Feeling the Qi
The capacity to perceive the flow of qi directly -- to actually see or feel it -- is something that can be cultivated through training in qigong or acupuncture. Like any skill, some people are better at it than others: for some it seems to come “naturally,” for others it’s more of a challenge. Even if it’s not consciously cultivated or acknowledged, most of us can tell the difference between someone who has “great energy” and someone from whom we feel a “bad vibe.” And most of us are able to notice, when we enter a room, whether the atmosphere seems relaxed and uplifted, or tense and heavy. To the extent that we notice such things, we are tuning into the level of qi.
We might be in the habit of perceiving our world in terms of solid shapes and forms. What Taoism teaches is that we can train ourselves to perceive in other ways; and a good place to start is with our own human body. Though we may now experience our body as being rather solid, at a molecular level it is comprised mostly of water – a very fluid substance! And at an atomic level it is 99.99% space – a vast (and infinitely intelligent) emptiness.
As we practice qigong and Inner Alchemy, we cultivate the capacity to perceive at all of these different levels – to feel ourselves and our world as fluid, and as spacious; as well as being filled with apparently-solid forms. As we become more adept in this way, we become aware, directly, of the vibratory nature of all-that-is. Not only do we experience our bodies as being comprised of patterns and flows of qi, but also come to understand that “emotions” and “thoughts” are also forms of energy. These insights give rise then to the potential for newly-powerful and deliciously-creative action within this tremoring world.