As I review in memory a delightful Labor Day weekend devoted to the Organ Cleansing Qigong instructors certtification course, I have quite a few topics to cover. Some may be of interest to everyone. Others are my responses to questions/discussions with one or more classmates; but which I speculate may be of general interest. As the song says, "Take what you need and leave the rest" (The Band, "The NIght They Drove Old DIxie Down").


1. Qigong & Kirtan.
One Wednesday the 7th, still floating from the weekend, I went to a concert of kirtan (sanscrit devotional songs) by the musicians Deva Premal, Miten and Manose. www.devapremal.com. It was unexpectedly a great reinforcement to the qigong state. I recommend it to you, if you like that sort of music and related yoga philosophy. They will be back in the northeast next month. Oct 9: Great Barrington, Massachusetts. See their website. For video from the concert, the Youtube channel of the concert producer, Shunyam Productions. There are several from Sept 7. Here's 2 of them:
http://www.youtube.com/user/shunyamproductions?feature=mhee#p/u/5/g8R_8vjPDBI
http://www.youtube.com/user/shunyamproductions?feature=mhee#p/u/0/PISZq47AmkM


Try standing in vertical alignment with the music playing. Do let me know what it does for you. At Master Wan's in Beijing there are Buddhist chants playing during the meditations and the qigong & tuina treatment. So why not use yogic/vedic/Hindu, too? But at Mater Wan's trainngs only instrumental music is used during physical motion qigong practice at Master Wan's trainings. (In my own trials of various music during qigong, I do experience that vocals distract me from the movements.)

My experience at the concert was: First, I must mention that I greatly appreciated the vertical alignment we learned to establish at the start of the Organ Cleansing qigong form. I had seen in Mantak Chia's publications illustrations of a similar alignment and qi connection from ground throught the body to a star and back again, but I had not been able to experience it. Well, Daisy's coaching made it happen clearly. Now then, during the concert (which often includes singing along with the perfomers) at one point they asked the audience to stand during one of the chants.
Spontaneously, I tuned into my vertical alignment and OMG the voltage was immense within the qi field of a whole theater full of devotees. "Whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name."

2. As an acupuncturist I know both from theory and the clinic that sometimes meridians are clean; there is no pathogenic qi to disperse. I liked how Daisy and Francesco spoke of the stroking down the arms and legs as: releasing anything that is not for your highest good. When we were practicing teaching each other starting Saturday afternoon, I heard a few of you describing those moves along the lines of: pushing out the energy you need to get rid of. Here's my point, based both on acupuncture diagnosis and on my own perceptions. Sometimes a meridian, or group of meridians on an arm or leg is clean. There is nothing to discharge. So if we are teaching newcomers, let's not overdo creating an image of pollution everywhere that we have to scrape off. I call that the Original Sin School of Qigong . The other thing, which maybe I mentioned in the group, is that newcomers can't yet perceive the variations in their qi. So let's not imply to them that they have to be able to consciously locate a batch of bad qi. Myself, I certainly couldn't do that at the start of my practices. [ And it was only this current year that I learned to locate negative "energy" in my chakras and expell it. In my experience, the meridians and dantians are a separate level from the chakra system.]

Some of the perspective I have about this derives from 10 years of teaching a style of yoga meditation before I got interested in Chinese medicine. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation, "TM") . The Maharishi was insistent that TM meditators avoid what he called "mood making". Which meant: rather than actually having a spiritual experience in meditation as a result of practicing the method, some folks inadvertently drift off on thinking how wonderful it is that they are doing a spiritual meditation; how enlightened they are becoming, how clear their consciousness is becoming. But all they are doing is entertaining happy thoughts or wishes using their ordinary mind and feelings. Anyway, it's my preference when teaching qigong to get my students doing the form correctly and then let them grow into the perceptions of the qi.

I have an acquaintance from India who in childhood had to sit every morning at boarding school with a teacher telling the kids to see the Light within their foreheads. Nobody saw anything. They considered it a total joke and typical grown-ups waste of time. Other days they had to stick their fingers in their ears and listen to the Sound of God. Likewise the students did not hear anytthing. The whole thing was useless as far as they could tell. But now that she has been initiated into a valid yogic technique to turn the direction of perception inwards, she has access to that Light and Sound without having to stick her fingers in her ears or press on her eyelids.

So my teaching style is to convey the qigong form, the imagery, and the intentions but not overload the verbiage. Another caution I offer you my fellow new instructors is that if we are always talking to the students, that keeps their attention outwards to pay attention to every precious word we utter. Rather than allowing their perceptions to travel within their body.

3. During the weekend we had some discussions about the nature of Qi. As Qi teachers, we'd do well to be able to define/describe the stuff we are "Gong-ing." In my acupuncture training it was made clear by our Asian-born professors that there is no single English word that adequately translates "Qi". As I opinionated during a discussion during the training weekend, "Energy" is just not always quite right. Especially because people just procede with whatever they might already think "energy" means. Professional level, scholarly translations in the field of traditional Chinese medicine usually do not translate the term Qi into anything else. It is printed just as "Qi." Since the concept and experience of Qi has not been an established, historical part of the cultural body of knowledge of the English speaking peoples, there never was a word for it. On the other hand, we Americans know about cats, so it is legitimate to translate the French word "chat" as "cat" without any scholarly explanations. Likewise, for "chien" and "dog."

