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What is Qì ?

What is Qì ?

Qì

Qì (氣)

Qì is a central concept of Taoism. The term is already included in the 42 Chapter of the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi describes the cosmos as consisting of qi. Qì is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts.

 

The idea of ​​Qì continues to shape the understanding of the world of many people in Asia and increasingly also in the West. Some elements of qi can be understood in the term energy when used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine.

 

In traditional Chinese culture, qì (also chi or ch'i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qì is frequently translated as "life energy", "life force", or "energy flow". The literal translation of "qi" is "breath", "air", "gas" (chemistry/physics), "vapor", "ether" and "temperament", "character" or "atmosphere".

 

In China, the understanding of qi is inherent in the very language. For instance: The literal translation of the Chinese character meaning “health” is “original qi.” The literal translation of the character for “vitality” is “high quality qi.” The literal translation of the character meaning “friendly” is “peaceful qi."

Nature of Qì (氣)

Nature of Qì (氣)

Qì

The ancient Chinese and the Taoism described it as "life force". They believed Qì permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. As the substance that makes up the universe both physically and spiritually, it is presented as a vital energy or life force of an all-pervading cosmic spirit, but is neither physical nor mental. In a constantly changing reality is Qì the only constant size.

 

According to Taoist idea the world was created from the original Qì (Yuanqi), in which Yin and Yang were mixed. Heaven and Earth were formed only by a separation of:

  • what Yangqi received, grew up and became bright and clear sky,
  • what Yinqi received was dark and heavy, and fell to the ground.

 

And what Yin and Yang in a just and balanced dimensions got, was the human in the middle.

 

According to these ideas the heaven and earth breathe like a human. The flow is like humans, when inhaled pure and fresh and consumed on the exhale. Therefore, the day is divided into two sections: between midnight and noon is the time were heaven and the earth breathe in. Only in this period, breathing exercises should be performed, because only in this time positive energy can be absorbed. In the time between noon and midnight, heaven and earth exhale.

 

Types of Qì (氣)

Types of Qì (氣)

Qì

While we use the word Qì to mean energy, it is clear from the Chinese medical theories that there are many aspects and differentations of Qì.

The fundamental insight of qigong and Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) is that balanced and free-flowing qi results in health; while stagnant or imbalanced qi leads to disease. This is true not only at the level of the human body, but also in terms of natural landscapes - mountains, rivers, forests - and man-made structures - houses, office-buildings, and parks. In the same way that an acupuncturist diagnoses energetic imbalances, and works to re-establish free-flowing qi in the human body; so does the practitioner of Feng Shui perceive energetic imbalances in natural or man-made landscapes, and then apply various techniques to remedy those imbalances. In both cases, the goal is to establish a more open flow of energy in the particular (internal or external) environment. We can understand Taoist ceremony, also, as being a form of qigong or Feng Shui, since specific actions and arrangements of ritual objects are used to invoke the flow of sacred energy. Like a powerful acupuncture treatment, the successful ritual opens a portal between the human realm and the realms of the spirits, Deities and Immortals.

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine and qigong have identified many different kinds of qi. Within the human body there is the qi that we’re born with, called Yuan qi, or ancestral qi. The qi that we absorb during our lives from food, water, air and qigong practice is called Hou tain qi or post-natal qi. The qi that flows at the surface of the body, as a protective sheathe, is called Wei qi or protective qi. Each internal organ also has its own qi/life-force, e.g. Spleen-qi, Lung-qi, Kidney-qi. According to Taoist cosmology, the two most fundamental forms of qi are Yin-qi and Yang-qi - the primordial feminine and masculine energies. Many qigong practices utilize Heaven qi and Earth qi, as well as the qi that emanates specifically from trees, flowers, lakes and mountains.

 

Different types of Qì vary in how they are used by the body and what imbalances are caused by a deficiency. The various types of Qì and their corresponding sources, functions, distributions and relevance are described below:

 

Gu Qì

Gu Qì

Gu Qì (Essence of Food and Grain Qì)

  • Source: Originates from the action of the Spleen on the food in the Stomach.
  • Function: Combines with Kong Qì to form Zong Qì. Some aspects are also transformed into Blood.
  • Distribution: Arises in the ST/SP and is moved to the chest where it is further distributed.
  • Relevance: Good quality food and a strong ST/SP are important to generate energy. Weaknesses in the SP may lead to bloating, distention, fatigue, loss of appetite, etc.
Jing

Jing

Jing (Essence)

  • Source: Derived from parents, supplemented by Acquired Qì (Gu Qì & Wei Qì).
  • Function: Responsible for growth, reproduction and development.
  • Distribution: Stored mainly in the Kidneys.
  • Relevance: Weak Jing in children may lead to poor bone development, slow learning a/or poor concentration. Weak Jing in the elderly may lead to deafness, osteoporosis a/or unclear thinking.
Kong Qì

Kong Qì

Kong Qì (Air Qì)

  • Source: Originates from the air received by the Lungs.
  • Function: Combines with Gu Qì to form Zong Qì.
  • Distribution: Distributed from the chest.
  • Relevance: Good quality air and good breathing practices are essential for the formation of energy.
Wei Qì

Wei Qì

Wei Qì (Defensive Qì)

  • Function: Helps to protect the body. Warms the surface of the body. Regulates body temperature by opening a/or closing the pores.
  • Distribution: On the surface of the body and within the muscles and skin, but not within the meridians. Circulation is dependent on the Lungs.
  • Relevance: People who catch colds easily/often have Wei Qì deficiency. Deficiency may also make it difficult to regulate body temperature.
Ying Qì

Ying Qì

Ying Qì (Nutritive Qì)

  • Function: Nourishes the organs. Helps to produce Blood.
  • Distribution: Circulates in the main meridians. Flows with the Blood in the main meridians and within the Blood vessels.
  • Relevance: This is the aspect of Qì that is needled with acupuncture.
Yuan Qì

Yuan Qì

Yuan Qì (Original Qì)

  • Source: Derived from Jing.
  • Function: Promotes and stimulates functional activities of organs. Provides the foundation/catalyst for the production of Zhen Qì.
  • Distribution: Originates in the ming men, circulates via the TH, pools in the meridians at the Yuan Source points.
  • Relevance: Deficiencies in Yuan Qì may lead to poor development of Acquired Qì.
Zhen Qì

Zhen Qì

Zhen Qì (True Qì)

  • Source: Derived from Zong Qì when acted upon by Yuan Qì.
  • Function: This is the form of Qì that circulates in the meridians and nourishes the organs.
  • Distribution: Originates in the chest and is distributed throughout the body by respiration. Composite of: Ying Qì & Wei Qì.
  • Relevance: Deficiencies indicate either an imbalance in the functioning of the creation of acquired Qì or in a declining amount of Yuan Qì.
Zong Qì

Zong Qì

Zong Qì (Gathering Qì)

  • Source: Combination of Gu Qì & Kong Qì.
  • Function: Nourish the Heart and Lungs. Aids the Lungs in their role of respiration and circulating energy throughout the body. Assists the Heart in circulating Blood through the vessels.
  • Distribution: Stored in the chest.
  • Relevance: With a deficiency you will see the HT and LU most effectted. Low energy, weak voice, poor circulation in the extremeties, etc.