What does it mean when a person standing across the room from you waves his arms in your direction and you begin to feel like a giant inflatable Santa Claus being blown up for a holiday display?
You marvel as your normally twisted torso is pulled into alignment and you get taller and rounder as everywhere you expand and fill with tingling.
This happened to me recently in a guided meditation class. The teacher, who is a Chinese medicine practitioner I’ve been working with, had offered to do an energy demonstration, and I had volunteered to be his subject.
He started out holding L-shaped dowsing rods in each hand. When they crossed as he walked towards me, he said that marked the edge of my energy field. Then he had me hold his smart phone. My energy field, as defined by the dowsing rods, shrank considerably. It grew larger again when he had me hold a black chunk of rock called tektite in the same hand as the phone, tektite being a rock said to protect against the effects of cell phone radiation.
My doubting mind was not impressed. How could I be sure that it was my energy rather than his conscious or subconscious intent that was affecting the dowsing rods he held in his hands?
But I could not deny what I felt when he then began waving his arms in my direction before walking towards me with the dowsing rods to demonstrate that my energy field was now even larger than it had been at the start of the demonstration.
The tingling and the sense of inflatable Santa expansion were very real—and I don’t think I produced those sensations with my mind because I had had no expectation that I would feel anything. As I said, my mind was in doubting mode.
The sensations were unique, although I have had people send energy into my body a number of other times. Twice, a teacher extended a soft white cloud around me; several times, massage therapists have sent energy down through my body from the top of my head; and even more times than that, I’ve held my hand between the hands of an energy practitioner and felt it go limp as my body filled with a subtle presence.
But this particular incident was both strong and recent, so it is on my mind. I have so many questions about it. Such as why I felt the results of his arm-waving so keenly when he was standing across the room from me when I’d felt nothing a few weeks previous, when he waved his arms in a similar manner as I was lying on his acupuncture table.
Would I have felt the same sensations if I had not just had an acupuncture session, which might have somehow made me more receptive? What might one of the other students in the class have felt? Indeed, what might I have felt 10 years ago, before I developed an awareness of energy through the practice of qigong?
As well, was the energy just that—energy—or was it a particular kind of energy, even as simplistically particular as being either positive or negative? Might it have been stronger or more narrowly targeted? Might it have somehow affected me even if I had not felt it? Might it have done me harm?
In thinking and writing about this experience, I realize that I was probably “inflated” without realizing it during a Lotus Nei Gong seminar I attended in Toronto in November.
We were learning some exercises known as dao yins, which are designed to purge toxic energies from the body. This involved stretching, twisting, bending, and holding static poses seemingly forever, trying to relax while trying to no, not stretch, just expand, trying to let our connective tissue do the work instead of our complaining muscles.
Most of the time, I had my eyes closed, but sometimes when I opened them, I would see the teacher, Steve Galloway, walking amongst us students waving his hands the same way my acupuncturist did the other evening.
I did not attempt to figure out whether his arm waving correlated with people falling over and planting their foreheads on the floor or breaking into a zombie run to the nearest wall, although I did wish from time to time that I would go to the floor or the wall, too, as it looked more comfortable than the stretching thing.
I now think that maybe Steve did send me an energy wave, only instead of falling or making a break for the wall, my legs began shaking, quite dramatically, up and down, and then my hands began shaking, too, as I continued to hold the particularly twisted posture I’d been in.
And yes, I do know that this sounds more like being in an asylum than at a seminar. However, I was not alarmed. I had been to two seminars taught by Lotus Nei Gong founder Damo Mitchell and was quite used to seeing people fall to the floor in response to energy rising up in their body. And I had read about the sort of shaking I did. Indeed, once, years ago, I had walked up behind my former taiji teacher as he was doing standing meditation and had seen his legs vibrating as wildly as mine were.
When I told Steve afterwards that I was disappointed that I hadn’t fallen or made a run for the wall, he told me that he never did either of those things during his own training, and that he thinks it’s mostly people younger than he was during training, and certainly way younger than I am, whose bodies need to do the falling and the lurching to a wall.
And so now I have more questions about the energy I have felt, or felt the effects of.
Is it the same energy that taiji masters use when they barely touch someone and send him or her flying across the room? I’m guessing so, although perhaps the taiji masters use energy that’s stronger and more focused than what I felt as I was being blown up like a plastic Santa. And I’m sure they use it in accordance with principles of taiji, such as “listening” for where the opponent is off-balance and then redirecting their momentum with a simple touch.
As well, is this use of energy what is meant by “direct transmission” within internal energy arts? I always thought the term referred to something mystical, something beyond describing. But perhaps direct transmission simply means that at just the right time in the student’s training, the teacher gives the student a non-specific energy boost that helps them push through something or go over the edge to a new level of energetic development.
And, is this the same energy used in qigong healing and, if so, is the healer simply giving the patient’s body an energy boost with the intent that the patient’s body will use the energy as is needed? I find it hard to imagine that a hand-waving healer could attain the specificity of an acupuncturist with hair-thin needles.
I have been grateful when I have experienced energy being sent into my body by a teacher or a healer. It has always been interesting or instructive or has made me feel good, even though it has never seemed to stick around or create specific change. I am also grateful for the energy I believe I received at the seminar, even though at the time I thought it was my own energy that was producing the shaking, not energy from someone else, and even though I’m not sure that my energy body is now any different than it was.
Hmmm….. If my hands and legs could start vibrating wildly because of energy someone was sending me without my recognizing it, what else might my body do as a result of energy I might receive unawares. And are there energy masters out there who can not only inflate but also deflate other people with or without their knowing it? Energy vampires, as it were….
So many questions. Too many questions, I guess. Questions that make me feel I’m losing my mind because I can’t seem to get my understanding or even my questions organized. No doubt this sort of questioning is depleting my jing (although that’s the subject of a different post).
But I remain enormously curious. I want to know more. I want to feel more. I want to understand more. I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble….