An extract from an old Qigong journal article from China. Interviews with qigong masters discussing what the energy Channels (Meridians) actually look like using the third eye. What they look like in health and in disease. How they are affected by acupuncture stimulation…
Qigong and Sport Magazine (from China)
Some years ago after I had experienced my first spontaneous qi activation effect from a treatment with Miro Baricic, I scoured the internet for information on spontaneous qigong. It was also at this time that I came across the John Chang documentary.
A few years later, information about Dr Skakov and his spontaneous qigong activation ability was to emerge. However, this was not available to me back then. So, at the time, there really wasn’t a lot of useful information out there. A few small articles or forum hits but nothing particularly detailed on the phenomenon of spontaneous qi activation.
Fortunately, I did come across one article that I found very insightful. I preserved it and in this article, I will discuss it briefly.
Temporal nature of the Internet
Whilst the internet is a vast source of information, it has an element of transitoriness and flux about it.
I recall reading really interesting websites years ago in the early days of the net. However, when I later tried to find those same articles, I would not be able to. The websites were no longer in existence and that useful content had disappeared… forever. It may be the case that some websites are still there, but with all the new algorithms being introduced by Google, they are simply buried beneath hundreds of MSM pages.
In this regard, even information has a limited lifespan and so we should seek to preserve it as best we can. It is this awareness that led me to preserve this insightful little article about qigong. At the time, I sensed that there was a risk that this article would not last forever and so I decided to copy the text and save it as a PDF file. Perhaps, I knew that at some point I was going to write this particular article and I would need that information as it was quite valuable. Since then, it had disappeared from the internet. Until now.
Qigong and Sport Magazine
The article in question came from an article in a Chinese edition of Qigong and Sport in the 1990s. it was translated into Russian and then into English.
In this article, qigong masters from different schools, all shared their understanding of the Energy Channel System. Interestingly, many of their accounts are quite similar.
Aside from discussing spontaneous qi, they also talk about being able to perceive the energy channels in the body due to their developed qigong abilities. One point of interest is that can had the ability to see disease by looking at the body. I have surmised some of their points below with some basic discussion. The original PDF text is at the end of this article in the references.
The System of Energy Channels and Qi Circulation
In this article, one of the teachers talked about how they held a session of Qigong where many patients began to perform spontaneous Qi movements. One of the ladies in the practice suddenly stopped abruptly and stayed stuck in on particular position. The teacher discussed her case:
“Once we were doing a group session of qigong therapy with external qi emission. During the session many patients began to perform some spontaneous body movements. One lady ceased her movements abruptly and “petrified” in a rather extraordinary posture.
In order to find out what was the cause of this, we had to use “penetrative vision”. It was found that although the wider channels were about 4-5mm in diameter and should not have been causing obstruction of the flow, the substance in the epicentre of her disease became almost solid. That was the reason why the lady was fixed in this posture.
After two days of continued practice her reaction on the external qi emission became normal. The “penetrative vision” showed that due to the stimulating action of the external qi, the flow of the substance through the affected area was restored.”
It is curious what this “substance” was that blocked the epicentre of her energy Channels. Could this be how disease manifests? Like an invisible seed. It starts as a small imperceptible blockage in the Channel, which distorts the natural flow of qi in the body. It sticks and becomes entrenched. Eventually after weeks or months, that blockage and distortion starts to cause more obvious physical symptoms. Then a perceptible, fully-fledged disease occurs. Could this be how the process occurs?
Just what is this penetrative vision the Qigong master talked about. I admit, I have never heard of such ability – to be able to see the actual Qi Channel pathways with your eyes.
In acupuncture, we assess the condition of the Channels by using pulse diagnosis, questioning or palpating the surface. Yet, I suppose these methods can be subjective as it depends on a particular practitioner’s ability and hence – at risk of inaccuracies. I would think being able to physically see the channels would be really useful.
Treating without seeing
My colleague Miro, the acupuncturist who was able to set off the spontaneous qi effect with acupuncture, did tell me something related to this. Some years ago he went to China and did a short training with a master of acupuncture and meditation. He told me of a conversation he had with one of the instructors:
The teacher asked Miro – “Can you see the Channels?”
Miro answered: “No”,
The teacher then asked him – “But how can you treat the channels, if you cannot see the channels?”
