You are made of stars
Activating Qi Spirit and Essence
Let's talk about Qi
The most common definition of qi is “energy,” and it’s regularly referred to as “vitality” or “life force.” Like most words with this much meaning, the English translations are correct, but don’t tell the whole story.
In its original form, the ancient character for Qi was written with three wavy lines, meant to be visually representative of wind. Later, the character for rice was added to the symbol creating a nuanced meaning that would come to represent the energy or the “active transformative force” found within all things.
Rice was the staple food for all of China, and when it was placed beneath the symbol for air, it implied a cauldron of water being heated and transforming this hard grain into an edible energy source of nourishment. The concept of steam rising is synonymous with internal alchemy and spiritual transformation.
It begins with inspiration!
The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word, “inspirare” meaning to “breathe-in.” Every time we breathe in, we enact that mysterious moment: the beginning of life. Together in every breath we echo the moment of our beginning and our ending, an entire lifetime exists inside of a single breath.
- Center yourself. Clear your mind through an upright spine. Let your arms hang by your side. Feel earth supporting you. Gently close your mouth and relax your face.
- With the intent of remembering that first breath of life...
- Breathe in: Inspiration
- Hold the breath softly for a few moments...
- Breathe out: Expiration
- Feel the lightness of your qi rise as the body lets go.
Breath is the place where we become the air and the air brings us to life. As we look at our own breath we start to see the breath of all things. Take a moment and notice the inhale of the day as the sun rises to its zenith and the exhale as it falls into the horizon.
when cultivating qi,
timing and practice are key
Qi practice is like growing a garden. If you prepare the soil, plant the best seeds, and do it at the right time, you will grow beautiful flowers, healthy food, and healing herbs. Similarly, in Qi practices, meditation is the preparation, and your intent forms the seeds. Cultivate your energetic garden with these tools and over time you will experience an awakening in perception, greater clarity, and peace.
When we study Qi, we study the inherent nature of something. Let’s look at a simple example of a tree. A tree, like humans, exists between heaven and earth. The tree is part of both and one of myriad results of this relationship. From birth, the tree inherently knows what to do. The leaves of the tree rise ever-higher to get closer to the sun and spread ever-wider to receive as much light as they can. Meanwhile, its roots descend ever-deeper into the earth, connecting to water and minerals, and ever-wider, creating stability for the tree to stand upright and tall. It is said that a tree's roots mirror the breadth of its canopy.
As the roots reach down, and the canopy surges upward, the trunk of the tree creates an upright and stable conduit between heaven and earth. A tree will always possess these qualities.
That being said there are many kinds of trees: a willow will bend and draw more water, an oak will be stronger but will break under pressure, evergreens are always vital but don’t bloom as brightly. Each tree has the universal Qi of a tree, and also has its own particular nature and Qi.
- When you have some time this spring and summer, as the trees are growing, sit down to meditate in front of a tree or leaning back against it.
- Slow your breath and see if you can breathe with the trees.
- Journal about your experience.
A human being is the same as a tree. We nourish the spirit by reaching to the heavens through the opening of the crown chakra (heavenly gate), and we connect to the earth by receiving its support in the form of air, shelter, food, and companionship. The human spirit is of the heavens and the body is of the earth, making us a combination of both. The Qi of our spirit rises to meet the sun and the Qi of the body descends. When we combine the force of the rising spirit/Qi with the descending Qi of the body, they swirl together into life. All of change is found within this swirling energy.
The Tai ji symbol expresses yin and yang in a static representation, but in life, the symbol transforms into the spiral of life as expressed in the shape of DNA and the spiral of the milky way.
Set Your Practice With Your Heart
The heart is the home of the spirit and the mind. It’s the place where our most clear channel to the celestial world lives. The spirit of the heart is called Shen (神). It means Celestial Deity. It’s also the place where the mind/consciousness lives. This mind is the discerning awareness that connects with other people and that understands the world. It’s the part of us that we use to relate to each other and perceive reality. It is also a link to the infinite, and the place in us that carries the knowledge and wisdom of all things.
When we move from the heart we move with the intent of knowing, of caring, and of connecting. The heart-mind knows the path long before the thinking/strategizing mind does.
When we do Qi practice with this intent as the driver, our consciousness guides our bodies into the flow of our life’s purpose. To trust our intent is to trust ourselves. To do this we have to be self-aware. This comes from practicing stillness so that we can follow the breath and observe our mind. When we observe the mind, we can separate the noise from the truth of who we are by feeling the resonance of our thoughts.
You Are Made Of Stars
Our bodies are the treasure that exists between heaven and earth. We are made of the stars and every part of us is infused with the consciousness of Shen (spirit). The last part of the process of awakening the conscious body is to remember that your body carries a profound wisdom beyond the thinking brain.
Your body is the sensing transforming expression of your energetic self, it’s made to both send and receive information. One of the most magical things about being alive on Earth is the ability to be in the constant change and expression of ourselves, and to experience the same change in others. We are in a constant state of energy and form, spirit and flesh and we are in a constant state of sharing consciousness with everything and everyone. Like sunlight shining on a lake, it is both absorbed and reflected; we are the same, absorbing and reflecting the light of each other.
It’s like the difference between texting and being in the same room with someone. The consciousness, when disembodied, loses the connection between our spirit and our physical self. When we do Qi practice, we build a bridge between energy/spirit and body this makes the experience of being alive exponentially more powerful!
Your body will often know the answers to your questions before the mind does. Qi practice is designed to teach you how to interpret those signals from your body on a more subtle level and interpret them in real time. To most people when they see this it looks like magic, but it is just increased perception. Like having the ability to see a color that isn't in the visual spectrum.
- Sit in a quiet space upright, relaxed and stable. Slow the breath, and let your consciousness make its way to the heart.
- In your mind ask yourself a question for which you are struggling to find the answer.
- State the question and one possible answer.
- Tune into your body and notice the response within. Is there tension building? Is there ease? A softening of breath? Or a quickening of the heartbeat?
Use the feeling in your body to guide your mind to the most true answer.
Over time, this tool will become critical when navigating your path through difficult terrain.
Take a breath with the trees. Listen to the flowers breathe. Notice the heartbeat of a stranger or the look of magic in a child’s eyes. Feel it in your heart and in your body as it moves through your fascia and muscles and bones. Awakening the conscious body means opening up to the experience of the rising and falling of your spirit and body. To be in the exploration of the controlled mess of the spiral is to be in the most immediate place in existence.
With love and Qi,