Qi (pronounced chee) is, quite simply, energy. Qi refers to the vital energy that constantly circulates throughout your body.
The concept of qi originates in China. The Chinese believe that everything has energy; animate and inanimate things. The food you eat, the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the earth you walk on. All of these have qi energy running through them. You could say that life itself is a combination of qi.
What Is Qi Energy and Why Is It So Important?
How It Works
Most people, even in the western world, have heard of the Chinese concept of yin and yang. In Chinese Philosophy, opposite forces complement and balance one another. It’s the same with qi energy. In fact, qi works in collaboration with yin and yang. But how exactly? It helps to understand this partnership between the yin, yang and qi if we use the body in very practical terms.
Yin, Yang and Qi
Yin, yang and qi form the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In order for the body and mind to be healthy, all three elements work in harmony with each other.
So let’s imagine yin is the food our body needs, yang is the way we metabolise the food and qi is the energy we derive from the two. When our yin is healthy and sufficient for our needs, and our metabolism works well, our qi is strong. Then again, if we overindulge, we have too much yin. At this point, the body becomes sluggish and damp. On the other hand, too little yin is equally as damaging. We are weak and dry.
It’s the same with yang. Balanced yang is strong, warm, and energetic. However, when we have too much, our body becomes inflamed. Conversely, if we have too little, we become weak, cold and tired. So, in order to be healthy, we need a good balance of yin and yang. As a result, our qi will be healthy.
“Chinese philosophy calls this vital energy qi and describes it as the body’s innate intelligence — the intangible yet measurable way we maintain what’s known as homeostasis, or the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment to create good health,” says Dr. Jill Blakeway, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qi Energy
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) asserts that qi flows through channels, called meridians. Imbalances and blockages in these channels, as well as deficiencies of qi in key organs, are understood to cause the symptoms of many illnesses.
Moreover, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen is the most important organ in the body. This is because it extracts qi energy from the foods you eat before sending it to the rest of your body. It also plays a role in digestion and filtering your blood.
So if you find yourself prone to issues like fatigue, poor digestion, and a decline of your immune system, TCM practitioners will focus on the functioning of the spleen first of all.
To make yin and yang work in the right way, we should have a sufficient amount of qi. We obtain the majority of qi from what we eat and the air that we breathe. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Chinese regard a good diet of high-quality food and fresh air most important.
What Happens When Qi Energy Is Unbalanced?
So, if your goal is good health, diet, physical fitness, social relationships and overall success in all areas of your life, there is no other concept more important than the study and understanding of qi energy. Also, knowing how to balance it for your optimal health. The problem is, there are many things that affect it and result in disorders of qi:
Four Disorders of Qi
Symptoms: Fatigue, feeling cold, prone to catching colds
The main symptoms of decreased qi energy is an increase in chronic illnesses such as poor circulation, incontinence, prolapsed organs and poor digestion.
Symptoms: Irritability, acute pain, prone to lumps and bumps
Stagnant qi manifests in sharp, acute pain anywhere in the body that moves around. It is also associated with soft lumps that are there one day and gone the next.
Symptoms: Prolapses, hernias
One function of qi energy is to support the organs, so a sinking qi is impaired in its ability to do so. Prolapses or sagging organs such as the uterus, bladder, the rectum or colon is symptomatic of a sinking qi.
Symptoms: Hiccups, nausea, burping, anxiety
Rebellious qi indicates a reversal of the natural flow of things. For instance, air inhaling downwards is expelled upwards, food is vomited outwards. However, it is also linked to anxiety.
How to Balance Your Qi?
When your qi is in balance, you will have good health, wellbeing and contentment. Fall out of balance, however, or have too much or too little of something that is good or bad for you, then there is illness, pain and suffering.
The best way to balance your qi is to look at the symptoms and understand how your qi is out of balance.
If you do not have enough qi energy, then Chinese herbs can help to nourish your body. In fact, Chinese herbal products have been studied for many medical problems, including stroke, heart disease, mental disorders, and respiratory diseases (such as bronchitis and the common cold).
Qi energy needs to flow smoothly without blockage. Acupuncture encourages good circulation and opens up the meridians. This allows the qi energy to flow.
Moxibustion is a form of massage using heat therapy. Dried herbs called ‘moxa’ are placed on sore or affected parts of the body to relieve and encourage the flow of qi.
The physical symptoms of rebellious qi are burping, hiccups and nausea, but the underlying problem is anxiety. In particular, emotional anxiety. This is obviously a complicated issue to solve, but practice such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation are useful in reducing stress levels.
So, the next time you are feeling low – check your qi energy. You can see whether you need to bring back balance by perhaps getting back to nature, and ultimately yourself.
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