What is Qi?

What is Qi? The elusive life force explained

Posted: 2nd October 2020 by Emma Wall

Omnipresent and all-encompassing, yet elusive and mystical. The Chinese concept of Qi is difficult to translate directly into western terms. So just what is Qi…?

What is Qi?

Qi is the organising force in the universe. The state of being that pulsates through all matter, both organic and inorganic. The vital energy from which life formulates itself, connecting all that is with all that will be. 

Qi is growth, transformation and change. A shape-changing invisible force which manifests as the evolving cycles of life. Within us and all around us, but not exclusive to tangible objects, Qi is also apparent in the thoughts that we think and the emotions we feel. 

Through practices such as yoga, meditation, Qi Gong and acupuncture, we can increase the flow of Qi along our channels, or meridians, optimising our health, homoeostasis and power to heal. 

Read also: Different types of Meditation – Active or Passive?

Qi in the human lifecycle

The creation of Qi relies on the quality of the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the thoughts that we give importance to. 

The human lifecycle has three sources of Qi: 

  • Prenatal Qi – inherited from our parents at birth, helps to form our underlying constitution. 
  • Grain Qi – is derived from the essence of the food that we eat. 
  • Air Qi – extracted by our lungs as we breathe.

All factors combine to create the tone and quality of our lives and wellbeing.

Read also: The 5 Elements in TCM & Yin yoga

The functions of Qi within the human body

In Chinese medicine, Qi has different functions within the human body. Qi is the source of all movement and can be excessive or deficient, can stagnate or flow freely. Whether in the form of dancing, singing, thinking, ageing, or the heart beating, all of life’s movements depend on Qi. 

Qi protects the body from outside invading pathogens and has a warming function within the body. It also helps give us structure and stability, holding the organs in their place, the blood in the veins and the correct amount of bodily fluids in our system.

Qi in nature

Just as Qi pulsates like a bio-electrical force throughout us, so too does everything in nature have an electrical charge. Trees, rivers, rocks and the stars are all disposed of this organising and metabolising force. The power of a rainstorm, the formation of a snowflake or the sprouting of a seedling are all examples of the wonders of Qi at play.

To go against nature’s rhythms is to disrupt the flow of universal Qi and natural order. Modern life is rife with the implications of such behaviour as we disregard natural systems in favour of manmade interventions. To live a truly equanimous life, we must learn to live in harmony with both the seasons of nature, as well as those of our life. The more our micro and macro environments vibrate as one, the higher the frequency on which we in turn will vibrate.

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