One of the most widely used acupuncture textbooks ["Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion", edited by Cheng Xinnong, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, first edition, 1987] translated in China for export, has this to say about Qi in Chapter 4:
"Qi, blood, and body fluid are fundamental substances which maintain the normal vital activities of the human body. They are the material foundation for the physiological functions of the zang-fu organs, tissues, and meridians. ...
"According to ancient Chinese thought, qi was the fundamental substance constituting the universe, and all phenomena were produced by the changes and movement of qi. This viewpoint greatly influenced the theory of traditional Chinese medicine. Generally speaking, the word "qi" in traditional Chinese medicine denotes both the essential substances of the human body which maintain its vital activities, and the functional activities of the zang-fu organs and tissues.
"Essential substances are the foundation of functional activities. In this sense, qi is too rarefied to be seen and its existence is manifested in the functions of the zang-fu (internal) organs. All vital activities of the human body are explained by changes and movement of qi."
That chapter continues by specifying the sources, production, and types of qi. There is Yuan qi [primary qi], Zongqi [pectoral qi], Yingqi [nutrient qi], and Weiqi [defensive qi]. Here is a sample of that section: "The zang-fu (internal organs) and meridians possess their own qi. Originating from yuanqi, zongqi, yingqi and weiqi, the qi of the meridians is a combination of the qi of food essence, qingqi inhaled by the lung, and essential qi stored in the kidney. The qi of the meridians, therefore, is referred to as zhengqi (vital qi) flowing in the meridians."
I hope this extract from an authoritative acupuncture textbook conveys the reality that Chinese doctors think of and experience qi as a subtle substance, not as some kind of radiant energy that just shoots everywhere.
(It would be a whole other discussion to bring in quantum physics and "e = m csquared" about matter just being energy collected in little balls that only look solid. Then the subtle substance that makes up the whole universe is an undifferentiated energy after all.)

Also, in Chinese medicine there is healthy qi and there is pathogenic (diseased) qi. During my Beijing hospital training in 1988, after he got to know us and saw some basic competency from our schooling in the USA, one of our professors taught us to feel the pathogenic qi leaving the body during acupuncture. This is a routine ability for modern doctors of acupuncture in China, not some rare esoteric training. However, it was not taught in any classes at my American acupuncture school. From my hospital internship in China in 1988, When the flow of "bad" qi tapered off to nothing, that was the moment to take out the needle.
When we foreign students tried to perceive the qi, it didn't take too long to notice a sensation over the needle, which was something like a gentle breeze, or like someone blowing lightly on one's fingertips. After a while it was not there anymore. Dr. Ji verified that we could not feel it any more because it really was not there any more. The pathogenic qi was gone from the patient's pericardium channel. Plus, she felt better.

Then again, I won't deny that some authoritative qigong teachers do use the word "energy" as a translation of "qi". But might it simply be that their translators or interpreters have told them that it is a translation that Westerners can accept. For example, a newspaper account in English of Master Wan Sujian's recent teaching trip to Malaysia (August 2011)does prominently use the terms "energy" and "life force".
http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=%2F2011%2F8%2F9%2Flifeliving%2F9125932&sec=lifeliving . But since Master Wan lectures only in Chinese, all I know for sure is that his interpreter likes to say "energy." Whatever the language, it looks like a fine time was had by all. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.204365472947189.69379.194242347292835

American qigong scholar and teacher Kenneth Cohen writes a lot about qi in "The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing". He extensively defines and describes qi and generally just uses the word qi throughout the book. Yet Chapter One starts simply with "Qi is the Chinese word for 'life energy'. According to Chinese medicine,qi is the animating power that flows through all living things. A living being is filled with it. A dead person has no more qi -- the warmth, the life energy is gone."
My emphasis here is to observe that Ken is careful to make the reader notice that qi is something special, a technical term. Not just amorphous energy, whatever we might be predisposed think "energy" means, but "life energy" which is something in particular.

Here is some additional professional level suggested reading:
For a thorough social and political chronicle of qigong in modern China (not how to do any particular qigong):
Professor David Palmer, "Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China." Columbia Univerisity Press, 2007.
Only in a hardover edition, list $40. After reading once, you might not feel the need to keep it on your bookshelf. So, try your local public library for an interlibrary loan or rarely you might find a used copy at Barnes & Noble online:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Qigong-Fever/David-A-Palmer/e/9780231140669?cnd=6 .
For a survey of concepts of Qi in ancient Chinese literature, art, and medicine, have a look at: "A Brief History of Qi" by Zhang Yu Huan and Ken Rose, Paradigm Publications, paperbound $25. This book resulted from ten years of research and is rich with history and rare illustrations. As early as page two, the authors disclose that the most scholarly dictionary of Chinese characters records 23 distinct definitions for the word Qi.

Does anyone need charts of the acupuncture meridians? I can provide links or downloads.

Eli Jacobe, Lic.Ac.
ATLANTIC ACUPUNCTURE WELLNESS
2 Magnolia Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
tel. 978-525-2255 www.AtlanticAcupuncture.com
AtlanticAcupuncture@yahoo.com