What is Qi?

This is one of the most important topics on this website.

Qi (also written chi) is a complex Chinese term that has a number of meanings. It is most often translated as “breath” or “energy“, but can also refer to the weather, the mood of a certain day, things having to do with air, oxygen, or gas, and a persons attitude. This relationship between qi and breath points to the critical role of breathing when getting in touch with qi. The ancient Chinese character for qi is said to pictographically represent the steam that rises and falls from a cooking pot of rice.

In Chinese metaphysics, everything in the universe is a manifestation of qi. The universe even “before creation” itself was still qi. Qi is the universal substance of which all matter and space is composed. It is the substrate of reality itself.

This notion of a universal substance – qi – brings ancient Chinese philosophy in resonance with a formidable idea that permeates much of ancient history and still feeds a powerful undercurrent within both scientific and popular philosophy today – the notion of vitalism. Vitalism is the belief in a universal life force that penetrates all matter and animates all life. In English we might call it a “universal life force energy” or simply a “vital force”, but this very concept has taken so many forms throughout history that it would be quite a challenge to make an exhaustive list. However, here are a few: qi (Chinese), prana (Vedic), reiki or ki (Japanese), ruach (Hebrew), od (Norse), pneuma (Greek), mana (Polynesian), elan vital (French), the Force (Star Wars – just kidding but kinda not really) and many more.

The philosophy of vitalism used to play a fundamental role in the mind of the physician. It wasn’t until the 20th century that vitalism was almost entirely stamped out from the philosophical education of physicians in North America. The medical profession used to be much more based in faith in the body’s natural healing process rather than in the power of drugs and surgery. The ancient Greek notion of “vis medactrix naturae” or the “healing power of nature” drove the idea that, if given enough time and support and proper nourishment, the body has a way of bringing itself back into balance on it’s own. This underlies the idea that there is an intelligent life force that drives the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the individual. The adherence to this philosophy is, I believe, the most fundamental factor that divides the approaches of mechanistic biomedicine and holistic medicine. Western medicine was actually founded on this idea by the ancient Greek physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen, but this theory as well as many of the physiological understandings of the ancient world are considered obsolete in the eyes of conventional materialistic science.

This idea of an all-pervasive life force energy isn’t accepted by the mainstream scientific community. However, contrary to popular opinion, this is not for lack of evidence. Our world is replete both with scientific evidence and with anecdotal evidence. Quantum physics tells us that at the super sub-atomic level, the universe is an incredibly dense sea of literally pure energy (see my article on MakingtheMedicine.com). The phenomenon of psi is actually a well-supported fact with decades of research demonstrating it – telepathy, psychokinesis, and remote viewing all have tremendous support in scientific literature (see Dean Radin’s work or the book The Field by Lynne McTaggart). There are a number of phenomena that point to the existence of bioenergetic fields surrounding the bodies of living organisms, especially around humans (Kirlian photography, biophoton emission, etc.). The beneficial effects of faith healing, prayer, and Reiki are also well-supported. The laying on of hands of Christians and of ancient Greek followers of Asclepius are ancient examples of healing using this knowledge. The sensation of qi is common to many people who practice energywork or do taichi, qigong, or yoga.

What’s so important about this article is that to take the notion of qi seriously is to awaken to an entirely different worldview with entirely different possibilities than the ones we’ve been handed by Western materialism. It gives solid foundation to the idea that we are indeed deeply connected and that the substance from which we are made – pure energy – is the same everywhere.

Now that you’ve read up on qi, consider learning about how to use it through Qigong.

If you are interested in taking this discussion deeper, check out this website..

“Isn’t acupuncture just for pain?”

Oriental Medicine (OM), sometimes referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or simply Chinese Medicine, is often equated with the use of acupuncture needles for the relief of stress and for treating pain. While acupuncture excels at mitigated stress levels and alleviating both chronic and acute pain, acupuncturists do so much more.

Oriental Medicine is a complete system of medicine. This means that it encompasses it’s own physiological understanding of the mind and body and the way they work (and sometimes don’t work). One of the foundational principle in OM is in preventing and removing stagnation. We believe that stagnation (like a stagnant pond) is the root cause of most illness and that to prevent illness the active and passive substances in the body have to be brought into balance. To do this, we use herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, magnets, manual therapy, and other modalities.

Chinese medical theory dates back at least 3,000 years (there is good evidence that it is much, much older). Now, something being old doesn’t mean that its effective – but in the case of OM, being around for three millennia has given it generations of experimentation and critical analysis. This leads some people to say that OM is one of the oldest-running longitudinal studies in history. Some of the most brilliant minds in history have worked developing and advancing the complex system of OM that has been handed down to us today – and which continues to evolve.

Here is a list of complaints that patients have found relief from through Oriental Medicine:

  • Chronic or acute pain or injury
  • The effects of stress and anxiety
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal and digestive imbalance
  • Endocrine and hormonal imbalance
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Menstrual irregularities and pain
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Mental/emotional complaints and mood
  • Psychological and physical trauma
  • Cognitive decline, senility

And many, many more…

In fact, there is nothing that the wisdom of OM can’t address within its own framework – meaning that given the tools we have to assess the health of the body, there will always be a next step through the use of OM. Many people come to acupuncture and OM as medical refugees, having searched in conventional Western medicine for an answer or a solution to no avail. OM is best utilized along with a preventative lifestyle, but when the body falls out of balance or there is illness or injury, OM is unmatched in its complex and comprehensive ability to bring back the bodies natural vitality.