How Qigong Can Reduce Your Stress and Increase Your Energy with Lee Holden

Content By: Ari Whitten and Lee Holden

In this episode, I’m speaking with Lee Holden – one of the top experts in the world on  Qigong. We will talk about what Qigong is and how it can improve your stress and energy levels.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Lee and I discuss:

  • What Qigong is and how it feels in your body
  • How Qigong can help you feel better, relax, energize, and recover from stress faster
  • A simple exercise to get started with Qigong

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Ari: In this episode, I’m speaking with Lee Holden, who is one of the top experts in the world on the subject of Qigong. He’s been practicing for over 25 years. Qigong is something that I’ve spent many years doing myself, and which the science has largely validated, at least in terms of markers which can be measured, meaning we can measure the effects of Qigong therapy, Qigong interventions, practice, however you want to phrase it, on things like fatigue, on sleep quality, on mood, on subjective ratings of vitality, on subjective ratings of anxiety and stress levels.

We have many, many studies at this point showing profound improvements in energy levels, improvements in mood, improvements in subjective ratings of stress or calmness, as well as many, many other benefits. We know, even though we may not have studies to validate the specific claims made in traditional Chinese medicine around meridians and this mystical Qi energy that’s flowing through our body, all of that remains very controversial from a Western medical perspective, but we do know, at the end of the day, this stuff works in terms of having real, important, profound benefits in your life.

With that said, this is a conversation where I discuss with Lee his perspective on how Qigong works in the body, trying to maybe find some kind of a synthesis between the traditional Chinese perspective as well as the Western scientific perspective, what he thinks is going on physiologically to explain what we’re doing during Qigong practices and why it’s so beneficial.

If this is an area that you haven’t explored yet, I encourage you to listen to this podcast and try out some of the practices that he teaches here and try out some of his free online practices, free online content that he has scattered all over the internet, and try out Qigong in general and some of the many practices that are out there to experience some of these benefits for yourself. With all of that said, enjoy this informative podcast from one of the world’s top Qigong experts, Lee Holden.

Welcome, Lee. Such a pleasure to have you.

Lee: So great to be here, Ari. Thanks so much.

The Western understanding of Qigong

Ari: I have seen many of your videos. I’ve practiced in many of your courses. I don’t want to say many, but many of your videos from two of your courses. I really enjoy you as a teacher, and I find you’re a wonderful teacher of the actual techniques, and your understanding of it, your ability to communicate what’s going on is very impressive. I thought, “I haven’t done a podcast on Qigong ever.”

My big difficulty with it is that– two difficulties. Number one, sometimes there’s a language barrier with some of the Qigong experts that are out there. Number two, is there’s also a scientific barrier to some extent. You have a whole paradigm within Chinese medicine or some of these Eastern traditions and schools of thought around human physiology and all of that stuff that they’re talking about, virtually, all of it, doesn’t really map onto the traditional Western scientific understanding of human physiology.

They’re talking about different things and different terms, and it’s hard to bridge that gap. This being a Western scientific-minded podcast, though still very open to other ideas, I generally try to keep conversation focused in that realm. I also feel this is such an important topic and such a beneficial practice that I need to do a podcast on it, so here you are.

Lee: Fantastic, Ari. I think you really hit the nail on the head with the paradigm. What we need is the meeting of the minds between the Eastern paradigm and the Western paradigm. The Eastern paradigm is a huge focus on energy and prevention. The medicine is rooted in healthcare, not sick care.

Back in the day, the way this medicine worked was that you would pay your healthcare provider as long as you were healthy, and then as soon as you got sick, you stopped paying. [laughs] Now, everybody’s motivated to keep you healthy. It’s prevention and that’s healthcare. There’s a saying in Chinese medicine, “Don’t dig your well when you’re dying of thirst.” Dig it beforehand.

The things about this medicine is it that is so impressive is that it’s rooted in prevention. It focuses on energy, health, vitality. The things that it does is it lowers stress levels dramatically and keeps energy levels high. I don’t know anybody in the west that doesn’t want more energy and less stress. This is a perfect practice for those intentions and those goals. I think, like you were saying, we just need to have a language that helps us understand what’s going on, and even the research and the evidence-based practices, which are coming forth so dramatically lately.

What is Qigong?

