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Can You Feel the Qi?

Should you want to?



Explore what the Chinese call Vital Energy with a theologian.

This article appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. “I will not lose my faith to be healed,” Roberta said to herself as she drove through San Francisco listening to Christian music. “I will not lose my salvation.” The then-50-year-old fundamentalist Baptist anguished that even experimenting with strange Eastern healing practices to combat her breast cancer might soil her faith, might steal her salvation. But she also feared that depression, a common side effect of chemotherapy, might also destroy her faith. And she really did want to live. She cried aloud, “God, don’t lose me!” and just then she made a wrong turn and there was one of the most magnificent rainbows she had seen in her life. She says she felt safe to make what became a “leap” into qigong (pronounced chee-gong). Nowadays, she says, she feels the qi when she moves — and she believes she walks more closely with God. Roberta is one of millions of Americans who have, if not leaped, at least dipped a toe into the concept of vital energy called qi (sometimes spelled “ch’i” or “chi”). According to Chinese philos …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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