Language Of Energy

Energy is Life, but a Language of Energy does not exist in the West. To discuss the experience of Qigong we need an 'Energy Language'. Language gives us both a means of expressing and communicating meaning, experience, and sensation, and a way of understanding these things ourselves.

Without an Energy Language we have no way of describing and understanding our energy, or how to work with, control or develop it. Without an Energy Language we are limited to vague, amorphous words and strange gestures, instead of having meaningful, interesting and stimulating dialogues. Without an Energy Language we cannot discuss it with others or compare it with another's experiences.

The way in which someone learns how their energy feels is by first doing a particular practice and then paying attention to the effect, and thereby getting the feedback. In this way you will build-up an Energy Language vocabulary and will slowly and gradually create your own internal library of memories and records of how this feels. Doing the practices, reading the sensations, and remembering and recording them, is the best way to learn. It requires a passive and receptive attitude of mind.

This section proposes an 'Energy Language', to initiate and stimulate a dialogue between teachers, practitioners and others, and to devise a means of talking about energy experiences so that people can discuss them in meaningful ways.

Language, any form of language - movement, sound, images... -is inherent in the structure, the hardware, of our brains; the important issue is how it relates to meaning, which in turn relates to our internal sensations and feelings. A language is a means of expressing and communicating internal feelings and sensations.

Qigong takes this one step further, by looking at how feelings and sensations are based upon our internal energy states. This could be simply described in the following diagram, which operates in both directions:

Language > < Meaning > < Sensations and Feelings > < Energy State

To develop a useable Energy Language in the West we need to describe the meaning of the sensations and feelings of various energy states in simple, common and familiar Western terms.

The following is a proposal for an Energy Language of sensations and feelings, based upon classical Chinese principles of our energy anatomy and physiology, and upon principles the author has found to be true through personal practice and teaching.

The four components of an Energy Language are:

- The Five Elements,

- The Percentage Scale, and

- Volume Control.

Yin Yang

Yin and Yang are the two basic divisions of everything. They are the polarities. Someone mainly knows something by comparing and contrasting it against something else. Although there are numerous ways that this could be defined, the three major categories discussed here are Quality, Movement and Position.

Sensations of Qualities:


Light Heavy

Empty Full

Weak Strong

Dull Tingling

Murky Clear

Dark Light

Sensations of Movement:


Still Moving

Sinking Floating

Falling Rising

Stuck Flowing

Contracting Expanding

Sensations of Position: YIN YANG

Bottom Top

Below Above

Down Up

Right Left

Front Back


The above are terms of quality, movement and position which describe something in relationship to its opposite - its Yin and Yang aspect.

The Language Of The 5 Elements

The 5 Elements, which are sometimes also known as the 5 Phases, are basic to the Daoist way of looking at the world. They are a way of understanding the essence of something. They are not in comparison to an opposite, but a description of their own basic irreducible nature.

The following is a description of the 5 Elements and the related organs, temperature, color and direction.






Organs: Liver Heart Spleen

Gall Bl Sm. Int Stomach

Pericardium Triple Heater

Lungs Large Intestine

Kidneys Bladder

Temp: Color:

Warm Green

Direction: Right

Hot Red Up








BlueBlack Down

The two components of Yin Yang and 5 Elements constitute the foundation of a language for describing your sensations.

For example:

A sensation can feel light, rising, strong, clear, on the right, warm and green.

Or, heavy, sinking, full, at the bottom, murky, cold and blue/ black.

Or, flowing, yellow, on the left, mild, smooth and tingling.

Any combination of sensations is possible. It is important to pay attention to the experience of a sensation, and how it could be described in words. When it is put into language, it can be remembered and recalled.

The Percentage Scale

In addition to the above two aspects of classical Daoist thought there is another ability our awareness appears to have which is most important in assessing a sensation or feeling. This is the ability to discern and distinguish relative proportion as a percentage. It is like having an internal "scale" from 0% to 100%.

This is intuitive, but in the experience of the author it is extraordinarily accurate. People know what is going on inside themselves, how much there is of a particular sensation, because it is they themselves who are experiencing it, and although it is subjective there is no other way to assess it. During Qigong practice a person should trust their own intuitive sense of this.

This can most easily be described in units of quarters, with a scale ranging from 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75%, 75-100%.

However, it is also easily possible to assess it in finer distinctions - 15%, 37%, 62% etc.