Ari: First of all, let’s go very broad for people who have no idea what this is all about, what this whole Qigong thing is. Can you explain what it is?

Lee: Yes. Great. Qi means energy. It means life force. It might seem like a mystical term, but it’s not really, it is simply the fact that we’re alive. Qi points out to the fact that, Hey, there’s some life force energy here. That’s the broad term. Now in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine, which I’m sure you’ve read Ari. [laughs] It’s–

Ari: Actually, I don’t think I’ve actually read that. I’ve just read like a hundred books that allude to it and that speak of it.

Lee: Yes, exactly. It’s pretty dry and boring, but we have to suffer through it in Chinese Medicine School. Yellow Emperor was this renowned physician emperor, almost mythical figure who brought Chinese medicine together, the acupuncture, the herbs, the Qigong practices, the breath work, all of that together in this big canon of information, there’s 1,200 volumes in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic.

It was the first place where there was discussions on the different kinds of Qi. For example, the aliveness of you comes about through let’s say breath, food, sleep, nature, connection. There’s all these things that take place within us that have Qi. There’s heart Qi, which would be your cardiovascular system. There’s lung Qi, which is your respiratory system. They just use this word Qi, the pointed to the aliveness, the invisible life force that is you that we can’t see.

The Qi really is the energy behind everything. It’s like the wiring of the walls, and we’re so focused on the appliances that we don’t even see the wiring. Well, in Chinese medicine, the emphasis is on the electricity that provides the power to all the systems, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the endocrine system all need this life force energy to power up. Qi was called the animating force. It made movement.

Even if we’re asleep, there’s still movement, there’s still breath, there’s still dreams. This is all the function of Qi. When Qi is healthy and flowing and circulating, then we feel healthy, vibrant, alive, and vital. Oh, the gong part. Gong means to work with. Qigong is energy work or to work with life force energy, and that would be the energy of your body, your emotions, and your mind.

Ari: What’s the best way to phrase this? Let me ask it this way. What is Qi? Not the way that they would explain it in Chinese medicine, which is you just kind of explained it from numerous different perspectives there, but what is your best guess or what do you think is the best understanding of what Qi actually is in terms that a Western scientist might understand?

Lee: It would simply be bioelectricity. It’s bioelectricity. We know that there’s electricity in the body. There’s the spark behind the heartbeat, that’s the electrical pump. For any cells to communicate to each other, there needs to be an electrical potential differentiation. Then those particles then will flow back and forth, and the receptor site’s open. There’s electricity between the cells.

As soon as you have a thought, like, I want to move my arms up and down, then there’s electricity from your brain flowing through your nerves that get to your muscles, that makes them contract to move your body. This is why we were saying it’s animating and there’s a voluntary movement like, I’m going to move my arms up and down, and there’s involuntary movement, which is your heart is beating, your organs are moving and digesting food. There’s all this involuntary movement within you.

Also, the Qi is the wisdom that knows how to orchestrate everything together. You take a deep breath in, there’s something inside of you that knows to put that oxygen into the blood, then the blood into all the other cells in the body that you don’t have to do that. Thank goodness. There’s something inside you, they would call this Qi. Qi is really a mystery. It’s the mysterious force. We still, even in our Western technology or Western science, we don’t know why the heart started to beat.

I talked to a scientist, Ari, I think you’ll like this. I was asking the very same question. What’s the heartbeat? Can you explain it? He said, “It doesn’t work like normal physics, because it’s like a match that learned how to strike itself and then when it burns down, instead of energy just transforming, it regrows and strikes itself again.” This is how mysterious your heart is, and your body and your mind, not to talk about the brain and consciousness. These would all be Qi. We have descriptive language for it, but at the same time, it takes us right to the forefront of the mysterious.

How Qigong affects the body

Ari: From this frame, what is Qigong doing? We’re building reserves of electrical energy that are stored in our body?

Lee: Let’s say from a Chinese medicine perspective, we’re cultivating energy. There’s a saying that, “Flowing water doesn’t get stagnant.” The same is true with your Qi. For example, if you don’t move your body, your Qi, what we call is stagnating, and then stagnant Qi leads to discomfort. Then the Qi stagnates more, we get pain and problems. Let’s think about sitting on an airplane for 12 hours.

