“I’ve been told that I should take off any metal I am wearing when I practice qigong, including jewelry,” she said. “Is this true? If so what is the reason? Thanks!”
This question was posted in our Facebook group by one of my students. Rather than just say, “don’t worry about this silly rule,” I want to explain my thought process. My hope is that you’ll learn to think in a similar way.
Learning to think critically is…well…critical when it comes to getting powerful results with qigong. Whether you’re trying to blast away chronic pain or lift yourself out of major depression — you need to use your head!
In order to make sense of the contradictory advice that you are sure to encounter in your qigong journey, you need to learn to think critically. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do in this post as we analyze this question about jewelry.
My Metallic Students
I’ve taught well over 10,000 students, and over 2000 of them were face-to-face in my brick-and-mortar qigong studio. Among those students, I’ve taught people with:
- titanium knee replacements
- chromium hip replacements
- titanium pacemakers with a lithium battery
- gold dental crowns
- cobalt chrome spinal rods
- stainless steel pins
- titanium skull plates
- adamantium claws
Okay, I’m joking about the last one. I haven’t taught Wolverine because he already knows qigong. That’s why he heals so fast!
If you listen to the advice of some teachers, then these “metallic” people can’t practice qigong, right? After all, they can’t remove any of the metal inside their body.
Similarly, some jewelry cannot be removed. For example, many people cannot remove their wedding bands. So these people are in the same boat.
But here’s the truth: These “metallic” students get the same amazing results as anyone else, rules be damned.
Do Metals Affect the Qi?
Short answer: Yes.
But wait! Didn’t I just say that my “metallic” students get great results?
Yes. They do.
The thing you need to remember is that EVERYTHING affects the qi. Rather than ask if metal affects your qi, you should be asking HOW MUCH it affects your qi.
I wore a wedding ring for years. I also wear an Apple Watch. Over the years, I’ve practiced both with and without these two pieces of jewelry.
After years of experimentation, I can safely conclude that both the ring and the watch affect the qi.
And here’s the important bit: Both the watch and the ring affect the qi far, far less than worrying.
Protecting Our Qi
It’s important for all of us to protect ourselves from external influences that negatively affect our qi. From the quality of the food we eat to the air we breathe to the blue light emitted by screens at night — all of this falls into the category I call Protecting the Qi.
For example, I use a Berkey filter for my drinking water because I want to protect myself from impurities in city water. Those impurities would affect my qi so I’d rather avoid them. Plus, filtered water tastes way better.
I spent $300 on a Berkey because I don’t want to worry about my water, especially as I travel around in my camper van. So it’s a double win — I worry less and I drink better water.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
The emotion we call “worry” is closely related to anxiety. Anxiety disorders are incredibly common. In fact, they are the most common mental health diagnosis in the US. (citation).
And this sucks because worry itself is worse than most of the things we worry about!
The Worry Paradox
When you worry excessively, you inhibit the flow of qi through your channels. Unlike a piece of metal, which inhibits the flow of qi in a specific area, worry inhibits the flow throughout your entire body.
And worry inhibits the qi much more significantly than metals or jewelry.
In other words, worry is really bad.
If you have a piece of metal in your arm, the qi will just flow around it. We know this happens because we can asses the overall activity of a particular meridian using Chinese diagnostics, including pulse diagnosis. I also know this from the experiments I’ve done on myself over the years.
But when you worry too much, and especially if that worry becomes a background static in your life as it does for so many Americans — then you’re significantly inhibiting the flow of qi through your entire system.
Are you starting to see the problem here, not just with the No Jewelry Rule, but with all the various qigong rules that, in the end, only have a minor effect on the qi?
When the Worry is Worse
I’ve already written about some of the crazy qigong rules that you can safely ignore. In that article, I talk about 6 common qigong rules that just don’t make sense.
The No Jewelry Rule, however, does make sense. It happens to be true that metal blocks the flow of qi. Anyone who can sense the flow of qi in their body can run their own experiments and confirm this to be true.
The problem is that the effect is so minor that it’s just not worth worrying about, especially if you can’t remove the metal.
If you want to take off your jewelry, take it off. If you can’t take it off, or if you have metal inside your body, or if you’re just lazy, then leave it.
Either way — and this is critical — don’t worry about the metal affecting your qi or else you’ll affect your qi by worrying!
How to Think For Yourself
In the final analysis, you need to think for yourself and make your own decisions. But this isn’t easy if you’re new to qigong. For example, a beginner who can’t sense the flow of qi can’t run their own experiments with regards to metal.
The solution is to ask questions. Good questions. And lots of them!
For example, if a teacher says that you should remove jewelry before practicing qigong — ask why. If they say it blocks the flow of qi, ask how much.
Corner your teacher and bombard them with questions. Ask if jewelry blocks the flow more or less than WiFi. Ask what someone with metal inside their body should do. Ask if the teacher has any metal in their own body, including their mouth.
Asking lots of questions like this will demystify the rule for you. For example, if the teacher admits that he has a gold crown, or if he wears a ring while practicing, then you can safely assume that the rule is no big deal.
Or if the teacher has no good answer for students with metal in their bodies, then you can safely assume that he’s just parroting the rule from his own teacher and hasn’t really tested it himself.
The Problem with Traditional Teachers
Asking questions is hugely important. But there’s a problem.
Traditional teachers, whether they are Chinese or non-Chinese, don’t like to answer questions. In the old days, you were as likely to get a smack in the head as a thoughtful answer. Although I doubt you’ll get a smack in the head in the 21st century, you may not get the answer you need.
But even that is an answer! If a traditional teacher ignores your question, or blows it off, or gives you an unsatisfactory answer — then you know that he doesn’t have the answer you need! And that’s liberating!
This tells that you need to go search for an answer on your own. In fact, I bet that many of you ended up on my blog for exactly that reason. You were searching for thoughtful answers to your qigong (or tai chi) questions, and somehow you ended up here.
Or maybe you don’t like my answers. Okay. Keep searching! Take responsibility for your OWN practice.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should be disrespectful toward traditional teachers. Don’t do that. Be a good student. Be respectful. Be kind.
I am, however, saying that, no matter what your teacher says, it’s up to YOU to decide what you actually do in the privacy of your own practice.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to keep your jewelry on? Or take it off? From the heart, Sifu Anthony