When it comes to the mind almost anything is possible. Our minds are more powerful than we have yet to realize or remember. Yoga and other arts such as Qigong and Tai Chi has taught this for thousands of years. Yet somehow the concepts of chi and prana have faded into a mysterious force of which a general understanding is lacking. Through these arts we know of their existence and when we practice these arts these energies are present and sometimes, we feel sensations of the energy. When coordinating movement with the breath and a relaxed state of mind, energy is circulated and cultivated. The only thing missing is the awareness of it.
Why be aware of it if it is cultivated naturally and what does this have to do with the mind? As we know the mind has a great effect on the body. On one level stress can be very detrimental, on another we can see how attitudes and mindset can be expressed through posture and facial expressions. To this effect we can determine that if we can hurt the body with thoughts then we can heal it with thoughts. In turn these thoughts when expressed through action can affect our lives through the interactions with others and influencing our decisions.
This is why it is important to be aware of prana/chi, because they are linked to the mind which affects the body and your life. Chi/prana are also made of the same thing that mind is (spiritual energy) and are extensions of the mind. Also, to be noted is that mind is separate from the observer; you. Through your consciousness, mind is transformed into thoughts, imagination, emotions and actions, like light through movie film. So, it is not only important to be aware of chi/prana for practice but also to be aware of it because you are literally using it all the time. This means that what you think is what you practice. It is said that mind moves chi and chi moves the body. Chi is like an interface between mind and body.
So now what? Now you learn what chi feels like and how to cultivate and use it properly in your practice. The first step is to become aware of it. Put your hand up in front of you, take a few deep breathes and relax yourself and your hand. Then feel the palm of your hand, without your other hand and without looking at it. You should feel a slight tingling sensation. Now move your awareness to the inside of each finger, then to the back of each finger, then to the back of the hand. Et voila! That is chi/prana. In Tai Chi it is said that chi goes where the mind goes. Now move that awareness up your arm to your elbow, make sure to feel the awareness along your arm. The next step would be to move that awareness around your whole body and take note of what you feel.
If you don’t feel it right away, you might need to concentrate a little more. Really work to feel the area being focused on. Once you connect you will know. This is what I called connected awareness. There is also what I call “passive awareness.” This is when you move your attention to a place on the body and of course know it is there without any real effort. Sometimes the feeling of your body or the awareness of it seems to be just above your physical body. Once a person can concentrate to the point where they feel a real physical sensation of the area (skin and/or muscles), a connection is felt. Sometimes this connection is accompanied by twitching, release, heat, cold, or any number of chi sensations.
The importance of this, is that this is where mind and body meet. At this point the mind-body connection can be cultivated to the ability of moving and manipulating the body with a mere thought. Put your mind to a muscle and get it to relax or contract. Coordinate and strengthen that and learn to move in that way, and you can easily master anything you want to. All you need is practice.
There are many techniques for moving, cultivating and using chi. The next step would be to practice increasing your awareness to the core of your body, feel your muscles then try to feel your bones. Breathing and relaxation are extremely important with regards to feeling and moving chi/prana. Tension blocks the feeling of chi and sometimes blocks chi all together. The breath moves and circulates chi like a pump.
Now that you know the power of the mind or more like a piece of it. Really, the stronger the mind, the stronger the chi. The mind, humans, have great potential for power. I don’t have to go into great detail about how the mind or state of one’s mind can affect their body and their life. You just have to know that it all starts with you and your mind. If you focus on positive thoughts positive things with happen. And take it from me, fear and anxiety only make those fear a reality. It is no easy task, especially in the face of great adversity. But this is where a strength of spirit is cultivated.
If a person has trouble focusing on other things or the emotions are too strong, there are ways to combat this. Strengthening the body, strengthens the mind. Meditation, especially concentrated meditation. Focusing on a single thought, image or mantra is great. Focusing on relaxation, releasing tension and building body awareness that becomes chi awareness, I think is awesome. On the emotional side, doing things that make you happy will help. I find that a mantra helps, especially when negative thoughts arise, use the mantra as something positive and transformative to focus. It works, I swear by it.
The human mind has incredible potential and is still not as understood as we might think it should be in this modern age. But now with this little bit of information, it can be explored and cultivated directly.