We fly to Europe, nobody gets off the plane and says, “Oh, my God, I’ve just been sitting for so long. I’m so relaxed, I feel so good.” No, people are like, “Oh, my back hurts. I feel stiff. I’m tight.” The Chinese medicine description, “Oh, yes, Qi is stagnating because you’ve been sitting too long.”

Now the Western research, the great new study, sitting is the new smoking. You sit all day long, it’s as detrimental to your health as smoking. We have the research to show why or we have the research that demonstrates these philosophies. It’s still a bit of a mystery why is sitting so detrimental where our body isn’t moving. If this body’s designed for movement as the Qigong philosophy.

When you are doing Qigong practice, the breathing and slowing down, you’re doing a few things. You’re moving, but you’re moving with a relaxed way. You’re moving with relaxation, you’re moving slowly often, and so it combines meditation, exercise, and stretching into one cohesive practice that allows this life force energy to circulate. Even though there still needs bridging in our language and our paradigms, we have the evidence that showcases why Qigong practices work so well.

Ari: What is your experience of how this has helped you in your life with your health, or more broadly in your life?

Lee: Great. It started for me from an injury. I was a collegiate soccer player. First season on the field, probably second game in, I jumped up in the air to hit the ball with my head and somebody took out my legs and I landed on my tailbone. Put me out for what the doctor said for the season, I did the cortisone shots, I took the painkillers.

The pain didn’t go away and the painkillers gave me a stomach ache. I had some side effects from the medication. I remembered when I was a 10 year old, I had taken a martial arts training. I trained martial arts when I was a young guy for about six years. One of the teachers, he broke a stack of bricks with his bare hand.

I was like, “Wow, how did you do that?” After class I came up to him, I was fascinated. He said, “Well, this is the power of Qi.” I was like, “I want to learn about this.” He looked at me and he grabbed me by the lapel and he said, “Qi is for healing. It’s not for hurting people.” I was like, “Oh, okay, Master. That’s right.”

Ari: That was right after he broke a bunch of bricks with his bare hand?

Lee: Yes, exactly. [unintelligible 00:12:16], “Don’t do this to anybody.” I went back and I saw this guy and I said, “Now I need some of that healing.” He gave me acupuncture and showed me Qigong exercises. It was literally three treatments. About a week long, I was 95% better. I was back playing soccer. My friends were like, “What happened? How’d you do this?” I was like, “Check out these exercises guys.”

As the season progressed and the years progressed, I started teaching my soccer player friends, I started teaching my friends in school. I was learning more and more about this practice. In fact, I really wanted to drop out of school just to study this because I was so fascinated by it. My dad was like, “Hey, no. Don’t drop out of school just to do something strange like Qigong.”

Back in the ’80s, it was even stranger because not many people were doing this, but it became my passion. As soon as I graduated from college, I was hired as a ghost writer for a Qigong Master in Asia. I did 12 trips to Asia. I studied with lots of different masters and it really became my goal to say, “How do I explain it to people like my soccer player friends? How do I explain it to now my friends that are all working in Silicon Valley?”

I would become this translator to make this ancient practice much more accessible. It’s not just for the old people in the parks in the morning breathing slowly and moving with the trees. No, it’s actually, if you want less stress and you want more energy, this is a fantastic practice for those goals. When we look at prevention, now the research is in, stress is one of the root causes of almost every single disease, problem, anything going on in your body, it’s rooted in stress.

What is stress? It’s actually just a perception of what’s going on in our environment or it’s just maybe some bad habits like sitting too long. It’s not real in and of itself, but it’s a way in which we can manage it. There’s simple ways to manage stress, to keep our energy levels high and our tension and pain low.

The supernatural stories revolving around Qigong

Ari: What do you think of the supernatural stuff that’s associated with Qigong? There’s many books written about this. The one that comes to mind is The Magus of Java.

Lee: Oh, my gosh. Great. I’m glad you mentioned this because I’ve trained with the author of that book. I produced a docuseries called The Superhuman Experience, and it started with The Magus of Java, that book and seeing this guy John Chang doing these incredible things that just blew your mind. He wadded up this newspaper and he took his energy and he placed his hand over it, and it seemed like he was flexing all his muscles, but then all of a sudden, this newspaper ignited.

This book happened because this was a documentary in 1989 on Indonesia and some scientists from Europe saw him, went to Indonesia, found him and studied and trained with him and scientifically researched him for about a year. Then The Magus of Java was born out of that.

