EdgarsBlog: Chi, Its Nature, Function And Some Great Chi Exercises

Chi & Yoga

Its Nature, Function and Some Great Exercises

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UNDERSTANDING WHAT CHI REALLY IS: If ones lies comfortably with one's eyes closed one easily feels the internal feelings of one's body. Of course one can feel the feeling of individual parts of the body, such as the hands or feet, but it is apparent there are really no abrupt boundaries between the feelings of different parts of the body. What one actually feels is the internal feeling of one's body as a whole. When healthy, this feeling is rather like an energetic pleasant glow, a feeling of well being, of life, and of one's internal energetic processes. It is this feeling that is referred to as 'chi', and the feeling of the total body as a whole is often referred to as one's 'energy body'. There is nothing mystical or 'new age' about this at all, it is simply the natural internal feeling of one's body that every living thing shares. There is nothing more to it. Once one is comfortable with this entirely self-evident concept it is possible to proceed to the next step.

Now it is readily apparent that one can easily influence the chi and the energy body. There are several simple ways to do this. If one simply moves the position of an arm, the feeling will change as the energy body follows the movement of the physical body. Second one notices that every time one breathes the feeling of the energy body changes and there is movement of the feeling of chi within it. Third one soon finds one can move the chi simply by moving one's mind around the energy body and willing the chi to move. Again, simple and self-evident phenomena that anyone can experience.

So it is apparent that the chi flows within the energy body, and that this flow can be influenced by mind, breath, and motion. And of course, we know that it is influenced by other things as well, as many external influences, what we eat, and disease processes affect how we feel. And since contact with any physical object also manifests as internal feeling, these things also influence our chi. Though the chi is one thing, our life force and process of internal feeling, it does take on some differences in feelings as it flows through different locations within the energy body. These feelings can be feelings of health and well being, or of discomfort or pain, as well as simply the differences in feeling between different parts of the body. The chi is simply one's life force, and it tends to feel somewhat differently at every location in the body.

The first use to which chi can be put is to assess the condition of one's physical body. By carefully moving one's mind through the entire energy body, one can locate areas of discomfort where the chi does not manifest in a healthy feeling of well being. These areas are often referred to as 'blockages', as they are frequently experienced as constricted or static areas through which the chi has difficulty moving freely. Any area of pain, discomfort, tension, or just any area that doesn't feel quite right should be further studied and if possible used to zero in on the diagnosis of specific physical ailments.

Since disease and physical problems manifest as blockages in the chi, a basic tenet of Chinese medicine is that it is sometimes possible to treat physical problems simply by working directly with the chi to open the blockages and restore the free flow of chi. There are various medical techniques, most notably acupuncture, which operate on this principle. I will discuss some techniques of working directly with the chi itself. Nevertheless chi manipulation simply cannot cure some illnesses since diseases all have their own chi (their energetic forces) which may not be amenable to chi exercises alone.

COUNTERS TO SUPPOSEDLY SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENTS AGAINST CHI: Even though chi is a self evident phenomenon which anyone can immediately experience as the internal feelings of their own body without the slightest effort there is a truly amazing denial of chi among westerners whose minds are programmed with the usual materialistic mythologies they mistake for science. Even when the concept is explained to them as simply the energy of the body that gives the body its life they keep insisting that it must be something esoteric and irrational and supernatural and thus impossible in a scientific world. Thus they raise all sorts of irrelevant and often laughable arguments against it some of which I'll respond to here.

All biological processes in the human body, and the body of all organisms are energetic processes. Otherwise nothing at all would happen in the human body. Chi is simply studying and experiencing this life force energy as a unified whole. The human body runs on energy and that energy is the same energy physics, chemistry, and biology accepts as basic science? It is the view that the human motive force is not energy that is unscientific, not mine. The calorie is a unit of physical energy and calories are what the body runs on.

There is a western skepticism about the existence of chi or life force energy. In spite of what you may have read there is nothing supernatural about that and it is very easy to prove. Simply close your eyes and just feel the feeling of each part of your body from the inside one part at a time. Next just note that you actually feel the feeling of your entire body from the inside at all times. This is referred to as your 'energy body'. It is simply the internal feeling of your body being alive, of the life force inhabiting your entire body. That is your chi, and that chi body includes the feelings of all the parts of your body at all times, whether it's a pain here or a pleasurable sensation there. It is all part of the same energy body.

Next step is also easy. You soon note that the energy feeling changes with every breath and that you can move the feelings of that energy around with your breath, your thoughts or your hands. And another person's hand can also move it if they know how. It is all very simple and natural direct easily reproducible experience. Nothing supernatural, or anti-scientific about it.

Of course there are a lot of unverified and unlikely claims about what can be done with chi, but its basic existence is not in doubt. If this chi energy did not exist your entire body would be completely numb. You would feel nothing. You would not feel your existence. In fact you would be dead.

Chi is easy to understand, easy to experience (only dead people don't), and absolutely no threat to science whatsoever.

Chi is not proprioception, that awareness of the position of the body is not the same as the internal feeling of the body. E.g. knowing my hand is in x,y,z location has nothing to do with whether I feel pain in that hand or not.

Second, of course the experiences are subjective and neural. Everything we are conscious of is a 'neural' experience. But every neural experience involves the transmission of energy from the source to the brain. Information only can be transmitted via an energetic process.

Many westerners would deny that feeling involves energy, but it very obviously does. Every biological process does, and the nerves relay information about the state of the energy everywhere in the body to the brain via energetic electro-chemical processes. The result is the feeling of the one's body from the inside, which is one's chi energy.

