“Can you also direct the qi to your feet?” he asked.
He was loving the experience.
“Yes,” I said.
Mark giggled with excitement.
Mark would often corner me after class and pepper me with questions.
I walked him over to a chart on the back wall of my studio, which had the following list:
The 12 Dimensions of Qi Mastery
- Discovering the Qi
- Circulating the Qi
- Aligning the Qi
- Gathering the Qi
- Purifying the Qi
- Protecting the Qi
- Mobilizing the Qi
- Directing the Qi
- Consolidating the Qi
- Transforming the Qi
- Unifying the Qi
- Transmitting the Qi
As Mark stared at the chart, he looked like a kid in a candy store. He was grinning ear to ear.
Ancient Skills, Modernized
A few years ago, I started to feel like there was something missing from my teaching.
The result was something that I called The 12 Phases of Qi Cultivation.
That was the prototype of the 12 Dimensions of Qi Mastery.
From Phases to Dimensions
This person happens to be a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Florida.
He explained that in physics, dimensions are not linear. They coexist and overlap.
This was exactly the concept that I had been searching for.
The 12 skills overlap, and also coexist.
Seeking What They Sought
There’s a famous Zen quote that has inspired me through my 2 decades of exploring these arts:
In seeking what the past masters sought, I discovered the 12 Dimensions.
Then and Now
My goal is for students to experience all 12 skills.
In other words, I don’t want you to just read about these skills; I want you to feel them.
Before switching to qigong and tai chi, I earned 2 black belts in karate.
The belt system is popular. And I know why.
I still remember the feeling of pride after earning my green belt.
After I left the karate world, I stopped using the belt system, and I haven’t looked back.
But now, it’s tempting for students to view the 12 Dimensions as levels, similar to belts.
“What level are you?”
“Dude, I just passed my Dimension 4 test!”
Unfortunately, qi mastery doesn’t work that way.
Mastery in the art of qi cultivation isn’t linear. It’s circular. Or rather, spiral.
The Spiral of Qi and of Life
The natural order is a spiral, not a line.
Rather than thinking about the 12 Dimensions as a line, think of them as a spiral, like this:
In fact, the deeper you go into this art of qi mastery, the more the 12 skills become unified.
The Many Levels of Mastery
I’ve been through all 12 Dimensions, and I can perform each skill.
Does that mean I’m done? Am I an Enlightened Mega Grandmaster?
People today are extremely confused about the concept of mastery.
The Messiness of Mastery
For example, I still practice Dimension #1, Discovering the Qi, every single day.
It’s not a beginner skill that I learned years ago and then left behind.
Or I might spend a month deepening my skill of transforming.
This is what mastery really looks like. It’s messy.
That’s okay. You’ve got the rest of your life to learn and develop the other skills.
Understanding Each Dimension
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably curious to learn more about each of the 12 Dimensions.
Good! I was hoping to pique your curiosity.
But first, I want to hear from you.
If you want me to write more about this, then let me know in the comments below.