Life is the blaze of the furnace: Spontaneous Qi Practice – Day 15 – 16


Another two quotes from the Qigong teacher Hui Xian Chen and Katsugen author Richard S. Omura. Blog posting frequency and my Spontaneous Qi log – days 15 – 16

This is a continuation of my 30 day spontaneous Qigong Trial. For a primer of what this trial is all about, click here.

Practicing and Logging

Before I started this trial, this practice and log was originally intended as an accompaniment to the longer article that I was writing on Spontaneous Qi.

What has happened is that this trial instead has taken priority – especially the writing of these blog updates. My longer piece of work, of which I had already written over 10,000 words on has been put on hold.

I considered reducing my blog posting, but a colleague told me that regularly doing updates is a way of accountability – to show that I am not skipping a day. Also I think these logs are a good primer or introduction to the larger piece of work that I will release at the end of this trial.

I don’t intend to skip a day, but as I am still only on day 12 (at the time of writing this), I still have some way to go and I haven’t done this kind of 30 day trial before.

With some advice from my friend and colleague, I am going to keep up the regularity of posting but keep the blog entries a lot shorter – probably around the 750 word mark. I still may do a few days logs in one posts. I’ll see if that works.

I still like the idea of reflecting on my process and including quotes from other qigong authors, so I will still aim to include some of that, as I feel it helps provide some context to what I am doing.

Another quote from Hui Xian Chen

So on that note, I wanted to add another quote from Hui Xian Chen’s book – Life is Always Smiling: Stories from my Life. 

In my Day 6 log, I talked about her life. She first started learning Qigong after being diagnosed with breast cancer in her middle age. She’d had a difficult life up to then.

Qigong heralded the start of her second stage of life. After healing her cancer, she then moved to America and played a major part in establishing the Souring Crane system of Qigong there. This particular system also incorporates spontaneous qigong movements.

Here is a quote from her book on the importance of suffering in life:

Life Itself is the Blaze of the Furnace

“There have been many suggestions put forward on how to achieve peace of mind.

First, become aware of the purpose of life. We are all spiritual beings on a human journey.

We all come to this planet to learn about life through our experiences; we are likened to a rock that contains gold. If you want to be tempered into pure gold, you have to burn in a furnace. The fire of the furnace will burn off the stone, turning it into ash and leaving only the pure gold. Once you are tempered into pure gold, you will never again be like an ordinary mineral.

Life itself is the blaze of the furnace. Problems in life arise and present opportunities that will do us good. Be they financial problems, health problems, or emotional problems.

If your life problems are perceived as tests to go through, one can be content and deal with them with great patience and a light heart.”

Life is Always Smiling, by Hui Xian Chen

There is a deeper meaning behind all suffering. Though, on our conscious physical level of understanding, a suffering experience only looks as it appears – suffering.

Applying filters

But this is a subjective interpretation of what we see as suffering. As the situation is undesirable, we apply a negative interpretation to it. We see it as a sign that the universe hates us. We say things like ‘bad things always happen to me, because I suck’. And so on.

As per Chen’s quote, the one thing in life we do have control over is our interpretation of events. We would do better to apply a different subjective filter to life’s difficult events, such as “Life itself is the blaze of the furnace”

If we apply the subjective meaning that these events occur for a higher reason or as “tests to go through”, which “will do us good”, we can break that way of thinking that the universe has got it in for us.

I am paraphrasing Steve Pavlina. But it is more constructive to apply the subjective filter that the universe “is an ally”, acting to help us along the way (even if it is not an enjoyable experience). And that everything that happens is designed to help us grow and develop our potential – either financially, physically or spiritually. This is a far more productive interpretation to install on events, than ‘my life sucks, therefore I suck and it will always suck’.

Acknowledging that the Universe is our friend

In order for our total being to acknowledge that the universe is a friendly, loving place to be, we have to experience the universe’s friendliness and love with all aspects of self; physical, mental and spiritual.

Many people find this hard to do. Why? Because, to fully experience love, friendship, truth, and all the transcendental attributes of higher reality, we must first remove out of the way such fearful attributes as distrust, guilt, closed mindedness, envy, hate, hame, cynicism, and other manifestations of negative experiences we might have had in the past.

In order to accept and appreciate the positive universal values that are being constantly bestowed upon us, we have to be open and free. We have to be in a state of acceptance. As the masters of Zen say, “one cannot receive with a clenched fist.”

Katsugen: The Gentle Art of Wellbeing. Richard S. Omura

Smile at life’s problems

I had a recent interview with my Genkiko (Qigong) teacher Hiroki, as mentioned in my Day 8 log. I asked him how can we deal with difficult situations in life? He said:

“You should always smile at all your problems in life and say thank you very much.”

Mind you, we were in a pub at the time having a good time with beer. So I suppose that can make his advice seem more positive.  But sometimes simplicity is better and more to the point.

Perhaps this advice seems unrealistic when you are facing major challenges in life. And it is fine to go into a hole of despair. Clarity can come from withdrawal. But you can’t hide in the pit forever. So when you emerge, a different perspective can help move you forward in life and through the difficult situations.

How I should interpret my reality

We would like to have a life devoid of suffering. But difficult experiences are a part of life. So should we resist them, or consider applying the mindset that suffering has a greater purpose in our lives?

In my current situation, things are not as I would like them – financially, careerwise, home or even with extended family relationships.  These are the externals, which I seem to have no control over, I am advised by my wife not to pay attention to these and focus more on inner mindwork. And with this trial and my writing, this is one way I am doing so.


In the present moment, things can look really hard with no solution. But in a year or two’s time, a person will look back and the situation will be different. You will attribute meaning to it based on hindsight.