The feelings I describe that every living being has all the time are simply the feelings of the physical body, not psychological 'feelings', emotions, or states of consciousness. Chi has nothing to do with emotion, though emotions are one of many forms or expressions of chi energy. Chi is just the direct experience of the life of the body from the inside of that body. That life is without any doubt at all an energetic process, otherwise the body would be dead. Obviously the awareness of that energy is not the energy itself, it is just the conscious perception of that energy. Chi and the awareness of chi are clearly different.

I think problem in understanding chi as energy in a physics sense is that it consists of a huge aggregate of minute cellular processes rather than any single large physics type energy. One needs to understand it perhaps in terms of heat energy which is universally accepted as a macro scale physical energy even though it is actually the aggregate effect of myriads of molecular kinetic energies. Same same with chi energy, which is the macro aggregate effect of myriad cellular energetic processes.

Just as heat can flow through a huge aggregate of molecules, so then can chi flow through the cells of the body e.g. as O2 content and blood flow vary with each breath, muscular exertion etc. which effects the cellular energetics of successive groups of cells.

It is a very simple, directly experienced and scientifically sound view. And it is amazing to me that westerners tend to deny, or have difficulty comprehending, what is the most basic experience of their own existence, the feeling of their own body from the inside of that body, as a whole entity. Instead they tend to think of themselves as their physical which is the external objective view, but that view is actually a cognitive construct and so less real than their energy body which is direct ever present experience. Also the physical body construct is less real in that it models on the outer surface of the body, whereas the energy body is the feeling of all parts of the body, not just its surface.

Energy is transmitted along the nerves. The transfers of neurotransmitters is a transfer of energy in chemical form, energy is not just electrical current. What is the force that causes the neurotransmitter to move across the synaptic gap if it isn't energy? Nothing moves without energy (disregarding inertial motion which this is not). Nothing physical can ever happen without energy.

The sensation feeling of the internal energy is of course not the totality of the actual body energy itself, it is the sensation of that energy, just as when I touch a hot plate I feel the heat but that feeling is not the total heat of what I feel.

Many westerners seem to be struggling with a scientism type prejudice here, that anything that can't be found in a physics book is not real, even if it is the single most basic experience of our existence, the way our body actually feels to us from the inside.

Chi is simply the life energy of the body, the aggregate energetics of all the energetic processes of the body that cause it to be alive. It starts with life, grows with the growth of the individual and dies with the death of the individual. it is continually maintained by input of nutrients and O2 and leaves the body via physical motion and heat. It is physical and it is conserved. The sexual energy refers to the feeling of this energy during sexual arousal, not the energy itself. Important distinction. The analogy again is heat. Heat is conserved, but the feeling of a hot object isn't, it's simply a measurement of the energy, not the energy itself.

Do you actually deny that what keeps the body alive, every cell of it, is not energy? This stubborn denial of the obvious is beginning to drain my chi! :-)

This is what chi actually is, one should not be mislead by its description in many 'new age' books which, I agree, would lead you (falsely) to the conclusion that it is 'ethereal'. It is not, it is simply the self evident life energy within the body. That's not ethereal, that's basic physics, chemistry and biology. Don't judge it by the name with its unfortunate new age connotations, judge it by the descriptions I give. It is the new age nonsense, and the many highly embellished claims of oriental charlatans about it which is on the level of astrology, not the self evident experience and life energy itself without which we'd simply be dead meat.

Scientists make some good points, and there is much in the oriental tradition, and even worse in western 'new age' interpretations, that has taken what are basic facts of experience and embellished them with many layers of supernatural overlay to the point that scientists discount even the fundamental experiential facts rather than working to give them a sound scientific basis and separate fact from fiction, which is the proper approach. This even though social scientists themselves routinely use terms such as arousal which have only very fuzzy definitions, and there are many more that science uses without any well specified definition. All scientists should take this point to heart before they criticize words such as chi.

The other problem is perhaps more basic and is a fundamental difference between western and eastern approaches to knowledge. The oriental tradition has a long history of careful analysis of consciousness and experience and bodily feelings from the inside, whereas western approach has really only studied these phenomena from the outside, as expressed in the objective behavior of others. Though the oriental approach demands confirmation by carefully comparing shared internal experiences to determine what is common, it does effectively address much that western science cannot touch. What is needed, and my approach throughout, is a synthesis of these two great traditions which includes the fundamental experiences of our existence as experienced from the inside, in an expanded scientific framework in which they are naturally part of reality.

There is of course objective evidence that some applications of chi theory such as acupuncture work in some cases. Since acupuncture is based on chi theory that in itself provides evidence chi should be a serious field of scientific study. That seems the reasonable conclusion doesn't it? Thus rather than just discount the theory because some of the associated ideas are clearly unlikely, wouldn't the proper scientific approach be to actually do the research before deciding? I'm not proposing any theory about how acupuncture produces (causes) specific results, but a general theory of bodily energy and how it is perceived and can be influenced.

How acupuncture works clearly involves a process that either works between the site of the needle and that of the pain, or between the site of the needle and the brain, or both. Thus since the pain and needle and brain are at separate locations, there must be some transmission of information and thus energy (information requires energy to transmit it). Thus there is some kind of energy flow involved. What that is now needs to be determined. We know that nerves transmit sensations (eg. pain) but we also know they constantly modulate the metabolic processes of the body parts they thread. Metabolism is an energetic process, when it is modulated that is equivalent to an energy flux or flow within the area since the energy becomes greater or lesser. So the result is that there are constant energy fluxes of both metabolic and nerve energy throughout the body. These are sensed to some degree by the person they occur within. Because acupuncture changes the sensation of pain it is obviously modifying these energy fluxes.

