what is qi? learn how qi is everywhere!

Let’s talk about qi, baby

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the unseen

And all the seen things that can be

Let’s talk abOoouut qi…or chi, or chee, or even ki, same same, but different. 

(I write that with the utmost respect to Salt and Pepa and Spinderella)

lightning strike - qiI’m sitting here reading Macrobiotics and Oriental Medicine, written by the father of Macrobiotics in the western world, Michio Kushi. (A really great read. One that is fun to open-up and see what page you land on). He defines qi (spelled Ki in his native Japan) broadly as:

“the movement of intangible energy or vibrations between the two primary poles in the universe. Ki encompasses all the material and nonmaterial phenomenon in creation (the relative world). Its meaning embraces emotional expression and intellectual preferences; atmospheric conditions such as temperature and pressure; physical traits including hard and soft, large and small, heavy and light; sensory stimulations such as colors, sounds, tastes, odors, various qualities of tactile stimulation. It takes in all the motion and movement, and the full spectrum of vibrations and waves flowing in the universe. Each of these attributes is actually a different state of Ki.” 

Qi (i’ll personally spell it qi, unless quoting Michio) is present in everything animate (people, animals, insects...) and everything inanimate (rocks, streams, soil...). 

In modern medicine, illnesses are classified according to the nature of their symptoms (headaches, stomachaches, ear infections, etc). Same with degenerative disease, classified as a problem with a certain organ system, neurotransmitter, tissue (you get the picture). From the perspective of qi, physical illness is a reflection of imbalance in the grander energetic system. An imbalance somewhere in the concept of energy/qi as Michio describes above. Healing from this perspective treats the symptoms as well as the root of the imbalance. 

Now, here’s my question. If the root of a “disease” is an imbalance of qi. And qi is literally everything. How does one pinpoint the root of the imbalance? This is where alternative medicine comes in.

Sike!!!!

Well, not fully sike, but partly! 

This is where the Self comes in. (Note the capital S?)

Therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine are powerful allies in the rebalancing of qi, but ultimately, any sense of disease is a call for the deeper Self to rise into balance. There is work to be done on the physical plane with things like acupuncture, massage, exercise. There is also work to be done on the spiritual and mental planes. This is where self-inquiry work comes in. Asking the deeper questions. Such as “where in my life do I feel out of balance?” “Where am I avoiding?” “Where am I pretending?” “What is a deep calling in my Heart that I haven’t wanted to hear? And why?” The questions are alive in all of us, and the answers are right there too. (I will note energetic bodywork like acupuncture, qigong, taichi, energywork, reiki, etc access spiritual, mental, emotional and physical planes.)

Life is ultimately a meandering journey between balance and imbalance and back again and away again. This is the journey of Self to create personal growth, self-mastery, and well-being. 

The beauty of holistic medicine, acupuncture, herbs, qigong, movement, bodywork is that it can facilitate balance at a qi-level (energetic level) before symptoms land in our physical body. By the time symptoms or disease manifest physically, an imbalance was already present somewhere on a more subtle level. 

This is where self-awareness and self-mastery become assets. We can begin to notice our own energy. We can learn the cues of imbalance or balance in our systems. We can also recognize when own innate remedies become revealed to us. Our self-knowledge and self-trust can blossom to a profound and intimate level. Here’s an example, and what got me thinking about this…(spoiler alert though, it’s less a profound example and more a run-of-the-mill example.)

I have not moved my body (I often prefer the term “movement” over “exercise”) as much as I would like recently due to the weather and a packed schedule. I know that I have an active mind and have learned physical movement can help balance this. Today, I set out on a brisk nature walk to move, take some deep breaths, swing my arms around, get my heart and blood pumping (aka move some qi). I was walking up the road when I saw a moving van. I also know I can be a curious cat (or one could say nosy neighbor, whatevs), so I twirled around to see what was being loaded or unloaded. To my surprise I saw a man moving a beautiful wooden desk slowly and strategically toward the edge of the truck. I wondered if he was doing this task alone thinking,”surely he’s not alone, that’s too big to move alone.” But then I realized that he in fact was going to try and lower that huge desk from that huge truck alone. So I responded to the hunch and asked him if he needed a hand. He said, “Wow, yes, in fact I really do.” 

