Mindfulness and Star Wars
Mindfulness and Star Wars - how does this get together? When I was a kid and Star Wars was the big thing, my interest was on fast spaceships, aliens, laser weapons and not to forget Wookies! I was not much interested in the force, nor in the cultures which might have influenced George Lucas to create it. This all changed when I started to practice Qigong.
“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
– Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars – Episode 1)
Is the Force Qi?
The name Qigong sound pretty much like the name of a Jedi: Qui-Gon Jinn. He plays the mentor in Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. My practice of Qigong made me look twice at this character, portrayed by Liam Neeson.
Qui-Gon is not just a mentor. He symbolizes the pure teachings of the Jedi which are already partly forgotten. Even the High Jedi Council led by fan favorite Jedi-Master Yoda, disagrees to some extent with his views. The council was too narrow-minded, fearful and self-focused in my opinion, and therefore eventually destroyed. If the Jedi would have followed Qui-Gon Jinn, then – maybe – the emperor would have not overtaken the whole galaxy. But who is this Qui-Gon Jinn?
Jedi-Master Qui-Gon and Qigong
Qui-Gon Jinn was the mentor of the famous Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi. Together they discovered Anakin Skywalker who later became Darth Vader. Anakin is a metaphor for a fallen angel who turned evil and betrayed the Jedi. Only Qui-Gon was the teacher Anakin needed. To continue the story and narrate his fall and betrayal, Qui-Gon needed to die in the first episode. The score for his final fight was named “Duel of the Fates” to underline what is at stake: the future of the whole galaxy. To visually show that Qui-Gon is different from the other Jedis, he meditates during this fight and tries to relax, while the others aggressively jump around.
I always found this remarkable, and envisioned this scene when REN XUE teacher Norberto spoke at the last retreat in Sweden of his time teaching Martial Arts. Norberto emphasized: “If you want to fight and defend yourself you need to be relaxed!”
But Qui-Gon goes beyond that! If you listen to his teachings and quotes throughout the film, you might wonder if it is really a coincidence that George Lucas named this character QUI-GON. I don’t think so. It is far too close to QIGONG.
Mindfulness in Star Wars
In Qigong and especially in REN XUE’s Yuan Qigong, the style I practice, there are many teachings about mindfulness. Be aware of the moment – of the time you are in and the space you occupy each and every moment. Qigong master and founder of REN XUE, Yuan Tze, started the second level of the teacher training with this approach. The same approach can be found in Qui-Gon’s teachings!
One of the first lessons he gives Obi-Wan in this movie is: “Don't center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” It is obvious what Qui-Gon meant: What we think about, directly affects our future. If we have grief and sadness or even fear because of our past, we likely will take this with us into our future. Having that in mind, we should invest ourselves in actions, people, moments, and art we are passionate about. We should follow our dreams and not concentrate on negative experiences or filling our lives with empty distractions.
Qui-Gon Jinn remembers Anakin shortly before his death: “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” Basically, he reminded his apprentice of mindfulness. He wanted to ease his anxiety. Be conscious of the future, “But not at the expense of the present moment,” he tells Obi-Wan. To sum it up, he meant: Don’t run around in circles and be afraid of all the “what ifs” in your mind. If you do that, you will forget to live in the here and now.
For me, it is interesting to watch the Star Wars movies with my new perspective. I am curious what I will discover there, and I am even more curious if writer/director George Lucas really named his fictional character after Qigong. The universe will tell me – hopefully one day.