Of all the things I learned studying with Sifu Lew, there was one that really stood out – everything is energy.
This understanding didn’t come from listening to him talk. In fact, he didn’t talk much. The first six months of studying with him, I only recall him saying three things:
The first of these three responses was, “That be alright.” At the time, his English was not as refined as it later became. But the meaning was clear. He always said this in response to specific questions. It essentially meant, “Yes, that’s fine.”
The second was, “No, no, no.” Obviously, that’s when we were doing something incorrectly. I heard that one a fair amount.
The third was, “You practice.” Sifu did not spend much time explaining things in those early days. He knew, and was teaching us, that the real learning comes from doing. As Musashi says in The Book of Five Rings, “The Way is in the training.” Indeed.
The result of this non-verbal training was that we got to directly experience what the exercises and techniques were teaching us. Nothing was abstract. Everything was direct experience.
All of the training was centered on the qigong practice. As I practiced, it became very clear that the way I had previously experienced the world was very, very limited. I had come to believe that the way to know the world was by thinking about it, more than by experiencing it.
These exercises changed that. They opened awareness of an interesting sensation. Initially, the sensation was mostly in my hands. It felt like a very slight tingling that had a flowing quality to it. This was my first awareness of what the Chinese call, “qi”, meaning vital energy.
After a while of practicing, that qi sensation got stronger. I began feeling it over my whole body at times. And I began noticing how other people’s energy was (or wasn’t) flowing.
This awareness became more refined in the healing class. He called the technique, nui kung gee liao. This was later referred to as medical qigong. It is the art of sensing and rebalancing someones energy using qi and intention (shen).
Every Tuesday night we’d meet for class. Apparently the word got out about it and we had anywhere from 5 to 10 people come each week for healing sessions by students.
At the start of each class we would put our chairs in a circle. There would be an empty chair in the middle of the ciricle. Sifu would invite one of the people who’d come for healing to sit in this chair.
Then he would ask the students to tell him specific things about the health of the person in the center chair. He’d ask, “How is their heart? Their liver? Their stomach?”
Understand that we were 6 to 8 feet away. But we were expected to be able to sense where there was excessive or deficient energy in the person. We focused on acupuncture meridians as well as directly on organs to perceive what was going on.
For my logical, rational, left-brain-centric mind, this was totally outside the box. But before long, I found I was able to perceive differences between parts of the body. And even more interesting, I discovered that it is possible to rebalance energies that are not balanced.
A whole new world was opening up to me. But as amazing as that was on the outside, even more amazing things were happening on the inside.
Until next time…
All the best for your health and happiness,
Dr. Bruce Eichelberger