Some maintain that the effect of acupuncture might be hormones rather than 'energy', but everyone should clearly understand what hormones do. Hormones are precisely what regulates the energetics of various bodily functions. They are what controls energy distribution between various systems in the body. So either way it's energy at base, and the total energy of body, considered as a whole is what oriental thought labeled chi. The feelings of the internal feelings of the body are the feeling of this energy in the body. The feelings are not the energy themselves but the perception of that energy.

Now what are we to label these energy fluxes, which are all well known scientifically established biological processes? Oriental thought has labeled them chi. You can call them whatever you like or make up a western scientific sounding label if it makes you less uneasy to avoid the metaphysical overlays found esp. in new age fantasies, but the basic phenomenon is real, it is scientific, and it is immediately accessible to direct personal experience. The fact that many uneducated people distort relativity and evolution doesn't make us abandon those theories. Why should the considerable distortions of chi cause us to abandon that as defined above?

All internal feelings are feelings of internal energy states. These can be easily modified via breath, thought or other methods. If the feelings change, which they do, then what they are feelings of must be changing. That is the bodily energy or chi of which I'm speaking.

Oriental philosophy has taught for centuries that specific sounds (mantras) can influence the energy of specific bodily energy systems. Since sound is energy and energy influences energy (energy forms are interchangeable since energy is conserved from form to form) this is not to be discounted out of hand. Some chants can definitely be felt as vibrations (energy) within the body - that is as vibrations within the feeling of the body as it feels from the inside, the chi. I haven't explored this as much as I should have but note that the corollary is that all sound influences chi states and unpleasant sounds such as much of modern music and the sounds of the street and industry are likely to have stressful and harmful effects on human energy states. Humans after all evolved to the sounds of nature, not of cities or TV.

I'm under the impression that EM fields emanating from the human body are detectible though weak. After all the entire human body is pervaded by electric nerve processes involved in muscular control and sensation. It makes sense think there would be a field surrounding any current flow such as the human body.

SOME EASY AND EFFECTIVE CHI EXERCISES: Now that I've explained what chi is I'll provide a number of practical lessons on how to use it. It is always difficult to explain such things in words rather than hands on but I'll try to get to the essence of the exercises in enough detail they can be reproduced in one's own life. If the lessons lack clarity feel free to contact me and I'll explain further.

Chi is one's life energy, it's that simple, so the goal is to enhance the health and strength and quality of that life energy. Working with the chi is one means of doing that. Don't expect miracles however, be realistic in your expectations and appreciate the benefits that you experience and you won't be disappointed. Chi work does not have unlimited power to cure all diseases nor will it alone transform you into a martial arts super hero. What it will do is to greatly increase your feeling of energy and well being and when one continually feels good one gets healthier and improves one's mental outlook and clarity.

There are nearly unlimited ways one can work with chi, these lessons will explain some of the best I've found and the best general approach to beginning to work with chi.

GENERAL APPROACH: The approach that works best in my experience is to make all the exercises not so much work but play, play that is immediately pleasurable and invigorating. Such immediate benefits ensure that the lessons will be continued. This is in stark contrast to many other teachings in which the rigidity and laborious effort of the exercises require much dedication to stick to and many drop out.

The first set of exercises is done with eyes closed lying on one's back in a comfortable location with no distractions. The idea is to get as comfortable as possible and as relaxed as possible. One's favorite comfortable couch in a private room is an excellent location. Prop your legs up on the far arm if you are too long, then nestle in by cuddling your body into the couch until you find the position in which you are most comfortable with your body reasonably straight. Just let your entire body relax, give up and get as heavy as possible and sink down and merge against the couch. All is well in the Now with no possible danger or reason from stress or worrying about anything at all. Let all those thoughts pass away and vanish.

Then these following play exercises can be done in any order and as many times as you like. Your inner voice will suggest which to do next so just follow that.

Remember always to be mindful of your chi, of the inner feelings of your body considered as a single unified body of energy. This is in fact your actual self in direct experience. By contrast the physical body most of us identify with is a construct of our mind.

THE EXERCISES: The first exercise then is to identify with the energy body. To move the consciousness throughout the internal feelings of your entire body noting that these feelings are parts of a single body of energy from your toes to your head. Remember to have your eyes closed so you can better concentrate on the internal feelings. At this point it doesn't matter how that body feels so much as that you become aware of it in its entirety as a single unified body and that you are that energy body, that it is your real self. Identify yourself as your energy body and simply forget the world beyond that feeling. That forgetting is best done by concentrating one's consciousness on the feeling of the energy body.

Next note that the energy body doesn't feel like it has the same shape as your physical body. In fact it feels like it extends beyond the remembered boundaries of the physical body and its edges are less well defined. In fact the energy body can be felt to expand or contract as one works with it strengthening it or not.

Next note that the energy body is not static by any means. It is a living glowing liquid energy that is continually varying with the breath and one's conscious focus. You may experience that in some locations it may feel static and those are areas that may need work and are referred to as 'blockages' and we'll address those later. The important thing now is just to feel the energy body from head to toe as a living unified glowing radiating being which is your real self.

Now the chi which is the substance of the energy body is energy just as the life force of the energy of the universe is. For convenience we speak of that as Tao, on in my scientific writings as ontological energy (OE), in the 'external' world, as as chi in the body of an organism.

