"Discovering Qi (Chi), I connect deeply with nature and become aware of a powerful new way of being and perceiving." –Roger Jahnke, The Healing Promise of Qi
Are you creative? Steve Chandler taught me that if you ask a group of kindergarteners to raise their hand if they believe they're creative, every kid's hand will shoot up. "Me! I am!" Well, my hand would have stayed put. By then, I had already decided that I didn't know how to draw, couldn't mold clay into anything worth looking at, and my Lego® and Lincoln Logs® constructions all looked the same every time I scattered them on the floor or table.
In high school, my father confirmed my lack of creativity. "You have no imagination! You take everything literally." Even in graduate school, by which time I had written several songs (one shot down by a CBS/Sony executive at the 1984 Northern California Songwriters Association Conference so quickly that it took me almost a decade to recover), if you asked me if I were creative, I'd have said, "Not really." And this despite receiving a beautiful letter of recommendation from the Director of the U.C. Education Abroad program, specifically for my "creative synthesis" of XXXX with an original song." (I still have the letter, hence the accurate quote LOL.)
While at Monterey Intstitute's MBA program, I remember a professor asking us to list some "creative" industries. My girlfriend immediately came up with "Advertising," a nice choice since we were both interning at an ad agency at the time. I remember thinking, "Is advertising really creative?" Of course it is. And of course I was creative. And you are too. We ALL are creative, but it may take some discovering to get there. The first step toward greater creativity is making the "discovery" that you are creative.
A Master Performer
I "discovered" Qi (or "chi," depending on who's writing the word) back in 1994 in Nakano, Japan. A hand-made flyer at the JR Nakano station invited the public to Qigong, Tai Chi, and some kind of "healing" sessions that took place right across the street from my new office. I decided to check it out, first with a "healing" session that was, to say the least, bizarre.
Four of five of us "patients" (clients? dupes?) climbed up on tables, the kind used for massage or physical exams. The lights dimmed, and the "Master" mumbled some mumbo-jumbo, then wandered from table to table, moving his hands near (never touching) our bodies. Years later, and looking back, having gone to and read about more than a few reiki sessions, I am pretty sure the Master was performing a type of reiki on us, but he never used that word.
And the key word here is "perform." For that Master (name withheld due to my lack of memory and desire not to disparage him publicly in any way) was a true performer. A former actor, he hung Bruce Lee-type movie posters in his office alongside his Chinese medicine bona fides. At these "healing" sessions, there wasn't too much performing going on, but you should have seen the demonstrations he would give after either a Tai-chi session. They could have been right out of the Shaolin Temple with David Carradine himself as the star. Students would "fly" across the room in what looked to me like either excellent acting or hypnosis, or something else. In any case, it certainly was something else! Those demonstrations are what ultimately led me to only join 5 or 6 more sessions and not stick with it. They were just too much.
But back to the healing and discovering Qi, and then, I promise, we'll get to "discovering creativity." After each of two or three of those "healing" sessions, I felt a tingling all over my body, very similar to what I'd felt after a couple of acupuncture treatments years prior. Nothing earth-shattering, but a general good feeling I've come to learn is generated by endorphins, the body's endogenous morphine. I'm not at all sure how he was able to transmit that energy without needles. At least I wasn't sure at the time. Now, I almost understand the process even if I have yet to master the technique. ("Transmitting Qi," as you'll see later, is the 10th of the 10 Phases of Qigong as taught by Roger Jahnke.)
The master spoke only a smattering of Japanese and English. He had three items on his menu: Healing sessions, Qigong classes, and Tai Chi practices. He did those throwing performances after the Tai Chi practices, and as I said, they unnerved me a bit, so I skipped Tai Chi. Qigong interested me more, so I attended several more of those sessions. At my third session, at one point he had the class close our eyes and imagine a ball of energy between our partially outstretched arms. Unbeknownst to me, the Master had approached and, standing right in front of me, took me by the hands and slightly adjusted my arms to a higher position. Or was it lower? I don't remember that part.
What I do remember, and can never forget, is that at that very moment of contact, I felt what seemed to be an electrical charge course through my body, and suddenly, my arms down through my hands felt like two electro-magnets. I could "play" with the field between my hands. For the rest of the class, I completely ignored the Master and other exercises, so enchanted by this discovery, and I just played with that "electric" field. Not as bizarre as the throwing performances, but this was still pretty far out there, and as much I was was intrigued, I didn't like the Master's showmanship and a what seemed a cult-like following from some who joined, so I stopped attending altogether, only occasionally finding and playing with the energy field on my own.
Over a decade later, on Koh Samui, Thailand, I met San Bao, a German Qigong (he writes it "Chi Kung") teacher. Very down-to-Earth, San Bao explained that he had studied under Daniel Reid, who had taught several movements/exercises/postures (often referred to as "standing meditations"). San Bao provided other resources, and I eventually found my way to Roger Jahhke's Healing Promise book quoted above. Jahnke's book is an "A to Z of Qi (Chi)." The second part of the book describes 10 Phases of Qi (Chi) cultivation: Discovering, Gathering, Circulating, Purifying, Directing, Conserving, Storing, Transforming, Dissolving In, and Transmitting...Qi (Chi)! The energy that is in and makes up everything, including, and perhaps beginning with, fundamental creativity.
Qi and Creativity
My creativity, and equally important, my belief in my creativity, took major leaps after realizing, after finally discovering, or uncovering, the creative energy inside and recognizing that every activity can be injected with creativity. I'm stating the obvious, but I'll put it this way: If something (anything) wasn't there, and now it is (whether that something be a business, a painting, a song, or even a sentence), it took some act (or acts) of creativity to bring that something here. I just used "sentence" as an example, right? This very sentence is being created by typing on a keyboard, and I have no idea how it's going to end, even as I write it; and yet, you are following, "here" with me, using your creative brain as well, going along for the ride. We are in creative dialogue, at least in my mind. And it's nothing short of a creative miracle!
Discovery is where it all starts. Discovery of anything. For me, the important step of Discovering Qi (Chi) put me on the path toward more creativity. And there's always more to explore. Which we'll be doing in the second of this series, "Gather!" coming soon.