Qi is the Chinese word for life energy, also spelled chi, ch'i, or ki. Qi energy is the essence in acupuncture, qigong, taiji, reiki, and many other traditional arts in China and Japan.
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Qi Energy - the Flow of Life
Qi - the life energy
Fictional introduction to Qi Energy
Qi is the Chinese term for life energy, or life spirit, a vital force that flows through all living things. In 1998, I started sketching on a book about it, beginning with some fictional scenes that I thought would introduce qi in a concrete way, with examples of normal human experience. There was no room for that in the book (Qi: Increase your Life energy), so here it is instead.
Picture this:The teenage schoolgirl stares in secrecy at the boy with such a happy smile, and with such agility when running up the hill at their class field trip, his feet never stumbling, his pace never slowing down one bit, no matter the trees and bushes he has to avoid on the way up. Her eyes could not turn away from him, even if she tried to force them, but she would not dream of it. She stares, and there is in her chest a movement as of a sigh, but her breath does not express it, her mouth remains closed.
And while her eyes stare with such intensity, they ache as if they were trying to jump out of their sockets, to fly straight up the hill and land on the boy, stick to him like a well chewed gum when secretly attached to the underside of a table.
As the eyes cannot move out of their place, instead they seem to try to drag the boy to them. She can feel this deep within herself, all the way down to the bottom of her stomach: her whole body, her very being, is trying to drag the boy to her. Her chest contracts, her stomach feels nauseated, as if about to throw up. It saddens her, increasingly, and there may soon be tears coming out of her eyes because of their intense work, but she cannot pull them away, cannot look another way.
Now, the boy has reached the top of the hill, leaving all his classmates far behind, still struggling up the steep slope. Contrary to him, they step with precaution to avoid bushes and bared roots of trees, or thick vegetation they do not want to sink their feet into. He shouts at them to hurry, says the view from up there is spectacular, although he has hardly had the time to inspect it, and he gestures at them, both defiantly and triumphantly. His eyes move quickly from one to the other of his approaching classmates, while swarms of words of encouragement hop out of his mouth. That's when it happens. His eyes meet hers.
She stiffens, right in the middle of a breath, and it feels like her face will crack in panic, as if it were of glass and his gaze were a stone thrown at it. His eyes have jumped from one classmate to another, but now they stop. They meet hers straight on, as if immediately knowing how long they have been fixed on him.
A full second passes, and it's a long one. She is sure that her face will crack. She has no idea what expression it shows, but whatever it is she is not able to change it. Not a single one of her facial muscles can she control, only hope that her face is not frozen in a deformed, grotesque position.
The curve of his lips is moving, his eyebrows too, even the angle of his head, ever so slightly. He smiles.
It's a smile, directly at her - for her. As happy as ever, his teeth shining in the sunlight, which seems to be much stronger there, at the top of the hill.
Immediately she feels a warmth inside, and strange processes start inside her body, like a wind blowing hither and thither, around as well as inside of her. The tension is gone, just like that. Every muscle is softened, so much that her legs nearly fold under the weight of her body. She inhales, suddenly and deeply, which makes the wind increase and weakens her muscles more. But her eyes have widened, to take it all in.
This lasts only a short moment, but one of stillness, as if time itself halted, so that its duration could not be measured. Then the boy turns his head, to resume his gesturing and his shouts of encouragement to the others.
She has completely lost her pace. She just stands there in the middle of the slope. In her mouth, in the air that enters and exits her lungs by each breath, in the tickling sensation on her skin from top to toe, she can taste this drunkenness, this dizzy spell, induced by the boy's smile. While it lasts, she will do nothing else than indulge in it.
And it lasts. All the other kids have reached the top of the hill. They stare at the view, gesture and comment it in excited words and voices, push playfully at each other. Only when some of them begin to notice that she alone has yet to climb the hill, does her dizzy spell subside and she starts marching - with light, energetic steps that bring her to the top in no time.
Although the wind she felt has calmed down, her head is clear and her thought sharp, still the tingling sensation on her skin and here and there in the realms of her body remains. Immediately upon finding herself on the hilltop with the other kids, while still catching her breath after the quick rush, she tries to spot the boy.
