Qi Ball: A Handful of Powerful Energy

This is always the first exercise I teach when doing a demonstration of qigong. It seems very simple, but when done with purpose, it can be a revelation to everyone. Qi Ball is all about concentration and a brief series of movements that beautifully illustrate the concept of qi. I talk about qi a lot, but this is a way for people who are new to qigong to recognize and guide the flow of universal energy within their bodies. As I tell my students, any sensation you experience while doing this exercise is qi! All feelings and sensations are good, because they are all manifestations and types of qi. Embrace them, develop them, and strive to control them.

Feeling overwhelmed at work or at home? Try Qi Ball during the day to increase focus and concentration, but especially to regain control of your qi in stressful moments. You can practice this while standing or sitting, whichever feels more comfortable. Once you understand the exercise and have experienced its effects, you can do it for 5 minutes and reap the benefits. Be aware that you may feel warmth in some parts of your body and coolness in others, and you may also sense a pulsing of energy in your body.

1.         Make yourself big, like a giant: inhabit the space you are in. Understand that you are the connection between the earth beneath your feet (yin) and heaven above (yang). Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, neck, and anus dantians, and try to clear your mind of all thoughts except the sensations you are feeling in that moment.

2.         Bend your elbows and hold your arms away from your body.

3.         Position your arms and hands as if you are holding a basketball out in front of you and presenting it to someone.

4.         Visualize the ball you are holding as an orb pulsing with energy.

5.         While keeping your body still, visualize the ball bouncing energetically from palm to palm, from left to right, back and forth from one hand to the other. You are not moving your hands, but the ball is bouncing between your open palms. This is the essence of the exercise. Concentrate on feeling the energy of the ball as it bounces. You may feel your palms getting warm.

6.         Now that you’ve felt the qi, take it a step further: While keeping perfectly still, visualize spinning the ball between your hands in one direction, like a globe rotating on its axis. After a few revolutions, spin the ball in the opposite direction. Try speeding up the rotation, then slowing it down. Alternate between moving the ball clockwise and counterclockwise, fast and slow. If the ball jumps too fast, use your mind to control the speed. Feel the energy like waves, or circles, in your mind.

7.         Now slowly move your hands apart to stretch the energy. Gently bring them together to compress the energy. After you’ve practiced this exercise for a while, you may notice a magnetic power in your hands. As you stretch the energy, you may feel it pulling your hands back together as if by a magnet. As you compress the energy by bringing your hands closer, you may feel your hands repelling each other gently, as if there’s too much energy to contain the small space. It’s okay if you didn’t feel the qi the first time. Just keep practicing. This exercise may be done for five minutes at a time or longer, as long and as often as you like.