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Psi, Vital Energy, and Electromagnetism

Article by Steve Randolf published in EdgeScience Issue 52

Despite decades of parapsychological research, psi phenomena have not yet been convincingly explained in terms of modern physics. In the past, psi was once speculated to be electromagnetic (EM) in nature, its transmission occurring through EM waves. However, the EM theory of psi has long been abandoned as no such waves have been found to conclusively and exclusively mediate psi phenomena.

Nevertheless, reviewing academic and non-academic resources, one may find evidence suggesting the EM nature of psi, in particular in mind-matter experiments. Some particularly experienced martial artists can voluntarily produce effects manifested as EM fields with extraordinary characteristics. These include extra-high voltage (104–105 V) at field amplitudes high enough to cause sparks (>30 kV/cm) (Fazio, 2022; Senteris, n.d.), a wide range of frequencies covering at least the near-infrared and the entire radio wave spectrum (i.e., VLF–VHF: 100–1013 Hz) (Chen, 2004; Seto et al., 1992; Yao & Shen, 1997; Ohnishi & Ohnishi, 2009; Fazio, 2022; Senteris, n.d.), and power densities that can melt some polymers and ignite some flammable substances (Feng, 2020; Fazio, 2022; GMW Mystic, n.d.; Grandmaster Wolf, 2022).

The derivative EM fields manifested by these adepts can also carry information. Some practitioners can unconsciously emulate the complex frequency encoding of various remote-control signals (thus, they turn appliances on and off at a distance) (Fazio, 2022; Senteris, n.d.).

Scientific Research for the Documentation and Understanding of “Vital Energy”

The so-called “vital energy” is considered fundamental to many millennia-old spiritual practices, notably in Chinese qigong and Hindu yoga. The word “qigong” is composed of “qi” (or “chi”), meaning “energy” (approximate Sanskrit equivalent “prana”), and “gong” (or “kung”), meaning “hard work” or “cultivation” – which reveals the primary purpose of these practices, namely, to cultivate vital energy. Over the centuries, qigong and yogic practices have mutually influenced each other, and today they have much in common. Both seek to boost vital energy circulation within the body through appropriate exercise and meditation as a means towards the attainment of perfect health, longevity, and enlightenment. Psi abilities (special powers or siddhis) are also enhanced as a result, although this is usually not considered a goal per se.

The so-called external qi is of particular interest here, which is used by qigong practitioners primarily for healing and self-defense but is sometimes also applied in demonstrations of telekinesis (TK), also called psychokinesis (PK), and mind-over-matter. Such manifestations of qi are often far from subtle.

There is a considerable body of work, scholarly and non-scholarly, investigating the nature of this energy and its propagation. An informative review on external qi was published by Chen (2004), a researcher from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Over two decades, Chen analyzed a tremendous amount of research on external qi, primarily performed in China, gathering about 100 relatively high-quality references. He showed that qi was associated with a change of readings of a variety of detectors, chemical, physical, and biological (including humans).

Over two decades, Chen analyzed a tremendous amount of research on external qi, primarily performed in China, gathering about 100 relatively high-quality references.

Physical detection is the most interesting for the present discussion. In the case of healers, for example, “healing energy” is thought to be subjectively “sent out” – which should be measurable if it is energetically radiative in nature. Indeed, Chen listed many striking results from laboratory tests with qigong healers. For example, one could emit infrared radiation (5–15 µm wavelength, i.e., 20-60 THz frequency), modifying its average amplitude, while another was able to alter its frequency.

Microwaves of about 10 mm wavelength (30 GHz) and pressure fluctuations using a germanium micro detector were detected. Enhanced magnetic fields (up to 100 nT, 0.1-0.5 Hz) and infrasound(~10 dB enhancement) were identified at some of the qigong healers’ acupuncture points. Chen also noted that the practice of external qi seems to give rise to many secondary or derivative phenomena, which might be what is detected instead of qi itself.

Outside the scope of Chen’s review, Green et al. (1991) from the Menninger Clinic of Houston detected multiple electrostatic potential surges of more than four volts (with respect to ground) on the skin of six practitioners of non-contact therapeutic touch during meditation. The surge duration was between 0.5 and 12.5 s, and the maximum surge amplitude measured was 221 V.

Researchers at Showa University in Tokyo (Seto et al., 1992) found strong bio-magnetic fields during external qi practice. In one experiment, three out of 37 volunteers who thought they could emit qi successfully – a Buddhist and healer, a qigong practitioner, and someone with no qigong or yoga experience – produced a magnetic field oscillating at 4-10 Hz and having an amplitude of 2-4 mG, or 1000 times the norm.