So the only thing you have control over in the present is how you react to events. It is also important to not keep demanding a better situation. Instead let go of ‘importance’ or to quote Valim Zeland – to ‘not attribute importance to an event’, otherwise, it will likely avoid you, leading you to think of the negatives again and how much ‘you suck and your life sucks’.

Spontaneous Qi Logs

Day 15

Yesterday, I was more aware of the spontaneous qi effect flowing in my body as I was out and about. It was a very mild effect. For example, when I was in the park with my son, I could feel some Qi movements in my fingers and so I let them flow a little as it is not so apparent.

I think if I was to start shaking up and down or maybe dancing like some jungle Shaman, I might get some odd looks from the other mammas.

I take this as a positive sign that my Channels are activating. Whether it leads to anything, I don’t know yet.


Today I had a few stops and starts to my practice as I had things to do. Sometimes it can be a little challenging just to get the 10 consecutive minutes done.

My movements are becoming more refined. Today, I mostly carried out a kind of circular arm movement (bringing the qi to the dantian). The movements were slow and measured. Interspersed with the occasional body shake and some side-to-side bending again and some finger shakes. As I did the arm movements, it felt a little like a Tai Chi movement with the sensation of Qi in the arms.

I have read that as you practice more, the spontaneous movements will become more refined as the Channels open more and the Qi has a smoother flow. So I consider these refined movements to be a good sign of progress.


I have been feeling the spontaneous Qi movements more often during the day and when out and about. For example, whilst driving, I could feel some spontaneous qi flow in my fingers. I decided to let it flow and gave my fingers a wiggle as I went along.

Also while I was waiting at one place, I could feel the Spontaneous Qi movements in my feet and hands, so I subtly let them move a little. But obviously not too much as it is a public place.

Today was another heat wave, and I felt very tired today. I have a challenging life situation at the moment, but I am working on keeping a positive mental attitude and in particular my new thing is – ‘looking for the one positive thing in any situation’, even if it is a negative or bad thing.

Looking for the positives

It’s an interesting exercise to do, because sometimes, its hard to find something positive. For example, last night someone in the local area had lit a garden fire, probably to burn some garden waster. It’s kind of an inconsiderate thing to do in a densely filled place like London. The smoke filled the local area and as there was a heat wave, people would have their windows open or laundry out. So in that situation, it’s a mini challenge or even a bit of fun to find the one positive thing in that.

Sometimes, the one positive thing doesn’t even have to be rational or make sense. I just thought – ‘Ah well, the smoke will help purify the air, kind of like incense’. I know it’s a little dumb, but it’s better to say that, than to complain.

Attempting to change perspectives

I think this approach helps me work through difficulty situations. I still have some daily regrets about a poor work decision, I made last year. I really wish to let it go and move on. So this is something for me to think about. I suppose I need to apply this – ‘looking for the one positive thing’ aspect to it.

And when I apply this exercise to my situation, it is possible to find many good things, which is kind of interesting. On the other hand, I find that in the morning, my default setting is set to look for the negative when I awaken. And then during the day, I start to implant positive interpretations as best I can. So the real challenge is in trying to reprogram my default setting to be focusing on looking for the positives in any situation. Perhaps that could be the subject of another 30 Day trial.

But for now, I’ll work on this current 30 Day Spontaneous Qi Trial.

Day 16 Log

Today’s practice had similar movement to Day 15. At one point, I wondering if I should take these movements a bit further. However, I reminded myself that the purpose is to complete this 30 day trial and not explore how deep the spontaneous movements can go. And with that, I was fine.

There were some different movements at the end of my practice, just to make it more interesting. I did some bending over and reaching with arms outstretched upwards. It is kind of like a ‘reaching for the heaven’ Qigong exercise, for want of a better name. It was carried out gently

Obviously this kind of exercise is good for the waist and provides a gentle exercise for the lower back. I assume it helps open up the Bladder Channel and helps the Kidneys.


Then at the end, I took a few deep breaths. I do recall reading the book called Katsugen, which I have quoted from in this blog post. Katsugen is a name, which I believe refers to Spontaneous Qi.

In that post, the author says that taking a deep breath or yawn at the end of the exercise is a good sign of freeing up the bodies energies.

I have a habitual shallow breathing pattern and I am Lung deficient, so this exercise was good for me. However, then it got more interesting. I felt compelled to make a humming noise kind of like a native American Indian. It was not a very loud voice, but it did feel pleasant to do. I performed some more bends while making this humming noise.

The lungs and voice box are a part of our body like anywhere else, and I am sure the Spontaneous Qi movements will activate through these areas just as much as in the limbs or torso. I have had a similar and stronger experience in the past.

Reflections on thoughts, mirrors and our reality

Last night, I must have been in a semi-dream state. I seemed to be thinking about ‘thoughts and the universe’. Perhaps this is because yesterday, I had just edited a blog post about how every thought is significant and impacts the world. For that post, I had quoted Irina Twedy’s statements about this.

To conclude, I will post some statements for the reader to reflect on.

  • We are energetic antennas. We put out and we receive. Our thoughts are our energetic messages.
  • Out emotional state is like a battery. The more charged an emotion, the stronger the message can be.
  • Every thought or word we have has significance and impacts our reality.
  • Our external situation is a mirror of our internal state and mind.
  • Self awareness and reflection is the awakening state.
  • Our default setting is what mirrors our external word. It is like a kind of computer program.
  • If we can  reprogram our default setting, the external world output will change. We have to discover what our default setting actually is, otherwise any kind of external change will not work to alter our actual environment.


Life is Always Smiling: Stories from my Life, Hui Xian Chen

Katsugen: The Gentle Art of Wellbeing, page 30. Richard S. Omura


Picture Accreditation

Japanese Garden Pond – Silvia L├╝thi.



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