I am over tired and hungry....but I want to post this.

It is not my writing:

Keri Brenner: Qigong provides a calm balance

Our life force energy is one of those very real, yet hard-to-pinpoint phenomena.

You know when it's forceful and vibrant - or weak and ebbing -in others or in yourself. But if you had to describe what it is exactly, in physical terms, you might just throw up your hands. Electromagnetic frequencies? DNA? Love? Spirit? Caffeine?

Practitioners of Chinese medicine and other alternative healing techniques, however, would just call it qi, or chi. It's the energy that circulates in and around us, in every living thing.

Many westerners, such as Donald and Cheryl Lynne Rubbo of the Rubbo Healing Garden in San Anselmo, are becoming increasingly involved in practicing and teaching techniques to cultivate qi and to use it to heal themselves and others.

"Intention is the key," said Cheryl Rubbo, a master qigong practitioner who teaches a women's qigong class and does private healing sessions. "Using your intention, you can create new neuronal pathways that restore calm and balance."

Qigong is one of four pillars of Chinese medicine - the other three being acupuncture, herbs and massage. All four parts are designed to balance the body's qi.

"Western science has yet to prove the existence of qi, but millions of people all over the world have begun to experience the power of qigong for curing and preventing disease," according to the Web site for Emei Qigong, a Florida-based qigong school that is training many people in the Bay Area through its seminars offered across the nation.

Cheryl Rubbo, who leads her own chosen forms of qigong at the San Anselmo center, says the simple, meditative movements and stretches, done regularly, can have profound results because they open the body's qi pathways.

The movements revolve in a type of belly dance around the body's core center in the pelvis area - called the dan tien in Chinese medicine. They are balancing and healing to the body and open up people to their own intuition.

"You become more sensitive to your surroundings, and more sensitive to others," Rubbo said.

Qi cultivation and understanding are also driving a slew of cutting-edge research projects. According to recent studies at HeartMath Research Center in Boulder Creek, people who have learned to align their heart activity with their emotional energies can actually influence the structure of DNA in a test tube.

The startling studies suggest that qi and emotions - when correlated with heart beats and sent out with specific intentions - can actually make physical changes in other living material.

"To our knowledge, this study was the first to correlate specific electrophysiological modes with the ability to cause changes in a biological target - DNA - external from the body," says Rollin McCraty, a member of the HeartMath research team.

For some people, the idea of spending time cultivating their qi might seem extraneous to other practices - such as yoga or Pilates, for example - that have more of a focus on improving the body's shape or flexibility. Or people who want to lose weight might seek out a practice that focuses more on the calorie burn.

But for others, qigong's combination of internal arts, movement and meditation could be their desired path to a more intuitive, healthy and vibrant way of living.

And a way to raise their qi - even without a dose of caffeine.