Understanding Qi

When developing awareness of our body in correlation to Qi, it is good to first have a general understanding of what Qi is and how the qualities of Qi impact our body. From an Eastern point of view, Qi is contained throughout everything including our body, so becoming fully aware of Qi includes becoming aware of our body and being.

Cultivation of Qi within the body is common among many Eastern practices which use similar descriptions regarding the nature of Qi.

The Taoist tradition, originating from China, typically illustrates Qi as a “life force”, or “cosmic energy” throughout the Universe. In addition to China, other cultures share this understanding of Qi under different names, such as; “Gi” in Korea, “Ki” in Japan, and “Prana” in India. Many Asian cultures therefore maintain a collective concept of Qi as being an “energy” contained within all and interrelating with everything.

Qi is the major focus of Qigong practices. Qigong simply refers to the practice of cultivating Qi. In Qigong practice, gathering and moving Qi is essential for health and well being. It is a fundamental practice of Qigong to become aware of the various qualities of Qi. Qi can blend with different elements of nature and take on different qualities, and consequently, have different effects upon our body and being. We might consider this blending of Qi to be intrinsic Qi combined with fields of nature, generating specific qualities of Qi. The electromagnetic energy and mass of the entire Earth blended with Qi creates a cosmic energy field with a specific quality of Qi. The air, sun, moon, celestial bodies, and the entire firmament combined with innate Qi, also produce a specific quality of Qi. Here we have two primary forces which Taoists call “Earth Qi” and “Heaven Qi”.

Earth Qi (Di Qi) and Heaven Qi (Tien Qi)

In Qigong practice, we work with moving and blending Earth Qi (Di Qi) and Heaven Qi (Tien Qi). These qualities of Qi may correspond with elements of nature and matter; however, Earth Qi and Heaven Qi are not considered entirely synonymous with any scientific definitions of matter or energy. This being said, Qi is a measurable field that contains properties of matter and energy that carry information. From this we might assume that Earth Qi and Heaven Qi contain different qualities of matter, energy, and information. This is why Earth Qi and Heaven Qi have different effects on the body and mind, as these two fields of energy carry different information.

Earth Qi (Di Qi)

  • Earth Qi is drawn upward and gathered from the Earth, water, trees plants, mountains, etc.
  • Earth Qi is a blending of Qi and the energy field of the Earth. Being that it is more of form and contraction, it is a Yin* force.
  • Earth Qi is typically drawn into the body from the Earth through the feet and legs, the perineum, the skin, and through the breath.
  • Earth Qi nourishes the Yin* channels of the body.

Heaven Qi (Tien Qi)

  • Heaven Qi is drawn downward from celestial bodies, the sun, the moon, stars, space, wind or air, and even lightning.
  • Heaven Qi is a blending of Qi and the energy field of the firmament. Being that it is more of formlessness and expansion, it is a Yang* force.
  • Heaven Qi is typically drawn into the body through the top of head, the palms and arms, the skin, and through the breath.
  • Heaven Qi nourishes the Yang* channels.

*Yin: contracting, cooling, feminine, internal, etc.
*Yang: expanding, warming, masculine, external, etc.

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