woman practicing Qi Gong at the beach

What is Qi?

Taiji practiceQi (“chee”) is not a western term

“Qi” comes from a culture vastly different than European based cultures. Although cultures differ, people everywhere in the world wonder about the same things: Why are we here? Where did we come from? What is life? What is death?

One answer from Chinese culture is Qi.
Qi can be translated as the energy that enlivens us. If we jump out of bed quickly, we might think that our muscles are what enliven us. But what urged the muscles to act? Neurotransmitters is one answer from western science. But what woke up the neurotransmitters?  Circadian rhythms is an answer. But what manages these rhythms?

What is the “thing” behind the incredibly complex “thing” we call our physiology, brain, blood, bones, muscles, skin, all bundled into a single human being? One culture’s answer is Qi. There is no equivalent for this term in English.

Rather than looking for more words to define Qi, we can set ourselves to the task of experiencing it. If Qi is what is enlivens us, then feel into what enlivens you. Feel for activity of something so subtle that it is usually not even noticed.

To understand Qi, wonder about life

Notice the changes in plants as the seasons change and wonder about that. Try to feel how your body shifts with the changes in the seasons. Feel how your breathe moves from your nose into your lungs. How does the air enliven you?

Qi and Breath

Qi is also translated as breath.
Breathe, feel, and contemplate. This is how you form a personal, living translation of the term “Qi.” We gather Qi from the air we breathe. This implies that there is more to air than oxygen.

woman practicing Qi Gong at the beachQi must be experienced

Qi is that which enlivens us.
Qi is energy. Qi is gathered from the air and the food we eat. Qi flows through our body in pathways, called meridians or channels. Every cell needs Qi in order to live.

Bring your awareness to the breath and feel for Qi. Bring awareness to the heartbeat, and wonder about Qi.  Sense, feel, explore your way into a felt experience of Qi.






About The Author

Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


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