What is Chi or Qi?
Qi or chi, according to Taoist Wellness
Master Gu, is an important concept in Chinese tradition and medicine,
particularly Taoist medicine, that refers to universal energy and its flow. Qi
is everywhere, the sky has Qi, the earth has Qi, and human bodies have Qi.
Allowing the Qi from all sources to meld and flow is how balance and harmony
Taoist Master, Mantak Chia, likens the
flow of Qi in the body to the flow of a body of water. Ideally, Qi flows as one
mass, around the body with ease. However, sometimes the balance of Qi is thrown
off and it begins to stagnate. There are many things that may throw off the
balance of one’s Qi, including staying in the same position for prolonged
periods of time or constantly clenching certain parts of the body. Stress that
initiates the body’s fight or flight response also halts the flow of Qi. It is
important to get the body and the breath moving in order to stimulate the flow
Oak Health Chinese Medicine describes
symptoms of Qi deficiency as excessive fatigue, feelings of stress, increased
susceptibility to common illnesses, physical pain, and many other symptoms.
They identify prolonged stress, sleep deprivation, and prolonged illness as
common causes of Qi deficiency.
Stagnant Qi may also lead to a Qi build-up or an excess of Qi. Being irritable and quick to anger may be signs of too much Qi.
Ways to Restore
If you are experiencing symptoms of Qi
imbalance, or you generally feel stuck or stagnant, here are some things you
can try to return your Qi to a state of flow and balance.
- Qigong (or Chi Kung) means vital energy cultivation; it can also be literally translated as “Qi practice.” It is an ancient breathing practice that can be paired with movement or stillness. It helps to circulate or increase the flow of the Qi. If you want to try Qigong you may be able to find a local or virtual class. There is also a plethora of instructional videos available online.
- Tai Chi has similar benefits to Qigong. It is also movement paired with breath work and done in a contemplative manner. You can likely find a local or virtual tai chi class, or you can follow an online tutorial.
- Meditation reduces stress which helps bring Qi flow back to the body. If you are new to meditation, following a guide is often helpful. You can find apps, videos, podcasts, and likely even classes for guided meditation.
- Breathwork, a feature of Qigong, tai chi, and meditation, is a foundational way of balancing Qi. The breath can be thought of as a link between the human body and Qi. When you focus on your breath, especially deep breathing, you are bringing intention and energy to moving Qi around your body. Guides to breathwork come in all forms from written to visual to audio; experiment to find what works best for you.
- Tapping (or body tapping or patting) is also an effective practice for promoting the flow of Qi. It involves rhythmic stimulation of the body’s meridian points, which are the main points that Qi flows through, thus promoting increased movement and flow of Qi. You can find articles, videos, and classes to lead you through tapping.
- Any form of movement on a regular or semi-regular basis can be helpful to increase the flow of qi in your body. If regular movement is not already a part of your routine, some easy ways to add it in are taking a walk around your block as a morning or evening ritual, doing some stretches while watching or listening to something you enjoy, or finding a moment to put on a favorite song and dance for a few minutes. Adding some small moments of movement into your daily or weekly routine can make a significant impact.
- According to Oak Health Chinese Medicine, incorporating ginseng, red dates, and Chinese yam into your diet can help you increase the flow of your Qi. Experiment with how to incorporate any of these things in the way(s) that work for you. Consider adding them to a smoothie. Perhaps taking supplements or medication is already a part of your day that you can simply add one or more of these into (please consult a medical professional before adding additional supplements into your daily routine). Maybe you’ll find that you really enjoy cooking with one or all of them. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
- Acupuncture, similar to tapping, stimulates the body’s meridian points, encouraging the movement of Qi throughout the body. Try searching online for nearby acupuncture practitioners if you don’t already have a connection to one.
- Making sure to get enough sleep and rest helps reduce stress and fatigue, making it easier for your Qi to be in a state of flow rather than stagnation. If sleep is something you struggle with, consider trying a nighttime routine, to help ease your mind and body into a state of rest. You can also research other aspects of sleep hygiene to promote ease around bedtime.
If you feel a lack of flow, calm, or
balance in your life, doing some of the things listed above to help cultivate
the flow of your Qi may help you feel more like yourself and less out of
alignment. It is likely that you will not see or feel a difference immediately,
but as you adjust to increased Qi flow you may find a sense of calm and
grounding to be a more regular presence in your mindset. Consistent, sustained
engagement with one or more methods of promoting Qi flow is likely to bring you
the results you seek, over time.
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