Music and poetry… cultivate qi by allowing a person to draw on them to feel more responsive, more connected, and more resonant with the entirety of shared human experience. They could induce sudden clarity and moving insight into what it means to be human.
We nourish our qi in similar ways when we marvel over a painting in a museum or feel transported by a piece of music. Anything that inspired awe refines qi by training the senses to respond more profoundly to the world around us. When we are more aware of the world in all its dimensions, we are more open to all that we can potentially feel about it and are better able to react well to it.
Listening to a piece of music that moves us helps refine our experience of human emotion. We are taken through all the life experiences that informed the composer as he created his music; his emotions remain a part of us. We learn what it means to feel these emotions without being pulled to and fro…When we find ourselves facing the loss of someone we are close to, a relative’s despair, the exhilaration of entering (p 135) a new chapter in life, we can have a more profound response if we’ve been listening to music that speaks to us. The music deepens our feeling of connection to our shared humanity…With literature, we are taken through huge swaths of time or experience from a variety of perspectives that we could never possibly experience in real life. The knowledge we gain provides access to a different way of engaging with the world because it allows us to step outside of our own lives and better empathise with and relate to a vast stream of human experience.
How does this help to refine qi? Music, poetry, art and literature are composed of discrete elements such as words, notes, sounds, rhythms and colours. The more we immerse ourselves in them, the more we understand how discrete things resonate with one another, just as qi resonates with qi. They represent how qi relates constantly to all of the other forms of qi around it – for better or for worse.
(pg 136) When you are impervious to the ups and downs around you, when your senses are refined, and your body aligned and healthy, you achieve a settled heart. (pg 137) Qi becomes so refined and concentrated within you that you are like a spirit composed of qi of the highest order; the kind that allows for a life of vitality and longevity. You have learned to concentrate the qi as if you were a spirit.’