Chi tends to stagnate when it doesn't move and is not refreshed. For one's chi to be refreshed it must be allowed to flow freely out of the energy body and for the energy body to be continually replenished by the Tao life force of the universe.

So the next exercise is to open all the boundaries of the energy body and let the chi flow freely though one as an empty vessel in the stream of being. The best way to do this is imagine the bottoms of the feet opening up to the universe outside. One totally relaxes the feet and no longer holds in the chi and lets it flow freely out the soles of the feet. When one feels this one then continues the same thing with the ankles, successively moving on to the calves, knees, thighs and pelvis. And one does the same beginning with the palms of the hands moving through the wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, and shoulders. At this point both one's arms and legs are felt as glowing and radiating a very pleasurable energy. One then moves on through the abdomen, chest, neck, face and head until the whole body glows with a single very pleasant free flowing energy that continually radiates away and is replenished from the energy of being of the universe.

Now you are unlikely to be as successful as I suggest on the first try, but you should definitely be able to experience quite a bit of pleasant glowing refreshing energy throughout much of the body. That in itself should bring you back to this exercise again and again. Remember the primary goal is the experience itself rather than the future benefits those those will be important too as their time comes.

Now it is normal in most people that the energy body does not originally feel this unified and glowing so strongly with the pleasure of well being. However the following exercises are designed to work on that.

Now, without losing the feelings of the previous exercise, begin the following exercise to stimulate the Kundalini energy, which is simply the chi running up and down the backbone. Still lying on your back with your eyes closed begin a gentle side to side rotation of your head, rolling it from side to side on the couch so that the cervical vertebrae rotated around their axis from top to bottom. Do it gently as side to side as far as is comfortable while letting the neck muscles relax as much as possible. Do it for say half a minute and then stop. You will notice a warm invigorating pleasurable enhancement of the glow of your energy body in the neck region. Next add to this a rhythmic gentle side to side wave like motion of your spinal column at the same time. Let these rhythmic side to side motions move wavelike through the length of your spine while again relaxing all the muscles as much as possible. Again keep this up for say half a minuite and stop and become aware of the feeling of the energy body up and down your spine. You should experience a very pleasurable glow of invigorated energy up and down the whole length of your spine from your tailbone to where your neck connects with the bottom of your skull. This is the kundalini, which is simply the feeling of your energy body up and down your spine which is one of the most important areas of the energy body. Continue this as long as you like. You will be coming back for more! Not only does it enhance the Kundalini but it also strengthens the important core muscles that support the spine.

Next exercise is to continue this process with the rest of the body. One does the legs by alternately rotating the feet from side to side so that the muscles of the legs all the way up to the hip joints rotate back and forth. Again one does this gently but completely keeping all the muscles as relaxed as possible. One also does the same with the arms. When one combines these exercises one feels the energy of nearly the entire energy body glowing with a more invigorated and healthier pleasurable feeling. Practice this regularly and you will find it does enhance one's general health and well being.

BREATH: I should probably have discussed the breath at the outset as the rhythm of one's breathing is essential to the well being of the energy body. Breath is one of the four ways to influence, move and enhance the chi. The chi moves with the breath, and when the breath is pure it purifies the chi. Likewise when the chi is blocked the breath reflects that through irregularity and forced breathing.

Though there are many effects one can achieve in the energy body by a whole host of breath exercises absolutely the most important thing is to free the breath completely and let the breath breathe itself completely easily and freely. This is one of the most important exercises of all. In fact too much concentration on some of the more controlled breath exercises can badly effect the true goal of freeing the breath if one is not careful.

Again lie on your back with your eyes closed and simply pay attention to the rhythm of your breath. Don't try to control or force it. Sigh deeply whenever you feel like it and let the cares of the world breath out with the breath. And on each in breath breathe in the pure healthy love of the universe which you experience as being in love with you unconditionally and caring for you as a perfect loving mother would the baby she holds to her breast. Let this love flood your body with every breath from head to toe as the energy moves in and out with the breath washing away all stress and all care and every responsibility and worry. Wherever there is a blockage to the free flow of the energy use the breath and consciousness to direct the loving healthy energy there and wash away the blockage and exhale it with the breath. Continue this as long as you like. There is nothing more important that needs call you away. You should come away from this refreshed and cleansed, invigorated with pleasurable loving feelings.

The important thing through all this and the other exercises is to free the breath from all stress, from all forcing or tightness or dysrhythmia so that it breathes in slowly and freely and regularly like the warm summer breeze across the fields of heaven, back and forth, back and forth, absolutely free and responsive like a cork bobbing on soft slow ripples of liquid love. This breath is enormously pleasurable as it moves chi back and forth rhythmically through the energy body. There is no better feeling.

It sometimes helps to make the breath audible as is sometimes heard during a peaceful sleep when the airways relax and we hear the gentle in and out suspiration of the breath. Important also is to breathe with the whole airway held open for maximum ease and freedom of breath.

WORKING WITH THE CHAKRAS: In this section I'll describe an excellent set of exercises for easily moving the chi through the chakras, then the whole body, and then culminating in meditation using the chi.

Again lie on your back and make your self completely comfortable with your spine straight and let your body become heavy and relax down into the sofa. It will help if you first begin with the Kundalini exercises above to stimulate and free the chi.

Next we will use hands, breath and mind together to stimulate the chi and move it up through the 7 chakras of the body. The chakras are simply energy centers where one naturally feels chi center and accumulate and radiate out from. As one advances in one's practice they become easy to experience and one can eventually experience the entire energy body as a complex network of interconnected flows of energy in which the chakras are felt as energy hubs. This energy flow network is most often visualized as golden electric glows. When one is healthy with no blockages this network is experienced as balanced and fresh and pure and freely fluid. That is the goal.

