In the Chinese martial art of tai chi, there is a maxim that states: “The chi flows where the mind goes."
Your attention focuses your life energy. Being aware of your thoughts and how you focus your attention is an important step in creating the life you want for yourself.
What is Chi?
Chi is life energy. Your body is a mixture of water, chemicals and chi. Chi is the essence that makes you alive.
In traditional Eastern thought, wellness comes from a properly balanced flow of chi; illness comes from an unbalanced or blocked flow of chi. For example, the ancient traditional Chinese medicine art of acupuncture uses needles in specific body points to unblock and re-balance the flow of chi.
How is Chi Used in Tai Chi?
You have probably seen people practicing tai chi. It looks like a very slow choreographed dance routine. These tai chi forms, or successions of movements, are designed to activate the energy field of the participant to promote a healthy and balanced life. You can think of this as an exercise routine for your life energy.
While doing a tai chi form, the practitioner uses visualizations, breathing and body movements to guide the chi flow within and around the body.
The practitioner is taught to focus their attention on the very next move in the choreography. The attention guides the chi, hence: “the chi flows where the mind goes”.
As the practitioner performs the prescribed body movements, his or her attention has moved throughout the body and the chi field, activating the flow of energy. By the end of the form, the participant's energy field should be balanced and flowing healthily.
To do this, the practitioner must have a disciplined mind to correctly focus their attention, and to control their breathing and body movements.
What You Think, You Create
“The chi flows where the mind goes” is an extremely simple description of how your attention focuses your life energy. Where you focus your life energy is what you create in your life.
This is a fundamental idea for living your life with energetic awareness. How you think is reflected by how you live your life.
If you focus your attention on the idea that your life is screwed up, then your life is screwed up.
If you focus your attention on the idea that you are strong, intelligent and capable of overcoming the challenges in your life -- then that is what you are.
If you constantly focus your attention on the TV set, then you are living your life watching TV. (I’ll give you a hint: you weren’t put on this planet to watch TV all day).
It’s All About Energy
Your life is energy. Your spirit is energy. You eat food so that your body can convert it into energy. You get paid money for your work, which is a symbolic exchange for the energy you exerted for the actions you performed. You live in an energetic world where people, organizations and societies compete for energy. There are winners and losers.
Understanding your energy, the energy of the people around you and how you energetically interact with your environment is an easy and practical way to understand how the world works, how you work, and your place in the world.
Be the Master of Your Mind, Not Its Slave
It is important for you to control your mind -- not the other way around. Take a moment to close your eyes and be quiet. Notice how you may have a zillion thoughts going on at once. Where do they all come from?
Most of our thinking patterns, what we believe and how we act was created by conditioned response, just like Pavlov’s dogs. And much of these programmed patterns were created when we were small children. We are actually like robots, and we are too often using outdated software.
The difference between you and a robot is that you have a soul and chi. When you live only by conditioned thinking, you are living like a robot. But, you have the ability to live from a deeper place. The problem is that most of us have not been taught how to do that.
The key is to take back control of your thinking. This is like a cowboy breaking a bronco.
Your External World Reflects Your Internal World
Awareness is the first step towards making any sort of change.
Look at your current life situation. Are you happy with it? What you see on the outside is a reflection of what is happening on the inside.
Is your life calm and peaceful? Is it chaotic and out of control? Are you making progress in your life or are you stuck? Are you surrounded by good people? Are you happy? Are you fulfilled?
Take a some time to sit down, be quiet and observe your thoughts. What do you think about at any given moment? Do you have more than one stream of thought? Are your thoughts repetitive? Chaotic? Calm? Stable? Predictable?
Strive to make the connection between your thoughts and your current life situation. Writing down notes and doing this quiet sitting exercise several times is useful.
Here are a few examples of how negatively focused attention can create negative outcomes:
- Worry: Worry is a useless act. It accomplishes nothing. When you are worrying, all you are doing is focusing your attention on your fears. You are feeding your fears your energy, as opposed to using that energy to take actions. If you can not take action, then accept what is and focus your attention elsewhere.
- Vices: When you focus your attention and energy on vices, you are not doing anything constructive. You are wasting that most precious of commodities -- time. Vices tend to be addictive, and therefore you become enslaved by the vice. It sucks your life force dry and you accomplish nothing in life. (This is not to say that you can not have physical pleasures, but moderation is the rule). Here your energy is spent outwardly with no real return on investment.
- Obsession: Extremely repetitive thought patterns are also a waste of energy because nothing is accomplished. The same thought goes around and around. If the thought had been productive, you would have taken action upon it. You would not keep having the same thought over and over. Here the energy is circling around in your head with nothing to show for it.
- Aimlessness: Without a goal, your attention drifts and your energy dissipates. With no plan, your attention has nothing to focus on and your energy is wasted, accomplishing nothing.
Take Small Steps to Make Changes
To change your life, you need to change the way you think. To do that, you need to be aware of how you are thinking, and you need to find tools to help you overcome your conditioned thoughts.
I highly recommend meditation as a starting point. Learning to calm down your mind is a great first step. I have posted some article here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here about how to get started meditating. Also, you can search in your community to find a teacher or a group that will give you the support you need. You can also contact me here.
There are also many other techniques to gain control of your mind which I will talk about in this blog in the future. This is a huge topic. For now, just sit down and be quiet for a little bit of time everyday.
One Step in the Process of Change
Awareness is the first step in the process of change. Meaningful change takes time and effort.
Understanding your energy, the energy of the people around you, and how you energetically interact with your environment is the foundation of the work I do with my clients. I have found that this approach is easy to understand, practical and successful.
If you would like to have help you with the process of making significant, meaningful and positive life changes, you can contact me here and we can set up a time to talk online via Skype, or face-to-face here in Kyoto.
Remember, you can change your situation for the better if you choose to do it, if you commit to doing it and if you take action.
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