A person can "read" the amount of energy or sensation in any given place with their mind. They can then divide it up and hold it, using their mind, in different places for different percentages e.g. put 25% of your attention in the hands, 25% in the feet and 50% in the navel. Now divide it equally in thirds, and put one third of our concentration into each of our Three Tan Tien!

In Qigong we can decide what level of attention to direct to any given area, and how long to maintain it there.

Volume Control

We all have the natural ability to change the volume and intensity - the power - with which we do something. Just as it is possible to touch so lightly that its difficult to discern if we actually touched at all, it also possible to use maximum force and power - touch "as light as a feather" or "like a sledgehammer". Try this yourself, now. Because the mind moves the energy, a person is able to instantaneously decide and modulate the intensity with which they do something.

This is important because when someone begins to do Qigong practices it is best to do them lightly and quietly at first. Too much volume or intensity and it may be too much to easily handle, or create undesired side effects. If this happens then turn down the volume, 'back off', decrease the intensity. Later, slowly increase it step-by-step, staying within the limits of comfort and capacity, until the desired or appropriate level is reached.

So, combining Yin and Yang, The 5 Elements, The Percentage Scale and Volume Control provides a basis for a language of energy.

A person learns what a particular internal sensation feels like by doing the practices, and putting it into words. In this way they can build a vocabulary and lexicon of energy, and begin to learn its grammar. They begin to learn the language of energy. Try thinking in these terms and discuss your experiences with others. The questions then become "What kind of Energy?", "Where is it?", "What is it doing?", "What is the difference between one kind of energy and another?"

The foregoing are working notes on ways in which a Western Energy Language can be proposed and developed. If we can develop such a language we can talk and learn and share together about one of the most important and fundamental parts of ourselves - our energy - to everybody's benefit.


A Complete Toolbox

Qigong can be used for many purposes and all kinds of reasons. It is like a toolbox in which there are many different tools, all with different applications. Some of them are simple and straightforward, while others are so complicated that you need specialized instruction from someone who is trained and experienced. It is as important to pick the right tool as it is to understand the method of using it.

Generally, the more simple and broad-based something is, then the more people who are able to do it; the more refined and specialized it is, then the fewer people who are interested in it or who can gain access to it. Millions of people can do simple standing postures which require minimal instruction, while only the very select few are initiated into the higher levels of Inner Alchemy in the monastic tradition of spiritual cultivation.

A Compendium Of Applications

The following is a compendium of the applications of Qigong. Some of them may seem so obvious or mundane that you may question why they are being stated; other things may seem quite fantastic, leading you to you wonder how they can be possible.

Qigong Meridiane


There are many applications of Qigong for fitness. Saying that you are using Qi for fitness in China is like saying you use muscles for exercise in the West — it is nonsensical to try to separate the two. Long established in the East at all levels of society, from morning "stretches" to full workouts, this form of exercise is swiftly entering the mainstream in the West. There are classic sets for health and fitness — self-massage, The Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin), The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi), Wild Goose Qigong, Flying Crane Qigong, Swimming Dragon Qigong — specific exercise sequences each with its own purpose and benefits.


There seems to be little history of competitive sports in China, but in recent years this has mushroomed, especially with the 2 008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Qigong will become widespread in the fields of sports and athletics in the West because the energy system underlies everything - strength, power, flexibility, stamina, endurance and speed. In the arena of professional sports such attributes are the very currency of exchange. The 'Best' win the prizes. Every newspaper has a sports section, and sports reports appear on every TV news broadcast. For some people it is the very purpose of their lives. So, it would hardly be a surprise if Qigong, which improves every aspect of physical performance, suddenly appeared everywhere. After all, it would only take one Gold Medal/World Cup Winner, or one Super Star or Head Coach, to attribute their excellence and success to this strange Oriental movement and meditation stuff, for everyone to start doing it... with their kids.

Martial Arts

The martial arts are particular to the East. Although all other cultures have fighting forms, in China they have been elevated to a national preoccupation. Following the arrival of the Buddhist monk Ta Mo from India, around 500 C.E., at the Shaolin monastery, the monks began to cultivate physical strength through the Muscle and Tendon Changing Training and Bone Marrow Washing practice (which uses methods to clean accumulated fat from the center of the bones and thereby produce plentiful clean, fresh blood cells— one of the "secrets" of longevity.) They also developed

Iron Shirt training, in order to be able to withstand hard blows without damaging essential internal organs. Practitioners demonstrate remarkable feats of strength and ability. Another application is in Tai Chi Chuan, the flowing "shadow boxing," which was used for combat and fighting.

