What's this 'Qi'?
From the Heavens to the Earth, mist and dirt ~ all is Qi.
Is Qi some invisible stuff that doesn't really exist? Or is it a special thing only acupuncturists and martial artists know about? I thought it was a silver elixir that you can make more of in your body by drinking Mercury?
No, not really.
And especially no to the Mercury. Just ask old Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. He tried it. Hes not around anymore sadly. And by the way, its pronounced 'Chee'.
To narrow the concept down a bit, everything is Qi. That help?
The Chinese concept of Qi is similar to the idea of energy. And not in an airy fairy, new age energy kind of way.
Qi as Energy
The Western concept of energy in physics is similar to Qi theory. Physics describes matter, its movement and behavior in space and time in terms of force and energy.
The density of Qi (or atoms) creates form and substance. Heavy and dense qi forms rocks, wood, earth. Light and sparse Qi forms mist, air, and clouds etc. Everything in between is formed by Qi in different densities.
Light Qi Mist
Heavy Qi Dirt
Qi cannot be destroyed - it is ever changing into different forms. Consider the light energy of the sun, absorbed by plants, creating food for animals, which in turn create faeces and eventually heavy earth. That's a broad overview, but hopefully you get the idea.
Qi in the Body
Soooo, why can't I see Qi in my body, but the acupuncturist talks about my 'Qi'?
Feel the pulse in your wrist and you'll feel your Qi! Not only that, but the way you feel in general is an indication of your bodies qi.
There are particular sets of qualities that relate to the Qi of certain organs in Chinese Medicine. The acupuncturist can tell by your set of symptoms which areas of your body might not have enough Qi, or areas where Qi isn't moving properly.
And how exactly do I get Qi......?
Well, luckily for you, assuming your are alive, you've already been given a bunch of the stuff from your parents. In Chinese Medicine we call the Qi that came from your parents 'Jing'. The quality of Jing you received can determine a lot about your health. Jing Qi resides in the Kidneys.
Thankfully there are other ways to replenish our Qi without asking for more from our parents. It's not money we're talking about here, your an adult now, time to look after your own Qi! Here it is:
Food, or 'Gu Qi' is turned into Qi the body can use to power itself.
Different foods have different quality Qi, so depending on your bodies requirements, Chinese Medicine would recommend different types of food for different people. Cold raw salads and smoothies aren't the best thing for everyone!
'Da Qi' or the Qi we get from breath and oxygen also replenishes the bodies Qi. There's lots of breath and movement exercises in Chinese Medicine that improve the quality of Da Qi.
When the Lungs Qi is working correctly, Da Qi (breath) and Gu Qi (food) combine in the chest creating Zhong Qi - essentially the nutrient rich blood and pumping action of the heart and lungs. The Jing Qi (from your parents, and the Kidneys) then acts as a catalyst to turn Zhong qi into Ying Qi and and Wei Qi. The catalyst action of Jing is similar to the functions of the adrenal glands in Western Medicine and the cleansing action of the Kidneys themselves. ...Time for a diagram right?
Qi, Qi, everywhere!
So as you might be getting the idea, everything is qi, but there are different types of qi, with different actions and functions.
There are a lot more roles that different organ's Qi have in the body - I haven't even mentioned the Liver! This is just an over view of Qi in the body.
Qi isn't invisible all the time, and it is real. Its just a concept that we don't really have a word for in the Western world. Hopefully the concept makes a little more sense to you now.
Now for the airy fairy, new age spiel you knew had to come...
Everything is Qi/energy and energy is constantly transforming. So through that, we must be connected to everything right?
Naaah, surely we're all just individual entities stuck in these meat sacks, going about our own daily business. We don't have a connection to our food and we don't really need air do we?
Mmm, not sure. Gonna go eat an apple under Newtons tree and ponder it.