Now, fast forward, three, four years ago, we went and found a lot of different masters like John Chang, and The Magus of Java, that’s his name in India, Tibet, China. We basically asked the question, what’s our human potential? Let’s go ask these ancient masters and see if we could capture some of this on camera. We produced this docuseries called The Superhuman Experience.

Ari: What does that show? What did you find was human potential in [unintelligible 00:16:22]?

Lee: It was absolutely incredible. We found, there’s probably just from our research maybe about 100 different masters with extraordinary abilities. These are just the ones that would show us Westerners. Not all of them, actually, a very low percentage would actually be on camera for many reasons, but the human potential is grand. It’s vast.

These are the guys that are like the LeBron James of Qigong. You see what LeBron James does, you’re like, “That’s impossible for me.” How did he get to be to hit impossible levels? Well, training. He was born with physiological gifts. He worked hard dedication to his craft. That’s what we found with these folks as well. Whether it’s yoga or breath work or energy cultivation. With that kind of training, you can do what seems impossible things, and that’s what we wanted to showcase in the energetic arts, in the healing arts, in some of these spiritual practices like the Tibetan masters.

These Tibetan masters, they go outside in subzero temperatures, throw a wet sheet around their bodies, and then their practice is to dry that sheet within a couple of hours by generating so much energy and heat in their own bodies. Wim Hof has done a great job of showcasing that particular practice as a Westerner, as a superhuman in his own right, but also taking and doing all the scientific verifications, which is wonderful.

I had the privilege of interviewing him for The Superhuman Experience as well and just bridging the gap between these mystical practices of the East and actually what’s going on in our Western minds and where are the gaps, and there’s many gaps, but there’s some really incredible stuff that we found.

Ari: Nice. What are some other examples that you found in some of these practitioners?

Lee: Some of the other practitioners, there’s the energetic cultivators, there’s the martial arts masters, like these Tai chi masters that could move people with very little effort. It was explained like a wave in the ocean. The water is very soft, but when it moves all together it becomes very powerful. These masters would just move these big muscular guys, these little five foot four Chinese masters would move these big, huge six foot four muscular guys and just throw them all over the place.

We met a Russian woman and she could read with being blindfolded. She was incredible. It was almost like this remote viewing. We had a scientist on set with us, so we did the medical-grade blindfolds, two cotton swabs over the eyes, and then this blindfold. Then we even took books from different languages. We ran out to the car and got a car manual, and she read with a very thick Russian accent, the car manual. She finished the paragraph by saying, “This is not interesting book.”


It was a lot. Then we had a Tibetan master with just these incredible powers of he would do blessings and healings would happen. It was hard to view on camera but he was very renowned for his blessings and healing powers. Just the human potential is so vast, I just find it so fascinating.

Can you feel Qi energy?

Ari: This is something I’m curious about personally because I have some years of experience practicing Qigong. I’m curious how you would quantify the internal subjective feeling of energy that you have internally. I think maybe it might be interesting for people to know that there is actually a sensation to this.

You can, to some extent, for lack of a better word, feel the energy moving, feel the Qi moving in your body. It’s not just purely visualizing or imagining these things. This should be a physical sensation that you can sense of energy moving in your body. Is that correct?

Lee: That’s correct. Definitely, Ari. There’s a subjective feeling of energy moving and it feels good, it feels blissful, it feels light, it feels relaxing. These are all words. How do I know I’m relaxed? How do I know that I’m feeling good? Whether there’s sensation to it. What tends to happen is we feel tingling, we feel electricity. Usually, I can help people to feel Qi in two or three minutes and just get a felt sense in their own bodies.

This feeling of Qi can go to very deep and profound levels and layers. That’s what really fascinated me with this practice and kept me going for these last 35 years. It’s just this feeling of Qi and how profound it affects my subjective experience in life. I definitely know if I’ve practiced or I haven’t practiced, people always talk to me and say, “Oh, there’s a distinct line of my life before I start practicing Qigong and my life afterwards.”

