Pedram Shojai, aka The Urban Monk, shares how to practice Qi Gong to read and clear your energy fields and bring forth renewed health and vitality.
When I was in the thick of my martial arts training, my teacher would have us go into the mountains at night during a new moon. We would spend a short time meditating and then go for a walk along the trails. The lesson was to soften the eyes and learn to see the energy fields of the plants around us. At first, the whole thing sounded crazy. It was dark, and I was stumbling around, wondering if I’d ever grasp this pseudo-Jedi nonsense. I kept trying to see with my eyes and was frustrated.
The lesson was to soften the eyes because seeing with shen, or spirit, requires a more passive form of vision.
Slowly, I began to relax into it and started to see ‘fuzzy stuff’ on the tops of the plants. Of course, I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me and I was just seeing the plants themselves or the reflections of city lights. After a while though, I started to see fluctuations in the patterns of this energy.
It was almost like the fields shifted as I approached, in an acknowledgment of approaching life-forms.
I conducted this training for many moons until the vision of energy fields of living things became commonplace for me. I could then start to see the energy in the daytime as well. It is incredible to see how powerful an energy field looks in undisturbed nature as opposed to in a city setting. It is as if all the life energy synergistically comes together to compound into a bigger field. I started to see the distinct energy fields of forests and mountainsides, while a particular valley would be alight with its own unique “vibe,” and I would watch the energy shift throughout.
I then started seeing the same phenomenon in people — when they would come in contact with certain people or groups of people, their fields would grow and get stronger. It was as if the entire group had its own characteristic field around it. I also learned to see the opposite. Some people’s fields would quickly shrink around certain individuals or when speaking about a sensitive topic.
Night walking began to take on more and more meaning. I was getting so good that I started trail running during the new moon. This was intense because I couldn’t afford the luxury of a single thought or I’d turn an ankle or fly into the bushes. It became a powerful meditation tool and forced me to be aware and awake because my life actually depended on it much of the time.
I share this story because talking about energy fields is interesting, but it is nothing but talk until you experience them yourself.
I was way too intellectual and in my head about this until I actually learned to see it for myself. The occasional flash here and there could be attributed to many things, but being able to do it on call was what really rounded out my knowledge of the matter. It became an experience instead of a belief.
The Human Energy Field
As a human being, you have a positive ‘yang’ pole at the top of your head and a negative ‘yin’ pole in your perineum (the base of the spine), as well as smaller yin poles at the bottoms of the feet that dip a couple of feet into the ground. The poles create an energy field around your body, with internal ‘stars’ along the spine contained within. These concentrations of energy cascade down like the descending colors of a prism or a rainbow, beginning with white, moving to violet, and going all the way down to red at the base. These internal ‘stars,’ which are called chakras in the Indian tradition and dantiens in the Chinese tradition, represent the areas where the energy of all Creation is differentiated from the crown, which is the highest vibration, down to the root center, which is the densest or most earthly vibration (see figure 1).
The goal is not to ignore the base centers and run to the crown; rather, it is to bring peace, understanding, awareness, and, most important, balance to each of these centers.
The harmonious flow of our energy field enhances life and nourishes the brain and internal organs. Any problems with this flow, or impedance, cause breakdowns in this network and lead to ailments on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels, all of which are reflections or octaves of the same energy. Each chakra represents a different archetypal aspect of the human experience, and many of our life lessons are to be learned by harmonizing these centers.
We start by forgiving and healing the wounds and perceived assaults that have driven us to create the defense system we refer to as our “ego.”
In our ignorance, we take this primitive defense mechanism and apply it to various aspects of our lives, effectively cutting off the free flow of energy available to us. This vital energy flows through nadi (Indian) or meridians (Chinese), which carry it through the entire body and literally bring life to every cell of the body through a comprehensive network of channels. The scope of this network is beyond this book (many great books on this subject already exist), but it is important to know that any energetic blockage will be reflected somewhere in the body, and it will usually hold a mental and emotional charge with it.
The smooth flow of blood and energy in our body helps make our energy fields dynamic, as their intensity varies with time. The human energy field is an accurate reflection of the inner workings of the physical body and mental processes. In fact, all emotional, spiritual, and physical phenomena will be reflected somewhere in this field. We often feel and see lulls and dips in these fields after meals or with the rise of certain emotional content in our lives. In fact, energetic attachments are often trapped in our fields, blocking the smooth flow of energy throughout our body. Herein rests the core issue.
Unexamined emotions and memories that we are not currently willing to deal with are often the cause of these blockages.
