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The "Chi" in Chinese Medicine

Updated on March 4, 2010

Perfect Balance

The Yin Yang symbol
The Yin Yang symbol

Go with the Flow

Qi, pronounced “chi” is the central abiding life force that animates the forms of the world. It is fundamental to the Taoist world-view and inherent in the Chinese language.  It exists at the molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels of all matter, in constant vibration and movement, dancing with the cosmos in a micro-macro world. There are many names for this energy. In Japan it is called “ki,” in India “prana” or “shakti.” The Native Americans call it “Great Spirit.” In Christianity it is called the “Holy Spirit,” although this spirit seems to only inhabit the realm of man. In eastern cultures Qi is everywhere and in everything; humans, trees, rocks, water, the air we breathe. All matter has a vibratory nature and thus carries Qi. It is the balance of this Qi, the way it flows, that produces harmony or disharmony, ease or dis-ease. In Chinese medicine the Qi is examined and adjusted to improve and maintain proper health. It is a “wholistic” system that involves the whole person, not just the physical body. Mind, body and spirit are considered as One for optimal treatment.

The Meridians


Chinese Medicine, or TCM, came about officially during the Cultural Revolution when all of the various practices were standardized and secularized and some of the spiritual connections were removed. There remains a diagnostic framework called the Five Elements that still relies on the ancient aspects of imbalance dealing with the spiritual and emotional bodies as well as the physical body. Alternative medicine embraces this aspect as well as the TCM that is more popular among medical physicians. Tuina, a type of Chinese Bodywork Massage Therapy, and Acupuncture are two therapies widely practiced. Qigong and Tai chi are both traditional Chinese movement exercises that help move the body’s chi. Like yoga, they both integrate meditation and movement to promote strength, flexibility and peace.

Acupuncture is an ancient practice that uses very sharp hair-thin needles inserted into what is known as meridian lines on the body to access Qi and increase the flow. These energy channels, or meridians, are located on the subtle body, associated with a particular element and organ system and are not merely physical locations. There is a network of twelve major meridians and eight extraordinary meridians that a practitioner will access in order to re-balance the flow and relieve pain. It is an intricate system and requires intuition as well as knowledge to be effective.

Words of Wisdom

The Chinese have brought us so much in the way of meditative philosophies through Confucius, The I Ching, Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching, and Buddhism, How many times have we relied on these ancient traditions for our words of wisdom. Here are a few from Confucius.

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.


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    • ruminator profile image

      ruminator 8 years ago from Big Skies, NM

      Yes, we all can change our qi by spiritual practice. Thanks for the comment!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      There are many advertisement in my local newspaper about TCM. They offered many treatment and the guarantee it good for cancer treatment. I think "chi" power well known for a long time ago, And there is no side effect by using this medicine. thanks for share about this topic.