Are you catching “bad vibes”? Create good ones using this ancient philosophy!
There have been so many surprises being with Yohei, a foreigner with a completely different cultural background than me! Most of the time I find our differences fascinating because I get to learn about a different world perspective I’ve never thought of before.
One example: early in our relationship, I remember Yohei telling me he had caught “bad energy.” Basically he believed he had caught bad energy from someone’s negative behavior at work, equivalent to catching a sickness like a cold.
Being a sensitive-artist type, I intuited what he meant. Sometimes an environment or place just doesn’t feel good, and it can leave a sour taste in your mouth.
But he went even further and began to list symptoms that occurred from this “bad energy.” Because of this energy, Yohei became frustrated, which led to his lack of focus on a task, which caused him to cut his hand, which caused him to work later, which caused him to take a different train than usual, which then ended up being delayed, and so on and so forth. He said he had to be careful not to continue provoking this energy.
So I became interested in this “energy.” And he told me about Ki (Kee). Ki is made up of both “good energy” and “bad energy,” and is an invisible life force that flows through everything.
In Japan, Ki is translated not just as “energy," but also “spirit” and “mind.” Westerners are often more familiar with the Chinese term, Qi (Chi), which is the same concept. Indians call this energy Prana.
Ki is responsible for the overall health and well-being of every living creature. When “good energy” or vitality gets blocked, things like physical and mental illness can show up.
Ki is such an important concept in Japan that it is used as their typical greeting. “Genki Desuka” (the equivalent to “how are you”) literally translates to, “how is the root of your energy.”
The Japanese believe that Ki starts in your gut and expands outward. This makes sense since we all start our lives getting nourishment from our mother through our gut (which later becomes our belly button).
Balancing Ki in order to gather "good energy" is the purpose of many eastern medical modalities (such as acupuncture, reiki and shiatsu massage) and exercise/ training programs (such as akido).
According to Yohei, bad energy breeds more dysfunction, so it’s important to be aware of your overall environment and atmosphere.
If you become too involved in a negative situation or environment, you are susceptible to generating bad Ki. This can be as small as listening to someone gossip!
Basically, the more attention you put on a negative situation, the more power you give it.
This doesn't mean to ignore what's happening around you but instead focus on becoming more aware of your surroundings so that you can understand how you are ultimately being affected.
So if it’s possible to catch “bad energy,” like catching a cold, I wanted to know what could be done to gather “Good Energy!”
After more talks with Yohei, I learned about some basic practices:
1. Show Appreciation. By finding appreciation (and not fault), your mind begins to focus on what’s going right in a given situation or experience. Through practicing appreciation, your awareness expands so you can have a better understanding of how your energy is flowing. Appreciation is truly the foundation of gathering good Ki.
2. Make an intention to cultivate good Ki. This requires spending some time imagining how you want to feel. This is important because the more you get in touch with those good feelings that give you energy and a sense of vitality, the easier it will be to recognize a situation or environment where you can cultivate good Ki.
3. Practice being of good mind, speech and action. This means taking care of your thoughts, using good words and taking actions based in love (and not fear). This applies to not only others but yourself as well!
4. Make time for a daily spiritual or grounding practice. This can be through prayer, meditation, taking walks in nature, gardening, yoga, etc. This practice is intended to rejuvenate and purify your spirit.
5. Distract or remove yourself from bad energy. Distract yourself by finding something positive about your given situation. (Having a spiritual or grounding practice can help with this.) Sometimes though, it’s necessary to remove yourself altogether from a situation or environment. If so, try to do it intentionally, in order to avoid attracting "bad Ki."6. Make a conscious effort to hang around with others who lift you up. If you feel peaceful, happy and free, then chances are that those people lift you up!
7. Smile. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of a poker face from time to time (after all I live in New York!), but an authentic smile creates a much different energy than a frown.
8. Take time to notice beauty. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, going to the beach or looking at something with fresh eyes, taking time to see everyday moments of beauty can be crucial for your life force.
9. Use your voice as expression. Since the center of Ki resides in your gut, using your voice positively can help create good Ki. This can mean singing, laughing out loud (belly laughs please!), speaking something that matters or even shouting! In fact there is a Japanese shouting practice called Kiai and its purpose is to boost energy and drive! It's not about yelling at someone or something, but rather using vocal energy to release negativity and inspire courage.
10. Pay attention to your home, your work and the places you spend the majority of your time. Notice the areas of your home that need special attention and make a plan to get organized. Burning a fragrant candle, hanging a lovely picture or getting rid of things that are old/ don’t inspire you are small steps that contribute to generating good Ki. Fusui (or Feng Shui in Chinese) is an Asian philosophy to help you generate good Ki in your working and living environments. (More on this topic in another post)
So although I didn’t grow up with this concept of Ki, I’ve found that this “force” wasn't as odd as I initially thought.
I realize that the more I can become aware of what is happening in me (and therefore all around me), the more I can focus and redirect that energy towards the person I’d like to become. I'm not saying that I will be perfect by any means or that bad things won't ever happen again, (because this is life!) but at least these tools can help me make choices in terms of what I can control.
Yohei still mentions Ki from time to time and now I know what he means. It’s particularly exciting when we recognize good Ki and notice the beauty that flows forth in our lives.
May the force be you. (Ok- I just couldn't resist :)
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