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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 2, Issue 17, 10/23/08

"Slow Down and Feel the Energy"

I've been thinking about energy a lot the past few weeks. Last October I went on a six-day qigong retreat and this year I did it again.

"Qigong" (pronounced "chee-gong") is Chinese and translates loosely as "energy work." It's considered the great grandfather of all the Eastern healing and martial arts and has been around for thousands of years.

During the retreat, I effortlessly memorized one sentence from the hours and hours of talks given by the qigong master, Chunyi Lin. It wasn't the title of this article: "Slow Down and Feel the Energy." But close. It was "You are loved – slow down and feel the energy."

"Slow down" has seemed like a good idea to me for decades. I can remember feeling rushed and too busy when I was 15. A mere 38 years later I took my first serious slowing-down action when I resigned from a more than fulltime job and started my life coaching business.

Life coaches are known for promoting good life balance, so I was glad that circumstances (plus some determination on my part) were allowing me to put my money where my mouth was.

Several years into my coaching business, I started to learn about the physical make-up of introverts, and the idea of slowing down took on a whole new life.

The introvert body is designed to move at a slower pace than the extrovert body. It's about how our nervous systems are set up to work with those long introvert brain pathways, those busy, thoughtful introvert brains.

So it was normal for me to be slower. It wasn't just normal – I decided it was my job to slow down! (Not an easy job but one I was up for.)

That qigong retreat sentence - "You are loved – slow down and feel the energy" – caught my attention. It stayed in my head and I found myself smiling when I thought about it.

The "slow down" in the middle was, of course, familiar. But in a new context, surrounded by "you are loved" and "feel the energy". I liked it and I was intrigued.

Master Lin frequently says that energy can be neither created nor destroyed but that it can be transformed. He often makes reference to Albert Einstein as the first one to establish that principle in the western scientific tradition.

In the world of qigong, feeling the energy, the qi ("chee"), is the name of the game. In qigong, qi is synonymous with "universal energy" or "life force energy." In the six days of the retreat, we spent hours every day tracking down, making friends (if possible) with our life force energy. The instruction was always to go as slow as we could.

"Slow down and feel the energy" is the way to do business in qigong. I imagine that's true across the countless different qigong forms in the world. For an introvert on a mission to slow down, a qigong retreat is a good place. (Especially if you don't mind tracking the elusive qi, which by definition makes up, flows through, everything in the universe.)

In truth, it was the "you are loved" section of my memorized sentence that made it stand out. I don't presume to understand this – and it may be inaccurate besides – but what I gather from my study of qigong, of Spring Forest Qigong in particular, is that life force energy in its pure form could be called unconditional love.

Maybe my sentence boils down to the idea that love is everywhere – the trick is to feel it.

I think of my favorite Einstein anecdote. Someone asked him, "What's the most important question?" And he answered, (not the exact quote), "The most important question is: ‘Is the universe friendly?'"

These days – home from qigong land and back in the regular world - my sentence still makes me smile. I'm working on slowing down and feeling the energy.

And I think the answer is yes – the universe is friendly.

End of food for thought – on to a practical idea:

A Practical Idea for Introverts and Extroverts

Memorize this sentence (if you haven't already :-): "You are loved – slow down and feel the energy." And check it out.

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