The Chi Principle –
Taking Our Human Potential to Another Level
by Tessa Richter (Switzerland)
Do you find yourself getting exhausted from trying to achieve everything you’d like to? Is it getting more strenuous as you get older, and does it take more to achieve the same level?
Many years ago, in France, I attended a Chi Gong course with a Chinese master. Every time I came out of the session I felt amazing, it was a sensation of strength combined with ease. It was like changing the entire way I moved. Physically, I cannot remember ever feeling better in my life. Moving back to Switzerland, I never found another teacher like this one, but I have kept the memory alive, and I practice regularly in my own way.
Chi, in the Chinese culture is a kind of energy that pervades all. I will not attempt to explain it, but rather share with you this sensation, and how we can apply it to our daily lives, to create a sense of achievement and performing at a high level, with ease rather than strain. This, eventually, will also help to prevent major stress related illnesses, such as burnout, depression and others.
In Chi Gong every movement is accompanied by conscious breathing: you breathe in with one movement and breathe out with another. This may seem simple enough, but it has a profound impact. It is as if the breathing actually carries you through the movement, it is as if some other force is moving us, not our own effort. This energy enables a free and flowing movement. It is no coincidence that Chinese people who practice Chi Gong on a daily basis, remain fluid, strong and flexible in their mobility until old age.
What I learned, is that using breathing to fuel my movement takes me beyond the simple use of my muscles. Often, muscles are moved through will power. Breathing brings into this process another dimension: that something greater, more powerful. It is as if, instead of saying single words to speak, you suddenly make sentences, allowing the complex thought process to form the sentence, its structure and syntax. You would never think of the grammar first before expressing something verbally. The breathing is like this higher structuring principle, a superordinate force in the process of movement.
After this deeply gratifying experience, I was curious as to how I can translate this into my other activities. At the time, I was a professional musician, performing on stage at a very high international level. As a flutist, I was well aware of my breath, but had learned to use it in a different way: I had learned to portion and control it.
Applying this to beginner students, there was an interesting phenomenon, which can actually be ‘translated’ to other contexts. On the flute, the player forms every note individually, through the fingering as well as the way you blow. At the beginning, it is a challenge to even produce a single sound. So, when first attempting to play a simple melody, people are busy producing the sound, rather than playing the melody. I asked my students to think in a paradox: don’t focus on producing the sound, don’t think of how to form your lips and blow, just hear the melody, and feel the pulse inside of you.
About Tessa Richter
Tessa Richter is an accomplished artist, trained musician, leader in mastering transition and C-suite level coach. She is also a new voice in the personal development sector.
Having performed at top level herself, she has helped innumerable creatives, specialists and C-level executives find their purpose, develop sustainable leadership approaches and successfully manage crises at pivotal times during their lives and careers.