The Chinese word chi refers to our energy or vital force. In other cultures it is translated into prana (India) or qi (Japan). Developing chi can be a great way to heal your body on both a physical and mental level, as well as a way to reach your full potential. To maximize your life force, you'll need to work on your breathing and physical stamina, as well as develop your chi on an energetic and spiritual level.
Method 1 of 3: Developing Chi by Breathing
Step 1. Get comfortable
To work properly on your breathing, it's necessary that you fully focus on the air passing through your nostrils, not on how uncomfortable your legs are or on the picture you want to hang on the wall in front of you. Sit in a chair or on a cushion on the floor – whichever is most comfortable for you.
- Sit upright in the chair, with your feet on the floor and your knees shoulder-width apart.
- On the floor, you can either sit cross-legged or kneel.
Step 2. Take a deep breath
Pay attention to the in-breath and out-breath movements. Breathe from your diaphragm, not just your chest. The diaphragm is lower, closer to the stomach. Engaging it in your breath will allow you to inhale and exhale more air. To develop chi, it is essential that you let a lot of air pass through your body. Repeat the exercise over a few weeks until breathing becomes natural. Try breathing this way in your daily life to activate the energy flow.
Step 3. Clear your mind
Keeping your head in neutral and avoiding thinking about multiple things at the same time can be very difficult. However, over the course of the five to ten minutes of the exercise, try not to focus on anything but your breathing. Inhaling and exhaling are like yin and yang: opposites yet connected.
Step 4. Try breathing in squares
This does not mean that your breath should be square in shape. The exercise should be done after you have mastered diaphragm breathing. To start with, sit in a comfortable position. Then follow the steps below:
- Hold your breath for five seconds.
- Hold your breath for five seconds.
Method 2 of 3: Developing Chi on the Physical Level
Step 1. Practice tai chi chuan
The art of tai chi chuan is specifically designed to balance chi. Although tai chi chuan is made up of several moves, try starting with only the most basic ones. Breathing is central to Tai Chi, so ideally, you should first develop a good sense of how your breathing interacts with your chi. Essentially, Tai Chi practice is a series of slow, gentle movements designed to give the practitioner a feeling of balance and contact with the breath and chi. There are several schools of tai chi chuan, each with its own way of performing forms or movements. If you're interested, check out yoga and martial arts academies to find a tai chi class. In some places, it is also possible to find groups that gather to practice outdoors.
Step 2. Work on your posture
The wuji or horse posture is the foundation of tai chi. Outsiders think you're just standing there, but the pose is great for getting in touch with your energy. Just standing in the horse posture and breathing will develop your chi.
- Feet should be parallel, shoulder-width apart.
- Your body weight should be between your feet.
- Rotate your torso so that you are straight, as if you were sitting with your spine straight.
- Bend your knees.
- Feel your spine floating upward.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Lightly place your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
- Breathe naturally.
Step 3. Do arm exercises
Arm movements are not part of any form of tai chi chuan, but they can also help you get in touch with your body and develop your chi through the physical part. Don't forget to pay attention to your breathing.
- Place your right hand parallel and in front of your face, palm facing outward.
- Place your left hand parallel and in front of your belly, palm facing down.
- Slowly move your arms in circles.
- The arms will pass through each other, with the palms at different angles depending on their position in the circle. They went from facing up and down at the top and bottom of the circle to straight when they are parallel to your chest.
Step 4. Find the best energy training for you
Tai chi is not the only physical way to develop chi. If you find the exercises too slow and meditative, how about doing some kung fu? The martial art was also created to work chi. Originating in India, yoga also aims to develop the practitioners' vital force.
Method 3 of 3: Focusing on the Energy and Mental Level of Chi
Step 1. Explore chi kung (qigong)
In addition to the breathing and movement involved on the physical level, to develop your chi you will also need to move it on the mental and spiritual levels. Chi Kung is a set of practices from different civilizations aimed at raising the mind to a higher level of consciousness and activating the true power of your life force.
Step 2. Focus on your energy
This will help you raise your chi level. As you practice the breathing and exercise of your choice, focus on parts of your body where the energy is not flowing. These points are called energy blocks. Each of them requires a specific amount of focus and determination to get the energy back to flow in the right way. Some people can open these pathways on their own by breathing and exercising, but most need help to do energy work. A simple way to understand your body's energetic functioning is to take a simple test, which can be found online. The test will help you identify the elements present in your body, as well as what is missing and what needs to be fixed. If you need help from a qigong practitioner to do more complex energy work, search the internet.
Step 3. Work on the link between body, soul and mind to raise chi
The link between body, soul and mind encompasses all the exercises listed so far (breathing, physical movements and energy flows) in addition to the spiritual element. From there, you will enter a state of full concentration and focus. Similar to Zen Buddhism, the spiritual part of chi development can take a lifetime. It may even be possible to reach the desired state someday, but this is no easy task. To take the connection between the spiritual, physical and energetic aspects to an extreme, you need to be fully aware and focused on the present. No going to another plane of consciousness! For most people, the best way to reach this level of chi development is through meditation.