In 1997, Shanghai University researchers (Yao & Shen, 1997) asked 14 qigong masters to direct their external qi towards the antenna of a microwave radiometer operating in the X-band (8–12 GHz), and 11 produced a distinct signal. In 1999, researchers from the New York State and John Kennedy universities (Syldona & Rein, 1999) performed DC electrodermal voltage measurements on three qigong healers. A significant correlation was found between skin potentials (mostly 100-200 mV) and the healers’ felt sense of energy flow. Tsuyoshi and Tomoko Ohnishi (2009), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, showed external qi practice was associated with the standing receiver pushed backward from at least 100 meters away (they did not try further), was apparently reflected by mirrors, and should contain near-infrared radiation(estimated to peak at 1000 nm, i.e., 300 THz).

The work performed by Thelma Moss at UCLA (1979) should also be mentioned here. Extending previous research on high-voltage electrophotography (“Kirlian photography”) developed in the USSR, Moss and her colleagues (Moss & Hubacher, 1983) found many correlations between the characteristics of high-frequency (typically in the kilohertz range)corona discharge from people’s fingers and their emotional state, sexual excitation, and psychic abilities. Moss’s subjects were mainly ordinary people, but she occasionally put energy healers and TK practitioners to the test, including Uri Geller. Moss noticed that the correlations occurred at specific frequencies but not others, inferring the possibility of a dominant frequency within the individual’s “vital energy spectrum.”

Practitioners and the Electrical Nature of Qi

Despite the reluctance of most researchers to speculate, let alone draw conclusions on the nature of qi, many qigong masters and TK adepts do believe that it manifests primarily in the form of electricity. Jwing-Ming Yang (1997), for example, a qigong master and author of several books on qigong, provides an extensive discussion of qi in terms of possibly being EM energy.

Public manifestations of vital energy were traditionally considered discreditable and even harmful by both qigong and yoga practitioners. Qigong practitioners were also secretive about their techniques because they used qi for self-defense. This has changed (somewhat) now, and demonstrations of “electrokinetic” skills are easily accessible in the form of recordings uploaded onto social media platforms – primarily by qigong and TK adepts.

Eisenberg (1985) reported repeatedly witnessing a qigong master lighting fluorescent lamps. Purportedly one of the most powerful qigong masters was the late John Chang, from the Mo Pai qigong lineage. In 1988, the brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair released a documentary (1988) displaying his electrokinetic skills, such as “zapping” people such that they would feel shocked. That brought him immediate fame, which he apparently disliked so much that he promptly disappeared to the Island of Java. He was found by Danaos (2000) and McMillan (2011) (independently), who convinced him to train them and later published their incredible experiences.

The famous TK veteran Trebor Seven (Allen, 2022) has been somewhat discreet about his techniques until recently when he revealed that his training also involved qigong practice (Allen, 2022). His skills include lighting up light bulbs and interfering with lights from a distance, which Chris Fazio has similarly mastered. Chris developed his own method of electrokinesis based on a synthesis of his personal research and the Tien Shan qigong system, which had been brought to America by Bruce Lee’s uncle, Master Fook Yueng (Gray, 2019; Freeman, 2021). Like John Chang, Chris can jolt people with his qi and has been very discreet about his progress during nine years of training, but he has lately decided to share some of his knowledge. He can now be seen in several video documents, including an episode of “The Proof is Out There” on the History Channel (Harris, 2022), lighting up fluorescent lamps, producing sparks, remotely interfering with streetlights and Bluetooth devices, switching on and off TV sets, and many other impressive demonstrations. Sparks are especially interesting, as they provide information about the electric field. The electric field necessary to produce sparks in the air (so-called breakdown voltage) is about 30 kV/cm, so that the actual field strength can be expected to be higher. Considering the length of the sparks produced by Chris, the voltage could likely be of the order of tens of kilovolts. Moreover, the crackling noise produced by the sparks is an indication of a low-frequency (in the Hertz range) oscillation.

Chris Fazio producing a spark discharge against a metal object (left) and lighting up a light bulb with his hands (right). Reproduced with permission.

Greek martial artist Panagiotis Senteris established a school teaching TK to hundreds of people using his method, which resembles qigong. Videos on his Facebook page, from 2012 until presently (Senteris, n.d.), show him lighting up luminescent lamps with his hands, producing electrical sparks a couple of centimeters long (requiring over 60 kV) and affecting EM-field meters (typically broad range with an upper detection limit of 2.5 GHz). Senteris’ students can also be seen driving RC (remote control) cars without using their RC controls. Recently, researchers from LAPDC (Dullin & Varvoglis, 2022) submitted Senteris and his students to close scrutiny for three days and recorded some of these phenomena, not detecting any suspicious behavior or hidden devices.

