"What is Energy Work"

Richard: “Although we say ‘energy work’, a lot of it is ‘intention work’ , like in the Chinese world of formulas ‘energy follows intention’ 氣隨意, and then 力隨氣... ‘power follows energy’… and then we say energy is chi.

Hofan: “But do you define energy as chi ? Because I feel that chi is just one spectrum of energy…” .. and so the discussion ensues....

Both Richard and I practice tai chi and are energy healers; and his podcast is called "Discover Energy Work" .. so we thought we might just go back to the basics are talk about what we consider to be energy work... and healing means under our respective philosophical frameworks... Our discussion includes:

  • Is energy in energy work = chi ? Richard explains his understanding via Taoist concepts of the yang (the seen) and yin (the invisible) - 陰陽 ; (精、氣、神)

  • The acceptance (or not) of chi and subtle energy in various cultures

  • How I try to explain to the concept of subtle energy / heart imagery to people who are uncomfortable to "New Age" vocabulary, or who may sense it anyway (e.g. actors) without too much language to talk about

  • My first experiences of being in the Heart - and finding a technique that I could consistently return to...

  • The prioritisation of a "productive" consciousness in modern society vs other relaxed or altered states (beta brain-waves vs. alpha, theta, etc)

  • The instinct for imagery/creativity in children and how our education system weeds this out of us

  • The connection of the "center line" connecting Heaven/Earth/Heart across traditions

  • The commercialisation of spirituality, and "vibration knows vibration"...

Richard: What have some people said after doing Heart Imagery?

Hofan: I think it gives people more space… very often when we are functioning from the brain, we feel like everything is a problem, because the brain is duality and judgement mechanism. So once you return to that unity consciousness you get a sensation that everything is okay, for the moment. Maybe not forever, but at this moment, is what it is. And that gives people an anchor to … come to when things get stormy.

So on a practical level, let’s say.. there were protests in Hong Kong. Oh my god, frooom ! collectively everyone is down, and it’s really affecting me. So very simply, it’s very helpful to bring yourself back to this place of unity, calm and peacefulness. Practically it’s useful…

Richard: I think that is where we get caught up in some sort of duality - they are the baddies and we are the goodies.. and of course the others think the same things about themselves. And you get to a state where that’s all delusion, or illusion .. and it’s all about something much much bigger…

 Hofan: And so you catch yourself in the loop… I’m scrolling across these messages and driving myself crazy… and i just need to breathe and bring myself back into the Heart. This practice brings a little distance. These are very logical, practical purposes… but what’s interesting about Heart Imagery is that it was designed as a tool for enlightenment, to see the Ultimate Reality.

So there are many meditation methods, for example, vipassana, where you just watch your breathing, and you are very suspicious of imagery, because all those images, they would say are illusion. But Heart Imagery is very interesting in that they accept that everything is an illusion, so why not play with the illusion ? So in the process of experiencing these images… so just like you may experience a dream as real as our ‘waking reality’, then you start to question the fabric of this reality… and it’s limitations.

In a dream, I can be very fluid. I can be a cat, I can be not human. But in this waking consciousness, I wake up and I’m a certain age, I’m a certain gender, I have a certain set of experiences that make me the personality that I am…

Through acquiring this language of imagery, we experience that things are more fluid. So for example, in Heart Imagery, you might become the ocean. And once you experience, ‘wow, I can be that expansive..’ , and for a moment, drop that sensation of being a human being with physical body.. that experience shakes things a little looser… and what it does is that it aligns us with the Source vertically. And there many techniques out there, NLP, working with your inner child, etc… many techniques that use imagery very practically, sports psychology, colour theory, … and they really work… especially because our memory is encoded through imagery… and so it’s very practical. But what the Tibetans have figured out is that, how we want to use imagery is to align with God, with the Source.

Once we align with it then healing automatically takes place. it’s not like therapies where you have this problem and we use this image to solve it — there are imagery traditions which do that, and to some extent, some Heart Imagery practices can be very useful for solving things. But ultimately the Heart Imagery tradition is in alignment with God and Source, and through that you might have the side-effect of healing.. but ultimately you want to hit the big prize, which is enlightenment and the penetration of this reality…”

Ricahrd's Interview with Hofan last season "Climbing the Philosopher's Stone"

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