IS QI REAL?
Subtle Life-Supporting Energies
Let's first look at the Meaning Behind the Word 'Qi':
The meaning of the word 'Qi' is quite interesting (and so is the structure of Chinese writing/characters in general) because the characters are comprised of different parts (called radicals) which each have their own meaning. For example, the Chinese character for Qi is: 氣 and it is comprised of these characters:
1. 气 - Air/gas
2. 米 - Rice
What does this say about the meaning of 'Qi'? It implies the steam rising from warm rice. Why is this character used in Qi Gong - 氣功 (Gong = 'Work')? Does it mean 'Working with the steam of Hot Rice!?' Not quite. But it does imply engaging with something that is more subtle or less substantial than solid matter. Not only that, it also implies that the solid 'stuff' is just as important and an integral part of the less substantial 'stuff'. (Interesting note: Chinese Medicine Dietetics is the study of food and their Qi qualities. All foods have Qi which the body extracts for daily function. Different foods have different effects according to the Qi they contribute to the body).
When translated literally, Qi means 'Air'. When doing Qigong practice the practitioner is learning how to work (功) with Qi (氣). Within the context of Qigong, Qi can be figuratively translated as 'Energy' or 'Life Force'. Even the literal translation (Air) of Qi is relevant to Qigong practice both because it:
1. It implies something subtle/insubstantial
2. Something vital for the sustenance of life
3. It again takes into account both the physical aspects of anatomy/physiology (literal breathing of the lungs) and the more subtle/energetic aspects (Qi/energy moving through the meridians/channels)
All of the above is happening during Qigong practice: One is learning how to work with and sense Qi (subtle energies) and maximise/optimise normal bodily funcions (such as breathing & digestion). The two are interlinked because if you affect the Qi you affect the physical body and if you affect the physical body you affect the Qi. They are not separate entities but rather different aspects of a continuum that ranges from gross to subtle substances that are intertwined and interact as part of a whole living system. How is it possible to know this if Modern Science has not been able to verify the existence of Qi?
1. It Doesn't Actually Matter (In terms of benefiting from the Results of Qigong practice)
2. You Have to Experience Qi for Yourself
Where is the Proof?
Looking at it from the most practical sense, it is not absolutely necessary to prove whether Qi exists or not because the health benefits are clear and have been proven. If one decides that Qi is not the mechanism behind Qigong then Qi terminology at the very least is the language or terminology that is used in Qigong practice in order to communicate what it does. Having said that, the deeper into practice that a Qigong practitioner delves, the more evident and undeniable that the existence of Qi becomes. This can only be proven from the inside out because Qi meekly eludes the probes of modern science yet we can still rely on a very sophisticated form of technology that is often criticised for its lack of objectivity: The built-in sensory equipment of the human being.
It is not actually the sensory equipment that is the problem, it is the quality of the human mind which distorts the data it receives and also because this sensory apparatus degenerates due to lack of use. Many people are not encouraged or have ever been encouraged to become still and enter a silent state where they can learn to listen to the secret life of Qi thriving inside one's own body and develop their innate sensitivity and sensory abilities. Most commonly, modern people are encouraged to develop their mind, to add to the noise, complexity and accumulate information. This movement is both in the complete opposite direction of developing natural sensitivity because it blocks it out and/or numbs it. This is not implying that we should not learn new things and information or use our mind but the point is that a human being should embrace and develop their natural sensitivity to balance the excessive use of the thinking mind. Feeling and thinking are more powerful when they work together in a balanced way.
How is Qi experienced?
Normally when one begins to practice Qigong it takes some time to develop sensations. Usually, first there are more physical/bodily sensations such as tingling, heat and pressure and/or increased awareness/connection with one's body. With dedicated practice carefully following the instructions given by an experienced teacher and patience, sensations begin to change and develop further. Once that happens, one can find out for themselves, from direct experience: What is Qi? is it real? How does it affect my life? How can I influence Qi and my quality of life once I have developed Qi sensitivity? At the end of the day words are just words. 'Qi' is just a word to describe the presence of something far more Alive and complex. Something inherent about the mechanisms by which living systems such as the human body function and thrive which can be observed and influenced with Qigong practice which brings about Real Life-changing results to one's Life.
We, at Daode Qigong invite you to find out for yourself!