It just gives you all these tools and resources, but really it’s tingling, it’s electricity, it’s a feeling of warmth. It’s a feeling of relaxation. It’s a feeling of ease in your mind, in your body. There’s feelings of, let’s say, positive energy in our minds where our minds are not full of worries, heavy thoughts, negative thoughts, looping thoughts. There’s a feeling of positive energy in our emotions, which we would say, “I feel joyful. I feel that peace, I feel happy, I feel excited,” rather than, “I feel angry, frustrated, stressed out, depressed.”

When we talk about any of these emotions, there’s nothing physical about an emotion. We can’t open up the heart to see how much love there is. Remember that emotions are energy, and even the word energy, E, emotion, energy in motion, energy movement gives us an idea of our language pointing to energy, but we still don’t quite understand it from our Western mindset because we’re so fixated on form rather than formless, on the physical rather than the immaterial.

In Qigong, we have the philosophy that most of life is ruled by invisible energy, and all we have to do is look at technology, you and I talking right now, invisible energy, cell phones, but things like gravity is an invisible energy. Your emotions, your mind, your thoughts, your soul, your spirit, these would all be considered invisible energies that are the formless, but are so profound and give us so much meaning.

Sexual Qigong practices

Ari: I know that there are different schools or approaches or maybe even paradigms when it comes to Qigong. Some are more medical-minded and health-focused and cures for specific symptoms and ailments and things of that nature and others are more focused on– There’s also some sexual practices.

I know Mantak Chia speaks a lot about those, like male and female sexual cultivation practices, becoming multi-orgasmic and things of that nature, and being able to have control over and restrain orgasm, restrain ejaculation. There’s the whole school of thought and practices around that.

Then there’s obviously also a lot of content and a lot of thinking and practices that relate to spiritual enlightenment. How do you– that’s my best attempt at explaining this landscape, but how would you explain it as an expert in this area?

Lee: Great. I think you just got people’s attention. We start talking about sexual energy, multi-orgasmic, now I’m in. I want to do some of this Qigong. I think you did a great job, Ari, because energy work and Qigong practice doesn’t leave anything out from what we often think of as the profane of sexual energy and sex distinguished from the spiritual. No, in Qigong, we keep those together like ice turning to water, water turning to vapor. It’s all energy.

It’s all H2O, although ice looks very different than vapor or mist rising off water or clouds. It looks very different, but at this core, it’s all H2O, it’s all that fundamental substance. Whether we’re talking about sexuality, sexual energy, sexual attraction, orgasmic energy, or spiritual energy, it’s just manifesting differently because when we think of let’s say the energy of sexuality, it’s a unifying energy. When masculine, and feminine energies come together, we can create new life.

Well, in Qigong, they say, if you sublimate that energy, if you get it to rise up, now you are creating a connection, a oneness with the divine. Qi is very unifying and it could be with a friendship, it could be with the lover, it could be with your higher self, with the divine, with nature. We all feel this connection. Unfortunately in the west, we see the separations. “This is my house. That’s you, this is me,” but all we have to do is take a deep breath in and nature pours into you, and you exhale out, you pour back into nature.

We get so stuck on the walls and the fences that we forget that the earth is continuous underneath, that the Qi flows in me, is also flowing in you. Then by seeing this oneness, we can start to recognize– It has profound implications. If we see and feel ourselves in this continuity with nature, we don’t want to destroy it. If we feel this kinship with our fellow human beings, we don’t want to suppress or harm. We want to create balance and harmony.

This inclusivity of the practice really could help on a macro level or on a micro level, a personal level. Yes, we can say, “Hey, how do I increase my pleasure? How do I increase my connection with my partner? How do I become multi-orgasmic?” Those are all possible with energy cultivation and practices. Mantak Chia was the Qigong Master that I wrote some books for by the way.

Ari: Cool.

Lee: How do we also use our practice to connect with nature or our spirit and find that spiritual aspect of ourselves, not because somebody told me, but because I’ve had an internal experience? The Qigong Master said, “Your subjective experience is a very valid experience of the universe because the microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. That’s how they developed all this wisdom.”

I think it’s a very exciting time, Ari, and to have conversations like this where we’re taking ancient wisdom and we’re verifying, validating it with Western science and the convergence is really upon us right now. We’re just getting so much validity of these Eastern practices, whether it’s quantum physics and energy cultivation, whether it’s just Western physiology and learning about the body about, “Hey, move your body in multiple and many different ways, and here’s the benefit. Here’s the research, here’s the science. That’s what the ancient masters are saying.” It’s a really exciting time to bring these practice together.

