This is my latest attempt to provide a reference for words I often use in my writing/teaching.

I have long revered clarity of language, and using terms that permit the greatest opportunity to create understanding. Some words, “consciousness” or “experience” for instance, are “words worn smooth by a million tongues” and need to be explained in a certain context. Some Chinese terms have no English equivalent, so I do my best to describe them in a way that allows for direct experience.

My recent exploration seeks to map out body-mind integration by including some aspects of the brain/nervous system. I try to not get too technical, but I think some basic grasp of the physical aspects of awareness/thought deepen understanding of its more insubstantial qualities.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’d like to explore them deeper, plug them into the “Search this website” button at You may find further discussion on various blogs I have written.


Rick Barrett
The following are terms that frequently appear in my writing and teaching. The list is constantly evolving. Many are my attempt to bridge understanding between various disciplines and orientations. Brevity and practicality are emphasized over comprehensiveness. 

Actuality: Dao. Suchness. What-is. Event or condition prior to objectification by the rational mind.

Afferent Nervous System: (see Sensory Nerves/Neurons). The yin, or incoming, nerve function. Information is received from the environment by the senses and is transmitted to the central nervous system.

Autonomic Nervous System: The part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes. It has two primary branches: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The ANS is largely unconscious, but some of its functions can be brought under conscious control. (See Sympathetic Nervous System; Parasympathetic Nervous System)

Ball of the Foot: The large, prominent point on the medial line (big toe) between the toe and the medial arch.

Ball-Knee-Kua: The sequence for establishing the foundation of the postures structure. First, establish the position of the substantial foot by centering on the sesamoids. (See Sesamoids.) Second, align and set the knee so that the body’s mass will transfer primarily through the ball. Third, release the kua.

Body-mind: There is no clear distinction between the physical body and the mind. They are interrelated and interdependent. (see Cartesian dualism)

Cartesian dualism: The proposition of philosopher/mathematician Rene Descartes that mind and body are composed of two incompatible substances and are forever separate.

Central Equilibrium: Zhongding. Central Pillar. Alignment of the body to the “sweet spot” between heaven and earth that amplifies the energetic connection to the “Big Qi.” Reach with Niwan and center over the Ball of the Foot.

Coherence: wholeness; an ordered patterning within one system, or synchronization between multiple systems. Coherence is inversely proportional to the entropy in a system. (See Entropy.)

Connective tissue system (CTS): The Living Matrix. The connective tissue system links all cells in the body, and is composed of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, fascia, membranes, and ground substance.

Consciousness: The narrow band of awareness characterized by rational thought. Vijnana.

Crown of the Head: The top rear part of the head centered around the hair whorl or posterior fontanelle.

Dao (Tao): The “Way.” The Mystery. Unknowable and Unknown.

Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching): (Classic of The Way and its Power). A book of Daoist wisdom attributed to the sage, Lao-tse (Lao Tsu). Considered to be written between the 6th and 3rd century BC)

Efferent Nervous System: See Motor Nerves/Neurons. The yang, or outgoing, nerve impulses that create muscular contraction and movement.

Energetic coherence: Having waves with a high degree of similarity of phase, direction and amplitude. Wholeness. All life is energetically coherent in that it exists as an organism. In humans, increased coherence means that the many trillions of cells in the body are cooperating more smoothly and harmoniously. Compare to Non-coherence.

Energy medicine: Any healing modality that either uses energy to assist in healing, or works directly on the energy fields of the body to promote healing.

Engagement: Authentic encounter. Meeting. Encountering a person or thing with your whole being (superconscious). Participatory consciousness. Includes both Objective Consciousness and Non-objective Awareness.

Entropy: (Thermodynamics) The extent to which energy of a closed system is available to do work; measurement of disorder in a system. Entropy is inversely proportional to the coherence in any system. (See Coherence.)

Experience: Direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge. How events appear from a certain perspective when thought about by Consciousness. All experience is a product of the It-mind.

Eye of Flesh: Preconscious. Body awareness. The state of awareness that happens prior to rational thought.

Eye of Mind: “Eye of Reason.” (Bonaventure.) Vijnana. Conscious, rational thought.

Eye of Spirit: “Eye of Contemplation.” (Bonaventure.) Prajna. See Superconscious.

Fang: Extension; reaching.

Fear: Resistance to What-is. Love and Fear are complements. (See Love.)

Flatland: Scientific materialism; objectification of all phenomena.

Form: Standardized series of martial arts movements.

Gongfu (Kung Fu): (“energy time”) Any practice one does diligently over time; high level of martial skill.