So lying on your back with your elbows resting at your sides raise your hands and gently rub them together for a moment, then separate them a little, and cup them towards each other as if holding balls of glowing energy so that each hand feels the energy streaming from the other hand. Lie quietly and experience this energy for a moment.

Next point the cups of the hands so that the energy is focus towards the root chakra located in the anal area. Experience the energy of this area as a ball sized glow centered in the root chakra. Now use the cups of the hands from several inches above the groin to work with this energy and increase it. Do that by moving the cups of the hands gently up and down, side to side, or alternatively back and forth all the while experiencing the energy of hands focused by the cupping of the hands like parabolic mirrors into the energy of the root chakra. The hands, especially the palms, should be experienced as completely empty and open with no barriers to the outside world, there should be a strong feeling of energy being focused from them into the root chakra. And when they move the glow of the energy there will increase and be felt to expand.

For you skeptics, remember it matters not the least whether this is 'real' or measurable in any objective scientific sense. What matters is that it is felt, because it is the feeling itself that is what we are working with and obviously the internal feelings of the body are not something that can be easily measured by external scientific apparatus, because feelings are internal experiences of a person. Scientific equipment doesn't have feelings and so has a very hard time measuring them!

Another problem some people may have with experiencing this chakra and the next one, the sex chakra, is the usual association of these centers with copulation and excretion. This exercise has nothing to do with anything else than the pure energy of these centers, no connection with the uses of these parts of the physical body. That connection should not even arise in your mind. In fact the function of the root chakra energy is the feeling of being secure and at ease in the universe. When this energy is blocked one feels insecure and under threat from the outside world. Freeing, increasing and balancing this energy results in a feeling of absolute security and being at ease in the world. The goal is simply to increase and balance all the energies of the body into a unified whole and these centers are integral parts of that whole. If the energy there is repressed or blocked the whole body will not be healthy.

It must also be clearly understood that there are no 'higher' and 'lower' centers. This is a mistake I've even heard various Swamis make. For a healthy body and energy body all centers must be energized and in balance, none must be repressed.

OK, back to the exercise. The next step is to use the hands to drag the increased glowing energy ball of the root chakra up to and into the genital chakra. The best way to do this is by using the two cupped hands to repeatedly and gently drag it there as if one was cupping and dishing water, but here one feels the chi move as a golden fluid like energy until it naturally centers in the genital chakra and glows and radiates there.

Once energy is felt strongly there use the cupped hands as before to move it back and forth and around and around by moving the focused cupped hands up and down and back and forth and round and round.

Especially here in the genital chakra the energy is especially easy to experience for most people. It is normal and desirable at this point to experience some sexual arousal. That is a good sign of the increasing energy in this chakra. One frequently will have sexual images or ideas pop into the head at this point but they should be pretty much ignored and the attention focused on the pure feeling of energy.

The great advantage of working with the genital chakra is that is by far the easiest and most effective way to generate a lot of strong chi. This fact is the key to Tantra some of which I describe below. So it is very important not to hold back or resist the increase in this good energy which in the pure form we are experiencing is totally positive and healthy.

The next step is to use this large bundle of chi to invigorate the energy, the health and the well being of the rest of the body. One begins this process by moving the energy up through the other chakras.

The next chakra is the hara, a Japanese term for the physical strength or power chakra which is what most martial arts concentrate on strengthening. But as I said before for optimum health and energy of the whole body all chakras must be balanced in their energy. Strengthening just the hara can throw the whole energy body out of balance. Nevertheless the hara can serve as a reservoir of chi energy and it is important to work with it as well.

So use the same gentle movements technique with the cupped hands to repeatedly dip into and raise the fluid energy from the sexual chakra up to the hara which one can easily feel as a center of energy about one inch beneath the navel. Continue to work with this chakra until it is felt as filled with and glowing with chi energy. One should also experience a general increase in the physical power and presence of the energy body as this is achieved.

A note I forgot to mention. As the energy is moved upward from one chakra that does not mean the previous chakra is then depleted of energy. All the previous chakras in the sequence should be experienced as full of enhanced glowing energy. Why is this, because when one allows the bounds of any area of the energy to freely open the chi freely flows out (in this case to the next chakra) but it is immediately refilled by fresh chi from the universal ocean of chi called the Tao, or the ontological energy of Being.

The next energy center is one that is often neglected and is not often included in the list of 7 chakras yet it is vitally important. It is the solar plexus centered where the chest and abdomen meet, the place that makes you double over in paralysis if you get hit there as most will remember from their childhoods. This energy center is the central energy center of the body and helps balance all the others. It is vitally important to work on this one as well.

Again one uses the same technique to move the energy upward from below until this energy center is also experienced as full of glowing good feeling energy and in balance with and freely exchanging energy with all the lower centers. If this is done correctly one experiences a huge sun of glowing energy in the center here and radiating outward both throughout one's body and into the surrounding space. This energy center when properly balanced with the others is often experienced as much larger than the others and encompassing them all.

Next step is the heart chakra, located in the center of the chest, whose energy is experienced as pure burning non-conditional formless love both of the universe and by the universe. One uses the same technique to open and free and fill this chakra as we used before. When we do this the chest swells with love and all the chi energy turns to pure love energy and floods the entire energy body with absolute love. The energy of life itself is experienced for what it really is, the energy of love.