So how do they do it? These memories and emotions get stored in our bioelectric field (this includes our physical body, which is simply denser energy) and act as a dam, trapping more energy behind. They await a release, which can be very difficult, as it requires us to focus our attention on the dam with forgiveness and love. For now, know that we accumulate these blockages throughout our lives, and these frozen energies are what cause further suffering today. They cut the vital current of our energy and literally make us weak and sick by reducing the free flow of our energy field.
The good news is that you can learn to detect blockages in your field and use certain exercises and techniques to correct the flow of energy. Once you learn to read the signs in your energy field, you can open yourself to a vast inner language of communication within your body; this inner language has always been going on under the radar, but you’ve likely been mostly blind to it.
Once you get an understanding of this system, you will expose yourself to a subconscious mind that has been anxious to communicate with you for years!
It has always been sending you signals in the form of tingling hands, hunches, sudden headaches, the chills — essentially whatever it can do to get your attention. Once you learn to finally listen to this internal language, you will begin to complete a powerful circuit of personal communication and connection to the Source. It is through your subconscious mind that you will begin to interpret the language of your energy field.
Below is an exercise to guide energy to certain places within the body.
The Triple Burner Exercise (Wei Gong/Qi Gong)
This exercise uses a series of dynamic standing postures with breathwork and guided visualization. The triple burner exercise is an effective health set that teaches you to use your shen (spirit) to guide your energy to certain places within the body. With sustained focus, you will learn to heal yourself and to bring the light of awareness to different body parts. This is your first venture in guiding qi internally.
Stand in a basic wu chi posture: The feet are shoulder-width apart. The hands are off to the sides with a bit of space under each armpit, palms facing behind you. This practice uses what is called “four point” balancing, where you balance your weight on the balls and heels of each foot. Touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth and breathe in nose and out nose to the lower dantien (energy reservoir).
POSTURE 1: UPPER BURNER
Organs to clear: heart, lungs, pericardium, glands in the throat
- Hold your hands in the “tree” position up in front of your chest.
- Keep breathing in nose and out nose to the lower dantien.
- Stay with your four-point stance throughout this entire exercise.
- Start breathing to your palms and feel a white light emanating from the center of your palms into your upper chest.
- Simultaneously, reflect this light back from the upper chest to push against your palms.
- Feel the exchange of energy between the palms and the chest. Shift your attention to this area but keep breathing to the lower dantien.
- Stay here in this posture until you feel that all the energy in this region is fully cleared before moving to the next posture. When you can sense only clean energy and white light that is when you’re done.
POSTURE 2: MIDDLE BURNER
Organs to clear: stomach, spleen, liver, gallbladder, upper intestine, pancreas
- Move your hands slightly lower to the level of the lower sternum.
- Continue the same practice as in the first posture, until you feel that this level is completely clear of any blockages.
- Remember to inundate the area with pure white light and to really focus on the exchange between the palms and the torso.
POSTURE 3: LOWER BURNER
Organs to clear: kidneys (in the back), bladder, intestines, sexual organs
- Move your hands slightly lower to the level of the navel.
- Continue the same practice until you feel that this level is completely clear of any blockages.
- Really focus and clear as many energetic blockages as you can find in the gut region.
POSTURE 4: KIDNEYS
- Move your hands behind the back with palms flat and facing the ground behind the kidneys.
- Connect the light coming from your palms with the earth.
- On the inhale (in nose), visualize liquid white light coming up from your feet and your palms all the way to the crown of your head.
- On the exhale (out nose), push this energy back down into the earth through the palms and feet.
- Continue to draw energy up to the crown on the inhale and back down into the earth on the exhale for several breaths.
- When you feel like your body is free and clear of any blocked energies, take a long exhale out of the mouth and move to the closing sequence.
CLOSING SEQUENCE: SELF – MASSAGE
- Rub from the backs of your shoulders (one at a time) down the outside of the arm to the pinky with the opposite hand and then back up the thumb side into the chest.
- Circle and rub your heart region and then your lower dantien.
- Rub your kidney region on your back with both palms.
- Rub down the backs of both legs while bending forward and then rub up the front while standing upright again.
- Tap your lower dantien (three finger-widths below your navel) three times with both hands.
With continued practice of this exercise, you will develop clarity of mind and a clean energy field. This is a critical skill to help you grow and understand your essential nature. When you stop identifying with the “noise” and clean your energy field, you become more and more aware of who you truly are. This is one of the most liberating things you can do for yourself.
You may also enjoy practicing our Best Self Yoga Flow for Flexibility and Relaxation with Carter Miles