This is a great question, because Western society does not teach us about Qi growing up, so naturally it is a foreign concept to us. However, if you grew up in Asia, you would understand this concept since Traditional Chinese Medicine uses Qi in it’s proven system of healing and prevention. So, how does one start the process of “understanding Qi”?
First, don’t just believe it because myself or anyone else says so. You should always consult many different sources and compile an overall understanding from all these sources. Keep in mind some sources could be wrong (based on wrong teaching somewhere in the past) or some might be biased. Find the truth as it resonates with you. Go with what feels right to you, but give the subject a chance, and don’t be quick to make a judgement.
Second, don’t try and understand Qi with a strict definition. The concept of Qi was discovered thousands and thousands of years ago, before any scientific equipment was invented. It refers to many different forces that Western science might now label as separate things. In the body, science might call it “bio-electric energy”. The energy in the universe and the forces working on the earth haven’t all been named yet, but the Chinese weren’t concerned with a strict definition. They simply tuned into the energy and began working with it and studying. So don’t try and understand Qi with your Western mind…you’ll have a hard time and get frustrated.
To start understanding Qi, follow these simple steps:
1. Have an open mind (or empty mind in the Daoist tradition): Qi is the essential ingredient of the universe, the subtle energy that exists in everything. Being a subtle energy, you will only come to know it if you can relax and lose all expectations of what Qi is or isn’t. Don’t get caught up in being able to put your finger on it. For example…we all believe in gravity, right? But can you see gravity? Can you put your finger on it? Of course not. But we can see it’s effects. Qi is the same way. Have you been around a person who you thought had “good energy”? Have you ever been in some quiet spot in nature and felt a gentle peace with everything around you? If so, you’ve already experienced Qi.
2. Read about Chinese medicine or find books on Qi: The concept of Qi has been around for thousands of years. It has been studied intensively, documented and it’s understanding refined. There is a TON of literature on Qi. Google the word Qi and start reading. You’ll find that Qi is such a deep subject that you’re bound to find something that resonates with you. Chinese medicine, acupuncture and acupressure all use the concept of Qi to heal and prevent diseases, so anything on those subjects is also very good.
3. Be patient. Don’t set expectations for how fast you’ll progress in discovering Qi, as that will only distract you. Remember how you learned to ride a bicycle? What if you had given up the first time you tried to ride a bike? Success in anything only comes with patience, persistence and practice. Since we all naturally are full of Qi, we all have the ability to understand Qi. Remember, Qi is everywhere. This makes it very easy to study!
As your awareness of Qigong, Daoism and Qi grows, you will begin to see examples in your everyday life, and that’s where the fun begins!