Next stop is the throat chakra, the energy of inspiration. One moves the energy here and the throat and entire airway opens along with the lungs and the good refreshing new energy of the universe pours in, and in and in, continually refreshing and invigorating the entire energy body. A flood of new ideas is likely to rush in as well, often new inspirations about the wonder and beneficence of the universe.

The sixth chakra is located between and slightly above the eyes, and is sometimes referred to as the third eye. This is the chakra of the unity of consciousness, of enlightenment. I'll have much more to say about this one later one but for now we use the same technique as before to lift all the energy up to this chakra and increase and balance it there. One should experience an energy feeling of bright clear peace and being centered in oneself. All the thoughts and cares of the world should simply drop away and be forgotten. When properly achieve the focus of consciousness finds a natural rest at the center of this chakra in an area of energy filled bright golden white light. Many people initially have trouble finding this center but for now it is enough to simply increase and balance the energy here.

Finally the seventh or crown chakra at the center of the top of he head. This is the center of transcendence of physical form which for advanced meditators can be experienced as the energy body leaving the physical body and flying freely through the universe, whether or not that is actually objectively occurring. For now we will again just concentrate on opening and flooding this center with good chi energy so it is in balance with the rest of the energy body. One sometimes experiences this as the entire energy body being suspended completely relaxed and at peace from above by this center. The glow of this center should fill the entire head and mingle there with that of the 6th chakra.

Now at last let the whole energy body be experienced in its entirety as open, transparent and empty of anything but the wonderful good and healthy energy of loving chi. Experience all the chakras in balance and radiating the good energy of life in their respective forms all throughout every inch of the entire body. Just lie calmly and bask in it and enjoy the intense pleasure of being really alive for as long as you like. Remember the key is that the better it feels the more you will want to come back again and again and continue this wonderful exercise that has excellent effects on your physical and spiritual health.

WALKING CHI: Here's a simple chi exercise one does by walking. It's easy, just walk naturally but in a more exaggerated manner swinging the arms back and forth all the way and taking longer stretching elastic strides with the legs in opposition to the arms so that all muscles of the body are fully activated as a coordinated unit, the trunk twisting back and forth all the way around its axis with every stride. Put some bounce in your step and make sure you feel both your legs and arms extending to the point of stretching with every stride. Try to add slight backward and forward waves up and down your spine with every step as well facilitated by the springiness in your steps.

Now as usual concentrate awareness on your energy body, on all the feelings of your body as an integrated unit as you walk. Forget your physical body. Remember you are your energy body, your chi body, not your physical body. Just feel that as you stride. Let the mind identify completely with the energy body and ignore all else.

Breath easily in and out through the nose with nostrils and throat with the entire air passage expanded without effort in time with your strides. The breath should feel good and refreshing and clarify the mind as well as the body as it moves in and out. Feel the energy move in and out of your energy body with every breath.

Best to do this in a secluded area on a relatively flat surface with few distractions so the awareness may be more easily kept on the energy body. You can continue doing this as long as you like until you begin to feel worse rather than better, then stop. You will feel your body as an energized whole much more a single stronger tighter more integrated unity. Not only does this exercise help one to identify with the energy body and to act from it but it stimulates and strengthens the energy body and its unity and is a good light overall exercise for the muscles and health of the entire body as well.

This is an important exercise as it begins to take chi exercise into daily life, the goal being that one eventually lives in a chi exercise 24/7 no matter what one is doing in one's daily routine. One becomes one's mindful energy body moving through the world.

KRISHNA DANCING: In this exercise too the goal is to learn to bring chi out of meditation into the actions of daily life. In this exercise we merely dance but not in any organized fashion to any dance step. Instead we free our body and let it itself generate whatever motion it wants to without embarrassment or judgement and we simply follow the energy of that motion. As we've done before we identify our being entirely with our energy body, with all the internal feelings of our body as a unified organism and simply observe that move with our consciousness.

This is an exercise that can be done alone or with friends, but when done with friends don't be distracted from the awareness of the energy instead concentrate on opening to each other's energy and dancing together to that shared energy. Generally a fairly slow pleasant music is best to dance to, something that evokes a feeling of peaceful energy. Certainly not anything with commercial interruptions, one wants to avoid distractions of any sort. It can also be done out of doors in a peaceful natural setting to the sounds of nature.

Do not restrict the movements in any way, just move with the energy as the energy body dictates with no mental control. Move in joy and consciousness with a totally free breath breathing in and out the love and enlightenment of the universe into the energy body as it moves. Dedicate the dance to the divinity of the universe, to the awesome realness of being, to the conscious awareness that pervades the Now as you dance.

The human body is capable of a practically endless variety of motions. Free your body and let it explore new motions without reserve or self-consciousness, especially those you've never done before likely because of some blockage that would best be released. One of the best ways to release such blockages is this kind of movement of chi through that area of the energy body.

Make the motions rhythmic and elastic and fluid, feel the chi move through the energy body as you move and move so that the chi moves freely, fluidly and feels good as it moves. Let the feelings of well being of your energy body be your primary guide to your movement. Moving with the muscles and joints relaxed, open and soft as a unified whole rather than held tight, tense or jerky. Strength or looking 'cool' or external effect is not the goal, the goal is to stimulate and enhance the strength of the unified feeling of well being in the energy body.

And through the entire dance keep the consciousness of the energy body filled with the energy of love, with the energy and joy of life, of simple conscious existence. Let the energy of love from the universe flow through you. Become aware of the surrounding rhythm of the Tao, of the music of the Uni-Verse, and move to that music. Dance to the Tao!

