objects is useful in clearing strong blockages in medical qi gong, in cases of mental disturbance or heavy stagnation.
A nice exercise to verify that the qi sensation observed by many is by field sensory rather than result of mere psychological somatic body position awareness, is to take a mildly sharp object, like a butter knife or pencil (*be extremely slow and take care not to hurt yourself please), and point it at your forehead with the tip about an inch away, it will feel very unpleasant, like a cutting or heavy sensation and if you move it around, you should feel the heaviness following where it is pointing on the forehead. If you cannot feel it, then try to do the following in the most relaxed way possible to decrease resistance: put the dull end in the right palm in the soft spot between the middle and index finger bone on the opposite side of the two knuckles. Then grasp it with the pads of the extended middle finger, ring finger and thumb. Take the left hand and palm, facing upward, bring it 2 inches away from the belly below the navel or above the navel and then touch the ring finger with the thumb, this will make the sensation the strongest without conscious effort of qi projecting. If still no dice, then that’s alright, everyone has different sensitivity, but if they practice daily tai chi or other practices that increase sensitivity, build up field potential or emission capacity then they will eventually be able to sense qi. If one still isn’t convinced that this is still psychological, you can enlist the help of a friend to hold the sharp object and hold it up to your forehead with your eyes closed, communicating vocally what you feel, also by moving it around and different distances one can play with at what distance one can feel it from. But you should know that once you over stimulate the senses at the forehead it will polarize and the sensation will be constant heaviness, so it’s a learning process.
If one can’t get rid of the heavy feeling, they should place their hands on their forehead for a couple minutes, and it will usually make things feel normal again. Or one can imagine sucking all the turbid qi out with their spread curled finger claw hand, breath in to suck out, into palm, then put palm away and flatten when breathing out to push out of palm and flick the hand to get better results. Then once the turbid qi is out take a flat palm and pat the aura of the forehead 9 times. It actually works surprisingly well.
“In its original state of Great Vacuity, material force (Qi) is absolutely tranquil and formless. As it is acted upon, it engenders the two fundamental elements of yin and yang, and through integration gives rise to forms.”
-Master Chang Tsai
“Life exists because qi is amassed, when qi is dispersed, one dies.”
-Master Zhuang Zi
Now this is one manifestation of qi, and one sensation of qi, qi is responsible for all sensations in the body, and can be emitted to cause any one of those sensations through certain techniques and intentions. Heat is qi, magnetic flux is qi, ion streams are qi, radiowaves are qi, other things which aren’t explainable by science, but observable and can be sensed and acted upon are qi. This is the beauty of Qi, it is not a science, it is not about rhetoric, it is about application, empowerment, and intuitive understanding of environment, it’s a truly powerful concept.
Written by EyeCanBlackStars. Member of the Esoteric Forum.