Qi: Let it Flow!
“Qi” translates as a continuous life force, or energy flow. It’s universal. It’s in a constant state of flux, always transforming, neither created nor destroyed; it simply changes its manifestation. Qi is energy; it’s infinite and continuous. (Also, remember it’s Qi, not Chi! “Qi” may be phonetically pronounced “chee,” but, it’s Qi in pinyin Chinese (ch’i).)
It may be a confusing concept if you grew up in the dominant Western society, where there was no mention of this “Qi.” If it did come up, it was usually as a quick reference to something mystical or even outlandish. Because you can’t see it or touch it—because it’s constantly in a state of flux, transforming and changing—how do you know it’s real? That’s the most common question I hear from patients, colleagues and even new acquaintances.
Think of it like this: if we take the basic principles of physics, when we look at an inanimate object with the naked eye, it appears to be still or at rest. But, at a molecular level, there are millions of atoms—electrons, protons and neutrons—colliding and bouncing off each other, creating potential energy. This is how Qi works. As a student, I was able to truly understand Qi by realizing this principle. It was like seeing the Matrix! From then on, everything about health and healing made perfect sense to me.
Qi works on all levels through constant transformation, the same as our cellular activity. It’s hard to consciously feel any changes at a cellular level, but we can still learn why our bodies are affected by our environment. And in some instances we can feel Qi moving, such as during an acupuncture treatment.
While we have all experienced Qi on some level, we might not have the language to describe it. It can be something as minute as a gut feeling about a certain person’s negativity, or the feeling of being drawn to another’s positive energy. It can be a tingle in your body or a rush of adrenaline and excitement; or you might feel the therapeutic quality of certain foods that improve your mood or slow you down. Qi is a fundamental part of you, your environment and your mindset. These things coexist and intermingle with each other constantly. It’s almost like having a super-power that you haven’t learned to tap into.
Now that you have a basic understanding, let’s talk about all that Qi!
Science works to investigate tangible evidence in order to produce factual, concrete, quantified data. What I love about Qi is that it still has a certain mystery around it which has scientists scrambling to figure it out. This kind of thinking remains inside the box—and we need to look beyond it. You are allowed to get out of the box! Yay!
Qi is about combining, not dissecting. It’s a concept that has been around for thousands of years in Eastern philosophies. In Chinese medicine, we work with Qi to adjust our bodies, ensure health and well-being, and fight disease.
The Chinese medicine approach includes a huge range of factors in its concept of good health, and works by observing a person’s surroundings. Essentially, Qi regulates your health by creating checks and balances, and by constantly adjusting and readjusting itself according to the conditions of your internal and external environment.
Qi activates, warms, contains, defends and transforms:
· Your body temperature and the warming of your internal organs is dependent on Qi; it regulates metabolism and physiology with its activation properties.
· Qi “contains” the blood, maintains a holding pattern to prevent the excess loss of fluids and keeps blood contained in the vessels.
· Qi is the body’s outer defense, preventing the invasion of pathogens.
· Qi transforms blood and fluids into sweat and urine.
We can relate Qi to every aspect of our life. Our reactions to our everyday experiences dictate whether our levels of Qi will be strengthened or weakened. For instance, overexerting ourselves with too much exercise can cause blocked Qi. Injuries and illness reflect states of chaotic or exhausted Qi. When you take a moment of stillness and reflection, you are tapping into your Qi.
When you understand these simple principles and pay attention to your Qi, it becomes easier to make decisions that help you stay healthy and maintain longevity and wellness. This new level of health awareness can help you achieve optimal quality of life.
Now, it’s about knowing how to werk your Qi!