And when you've had enough then maintain that conscious awareness of the energy body as you return to the tasks of the day, keep it as you perform those tasks without letting them distract you but by simply staying aware of yourself as an energy body Buddha as you wash the dishes, stamp your letters or cuddle your child. The goal is to maintain that spiritual awareness continually without effort and with pleasure throughout the day. Relax into it, relax into the enjoyment of it, of consciously being your energy body Buddha at all times, in the Here Now.

KIDDIE CHI: Surprise! This exercise is not an exercise for children, but of letting yourself become a child again, a perfectly happy free child that plays and has fun with whatever is present needing nothing more.

Free the body and let it move the way it wants to move. For nearly its whole life it has been shackled by its master the rational mind. It is time to free it for a while and let it feel good like it deserves to feel. Let it go for awhile to play like a child again. Let it roll around on the floor or drape itself over the sofa, let it get into all sorts of new positions like children do

ANIMAL CHI, ANIMAL YOGA: Imitate as many different animals as you like. Become the animal, move as the animal, feel as the animal. Your body is still an animal. Let it return to its animal nature and be refreshed and happy. Feel the flow of the chi within your animal body as it moves.

COMPASSION BEGINS WITH OUR SELVES: Our bodies have been our loyal beasts of burden throughout our lives, but as with many work animals of other species they are often treated horribly and even their basic needs neglected.

TANTRA: I've been asked about Tantra, so here is the basic technique of Tantra which is a means of generating and using chi via sexual energy:

The man sits in the lotus position, the woman faces him and lowers herself onto his erection facing him in a lotus position with her legs around his body. They press their bodies together so that their chakras are aligned.

They begin small sexual movements just sufficient to mutually stimulate the sexual energies in their 2nd (genital) chakras but not to reach orgasm. They then mutually raise that energy up through the other chakras together in unison, and at each chakra they project and receive their energy to the corresponding chakra of the other. Generally the more experienced partner will assist this with some verbal guidance so they stay in unison. Meanwhile the sexual motion continues just enough to intensify the energy but never to reach the point of orgasm. As the energy reaches each chakra it rises up the kundalini and also floods the entire body with chi and ideally breaks down all blockages to chi flow which should be noted and worked on together to be broken through until there are none left and their whole bodies become a chi body glowing with ecstatic light and love. At some point in this process the two bodies merge into one body which is whole as it completes both male and female energies. At this point there is often the experience of breaking through out of the physical body into a higher heavenly realm and existing together as perfect spirit chi bodies on the fields of heaven, or some such experience.

The idea is to keep this up as long as possible, as close to orgasm as possible (maximum chi energy) without actually reaching orgasm. The physical body disappears and both man and woman experience only pure ecstatic chi energy, which is of course what they always actually are.

This ecstasy is not simply sexual lust, lust is following only the sexual chakra in the outward direction of its energy, this is a direction of the energy inward. The chi energy takes on the characteristic of the chakra it is in. It starts out in the form of sexual energy in Tantra because that is the easy way to generate a lot of chi, but when that energy passes into the rest of the body it takes on the characteristics of those parts of the body so that the result of strong chi flooding the entire body is the experience of being alive, of pure life force itself realized as divine in the sense that the whole world is divine in that it is all Buddha nature which is the stuff of all things. It is the direct experience of this which can be described as ecstatic.

Ecstasy in the sense I used it, is the ecstatic feeling of being alive, of experiencing oneself as the pure life energy of the universe in every part of one's being. It is not just a feeling of the genitals but of the whole being. Christians would say the love of god as opposed to the sexual love for a woman.

The point of Tantric sex is not an eventual stronger orgasm, though it can be used that way, but for a man and woman together to build the intensity of the sexual energy and let that flow through the entire body thus invigorating and healing it and eventually leading to enlightenment.

That is the energy that Tantra addresses and works with. Obviously the sexual act generates a pleasurable intensity in the energy body. The idea of Tantra is to refresh and revitalize the entire body by first generating that pleasurable healthy energy by connecting with a woman and then sharing that feeling and moving it around within the various areas of the body in unison.

It is impossible for feminists or misogynists to understand or succeed at Tantra because it involves the surrender of both male and female into a greater whole of unified male female life force energy. The basic dysfunction of the feminist is the inability to surrender herself totally to the male which is absolutely required in the proper practice of Tantra. You have no chance at all of understanding Tantra unless you totally give up your feminist mind and surrender your self completely to your male partner and merge completely with the masculine energy. The man must be able to do likewise, to surrender his masculine selfness and merge completely with the feminine energy.

Properly Tantra is not Tantric sex, it is Tantra. Tantra is about enlightenment through sex, it is not about sex, or 'better sex' in itself. One should not get hung up on the sexual aspect. One can read all the books one wants. Tantra is not found in books, it is found in direct experience of the life force (chi) energy and its enhancement in the union of a woman and a man.

It is also possible for a man and a woman to engage in Tantra and obtain many of its benefits without actual sexual union by going through much the same procedure with the clothes on or without penetration.

SELF DEFENSE: All offense involves a direction of force against a defender. The harm of such force is proportional to its energy which is proportional to the relative velocity of strike and struck.

In defense, if the defender rotates around its center, and that center is mobile, so that the projected point of impact is unable to contact with any relative velocity then there can be no energy transfer from aggressor to defender and the attack is defeated.

And the result of the defender's rotation around his center is the side opposite the strike now approaches the attacker with relative velocity capable of inflicting harm.