Hemispheric Synchronization: Integration of left and right hemispheres of the brain to produce a whole-brain coherence.

Holon: (“whole/parts”) Everything is whole unto itself, part of something greater, and composed of smaller parts.

Injunction: A technique taken as an exemplar for generating data.

Insubstantial: Xu. Less solid or fixed.

It-mind: Consciousness. Vijnana. Conversion of events into thoughts about the events.

I-It: One of Martin Buber’s two basic words. (Compare I-You.) Vijnana. Consciousness. Rational thought. When you consider anything an It, EVERYTHING becomes an It to you, including yourself.

I-You: I-Thou. One of Martin Buber’s two basic words. (Compare I-it.) Encountering a person or thing non-objectively and reciprocally, as though equal partners in a dance.

Jade Pillow Gate: (“The Mouth of God”) Important energy gate located at the base of the skull where the topmost vertebra (C1, or “Atlas”) meets the occiput. Opening the Jade Pillow Gate releases the jingshen, or “spirit of vitality.” Neck tension that “kinks the hose” at the Jade Pillow interrupts the flow of qi. Reaching with the crown of the head (Niwan) opens it. (See Niwan; Jingshen)

Jin: (Chin). Power that results from the integrated use of body and consciousness; physical expression of qi that is directed by consciousness and based in whole-body energetic connection. Contrast to li.

Jing:(Ching) Essence. The essential fluid of the physical body. Substantial aspect of qi.

Jingshen: “Spirit of vitality.” A lively and insubstantial energy that leads to “effortless power.”

“Kinking the Hose”: Muscular tension or structural misalignment that interrupts or blocks the flow of qi in the body.

Kua (Kwa): the hip and related muscles, organs, and connective tissue. Tightness in the kua impedes the flow of qi and can lead to many health problems. See Song Kua.
Li: Force generated by muscular strength.

Liquid Crystal: Matter in a state that has properties between those of conventional liquid and those of solid crystal. Cell biologist James Oschman that the collagen molecules that make up the Connective Tissue System are liquid crystalline in structure and process energy and information much faster than the nervous system.

Living Matrix: Connective tissue system

Love: Embracing What-is. Love and Fear are complements. (See Fear.)

Motor Nerves/Neurons: The motor system (Afferent Nervous System) is the part of the central nervous system that is involved with movement. Signals are sent from the brain and spinal cord to tell the muscles to contract, producing movement.

Mystery: Dao. Unknown and Unknowable.

Negentropy: Negative entropy; The ability of living systems to increase in organization and complexity to utilize energy that would otherwise dissipate.

Niwan: Crown of the head. Posterior fontanelle. Area at the top rear of the head where the cranial bones come together. Reaching with the niwan opens the Jade Pillow Gate. (See Jade Pillow Gate)

Non-coherence: Reduced coherence. Disharmony of the body-mind.

Non-objective Awareness: Prajna. Knowing that is not based on rational thinking. Characteristic of I-You encounter.

Objective Consciousness: It-mind. Representational thought. Vijnana. Conscious, rational awareness.

Objectification: It-mind. Representational thought. Story. Narrative. Conversion of a condition or event into symbolic terms that explain what is otherwise Unknown and Unknowable.

Paradigm: A central overall way of regarding phenomena within which a scientist normally works.

Parasympathetic Nervous System: The inhibitory part of the autonomic nervous system. “Rest-Digest-Heal.” Necessary to restore energy levels in the body and to slow the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The Yin aspect of the ANS (See Sympathetic Nervous System; Vagus Nerve; Autonomic Nervous System)

Peng jin: “Ward-off” energy. Expansive, yang, “up and out” jin.

Pointing: Intentionally reaching with the index finger(s) to activate energetic coherence and superconsciousness. Pointing issues a piezoelectric charge that shifts the Liquid Crystal Matrix of the Connective Tissue System into an enhanced state of Wholeness.

Posture: Stationary martial arts position.

Prajna: Transrational consciousness; it “Knows” rather than “thinks”.

Preconscious: Eye of Flesh. Body awareness. The state of awareness that happens prior to rational thought. All information that is not yet (and may never be) conscious is preconscious. Preconscious includes subconscious, unconscious, sensorimotor, organic, cellular, and subcellular information.

Presence: Willingness to occupy THIS moment and location in time and space in a superconscious state. Being while momentarily suspending reflective thought.

Qi (Ch’i): Energy, particularly the energy that animates a living creature; bioenergy.

Qigong (Ch’i Kung): A practice to study and enhance qi.

