The Chinese Character of Qi, 氣 (pronounced /CHē/ ) means vital energy, life force. There are numerous qualities of qi in the body with specific functions. The overall functions of qi is movement/transportation, warming and transformation. Depending upon which organ the qi is associated too, will specify it’s unique property. What is most important to understand in the practice of Chinese medicine is that qi is the fundamental working principle to all aspects of this science, from; acupuncture, herbalism, dietary and body work. So, when a patient comes in the practitioner needs to understand the fundamental imbalance of qi in the body. Then, decide which modality will best be able to correct the imbalance.
What I would like to focus on here is how the body maintains overall energy levels. I will be discussing the dynamics of qi in a broad scope to avoid getting too technical. Essentially we derive energy primarily from from air, food and water, which is called Gu Qi (yes it’s a fabulous designer Qi). Which is transformed into Ying Qi, or nutritive Qi. It is used to replenish and nourish our body. We also have a quality of Qi called Yuan Qi, or original source Qi. Yuan Qi is a finite amount of qi that supports organ functions on a fundamental level. When you hear about a 30 yr old rock star that dies suddenly, it is more than likely due to their poor lifestyle of little rest, poor nutrition and too much sex, and drugs. Another way to think of this quality of qi is as a deep reserve that should only be used in case of emergencies, such as illness, extreme survival. With proper rest and nutrition this qi is only sipped upon appropriately. Instead of living like a rockstar staying up late, doing the whole sex, drugs and rock -n- roll thang becoming depleted and dying prematurely.
When a bodily function becomes impaired, it is usually about a qi dynamic that is out of balance. For an example, if the stomach is not breaking down food properly, then it’s qi dynamic with other organs is out of balance. It can be the liver/stomach dynamic, or kidney/stomach dynamic, even the liver/kidney/stomach dynamic. There are circumstances where an organ becomes deficient because due to an overall qi deficiency as well. When these imbalances arise it is usually a result from a life style, diet, and/or genetics. The qi can become stagnant, deficient or other substances (such as blood) in the body are impairing proper qi flow. The time of year, and regional climate are additional factors that can influence how one’s qi is performing.
Because the Chinese have done an amazing job understanding how the spirit, mind and body are interconnected, they see how the qi of the body is affected by on different levels. How fear affects the kidneys, worry consumes the qi of pancreas, or how anger strangles the heart.
It is through careful examination that the practitioner is able to find the breakdown of the qi dynamic. Questions about other bodily functions and life style give insight to how other organs are contributing to the breakdown in the qi dynamic. This is one of the reasons why Chinese medicine is so effective in places where western medicine fails, because the whole body is assessed. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, treatment may proceeded that will energetically support the imbalance.
What is most important to understand is that by addressing proper qi flow we can strengthen the body, reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, improve emotional well being and stability. Have you ever watched a video of Chinese people in the park in the mornings practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi? Have you ever asked your self, why are they doing a practice that is thousands of years old? I was amazed witnessing this on my first trip to China. Soooo many people practicing many different forms. My favorite was a group of elderly women in matching outfits practicing Tai Chi sword forms (see picture above).
Through the use of regular exercises (Tai Chi/ Qi Gong), consistent acupuncture treatments, and an energetically balanced diet, you can be sure to have strong and vibrant body. I have even witnessed severely debilitated bodies rebound dramatically by fully embracing this life style, with minor changes to their current life. What is important to consider is, what is more important; a) a life that only nourishes your life on one level, or, b) a life style that accounts for you spirit, mind, and body? I have had great success guiding patients through this subtle path of qi dynamics to arrive in a place of greater health and vitality. Through careful guidance and planning on diet, lifestyle choices, and exercises your life can be completely changed into one with joy, ease, and grace.