Training in Active Receptivity

I was at a Qi Gong class with a friend and we learned a fun receptivity exercise. It’s designed to teach the difference between active and passive receptivity.

To do this exercise, you need a partner. The exercise consists of three parts: 1. Passive, 2. Active (Energized), and 3. Active Receptivity. As you practice each part, notice the energy and how it changes. Notice your hands and where you are storing any tension.

To begin, stand with your feet comfortably apart, facing your partner. You put your hands out in front of you, palms to the sky, elbows bent, as though you are about to catch something in your hands. Your hands remain palms up throughout the exercise.

Your partner puts their hands out, under your hands, with palms up and gently open. They lightly hold up your hands. There’s no force or exertion. Your partner’s hands are gentle, soft, and strong.

1. PassiveReceptivity Exercise_Fig1a
In this first position, make your hands passive, almost limp, with the palms still facing up. This is passive receptivity. Feel the energetics of this passivity. Your partner may notice that your hands feel heavy and difficult to hold up.


2. Active (Energized)
In this second position, you make your hands energized, spreading your fingers open wide and tense, like yoReceptivity Exercise_Fig2au’re trying to reach for something with only your fingers. Keep your arms steady and relaxed. Your partner continues to gently hold up your hands. Notice the energy of this. This is like the energetic of controlling, or “I can do it myself.” It is difficult to support your hands when they are tense and energized like this.

3. Active Receptivity
In this last position, you focus on being Actively ReceReceptivity Exercise_Fig3aptive. Your palms are open to receive. They are neither limp nor agitated: they are actively receiving. Your partner will find it easy to support your hands, because they are neither too tense, nor too limp. When I did this position, it was as though my hands were floating.

To finish the exercise, your partner gently guides your hands until your palms meet in the middle and then releases them.

Now repeat the whole exercise, changing positions so you are holding up your partner’s hands.

Each time I do this exercise, I’m reminded that trying too hard is as just as unrewarding as not trying at all. And in practicing this exercise, I am finding that holding the position of Active Receptivity is getting more natural.

~ Lisa Voisin, Level II Teacher

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