08 September, 2011

Unharnessing your Chi

Chi is an interesting concept which, unusually for me, I have done very little research on. Usually if I find something curious, my need-to-know kicks in, and I hit the books. Or the internet, as it's usually MUCH more convenient than any book ever.

I was first introduced to the concept of Chi as sort of a levin-bolt type attack. In cartoons when I was a kid, some angry guy would get all focused and intense on the imaginary pet mousie he always keeps to hand, and then throw it at someone, in a round furry ball of white flames.

Seriously, that is exactly what I was seeing, and I couldn't quite understand the mechanism, mostly because hardly anybody can actually see the round furry balls of white flames in real life. I certainly can't.

These days they show the actual pet mousie, but in my youth we did not have Pikachu.

But I absolutely knew the feeling, even at that age, when I had not yet actually wanted to grab somebody by the shoulders and slam their head into concrete. Ahem.

Now, I am not sure that the energy humans have available to fling around metaphysically at each other actually has the power of causing damage. Unlike sticks, and stones, and words. It is a very interesting question, which I am not going to go into fully here, except to say that the surgeon harms to heal.

What I really want to get at is how I used this idea of Chi, later in life, to deal with feeling like a round furry ball of white flames.

This is a feeling I frequently have! I have constantly been trying to deal with this feeling. Feeling all wound up makes it very hard to relax, something I enjoy quite a bit. And sleep, which I can not live without.

I tried to identify what this feeling meant before I tried dealing with it, and I don't regret that journey one bit. My post-solution conclusion is that I did not have enough satisfying work.

I did find a way for dealing with the feeling that I ought to be doing something before I figured out what I actually wanted to do. And not having to deal with that feeling of unresolved tension or anticipation, or focused chi, if you will, gave me more space to figure the satisfying work part out as well.

So I imagined this concentrated ball of energy that I both felt (low down in my abdomen) and identified with (I am a furry white flaming ball of intensity). And I imagined it getting smaller, and smaller, and disappearing, and that did not help me at all.

If you've never heard of Boyle's law, you aren't missing all that much, but I love that I came across it in Red Dwarf. Which is an old series from the BBC about the last man alive, 3 million years in the future, almost totally alone out in deep space. I probably also came across Boyle's Law in Physics classes, in highschool or college, but it did not make a great impression. It is part of thermodynamics, which are cool.

And the upshot is, if you've got a seething inferno of potential energy, cramming it down into a smaller space does not relieve the pressure, it dramatically increases it.

This meditation tool I called harnessing your chi, and is a valuable tool for focus, and getting through a difficult task.  And this is not something I needed help with.

So I fiddled with my imaginary ball of furry white flames, and I let it get bigger, and bigger, and pass out of me, and, presumably, dissipate in some way.
I do not care about the metaphysical consequences of this thought exercise. I doubt it is actually hurting anyone, like the levin bolts in the cartoons of my youth seemed to. And what I'm doing is not the same as that metaphor. I am not firing bolts. I am letting off steam.

(Edited to add: since writing this, I have been thinking that I might want to try some other meditation exercise for dealing with feeling like a bomb about to go off, because of some boring weirdness, but as I don't feel as much like a bomb in the last week as usual, I'll probably slack off on finding something else.)

I still would really like to look up chi someday, and I highly recommend that anybody who knows something about it share the wealth, as it were. It's totally fascinating! Laboratory studies would be cool! Though I'm not sure it's amenable to the tools we're using for science right now. Measuring data and analyzing data are totally my other favorite.

But if there's data we don't have the right tools to measure? Science can not help.

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