In addition the defender can easily deflect the force of a strike by applying minimal perpendicular force vectors. Continual use of this technique can redirect the entire force velocity of the attacker into modes harmful to the attacker.

In addition the principle of maximal force against the weakest areas of the attacker. E.g. guiding the entire attacker's motion by moving his little finger with a small force sufficient to move the finger but not his body directly.

The principles are easy, the application is difficult.

MIND YOGA AND THE TECHNIQUE OF PERSONAL MYTH: The world we all think we live within is actually almost entirely a creation of our mind. Specifically the world itself has none of the emotional components or attachments our mind imposes upon it. It contains no judgments, desires, regrets, blame, hopes or fears, ideologies or any other belief system or any of the long list of both positive and negative aspects the human mind so often imbues it with. When that is understood it immediately becomes clear that what the mind imposes the mind can change. This is the key to the technique of Mind Yoga, of using the mind to reorder the mind and thus effectively reorder the world one lives within.

I'll outline here a few of the many teachings and techniques for doing this. The programming of the mind with its desires and attachments begins early in childhood and continues on throughout life. Many people are never able to change this programming to any extent even when it is obviously seriously affecting both their physical and mental well being. This is because most people believe they ARE their programming and are completely unable to see how it has been imposed upon them by their experiences and upbringing. It is never easy to see the lens one looks at the world through. If that lens has distortions and one always has seen the world only through that lens, one naturally grows to believe the world itself is what is distorted.

So there are two kinds of people, those who believe they are their programming no matter what it may be which is the large majority of people, and those who recognize they are programmed and who seek to understand and escape the burden of that programming. Accepting that your mind is heavily programmed and that the world you think you live in is actually your own heavily programmed mind is the absolutely essential key to spiritual progress.

Most of us have little power to change the world but we all have enormous power to change our own minds. And by changing the programming of our own minds we effectively can make enormous changes in our own local world.

A slight cautionary note is necessary here. Reprogramming the mind is not the ultimate goal. All programming is illusion that distorts the direct experience of reality as it is and DEprogramming is the the ultimate goal. The techniques I present here are useful because they are effective ways to identify, loosen up and replace dysfunctional harmful programming with a positive personal myth that dissolves it and washes it away. However these positive personal myths should be recognized as for exactly what they are rather than considered some new absolute universal truth. These are to be taken as effective and beneficial techniques, nothing more.

Many people's programming resists these myths as they challenge the validity and even the existence of those dysfunctional mind myths. You needn't stick exactly to the script I provide but get the idea and spin your own myth, the one that seems most right and powerful to you. The important thing is not to resist doing it because it seems silly or strange. Read through the mediation and get the idea, then lie down in solitude and snuggle in to your most comfortable location and close your eyes and spin your own myth and really get into it. Breathe as I've explained before and open all the bounds of your body and just experience your Chi as you fantasize a new myth that will wipe away and release all the old outmoded ones that you no longer need.

MEDIATION ON THE MOTHER OF THE UNIVERSE: As an example of a personal myth imagine you are the child of the Mother of the universe. You rest in her womb comfortable, warm and protected. She loves you with the love of the entire universe, complete, absolute and unconditionally. There is nothing else but her and you, and her energy continually floods your being with absolute love and health and the energy of being. You are her one and only care, the one and only object of her love for all time. She encompasses you and cradles you in a sea of eternal bliss at the center of being, at the center of the universe. There is no other time than this. There is no other place than this. Your only purpose is to completely open your being to her, and just bathe in the radiance of her love for ever and ever. Her heart beats in the silence. Somewhere far away pastel galaxies begin to swirl but that is no concern of yours. There are no more cares, no more responsibilities. All is well, all is perfect. The universe unfolds in perfect harmony, in perfect enlightened bliss according to the divine plan in her mind. She thinks the universe into existence. This time things will go right!

You awake and are born into the world. She cradles you in her arms and suckles you with the warm milk of life, with the rich energy of the Tao that fills and nourishes your body with blissful Chi. Together you are complete and whole in the center of being, at the center of the universe. Later you sit on her lap and open your bright clear eyes and look out at the world from the protection of the glowing cradle of her arms. You are enlightened and see the world as it really is in the slow progression of the galaxies and the bursting stars, the eternal dramas of the life of all creatures. You watch with love and compassion for all feeling the warmth and fragrance of her breath encompass you, feeling her glowing Chi radiate through your being completely, each together merging in one glowing energy body of eternal love, complete in itself forever at the center of being as the far away world slowly revolves.

You are the Buddha, newly reborn to enlighten your world, to save your world, to enlighten and save the world of your old discarded self, to open the doors of your mind and wash the world of your mind clean and pure and to dwell therein forever bathed in the love of the Great Mother of the Universe! This is how it should be and this is how it is and will be forever and forever.

This meditation should be done in comfortable uninterrupted silence. It will help improve the often dysfunctional personal myth most people have about their relationship with an imperfect human mother who wasn't always there and with a world which just doesn't seem right. Spin your own version of the myth and it will help replace that now with a perfect world that is right! You can also hold this myth in your mind and use it anytime during the day to ease the trials of the day and improve the quality of your Chi from whatever to full of comforting love. Of course you could also reject it as rubbish. But consider, is it any less rubbish that your current self harmful personal myths about how the world is? You may think they are somehow 'true' since they may have originated with unpleasant events. But those events do not exist in the present now do they? You have absolute free choice in the myths you hold in your mind, so why not choose those that are best for your mental and physical well being and your spiritual growth?