If you are an acupuncturist, it is worth stopping and digesting that question. We are taught to believe that you evaluate the channels based on the pulse and match that with your other diagnostic methods – looking, listening, smelling, asking, palpating.
Though you can gather a lot of information using these methods, it is still not 100% accurate. It can be affected by subjective interpretation as well as dependent on the individual skill of the practitioner. Also to be blunt, it is a little like (educated) guesswork.
This is why, different practitioners will come up with different diagnoses and treatments for the same patient – one of the issues that loses acupuncturists credibility in the eyes of Western doctors, who are taught to accurately diagnose diseases.
But what if you can actually see the pathways of the channels with your mind? if mentally you can go into a patient body and see exactly where that channel is blocked, where that diseased part lies, where that tumour is?
It would eradicate guesswork. That would be a useful ability to have.
Developing these abilities
This does imply that the ability to read the channel pathway is a skill that can be attained. But how do you learn to read the pathways?
Perhaps the answer is in this example…
Miro asked the same Chinese teachers how he could heal a chronic problem he suffered from. He had a sports injury from his kickboxing days that wouldn’t heal no matter what he did. It was a wound that at times would start to bleed, especially when he was going through stressful periods of life. During these times, he needed to keep it bandaged.
Miro asked the teacher: “How can I heal from this?”
The Chinese teachers told him: “Meditation. – You must meditate more”.
The key to this ability as well as obtaining ‘penetrative vision’ always comes back down to the same thing – meditation.
You must meditate to develop these abilities. You must meditate like John Chang in his cave. Like Buddha in the jungle. Like Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu. Meditation, meditation, meditation.
What are doing reading this? Get in that Lotus already and assume the position – Meditate!
Going back to this article, one of the teachers does state that you use the method of ‘penetration’ by utilising the ‘eye of wisdom’ – the heavenly eye between the eyebrows. We can take this to mean the 3rd eye chakra or yintang (acupuncture point). Which possibly implies that in order to utilise this ability, this energy centre – the 3rd eye needs to be open and active. Hence the need for meditation and hence the reason why the majority of practitioner will not be able to see the Channels. Including me.
What do the Energy Channels actually look like?
The teachers describe the thinner channels as “silver silk threads” and the wider channels as “striped of light”. They interweave to form a cobweb, which engulfs all the bodies tissues. So in a way, this description is similar to the circulatory system. Except instead of blood capillaries and arteries, it sounds more like network of lines of light.
The teachers also describe a cross-section of the channels as circular or oval-shaped, and sometimes irregularly shaped. The substance flowing through them is similar to the liquid crystals found in LCD displays.
Channels = fluid, Qi = light
Here is some other extracts describing the appearance of the qi and the Channels using the third eye:
“Energy channels exist in a fluid state and to the person who can use internal vision, they present themselves as light. This light is the qi itself. I observed energy channels as a fluid flowing into pre-defined routes in the tissues of skin, muscles, internal organs and fascia.
Without any external influence, the fluid moves slowly and the movement is almost unnoticeable”.
Zhang describes the Channels as having a fluid like structure or appearance. And it is the qi that moves the fluid.The qi appears to the practitioner as ‘light’.
My interpretation here, is that the light is not the Channel. It is the qi moving the Channel. But the Channels are themselves fluidic in nature. I would assume that if the qi (light) does not flow in the Channel at a particular spot than that Channel becomes stuck, like a stagnant pond.
I would logically assume, that if an acupuncture point lying close to this area of ‘stuckness’ was to be stimulated, it may move that qi to this area and essentially ‘dredge’ the stuck qi.
Master Lu Xuezhi:
“Energy Channels represent another vital system of a human being. In healthy people, they are transparent, free (of blockages) and full of light. In those who are exhausted and ill, the energy channels look drained, dried, fainted and “knotted”, and in the origin of diseases, plugs can be seen
The Channels of those who practice qigong are free, radiate bright light and filled with qi”.
So again we have a mention of the ‘plug’ – ‘a solid substance in the epicentre of the Channel, as in the earlier quote. It is the early manifestation of disease.
It is these ‘plugs’ in the Channels that need unblocking. Like pouring bleach down a blocked sink. Except instead of bleach, you’re using qigong or acupuncture instead.
Clear qi flow = light. Blockage of qi = dark
We also hear a second description of qi appearing as ‘light’ in the Channel. It does logically entail that a block, which would indicate disease, would likely appear as a dark spot in the Channel.
