Meaning of Chi

Chi (also spelled Qi) translates roughly to "vital energy" in Chinese. It refers to the "life force" that flows through all plants, animals and human beings. "Chi" is that "bio-electricity" or "energy" in the body which makes us "alive."  It is also that life giving energy that permeates our universe.

The Chinese believe that there are two main kinds of Chi:

(1) Original Chi or Pre-Birth Chi received from ones parents and present in the body from before birth. Original Chi is limited in quantity.

(2) Post-Birth Chi obtained in various ways from nature, from the heavens, from the earth and from our atmosphere. Some of the ways we get this chi is through breathing, drinking water, and through eating food whose chi has not been destroyed by cooking and processing. Aerobic exercise gives us an increase in this type of Chi from the oxygen in our air.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has existed in China for thousands of years and sees most human medical problems as energy or "Chi" imbalances. The "Chi" energy flows through various "energy meridians" (pathways) in the human body. TCM sees some problems as caused by energy excesses, others are due to energy deficiencies, and still others due to energy stagnation. A TCM practitioner will often prescribe herbs to "balance" the body’s energy and to regulate "yin" and "yang" components. He or she will also commonly prescribe to the patient practice various energy exercises such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong. The now very familiar Tai Chi Yin-Yang symbol is shown at the top of this Website. Black is yang and white is yin. There is a balance between them, and you will observe that there is some yin found in the yang (the small circle) and some yin found in the yang. Males (yang) have some female (yin) qualities and vice-versa.

Chi is well known to most cultures, although by differing names.  Here are just a few of those names:

  • Chi – China
  • Ki – Japan (the "ki" in the Japanese martial art known as aikido)
  • Prana – India and Tibet (yoga tradition)
  • Wakan – Lakota Indians
  • Holy Spirit – Christian tradition

Chi circulates throughout the body as does blood.  There are 12 chi channels, called meridians, and 8 vessels.  Each pair of meridians consists of the "yin" and a "yang" channel.  For example the Kidney and Bladder meridians are paired.  The Kidneys are Yin organs and the Bladder is a Yang organ.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is primarily concerned with making sure there is adequate and balanced energy (chi) flowing properly along the meridians and vessels.  In addition to having each meridian pair in balance, all meridians must be in balance for optimal health.

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