Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Power of Jewelry

pendant3The wearing of jewelry has come up, perhaps improbably, at a number of Yi Ren Qigong seminars.

Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun has recommended positioning belts and necklaces to protect vulnerable energy centers and has advised choosing stones whose energy will support us, with turquoise and jade getting particular mention. He has also told cautionary tales of people getting sick as a result of wearing jewelry that carried negative energy from previous owners.

This always seemed a bit far-fetched to me, more like the stuff of gothic novels than real life.

But of late I have felt a certain sensitivity at the sternum, and since Dr. Sun had talked about connecting with earth energies through jewelry at a recent seminar, I thought that maybe, silly though it might be,  I’d try wearing some sort of necklace. Continue reading

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Qi as Holy Spirit

A pleasant surprise in reading “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi” was seeing this quote from a book written by my former taiji teacher Martin Mellish, who’s now living in China:

“In his book on Tai Chi imagery, Martin Mellish writes that if there were one translation of ‘Holy Spirit’ into Chinese, it would simply be Qi.”

I was delighted to see Martin’s name in print. I also liked the quote, which I’d quite forgotten since reading the book several years ago.

When I e-mailed Martin to tell him he’d been quoted, he sent me the full passage, which I like even more:

“The Chinese term for the breath, chi (qi in the modern Pinyin transcription system) also means life, power, vitality, and energy. This use of the same term to mean both ‘breath’ and ‘life’ is one of the aspects of the Tai Chi tradition that has been most enthusiastically adopted in the West.

“Strangely, few seem to have noticed that this same overlap of meaning is also common in Western languages. The words for ‘breath’ in Latin (spiritus) and in Greek (anemos or pneuma), also mean ‘the spirit of life within us: that which animates and inspires us’. The words ‘spirit’, ‘animate’, and ‘inspire’ used in the previous sentence all have Latin or Greek roots meaning ‘breath’. The word in the New Testament usually translated ‘Holy Spirit’, pneuma, in the original Greek simply means ‘the breath’. If we were to translate ‘Holy Spirit’ into Chinese, the best translation would simply be ‘Chi’.”

Oddly, perhaps, I like this passage not because it gives me a better understanding of the word “qi,” or “chi,” but because it gives me a way to relate to the term “Holy Spirit,” which is one of many religious expressions whose meaning I’ve never been able to grasp.

I know what breath feels like, and I know what qi feels like, and through my qigong practice, I have come to understand why one might attach the term “holy” to these feelings.

So, thank you, Martin.

NOTE: To go to to read reviews of Martin Mellish’s book “A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook: Spirit, Intent and Motion,” or to purchase a copy through my website, click here.

OR: To go to to read reviews of “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind,” click here.

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Filed under Spirituality, Taiji

Rx: Take Two Taiji Classes and Call Me in the Morning….

It’s almost a rite of passage. You reach a certain age, and your doctor or the doctor in the AARP magazine tells you that you should be doing taiji, whether for high blood pressure, poor balance or one of the myriad other consequences of stress and the passage of time.

You’ve seen people doing taiji on TV or in a park, and it looks so relaxing and easy that you decide you’ll sign up for a class and give it a try—whereupon you discover that what looked so relaxing and easy is going to take consistent effort to yield much benefit.

You’re going to have to learn a sequence of movements called a form, which will take many months, maybe even a year, even if the form is called a “short form.” You’ll have to go to class pretty much every week, not just when it works with your schedule, as people seem to do with yoga, because you’ll be forever craning your neck trying to see what the teacher is doing if you haven’t learned the sequence.

Plus, the teacher will keep harping on things you weren’t aware of and didn’t expect you’d have to deal with, like the fact that you lock your knees when you stand and scrunch your shoulders when you raise your arms. Continue reading


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