In this process of meeting my neighbor I had a flash as to how this instance was just like how acupuncture (and holistic and integrative medicine as a whole) works. It’s preventative and accesses healing/balance on the qi level. It comes in before our bodies scream (with physical symptoms and disease), “help, I’m all alone here and out of balance.” As we increase energetic awareness we increase access to our tools (innate or given by neighbors), ready to lend a hand when needed. 

Let me backtrack briefly my original question about pinpointing an imbalance. How does a holistic medicine practitioner clue in to where the energetic imbalances take root. It’s multifaceted, but essentially we begin to get to know the patient through in depth conversation and observation. The pulse is used as a diagnostic tool, to assess organ systems, acupuncture channels, temperature, intrinsic or extrinsic factors, excess or deficiency, yin or yang. While imbalance is a journey of the Self, practitioners can aid in this self-discovery.

Our qi is vast and profound, smarter than any human mind and is in constant communication with us. Always sending the cues, clues, vibes, insights, ideas, hunches, feelings, inspirations, conversations, connections (the list goes on) for us to wobble in the realm of B A L A N C E. 

qi santa barbara ventura

Photo via a very cool website with energetic anatomy photos and holograms. Highly recommend a looksie. https://shop.cosm.org/products/psychic-energy-system-poster

 



Life is ultimately a meandering journey between balance and imbalance and back again and away again. This is the journey of Self to create personal growth, self-mastery, and well-being. 

The beauty of holistic medicine, acupuncture, herbs, qigong, movement, bodywork is that it can facilitate balance at a qi-level (energetic level) before symptoms land in our physical body. By the time symptoms or disease manifest physically, an imbalance was already present somewhere on a more subtle level. 

This is where self-awareness and self-mastery become assets. We can begin to notice our own energy. We can learn the cues of imbalance or balance in our systems. We can also recognize when own innate remedies become revealed to us. Our self-knowledge and self-trust can blossom to a profound and intimate level. Here’s an example, and what got me thinking about this…(spoiler alert though, it’s less a profound example and more a run-of-the-mill example.)

I have not moved my body (I often prefer the term “movement” over “exercise”) as much as I would like recently due to the weather and a packed schedule. I know that I have an active mind and have learned physical movement can help balance this. Today, I set out on a brisk nature walk to move, take some deep breaths, swing my arms around, get my heart and blood pumping (aka move some qi). I was walking up the road when I saw a moving van. I also know I can be a curious cat (or one could say nosy neighbor, whatevs), so I twirled around to see what was being loaded or unloaded. To my surprise I saw a man moving a beautiful wooden desk slowly and strategically toward the edge of the truck. I wondered if he was doing this task alone thinking,”surely he’s not alone, that’s too big to move alone.” But then I realized that he in fact was going to try and lower that huge desk from that huge truck alone. So I responded to the hunch and asked him if he needed a hand. He said, “Wow, yes, in fact I really do.” 

In this process of meeting my neighbor I had a flash as to how this instance was just like how acupuncture (and holistic and integrative medicine as a whole) works. It’s preventative and accesses healing/balance on the qi level. It comes in before our bodies scream (with physical symptoms and disease), “help, I’m all alone here and out of balance.” As we increase energetic awareness we increase access to our tools (innate or given by neighbors), ready to lend a hand when needed. 

Let me backtrack briefly my original question about pinpointing an imbalance. How does a holistic medicine practitioner clue in to where the energetic imbalances take root. It’s multifaceted, but essentially we begin to get to know the patient through in depth conversation and observation. The pulse is used as a diagnostic tool, to assess organ systems, acupuncture channels, temperature, intrinsic or extrinsic factors, excess or deficiency, yin or yang. While imbalance is a journey of the Self, practitioners can aid in this self-discovery.

Our qi is vast and profound, smarter than any human mind and is in constant communication with us. Always sending the cues, clues, vibes, insights, ideas, hunches, feelings, inspirations, conversations, connections (the list goes on) for us to wobble in the realm of B A L A N C E. 

balance rock ventura santa barbara