Quantum physics: A system of mechanics to describe the behavior of atomic and sub-atomic particles.

Reaching: Fang. Extending with the intention to connect. Contrast to “Resistance.”

Reality: What one thinks about actuality. (See Actuality; What-is.) Objectification of What-is. The Story one uses to explain the Mystery. Events become more “real” to the degree that they are agreed upon.

Resistance: Stopping, holding back, or pushing away that which is unwelcomed. In push hands, resistance is characterized by localized muscular force (Li). Fear is resistance to What-is.

Rooting: Energetic resonance with the powerful fields of the earth. Rooting is a by-product of energetic coherence and is enhanced by activation of the Three Pillars.

Scientism: The belief that conventional scientific methods and current standards of the physical sciences can and should be the only valid forms of investigation in any and all fields of inquiry.

Sensory Nerves/Neurons: Gather information from the environment and send to the brain.

Sesamoids: Two bones in the ball of the foot just before the big toe. The sesamoids are the bullseye of the target in the “ball” of Ball-Knee-Kua.

Shen: broadly, spirit in all senses. Narrowly, it is the expanded state of Superconscious awareness that interfaces with the Mystery non-objectively.

Shi: substantial; full; solid.

Sinews: tendons and other connective tissues.

Song (Sung): Relaxation into the support of the connective tissue system, releasing muscular tension.

Song Kua: Releasing muscular tension in the hip joint that improves qi flow and enhances Rooting.

Story: Any narrative constructed by consciousness to explain what is happening. Stories may be stored as memories. Stories are maps of remembered Experience. “A map is not the territory it represents.” (Korzybski)

Substantial: Shi; having solidity or fixity. (See Insubstantial: Xu)

Substance: The material or “stuff” that something is made of; implies solidity or fixity.

Superconscious: Body-Mind-Spirit integration. Seeing with Three Eyes. Embodied awareness that transcends and includes, but does not require, rational thought.

Sympathetic Nervous System: The stimulating, “energy out” or yang, aspect of the Autononomic Nervous System. Often associated with the “fight or flight” response. It primes the body for action. (See Autonomic Nervous System; Parasympathetic Nervous System)

Tai Ji (T’ai-Chi): “Supreme Ultimate”; the interplay of polarities that makes up the all that exists.

Taijiquan (T’ai-chi ch’uan): martial art based on the interplay of polarities.

Tensegrity: (“tensional integrity”) term coined by architect/philosopher Buckminster Fuller to describe structures composes of continuous tensional elements and discontinuous structural members.

Ten thousand things: all objects of the manifest universe. Reality.

Three eyes: (Eyes of flesh, mind, and contemplation) Three distinct modes of human perception, each attuned to its own level of reality (materiality, thought, spirit)

Three Pillars of Energetic Connection: Foundational elements for taijiquan and qigong that enhance qi flow, rooting, and soft power (Jin). The Three Pillars are: Energetic Coherence, Central Equilibrium, and Song Kua.

Ting Jin: (“Listening” jin) Heightened ability to perceive subtle information both substantial and insubstantial.

Transpersonal: Sense of identity that extends beyond the individual body.

Transrational: Consciousness that transcends and includes the rational mind.

Tuishou: Push Hands. Two-person drill to develop taijiquan skills.

Vagus Nerve: “The Wanderer.” The longest nerve in the Autonomic Nervous System, extending from the medulla oblongata in the brain through the neck and chest to the abdomen. Connects brain, heart, lungs, and gut. Helps to control mood, heart rate, digestion, and immune response. Its function is primarily parasympathic. (See Autonomic Nervous System; Parasympathetic Nervous System)

Vijnana: (Mahayana Buddhism) Analytical, discriminatory mind. Consciousness. It-mind. Eye of Mind.

Western Gate: Scientific materialism; materialist assumptions of Western science and philosophy.

What-is: Suchness. Event prior to its being thought about.

Wei wu wei: Literally “Do. Not do.” Doing based in absolute non-doing.

Wu wei: Literally “not do.”

Wu Ji: Undifferentiated nothingness. The Emptiness that is the “Mother” of the Tai Ji. (See Tai Ji.)

Xu: Insubstantial; empty; abstract.

Xu ling din jin: “An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head.” Reaching with the niwan to open the Jade Pillow Gate. (See Niwan. Jade Pillow Gate. Crown of head.)

Zheng-ti jin: Heightened state of energetic coherence; whole-body energetic connection.

Zhongding: Central equilibrium. Alignment of the body to the “sweet spot” between heaven and earth that amplifies the energetic connection to the “Big Qi.”