It's not easy, in this bundle of joyous kids raving at the view, toying around with each other and making all kinds of noises. But there he is, chatting and laughing with a group of the other boys. Her eyes again stick to him and she can feel how they, as well as the rest of her body, start pulling, sort of scratching at him from a distance. He seems not to notice. The boys are occupied with each other, as usual, and he gives no sign of having anything else on his mind.
At first she impatiently waits for him to notice her. She is sure that he will, if only he has a quick glance around. Her whole body is anticipating that moment, prepared to be swept into a new wind, a new dizzy-spell. But the boy does not look around even once. He is fully occupied by his pals, as they joke and half-wrestle and kid around. They behave like there is no one else on the hilltop.
She intensifies her stare, as if with that alone to push him, knock on him like on a door. Now, her breathing is deep. Still nothing. His happy smile is there, but for his pals only.
She sighs. Her breathing becomes light, quite normal. She turns around, slowly, and now her eyes are moistened from the strain she has just put them through. Her body relaxes, but this time it is heavy and fatigued. She is sure that the march back will be tiresome, although it starts downhill. Maybe she should begin the descent herself, so that she will not have the whole class crowding her.
Something, an impulse, makes her turn her head around. In doing so, she immediately has the boy in focus, spotting his head also in the process of turning - away from her. So he had been looking her way? Now, she stares at him without any hesitation or discretion. She must find out. He turned his head so much that she can only see his neck, but she continues staring at it, brusquely, as if considering to grab it and force it to turn towards her.
She does not have to wait for long. Actually it happens so quickly, it's like his head is bouncing right back towards her, this time in a sudden move - and his eyes meet hers. No smile this time, but it is not needed - she can feel it anyway, sense it in the way his eyes hurried towards her, the way his lips tighten firmly as if not permitting themselves to smile, then doing the very opposite - as a way of still expressing what a smile would. His stiff lips express a smile as clearly as a real smile would. And she is once again drunken by delight.
This time she can feel her skin blush, all over her body, with a warmth so intense that it could very well set fire to her clothes. It makes her feel shiny, as much as the sun in the sky. Also, her senses are all of a sudden stronger and more alert, so that she feels not only the heat of her body rising, but the thin layer of soil on the hilltop, and the mighty mountain below it - although she has her shoes on, and their soles are not thin. The air, too, she feels very concretely, although it is not windy at all. The air she inhales has got a freshness and an invigorating taste to it. She is surprised not to have noticed it before. Maybe it is only up here on the hilltop? Every breath brings a tickling chill to her chest, which the increased warmth inside of her not only neutralizes in no time, but also enjoys doing, so that the breathing becomes like a joyous tug of war, a playful battle between friends.
Although she is herself radiant, all over her blushing skin, she can still feel the rays of the sun, like discreet fingertips touching her on her forehead, cheeks and hands, to attract her attention. Her nose can smell the vegetation in the woods around the hill, the dry soil on which she stands, yes, the very stone hidden under the thin layer of soil and moss.
That's not all. When she looks around, she sees her classmates with new eyes. Their faces shine, just like her own does. Their eyes are jewels and their whole bodies are delightful, like kittens or puppies. It strikes her how much she likes them all - even the teacher, standing straight in the midst of them, as usual trying to bring some order to the congregation, although there's no point in it at this time, in this place. They are all simply wonderful, and there is no doubt in her mind that they all think the same of her. Like family, like one blood.
She smiles so widely that the corners of her mouth almost ache. All through, she is convinced that the way she now feels, the way she perceives it all, is the right way. This is how it is. She hopes they will stay on top of this hill forever.
And picture this:Perhaps it's not the first time in the three years of his life that this infant boy sees a rose, but when looking at this one, he has no memory of seeing anything like it before. And what a rose it is, its stem stretching straight up like a lamp post, high over the other roses as well as over the bush to which it belongs. It is red as a cherry perfectly ripe for eating, the jam of which the boy favors to have on his sandwiches.