Other performances

Another ability is “sticking” paper and cardboard objects to a wall, which may be explained by static electricity. Senteris and his students do this, as does Grandmaster Wolf, who received qigong training in Tibet and China. Wolf’s extraordinary demonstrations include temperature and pressure phenomena that can most conveniently be accounted for as electrical – such as increasing the temperature of digital and liquid thermometers (such that the liquid thermometer explodes due to overheating); bursting a balloon inflated inside another inflated inside yet another; visibly compressing plastic bottles and rubber membranes; melting plastic foil placed on his hand and lighting up matches.

Zhou Ting Jue, a well-knownChinese master, and an expert in several martial arts (kungfu, qigong, neigong, etc.), has established a school in Los Angeles, been given the Key to the City of Los Angeles, and is recognized by the California Secretary of State for Outstanding Service to Humanity (Handinthebox, 2010; Shalin Lomita, n.d.). He could remotely heat wet cloth and push heavy objects, among other extraordinary demonstrations.

Jiang Feng, the late master of Shao Lin Kungfu, has also left multiple spectacular video documents demonstrating impressive TK skills, such as breaking glass cups, again easily conceived as an EM effect (through a thermal expansion effect and/or a resonant frequency). In one video, he demonstrates the directionality of qi, burning a small hole in a sheet of paper by emitting qi with his hand from a couple of meters distance (Feng, 2020).

Electric fields may also account for kinesis variations working with the natural elements fire (pyrokinesis), water (hydrokinesis), and air (aerokinesis), which many people are developing informally through intuitive techniques that include concentration and breathwork. Fire phenomena include setting paper alight (Blair & Blair, 1988; Fazio, 2022; Feng, 2020) and bending and putting out flames (Senteris, n.d.). Water phenomena include producing small-scale waves in water in indoor conditions (Grandmaster Wolf, 2019a), but also outdoors at a larger scale. The phenomenon might be related to aerokinesis, consisting of summoning winds and even changing skies.

Explaining Qi Revisited

There is an abundant record suggesting the existence of vital energy and that anyone may be able to learn to manipulate it and manifest it with enough effort and practice. Moreover, most of that record suggests that this energy is associated with electromagnetic phenomena, although researchers have not yet found a reasonable explanation of all psi phenomena in terms of electromagnetism only (Radin, 2006; Harvey & Watt, 2007).  The information reviewed here shows that trained qigong practitioners can generate a wide range of electric field oscillations: Super low and low frequency (VLF, LF, ~10-102 Hz, as in works cited by Chen, Seto’s experiments, and sparks produced by Fazio (2022) and Senteris (n.d.)); High frequency (103, kilohertz, as in Kirlian photography and Moss’ (1979) experiments).

Very high frequency (VHF, megahertz 106-107 Hz, as in emulation of toy-car remote controls by Fazio, Senteris, and his students); Ultrahigh frequency (UHF, gigahertz, 109 Hz), as in works cited by Chen, Yao and Shen, and Bluetooth devices emulated by Fazio; Near-infrared frequency (NIR, terahertz, 1012-1013 Hz), as in works cited by Chen, and Ohnishi and Ohnishi’s experiments, and TV- remote control signals emulated by Fazio. 

Moreover, the fact that practitioners such as Fazio, Senteris and his students can emulate encoded remote control signals suggests that they can tune the frequency subconsciously depending on the desired outcome. It is important to highlight that one cannot simply switch on/off a device such as a TV set or an RC car by emitting a broadband signal, but a specific pulse sequence has to be sent to the device.

To understand the generation of high voltage by humans, it could be helpful to establish parallels with electric fish, which have been extensively studied since the early days of electrical batteries and generators.

EM radiation results from oscillating electrical charges, and living organisms may not function without such oscillations. In particular, signaling within the nervous systems of all animals occurs through electrical pulses of some tens of millivolts generated by enzyme-mediated sodium and potassium ion exchange through neuron and muscle cell membranes. To understand the generation of high voltage by humans, it could be helpful to establish parallels with electric fish, which have been extensively studied since the early days of electrical batteries and generators.

