Qi, pronounced “Ch-ee” is the central concept that Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture are based on and it can be a hard one for the Western mind to grasp. To date, there is no single Western equivalent to Qi and there is no scientific data to validate or replicate its effects. However, Acupuncture continues to be researched extensively and continues to prove that it has positive, repeatable and physiological effects on the body that cannot be explained by Western medicine in any single unified way. Why on functional MRI does the eye zone of the brain light up consistently when the point Gall Bladder 37, located on the lateral aspect of the lower leg, is needled? Why does Acupuncture in the ear assist in weight loss success? Why do some Western medications that act on the kidneys have side effects in the ears? None of these things can be precisely explained by current Western science, yet they are all very clear according to Chinese energetic theory. The connecting factor? Qi and the pathways of Acupuncture Meridians or Channels.
What Is Qi?
According to Chinese Medicine, Qi is a life force or energy that courses through the body in a systematic way and it is essential to health. It flows through the organs, tissues, muscles, bones and sinews, and each energetic channel delves deep into the body and connects to a branch which expresses on the surface where it can be accessed with Acupuncture or Acupressure to effect specific changes.
The basic theory behind how Acupuncture works, states that these energetic channels or Acupuncture meridians are intimately intertwined with the physical body; where one goes, the other will follow. If the physical body is out of balance, the energetic system will be out of balance too and vice versa. If we balance the energetic system, therefore, the physical body will also become balanced because it will follow suit. In this way, correcting imbalances in your Qi will correct imbalances in the physical body and stimulate healing.
Each organ has its own Qi and within that Qi is a balance of Yin and Yang, Qi and Blood and other energetic factors. The true “magic” of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine lies in the complex energetic interactions between different organ systems and different factors within organ systems. Subtle changes in ones energy can reverberate through this complex web of Qi interactions and create big effects.
In the same way, these tiny needles with their own Acupuncture Qi imparted by the practitioner are a subtle tool that can create incredible healing.
Balancing Qi - Short Term Recovery, Long Term Success
According to Chinese Medicine, balance in the body looks like a classic picture of health - healthy glow to the skin, bright presence behind the eyes, having enough energy to get through the day and sleep well at night, waking rested, having a balanced mind and clear mental process, being even in your emotions and able to recover emotionally quickly when life throws you a curve ball, being a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. Tongue and Pulse assessment are also central to Acupuncture, and when in balance, the pulse should be moderate, meaning not overly strong with a hard bounding vessel but not weak or hard to find either. The tongue should be a pale pink to red color, free of scallops along the sides, and with a thin white (clear) tongue coat.
Modern life and diet can make achieving this full list difficult, but Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are always working with you towards that goal - towards achieving the picture of health that YOU want which includes as many of the items above as possible within your vision, and then working to keep you there. Moving along the physical, mental and energetic path to health is often so healing that even if your “picture” never perfectly matches the one above, your symptoms may be completely resolved. Monthly or quarterly maintenance treatments help you stay on track by balancing your Qi which can keep the physical body in line.
Cultivating Qi Like a Master - Meditation
Ever watch a Bruce Lee movie or better yet, an interview or demo? Have you ever wondered how he could do all those amazing physical feats? Certainly he had incredible focus and was a masterful athlete, but he was also a martial artist in the deepest sense - a master of Qi cultivation. His book the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is much about this - finding The Way through self discovery - and the simplest Qi Cultivation that can serve your health long term, is meditation.
Want to balance your Qi at home? Try this simple meditation exercise for 5 minutes a day and after one week assess how you feel - you might be surprised by the results!
SIMPLE BREATH COUNTING MEDITATION
Your goal is to be present and keep and empty mind for next five minutes.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.