Health and Healing

Of the many applications of Qigong, this may eventually become the most widely known in the West. There are a number of forms and styles. "Medical Qigong" and "Qigong Healing" are performed by a practitioner who transmits their energy to a patient. These styles depend on a comprehensive working clinical knowledge of the meridian and energy system, as well as the principles involved in Oriental diagnosis and treatment. "Exercise prescriptions" are given for particular illnesses and diseases. Chinese Qigong medical books are full of these exercises and practices. Qigong is a term that can be used to cover many different forms of therapy, but Acupuncturists, who are now widespread and established, may well become the vanguard of a new generation of Western Qigong Healers.

Sex is one of the most compelling and perplexing aspects of life. In the Oriental system, one's sexual energy is associated with the primary motivating energy, the biological, animal level of our being. This is known as Jing, which is one of the Three Treasures — Jing, Qi, and Shen. The retention and cultivation of Jing is seen as essential in order to progress to higher levels of energy and spirit. Qigong can open up this new world of sexuality. There are two aspects to developing this sexuality — "solo cultivation" and "dual cultivation". As implied, solo cultivation is practiced on one's own, dual cultivation with a partner. Qigong can develop sexuality from the primary biological level, through the emotional level to the cultivation of the spirit. This is described in more detail in Part II, the accompanying practice and training document.

Qigong for Longevity

One of the most common stereotypes held of China is that of the "wise old sage." It really is difficult to know to the nearest decade how old some Chinese people are. Longevity is one of the great prizes in China, and it shows that you have understood the Dao and lived it. In China it is said that if you died at 120 then you died young. It is not necessary to become ill just because you have grown old - instead, it depends on the quality, volume, and purity of your essence, energy, and spirit — your Jing, Qi, and Shen. This cultivation and preservation is one of the higher purposes of practice.

Qigong Power
82 years old, and on top of her world

Extraordinary Human Abilities

It is widely recognized that certain people have highly developed psychic and paranormal abilities. There are people who can do things for which there is no obvious explanation within the currently accepted laws of physics and science. In attempting to understand the mechanisms involved with extraordinary abilities, one needs to understand that they are operating at a higher level than our normal sensory perceptions and experience. While there are only limited sensations and experiences we can normally perceive with our sense organs, extraordinary human abilities are related to being able to perceive at broader, higher, and finer levels. Through Qigong practice and cultivation it is possible to "tune" our sensory apparatus to higher frequencies.

Spiritual Development

Spiritual cultivation is part of all cultures, and each society has its own ways and means of approaching it. Many cultures protect their spiritual secrets, and often these are esoteric and only revealed to the initiated. Within Qigong these esoteric practices are known as "Inner Alchemy", and they are practices that develop heightened states of being. Many means have been used to protect this knowledge, and it is only relatively recently that ancient texts have become available in the West, and that Eastern teachers have been passing on their knowledge to selected Western students. In order to cultivate the spirit body, Daoist monks refine and purify their bodies, thereby raising their energy bodies to a higher frequency and volume.


The pursuit of Immortality is a basic theme of Qigong. It is rooted in the most ancient traditions and goes back to the earliest shamanic tradition. The actual procedure, which is kept very secret, involves condensing the energy-body into a "pearl", which then enters into the Immortal Realm. This pearl is the condensed essence of what we are, the purified stuff of the universe that we each have inside us, the spark of starlight that we call "life." The spirit or essence can then be trained to leave or re-enter the body, through the Qigong point called Bai Hui, at the top of the crown, while the physical body remains in deep meditation. When it is time to finally leave forever, then the practitioner has complete control over the process, and can choose the exact time at which to depart. The pearl/spirit then leaves the body for good, and the physical body "dies."

Applications In Summary

The above is an overview of the general categories and applications of Qigong - for Fitness, Sports, Martial Arts, Health and Healing, Sex, Longevity, Extraordinary Human Abilities, Spiritual Development and Immortality. Each one is used for its own specific reasons, and each has its appropriate place. It's all a question of what is applicable and appropriate for whom and when.

There are parallels to Qigong in all cultures, and definitely so here in the West. Qi is an essential part of our being and it may be unknowingly cultivated anyway - there are saints and holy men and women in every culture. The key is to find out what is appropriate and right for you, now, and take it from there. Hopefully this brief guided tour of the applications of Qigong has at least mapped out the general territory. ***************

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  • berhane
    Can qigong open up your meridian?
    7 years ago

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