The author states this:
“In the epicenters of disease, the substance has highly dense and heavy texture, it is dark coloured and moves extremely slow, sometimes even showing signs of complete stagnation”.
So disease does appear as a “dark coloured” area, – an area where light (qi) does not penetrate.
Perhaps this is one way in which a Reiki healer heals. They lay their hands directly on the sick part and their reiki energy (qi or light) is emitted in the area where the blockage is. In this way, it can help alleviate the problem. Perhaps if the reiki healing is prolonged or powerful enough, it can eventually unblock that area.
There are other observations about the Channels and the flow of qi. For example, the substances in the Channels can also manifest as different colours from white to red, even purple. However, different teachers may see the channels differently depending on their own abilities and the extent of their ‘penetrative vision’.
The results of acupuncture stimulation on the Channels
What happens when you needle the Channel with acupuncture? The masters discuss this:
Master Zhang Xiaoyang:
“If we needle any acupuncture point, within a short period of time qi activates and its flow in the given area of the energy Channel speeds up. The qi in turn moves the fluid which starts moving through the passages of the energy Channels.
Once the fluid reaches the following acupuncture point, its movement stops for a short moment and during this time the point lights up like a little star. After that, the fluid carries on with its flow (through the Channel).”
It is apparent from this description that needling does have a significant impact on the energy Channel and flow of qi.
What is curious to me is that, the flow of the Channel seems important. The energy Channels are taught to us as flowing in a specific direction. The acupuncture points are numbered. For example, the Stomach channel starts in the had and flows down the front of the body and down the sides of the legs to the feet. Could this imply that it is beneficial that in order to treat a disease in one part of the body, you treat the related channel but earlier in the Channel flow?
How the Channel is stimulated also has significance
The authors also discuss how effects on the qi and Channels also varies depending on the needle technique used. If the point is stimulated strongly, it can speed up the qi flow more. Needling the ‘active’ point can affect its colour. Additionally, this teacher mentioned that the width of the Channels differs from person to person. And the depth of channels in a person’s body varies on its location.
Master Zhang Xiaoyang:
“In particular, applying various needling techniques, the width and the speed of the qi flow in the Channel will change. Speed of the qi usually increases with intense stimulation. In the case of broadening of the Channel, external stimulation of the “biological active” point leads to the change of the colour of the point’s radiance.”
The wide variety of needling techniques
There are several different methods of needling. In TCM, there is the basic tonification and dispersing technique. In Toyohari, there is a wider range of needling, including ‘contact’ or non-insertion methods. There are also different types of needles listed in the classic acupuncture text – the Huangdi Neijing. Additionally, there is also moxa – rice cone sized or large cones, that can be applied to the acupoints.
If we consider Zhang’s quote –
“…Applying various needling techniques, the width and speed of the qi flow in the Channel will change”.
We can assume that it is useful to pick the right needling technique for the problem. Or even we should use the right needle technique for the person in front of us. Some people’s Channels are of a different thickness.
Right technique for the job
Why – because this may explain why different people react so differently to different needle techniques. Some “sensitive” people get wiped out by TCM style needling, which involves heavier stimulation of the needle. Several acupuncturists were moved to train in Toyohari because they felt that TCM needling was just too much for them. They recognised that they needed to learn more subtler and gentler techniques.
Conversely, some people feel nothing from Toyohari non-contact needling.
This is why, it can be beneficial for an acupuncturist to learn more than one method and system of needling. TCM practitioner would do well to learn Japanese methods. Toyohari practitioners may do well to recognise that sometimes you have to needle deeply.
Just my own thoughts.
Healing the imperceptible
These kinds of descriptions do make me wonder just what is happening on the micro level when I needle an acupuncture point.
We work with qi, but many acupuncturist (me included) do not see directly just what is happening on the qi level. At best, we can feel it as a ‘to-qi‘ sensation (a kind of electrical sensation in our fingers – not the same as ‘de-qi’). Or we can make a judgement based on the colour of the patient’s skin, the pulse or their general feeling after needling. But to actually see the Channels and the qi flow must be really something.
But what of healing yourself and others…?
Lu Xuezhi talked in some detail about the condition of the energy Channels in a healthy and a sick person. For example, in a healthy person, the channels are transparent, free of blockages and full of light. However in a sick or exhausted person, the qi channels appear drained, dried or ‘knotted’. Also if there is a disease in the body, the channels in that area will contain “plugs”.