Spiritual enlightenment from the perspective of Qigong

Ari: What do you think spiritual advancement or enlightenment is from the perspective of Qigong?

Lee: So good. Man, that is a great question. I asked this to a teacher of mine once, and he had a really simple answer. I said, “How do you know you’re enlightened?” He said, “I no longer worry. I have no worries at all,” and I was like, “That’s simple. Okay.” For me, what it means is–

Ari: I misunderstood when you said that initially. I thought you were saying, “I have no worries that I am enlightened,” but he’s saying, “Across life more broadly, I don’t have worries and stresses and anxieties and things of that nature.”

Lee: Correct. There’s no worries in his mind anymore. There’s no stress, anxiety, worries. He’s very present and recognizing that the moment is what’s real and he is so firmly rooted in the moment that everything else is very light. This was one answer that as I continue to ponder this question, really, if we want to come back to the Western view, I would say it’s when we are so rooted in our parasympathetic branch of our nervous system, we’re not constantly hijacked into the sympathetic branch where we’re in fight or flight, we’re stressed out.

If we think in and reflect on our own minds, a lot of what we’re thinking about is the things we don’t like, the things we don’t want, the things we’re worried about. With training, with this mental practice of these meditation techniques, your mental stress goes way down and your relaxation and your contentment in the moment, your inner peace goes way up.

You’ll have many moments of enlightenment and those moments of enlightenment get strung together until they become a continuity and then you live from that place. I think that’s one level and I think that’s accessible for people to feel moments of enlightenment because what is that, you are light in your body. Your mind is calm and relaxed, you’re in the moment, and your energy is way high, your energy is way elevated. We could call that from the west flow state. If you’re constantly in flow state, you’re in a state of enlightenment.

Ari: Where did I want to go from here? How do these practices relate or contrast with let’s say meditation and yoga?

Lee: Beautiful. Meditation and yoga– here’s what I love about Qigong is it’s the fusion, it’s moving meditation. If you have a hard time just sitting down, closing your eyes and quieting your mind, which most people do, Qigong is a fantastic bridge of engaging your body and moving energy.

You start to relax your body, you start to move slowly with relaxation, automatically, your mind is going to relax. Automatically, your mind will slow down. We use the body as a way to slow down the mind. A calm mind is beneficial to the body and a calm body is beneficial to the mind and so you can enter in to this state of calmness and tranquility from either way, we can sit down and meditate.

For me, and for lots of people, accessing quiet mind through the body is much easier because you’re actually giving your body something to focus on rather than just watching the thoughts go by in your mind or witnessing your breath. It can be a bit of a mental wrestling match, but as you do your Qigong practice by the end of a practice and you sit and meditate, you are already there.

For meditation for people listening, meditation isn’t something that you do, you don’t effort into. Like falling asleep, you fall into meditation. Where those two paths drift apart is you start off with relaxation and then where you might fall asleep as one path, you wake up is another path. You go in, you start up the same way, relax, get still, and then there’s this alertness that happens in your mind and in your consciousness and meditation where you’re waking up your mind.

This is why the Buddhist called meditation restful alertness or mindfulness or awake. The story of the Buddha, all his students asked him, “Hey, are you a god? Are you enlightened?” Buddha simply just said, “No, I’m awake.” Although he is awake to the present moment, awake to his power, awake to his potential.

Meditation is something that we do all the time. We’re usually doing it on the negative because worry is a meditation. It’s a focus of attention on the negative, on what I don’t want to happen, all the worries that we just switch that around. Just take that same power of concentration and attentiveness and put it on something else. We all know how to work and meditate, we just now have to switch the focus of that meditation off the negative onto the moment or onto something positive that we want to create.

Exercise – How to experience Qi

Ari: What would say would be your– I want to get practical here for a second because I want people who don’t have any experience with Qigong to have maybe a bit of an experience or get a sense of it. What would be your maybe simple recommended practice for people to start the day and to end the day?

Lee: Perfect. Maybe we can take people through an experience of feeling their Qi.

Ari: Sure. You take it wherever you want.

