Understanding Yourself and the Chi Connection
by Dr. Silvia Reid (aka The Chi Whisperer) and Dr. Craig D. Reid
Sun Tzu’s (aka Swuin Zi; circa 544 BC – 496 BC) book, The Art of War, is a concisely profound treatise that explores various aspect of military tactics and strategies that emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s enemy. In Chapter 3: Attack by Strategem, one of his most important paraphrased quotes cites, “If you know yourself and your opponent, there is no fear in a hundred battles, if you know yourself and not your opponent, you have a 50% chance of survival, if you don’t know yourself or your opponent, you will always lose.”
During the chaotic Spring and Autumn period of China’s Eastern Zhou Dynasty, the martial arts hero Sun Tzu, who was an expert swordsman and Zhua wielder (a clawed iron hand on a 6-foot, 18-pound pole used to rip weapons away from an enemy), served as a military general in the state of Wu for 40 years and never lost a campaign or a war.
The key take away from Sun Tzu’s above quote is that if you at least understand yourself, regardless of any situation you face in life, you have a better chance of surviving or having a positive outcome. What’s the Chi connection that comes with understanding yourself and others?
The Chi Whisperer
Understanding is crucial in various aspects of life and plays a significant role in personal, social, and academic or professional domains. We all want to be understood. When we are understood, it makes us feel that we matter! Same with Chi! Chi awaits to be understood.
Understanding is an essential part of sensing, connecting, and working with Chi. In our previous article about Chi, I have mentioned that we can sense and connect with Chi through “feelings” and “knowing”. Understanding is a major part of “knowing”. Knowing is not from baseless assumptions, interpretations, and guessing. It is through understanding. Real and true understanding is about “connecting the right dots”. It needs actual information.
So often we are told to understand someone is to put ourselves in other people’ shoes. This is just a small part of understanding that helps us to develop sympathy and empathy. True understanding is not just “putting ourselves in other peoples’ shoes” because we only feel how we feel when we are in their shoes.
Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes without learning how the person wearing the shoes feels, is practicing making assumptions and projecting our own feelings onto others. To truly understand is to gather information about the shoes, how the shoes are used, listening to the person who is in the shoes and fact checking the accuracy of information that we received.
The moment that the right dots are connected, our body will register and relax because Chi is understood. This is how Chi lets us know “This is it!” It’s like our response to a comedian’s jokes when we know and accept what the comedian said is right. Every time when we connect facts with “That’s it” feeling, we train ourselves to connect with Chi and develop more accurate intuition.
In terms of connecting with Chi from an outside source, such as another person, when the right dots are connected, conveyed, and accepted by the person, the person naturally relaxes feeling understood. To make sure that we connected the right dots, double check by asking relevant questions.
To be in sync with life, we need true understanding by connecting the right dots. The more we practice connecting the right dots, the sharper our intuition will be, the more we can trust our judgment, the more we are comfortable to be ourselves, the more we connect with Chi.
Dr. Craig: A Martial Journey to Understanding Oneself
When I was 16, and I’d be dead in five years from cystic fibrosis, a disease that prevented me from digesting food and putrefied my lungs, my 30 pills/day drug habit had made my mind empty, foggy and I was unable to connect any dots in life. Why did I need to? I was going to die.
Days later in high school an English teacher told the class something about to understand a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That irked me. In silent defiance, I thought, “Forget walking a mile in my shoe, spend a minute in my mind.” No one can. That’s why I decided to commit suicide, plus I also didn’t want my parents to see me waste away. Without meds, I’m dead in two weeks.
Then I saw Bruce Lee in The Big Boss (1972), and went from being depressed and waiting to die, to wanting to live and learn what Lee was doing. Days later in a drug store I stumbled upon a magazine about Lee that was paired with a magazine about kung fu featuring Sun Tzu’s opening quote and how Shaolin monks saved abandoned children dying from disease by teaching them kung fu and chi kung (the spelling back then). I knew then that I must dedicate my life to martial arts and somehow get to Shaolin. I understood from Sun Tzu that I indeed had an enemy that I wanted dead, cystic fibrosis (CF). Since I knew my enemy, I needed to understand myself.
July 20, 1973, devastation. While driving with dad, the radio said Lee died in Hong Kong. How can a man in perfect shape suddenly die? Am I that vulnerable? Spirit deflated, I silently cried for a week. It's as if something wanted me to die. Then I thought about something I read in high school Latin Class, Virgil’s Aneied, where homework was translating a page a night into English. I recall a sentence, “When you're in pain, it makes you think and with thought comes wisdom.”
I then saw Lee's death as a test to see if I had the will to continue to seek, find and climb the kung fu and chi kung mountains that physically don't exist, yet esoterically might be revealed in my journey. Nothing worthwhile is easy, so why would saving my own life be any different? Maybe it's not about the value of the pursuit but the worthiness to learn.
So how did martial arts allow me to understand myself? Bruce Lee noted that it was important to be honest with yourself. I began developing a deep awareness of my greatest fears, what made me angry, happy, self-reflecting on why I was weak, and how to rectify that, and most importantly my decision-making process was become more self-assured.
It was no longer about disobeying my parents to make them upset at me, but trying to tell them why it was important for me to do what I needed to do to survive. Movie actors ask, “What’s my motivation?”, I’d ask myself what’s my motivation in everything I did; telling jokes, practicing martial arts, did that make me a better person or not, and how did all of this make me feel.
In 1977, while at Cornell, where practicing marital arts was never so intense, I became more self-aware during thousands of conversations in my search to understand what makes other people tick, listening to what they want to do in life and how they planned to do it, while recognizing how one’s background or culture shaped who they were, and I tried to show support for those who were down and out. To me martial arts is about training not to fight and learning to heal. By 1979 it was time to learn how to heal myself; nine years later how to heal others.
Whether you’re into traditional martial arts, practicing self-defense realism or combative martial sports, the process of self-discovery and understanding yourself and others will enhance your body’s natural Chi flow. Little did I realize back then that by trying to understand myself, I was unknowingly connecting with my Chi and maybe that helped me get through some angst-ridden moments in my life, and then when I learned Chi Gong, my overcoming CF was rapid.
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