A few years back, when I was an assistant in one of Brendan Thorson’s Yi Ren Qigong classes in Seattle, a student observed that Brendan and I were wearing shoes, while all of the students had theirs off, the better to feel the energy of the earth.
“Why are you wearing shoes?” she asked.
“Because I prefer wearing shoes,” said Brendan—and, indeed, I had never seen him without shoes in the many classes I had taken from him before he offered to let me assist.
And then Brendan added that if you can feel qi at the top of an eight-story building, the sole of a shoe isn’t going to make much difference.
(I don’t remember Brendan’s precise words, but I am certain that it was an eight-story building and can only wish that I remembered other, more important, things as clearly as I remember that the building had eight stories, not nine, and not seven.)
I have thought of this of late because, while I lived in a single-story house when I was Brendan’s student and during the rest of my Yi Ren Qigong training, I now live on the top floor of a three-story building (four, if you count the garage).
And I must confess that when I moved here five weeks ago, despite what Brendan had said, I was a tad worried that my growing sense of being grounded, of being connected to the earth, might suffer a setback from practicing up here amongst the trees.
But it hasn’t.
I don’t know why this is. I don’t know if feeling grounded is about gravity (and when you’re talking about gravity, three floors or even thirty don’t make much difference) or if it’s really about my own qi, which is with me wherever I am, or if it’s because of both of those things or maybe something else.
But I have had some wonderful practices up here in my third-story aerie—with and without shoes.
AFTERWORD: I asked Brendan to read the above portion of this post. He replied that actually, he remembered what he’d said as more like, “When your feet get really energetically opened up, then you understand what it feels like to be grounded and connected to the earth, and you can connect to the earth with your shoes on, and you will also be able to connect to the earth from the 80th floor of a skyscraper just as you can from standing directly on the earth.”
Hmmm…. So was it eight or 80? What did Brendan actually say? Did I mishear, or misremember? Who knows? But I liked what Brendan remembered better than what I remembered, so you have this Afterword.
And at the end of the day, we can all most certainly agree that grounding is good….