Lee: The feeling of Qi gives you the, “Oh, okay. Yes, I do feel this.” You can think of Qi as a nerve current. You could think of Qi as improved circulation and blood flow because behind the blood flow is an electrical spark in your heart. Behind the communication between mind and body and the nervous system is electricity of that wiring and that bioelectricity flowing from brain to body.

Let’s go like this at what we call in Qigong activate energy. When energy is activated, it starts to circulate. These are acupressure points. They’re at the ends of your fingers. You take your fingernails and touch them together on both hands and then rub back and forth vigorously. Don’t do this if you’re driving, wait till afterwards. You rub the fingernails back and forth very vigorously.

As you’re doing so, let’s just take a few deep breaths, just a few slow breaths. In through the nose, out through the nose. About 20, 30 seconds we will stop and we will sense and feel the energy. In 30 seconds or less, we can activate your Qi with this little presser point sequence. Now just put your hands back in your lap and notice how your hands feel.

Maybe you’re feeling a little buzzing, tingling electrical sensation in your hands. What we say is that there was already Qi there, but it was dormant or it was like sleep. Now we’ve awakened it, we’ve stimulated, we’ve activated energy. That’s part of the practice. We do that through the whole body so that your whole body fills this aliveness, this life force energy moving and circulating through it.

We do a lot of work with breath. Breath work is becoming so popular and these breathing techniques are ancient practices. When you synchronize breath with movement, all of a sudden you’re going to get improved circulation. Let’s take people through what is called spinal cord breathing because people have a lot of tension or tightness in the back and the neck, and shoulders.

Just sit forward towards the edge of your seat. You can also do this standing, and we’re just going to inhale and open the chest. As you inhale and open the chest, you look up and as you exhale and round your back, I want your chin to come towards your chest, your elbows to come towards each other and almost together. Then inhale, look up, exhale, chin down, round the back. You’re just moving all the joints in your spine. Inhale, look up. Exhale, round the back.

This is helping to release tension. It’s good for the cerebral spinal fluid, which the Qigong Master say, “This is an exercise that oils your joints.” Then relax. We would do a sequence where we’re oiling the joints and stretching muscles. Then we would do something, we could all do this seated. It’s called open the flow.

You’re just going to float your arms up about shoulder height, and then relax your shoulders and float your arms down. we’re going to do it slowly. The slowness of the movement will also slow down your mind. Inhale, as you float the arms up, exhale as you float the arms down. We’re just going to do this for a minute, but I want you to focus on relaxing your shoulders.

Just float the arms up with the breath and exhale, float the arms down and just go slow and feel the air move through your fingers. Feel the air going across your arms. Just have a moment where you’re in the moment. Inhale, float the arms up. Exhale, float the arms down. Do that one more time. Inhale, slow down the body. You slow down the mind and just put your hands on your knees.

If you can just close your eyes for 10 seconds and just notice how your body feels. Now notice the state of your mind and your body. Very good. Then just imagine doing that for 30 minutes to an hour. The depth and the quality of energy just dramatically improves. Like you were saying, these masters imagine doing these types of practices for a couple hours a day, training it like an Olympian, what the potential could be. The potential, from what we’ve seen, is grand. It is incredible. How is this practical? Well, for us, it’s just going to help us manage our stress, get us out of pain, help us sleep better, improve energy levels, and really get us in touch with our power and potential that we have innately within us.

Ari: Lee, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really enjoyed this. Thank you for giving some practical tools for people. Is there anything else you want to leave people with? Please also tell people where they can find you, follow your work, buy your courses, that sort of thing.

Lee: Fantastic. Just stay in the flow, guys, and I think it’s an exciting time to really see the convergence of Eastern wisdom with Western science and evidence-based research. Come find me at Qigong is spelled Q-I-G-O-N-G. My last name, Holden, If you want to see The Superhuman docuseries of all these amazing masters that we found,

Ari: Beautiful. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with my audience and sharing some practical tools, and I look forward to our next conversation.

Lee: Absolutely, Ari. Thanks so much.

Show Notes

00:00 – Intro
00:38 – Guest intro
03:12 – The Western understanding of Qigong
06:26 – What is Qigong?
11:53 – How Qigong affects the body
17:40 – The supernatural stories revolving around Qigong
23:15 – Can you feel Qi energy?
27:00 – Sexual Qigong practices
32:30 – Spiritual enlightenment from the perspective of Qigong
38:04 – Exercise – How to experience Qi


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