Body Sense

Spring 2011

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What is Qi? By Christina Barea The word qi (pronounced chee) has several translations, including “energy,” “life force,” “breath,” “air,” “mist,” and “steam.” Simply stated, qi is the particular energy of an object. It is believed that all objects have energy, including people, animals, and plants. Defining energy can seem like asking someone to believe in a mystical force that permeates the universe and all living beings. And yet, that’s true—it is and it does. Qi is “mystical” in the sense that we don’t fully comprehend how to define it, control it, or measure it. It exists, yet it constantly reveals new layers of discovery. The limitation of our understanding of those things we cannot see, feel, or hear is the same limitation we have in understanding the power of qi. But let’s find a more practical and perhaps scientific approach to defining qi. A basic way of defining qi is through the five energies of cells: heat, light, sound, magnetism, and electricity. Simply stated, each cell emits wavelengths of these five energies, and each of those wavelengths can be measured, altered, and controlled. We know that some of those wavelengths can be perceived without the aid of special devices. We see a wide gamma of light, but we can’t see X-rays or infrared radiation. Does that mean they don’t exist? Absolutely not. We can hear a car engine running, birds chirping, and music being played at the symphony, but we can’t hear the sound of a dog whistle. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED Qi is this type of energy, but not just each one in isolation; it’s all of them put together. Together, these energies give a living cell a multidimensional quality that includes function, communication, and connection well beyond the boundaries of the physical realm. spring 2011 Let’s examine a phrase that often accompanies popular definitions of qi: “Everything is connected.” Many people wonder how we all can be connected when, for example, there are thousands of miles between millions of people in this world. Well, let’s go back to the five energies of cells. We established that each one of those energies emits a wavelength, right? That wavelength travels as far as the intensity of the emitter. Visualize a magnet. It emits a field around it that is proportional to its strength—the stronger the magnet, the bigger the field. Humans are the same. We are a huge magnet, or battery, emitting a field of invisible, inaudible, and otherwise insensible wavelengths from our bodies. THE ENERGY OF QIGONG Qigong, which focuses on slow, intentioned movements and breathing, is the practice of energy, or qi, cultivation. Qigong masters have learned how to feel, emit, intensify, diminish, and otherwise control the field of energy by controlling their bodies. While not difficult, this requires patience, practice, and discipline. This internal strengthening workout provides real and measurable results. As qi moves through the body, it clears away old charges that may no longer serve your highest good and establishes new patterns that lead to better physical, emotional, and mental health. Over time, a thorough qigong practice and understanding of qi can provide profound long-term changes to your entire mind- body composition, returning you to the driver seat of your health and life. B S Christina Barea is an ordained Daoist priest who holds a master’s degree in medical qigong from the International Institute of Medical Qigong. She is also a member of the National Qigong Association’s board of directors. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, and enjoys spending time in nature, playing the Native-American flute, and exploring other cultures. Excerpted from Qigong Illustrated by Christina Barea. Copyright 2011 by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. Body Sense 7 t

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