Tag Archives: energy

Caught Between a Rock and a Flute

Well, I’ve got the headline. It’s catchy enough, at least if people get the reference to “rock and a hard place,” and it does say something reasonably accurate about my life.

So I guess I’ve got to write the post.

First, the part about the rock. The rock is actually a hand-polished slab of dark green jade which I bought as a 50th birthday present for a good friend with whom I practice qigong.

When I bought it, I held it and thought I could feel its energy, and my friend and the third member of our practice trio thought they could, too, so my friend has been bringing it to our practice sessions in my apartment.

She lays it on the floor in the center of our triangle, and at some point during our session, my cat will get up from her heated cat bed and come over to nuzzle the rock. She’ll stretch herself out and rub her head against it. Once she sat on it as if she hoped it might hatch.

Because she will not do this with any of the other rocks I have offered her, I have concluded that the rock does have some special energetic quality. In other words, qi is! Even in rocks!

Meanwhile, though I continue to practice taiji and qigong, my fervor has abated. This may be a good thing, at least for the sake of qigong, where wanting too much and trying too hard tend to bring a person very little. (Sigh. This is sadly true in many aspects of life, including interpersonal relationships. The needier you are, the less you get.)

But I digress.

The thing that has been intruding on my fervor and my “discretionary time” is learning to play the Native American-style flute. A man who makes these flutes, plays them and teaches others to play moved into the community where I live, and about a year ago I bought one from him and committed to learning to play it.

I wanted a musical voice, and since I can no longer sing—I can’t hold pitch, and singing hurts my throat—I liked the idea of being able to sing through an instrument. Native American flutes can produce achingly exquisite sound, and they are easier to make sound good than, say, a cello, which I would also love to be able to play. (This isn’t to say that it’s easy to play a Native American flute really well or that, after a year, I believe I play really well—but I’m about to the point that I really enjoy playing and like what I hear when I do.)

Nowadays, most Native American flutes have six holes and are tuned to a pentatonic minor key. You can play in other keys on, say, a G minor flute, but most likely you’ll want to get a number of flutes in different keys. A bass E flute is a very different instrument from, say, a high C flute, just as a tuba is different from a piccolo. The pitches are different, but so is the quality of the sound.

Which brings us to my newest flute, a D# minor contrabass. It is a very large flute—43 inches with a 1 and ¾-inch bore—and it has a very deep voice. It is also difficult to play, despite having the mouthpiece on the side instead of the end so that you can reach the sound holes, because the sound holes are large and far apart. I am only able to span and cover the holes, and that just barely, because it turns out that I have a peasant hand. My fingers aren’t particularly long, but they are sturdy, and, perhaps more important, my palms are broad.

I cannot play this D# minor flute lyrically, because it requires too much breath to connect very many notes, but it has great rhythmic and percussive potential. However, the best part is the strong, deep vibrations which I feel throughout my body as I hold the flute across my chest and play it. I have started creating pieces of songs that are based on playing the lowest, most rumbly note like a heartbeat, lub-dub, lub-dub, then leaving that note for a pattern of other notes but returning again, and again, lub-dub, lub-dub.

I may now just have two hobbies, qigong and flute, but I am liking to think, particularly as I explore this new flute, that in the end the energy of the sounds I produce and feel through playing flute will connect with the energy that I experience as qi when I do qigong.

…and with the energy my cat feels from the piece of jade.


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Inflated for the Holidays and More Curious Than Ever

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. Continue reading

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Summer Listening

1093344_the_moonThursday evening, Yi Ren Qigong teacher Brendan Thorson said we were right at Summer Solstice and additionally were about to have a full moon—which meant that energies were running high in the world within and around us.

He said he usually felt heightened energy for a week before and after Solstice.

I thought, “Dang! I meant to pay attention to Summer Solstice, but it snuck up on me.”

It seemed too late to assess whether the changing of the seasons was affecting my energy, so I decided to focus on the moon, which was still two days away from total fullness. After all, even we westerners acknowledge that a full moon can have curious effects. A home health aide recently told me that at a nursing home where she’d worked, they always upped patients’ sleep meds when there was going to be a full moon.

So Friday night, I went for a walk at about 10 p.m. It was an almost clear night, and I could see the moon sitting all by itself up in the sky, looking mighty close to round, with its man-in-the-moon facial features quite pronounced. I live in a suburban over-55 community, and there is never much street action at night. So except for a couple of cars driving past, I had the streets and the sky to myself. It was very quiet, and very lovely, and I had a very nice walk—but nothing cosmic happened. Continue reading

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The Memories of Walls

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., my family often drove out into the countryside on Sunday afternoons. We’d pass abandoned farmhouses, sitting faded and forlorn amidst tall grass.

I lived in a modern, red-brick house on a street lined with modern, red-brick houses, but I loved those old wooden farmhouses, and I could never understand why their owners had gone away and left them to deteriorate in the sun and the wind and the rain. I would fantasize that the farmhouse walls had memory for all they’d seen and heard, and that somehow the lives that had been lived within those walls lived on in that memory. I would imagine people, conversations, dramatic scenes….

I never shared my fantasies with my parents or my sister because I knew they were just that—fantasies, driven by a mix of curiosity and escapism and somehow too personal and too ridiculous to share. I knew that walls don’t have memories any more than they have ears.

Or do they….

Maybe those farmhouse walls really did hold memories—not Hollywood-movie-like memories, perhaps, but energy memories, memories which nowadays might be termed “vibes,” good or bad or even ghostly. Continue reading

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