He has to touch it. But it is so tall and proud that he dares not put his probing index finger directly on its red blossom. For that blunt an approach, the flower is far too impressive, too intimidating to the boy. Instead he puts his finger on the stem of it, at the level where it exceeds the height of the bush and the other flowers. Then slowly he lets his fingertip slide upwards along the stem. It is cool and a little bit moist. His touch is so light that the stem does not bend the least.
Now the boy dares to look at the red flower, still some distance above his finger. He cannot stop himself from letting the finger increase the speed by which it escalates.
Suddenly the finger stops in its track, and then it quickly retreats, without the boy having time to give it a thought. There was pain. He does not understand. There had been nothing but the green stem, his finger, and the red flower. What could have hurt him?
He looks at his fingertip and finds a tiny hole in the skin, as if it had been pierced by a needle. Then he looks at the stem.
Out of the tiny hole emerges - slowly, as if reluctantly - a drop of blood. It has the very same red color as the rose, the boy notices before he takes several hasty steps away from the rosebush. Only now, when on a distance from the rose, does he start to cry. The pain of the small wound overwhelms him. It really hurts, and the pain increases, while another drop of blood emerges.
He turns and starts to run. His crying increases in fortitude and tempo, so that he hardly gives himself time to breathe in between the noisy exhalations. His mind is completely occupied by the pain and the shock, but his legs know exactly where to take him.
From the veranda, where she has been sitting together with other women of her age, talking, having still drinks, his mother heads right towards him in giant leaps - ignoring where the feet land. It's as if gravity has lost part of its grip on her when she pushes her body forward, accelerating tremendously by every huge step, touching the ground only with the tips of her toes - so lightly that it seems to be altogether unnecessary. When she knows that her steps will surely take her to the boy in no time, she allows her mouth to shout her son's name sharply, quickly, to attract his attention, and to report from where she is approaching. Although the boy is completely preoccupied by his own crying, he perceives her call and turns towards her, like a train changing its track. It is her call that turns him.
At the moment they reach each other, his mother grabs the boy with both arms and pulls him abruptly from the ground, as if that would have been the real threat to his person. She hugs him tightly, mumbling smooth sounds into his ear, and does not release him from the tight contact with her body until she feels his breathing and heartbeat through her skin, and through the convulsions of his tiny chest as he keeps on crying.
Then she holds him out at arm's length, inspecting him with quick glances from his head to his toes, over and over. At the moment she discovers the tiny drop of blood on his forefinger, the boy understands to hold it up in front of her. Very gently, though swiftly, she puts him down on the ground and holds out both her hands, like a plate for him to rest his hand on.
So he does, and she inspects his finger by gently turning it around, careful not to touch it anywhere near the bleeding wound. The boy is still crying loudly, but some of the panic and anguish has left his voice, so that his crying is now an even noise, a siren of sorts, and his eyes are following his mother's inspection of the finger.
Out of her mouth come single syllable words of little meaning, but carrying a gentle, comforting tone of voice. She leans so much forward that her lips are almost touching his forefinger. She blows on it, exactly where the wound is, with a long and soft exhalation.
The boy stares at his fingertip in amazement. His crying has stopped, and he turns the finger left and right, to watch it from all sides with wide open eyes. His mother looks straight at him, waiting for his eyes to meet hers. When they do, she smiles at him and lets go of his hand completely, as if it will never again be in need of any attention. And hesitantly at first, the boy returns her smile.
He does not look at his finger again. The hand falls down to his side as he relaxes his arm. His mind turns elsewhere, as his mother quietly retreats a couple of steps. Soon he is off to another part of the garden.
I'm a Swedish writer and instructor of the peaceful martial art aikido. I've written several books about qi energy and other lifeforce concepts. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. Google Profile. Here's my personal website: stenudd.com
Books by Stefan Stenudd:
Life Energy EncyclopediaQi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared, by Stefan Stenudd.
Click to see the book at Amazon.
Tao Te ChingThe Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained
The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd.
Click to see the book at Amazon.
Aikido PrinciplesBasic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas, by Stefan Stenudd.
Click to see the book at Amazon.