Can Qigong clear these Qi Channels?
According to Lu Xuezhi, they can. In people who practice Qigong, the Channels were described as being “free” radiating a bright light and “filled with qi”. This is essential because the channel pathways have a function in breaking down and expelling toxic substances from the body. The Channels also function to store vital energy, particularly for emergency use such as the need “to replenish Zheng Qi (upright Qi) or to ward off external infection.
What of spontaneous qigong?
Although, Lu Xuezh speaks only of regular qigong practice and makes no mention of whether spontaneous qigong can be beneficial for health, I feel that spontaneous qigong can be beneficial for opening up and clearing the channel pathways.
I think this is because it is the body’s own wisdom that is leading the process. The body immediately knows where the blockages are and will work on removing them.
Regular qigong is essential, kind of like taking your car in for a regular service. It keeps your Channels functioning at a higher level than people who don’t practice. According to this article, it widens the Channels. But in times of illness, when something has occurred, a more targeted approach may be useful.
This article provides an eye into what is going on at a deeper level within our Channels. We have no ‘scientific’ proof that what anything they say is true. If we apply the science criteria and filter, we have to reject it, because we have no scientific equipment that can see directly the Channels. With this, we are going into the realm of the energetic.
However, I believe these accounts. They make sense to me. Just because we do not have the scientific instruments to see the Channels does not mean they do not exist. They are simply beyond our perception. It may be that we need to have our third eye partially opened in order to see these Channels. In which case, this also takes us into the spiritual. However, I have read accounts of how there are certain unwelcome implications with having the third eye opened.
Why it is beneficial for our bodies to keep our energy Channels open.
Regardless of whether a person practices spontaneous qigong or regular qigong, it is good to know that benefit can come from either type of practice in opening up our energy pathways with either qigong or acupuncture.
The authors make it clear that in a healthy person, the Channels are wide, free, transparent, full of light. In a sick person, the Channels look drained or dried and “plugs” can be seen.
Disease processes can start a long time before symptoms manifest
It is recognised in Western science that some diseases, including cancer can start to develop many years before diagnosis.
On an energetic level, it could be that the very first manifestation of disease is this “plug” in the Channel.
However, to be clear, this “plug” is not the cause. The cause could be anything from faulty living, diet, smoking, excessive stress of excessive negative emotions like anger or grief. This then leads to the “plug” in the Channel – a distortion in the qi.
However, if that “plug” is not cleared, it sticks and becomes entrenched. It starts to grow and distorts the natural flow of qi in the affected Channel and stresses other channels.
Then months or years later, the problem remains unresolved, it moves from the energetic and affects the physical. Then obvious symptoms occurs – symptoms that can be picked up with current scientific diagnostic tests. But by then, it is too late for energy work to fix the problem. More extreme methods like surgery or drugs are necessary.
To end, I will provide a quote from the classical Chinese Medicine text – the ‘Huangdi Neijing’.
Digging a well…
“The sages did not treat those who were already ill, they instructed those who were not yet ill.
To administer medicine to diseases which have already developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty and of those who begin to cast weapons after they have already engaged in battle.
Would these actions not be too late?”
Regular self-healing practice
This article and these interviews teach us why it is useful to have a regular self-healing practice be-it qigong, tai chi, yoga, any activity that helps us mentally and emotionally or even regular acupuncture or massage.
To maintain a regular practice throughout our life can help keep us running in optimal condition and improve the conditions of our energy Channels. This does not mean that we can’t get sick. There may be other reasons for sickness, some out of our control. But by keeping a regular exercise program, we can increase our recovery ability. Or we are more able to avoid certain illnesses.
Access to the article
The rest of article also describes the micro-cosmic orbit as well as the opening up of specific channels. I don’t have the original magazine text (in Chinese). If anyone does, please copy and send me a PDF.
To see the article in full, click here for a PDF.
Worth a cappuccino?
I hope that the information I gather in this website can be a useful source of interest for people in the future on the topic of spontaneous qigong.
Or even buy me a coffee.
- John Chang: Encounters with Spontaneous Qi (6)
- Miro Baricic: Encounters with Spontaneous Qi (7)
- People who can set off Spontaneous Qi Activation (Amended)
Article (PDF): Qigong Masters Sharing their Views of Meridians