Several taxonomic groups of fish are capable of generating and detecting electric fields. Depending on the species, the electrical pulses last for between 100 microseconds to tens of milliseconds. They have a frequency of 2 to 1800 Hz, an amplitude of 0.1 to 800 V, a current of up to 20 A, and a pulse power of up to 1 kW in the case of electric ray fish (Kawasaki, 2011). Some fish have evolved to generate low-power pulses for communication or electrolocation. In contrast, others generate higher-power pulses and use them for self-defense or stunning their prey. The mechanism of generating electrical pulses by such fish is similar to that of the neurons of ordinary animals and humans. However, what differentiates electric fish from most other organisms is their ability to simultaneously activate multiple specialized cells called electrocytes (a kind of degenerated muscle cells) connected either in series (in the species generating high voltage) or in parallel (in those generating high current).

Therefore, we, as intelligent species, may be able to activate similar mechanisms, consciously or subconsciously. To emulate remote-control-signal sequences, for example, tuning to a particular frequency might be an essentially subconscious process. Many qigong and yoga masters report that after years of meditation, they gain information from an external boundless source called “Tao” and “Brahman” in the Chinese and Hindu-Buddhist traditions. Other psi phenomena, such as clairvoyance, and pre- and retrocognition, may rely on one’s access to that same source.

Then, how is electricity responsible for the wide variety of external qi effects? We certainly know that it has a vast range of effects in association with the (rapid) change of electrical field. For example, magnetism is intrinsically related to electric currents. Heat is generated due to the absorption of EM waves by matter. If the power density is raised enough, e.g., by focusing, melting or ignition and combustion can occur. Consciously shaping and directing the field is seen as a feature of many TK adepts’ demonstrations, and some qigong masters like Wolf and Jiang Feng have demonstrated their ability to focus it on tiny spots, producing considerable heat, in line with the laser analogy proposed by S. Tsuyoshi Ohnishi, & Tomoko Ohnishi (2009) at Pennsylvania University.

The heat waves generated in a material, as well as some other interactions, can produce mechanical deformations. For example, it is known that visible and IR lasers can be used to induce a response in piezo and MEMS microphones similar to that produced by pressure or sound waves. That is why it is unsurprising that some researchers have obtained a response to qi by using pressure and infrasound micro detectors.

Other TK demonstrations like spinning psi wheels, pushing, pulling, and sticking objects (sometimes rather heavy ones), and compressing relatively elastic materials and objects can most conveniently be explained by electrostatic interactions,especially when the practitioner is close to the object. Qigong practitioners often use the phenomenological concept of qi pressure similar to how physicists use electrostatic pressure.

However, simple explanations based on electromagnetism, or specifically electrostatics, do not hold for actions exerted on objects several meters away and sometimes even kilometers away, as there is no measurable field in the intermediate space. The human-generated field, if that is associated with qi, seems to be somehow transferred directly to the object, which suggests some sort of field teleportation as a possible explanation of qi propagation.

Natali art collections/

Such an idea may have sounded absurd some decades ago. However, today we admit phenomena previously considered impossible, such as the instantaneous effect of measuring a particle on another placed arbitrarily far away. This effect was called quantum entanglement, as it was initially hypothesized (Einstein et al., 1935) to occur between quantum entities (“particles”), such as electrons and photons. The phenomenon was soon proven, and then it was discovered that it could occur not only across space but also across time (Megidish et al., 2013) and not only at the quantum but also on much larger scales, the current record involving the entanglement of macroscopic objects of some tens of microns (Kotler, 2021).

There is a quantum teleportation method based on entanglement – Zeilinger was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (The Nobel Prize, n.d.) for its development, but it requires a conventional information-transmission channel. Proving that both information and fields could be teleported without using such a channel would be a revolutionary achievement.

Then, the phenomena discussed here as expressions of qi may be considered expressions of the teleportation of electric fields, which may, in turn, be a subset of mental information transfer. Further research on mind-matter experiments has the potential to produce some groundbreaking discoveries relevant to virtually all fields of science, and to remove forever the tag “para” from these clearly “normal” phenomena experienced and developed by thousands of people around the globe.


I would like to express my gratitude to Sean McNamara, Chris Fazio, and Normand Latulippe for generously sharing their knowledge about TK, and to Andy Hilton for his help with this article.

Author’s Bio

STEVE RANDOLF earned a Ph.D. in materials science in 2002. His research specialties include advanced materials, spectroscopy, photonics, and sustainable energy development. In 2019, taking advantage of an unexpected break in his long scientific career, he began researching precognitive dreams, at which he had been marveling from an early age. In his search for an understanding of psychic perception, he has been consulting a huge body of literature and performing tests in remote viewing, eyeless sight, and telekinesis, achieving some extraordinary results, motivating him to further his research in this field.


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