Within the framework of Chinese thought, no notion may attain such a degree of abstraction from empirical data as to correspond perfectly to one of our modern universal concepts. Nevertheless, the term qi comes as close as possible to constituting a generic designation equivalent to our word "energy". When Chinese thinkers are unwilling or unable to fix the quality of an energetic phenomenon, the character qi inevitably flows from their brushes. "
described a kind of qi that might be characterized as an individual's vital energies. This qi was necessary to activity, and it could be controlled by a well-integrated willpower.
When properly nurtured, this qi was said to be capable of extending beyond the human body to reach throughout the universe
It could also be augmented by means of careful exercise of one's moral capacities.
On the other hand, the qi of an individual could be degraded by adverse external forces that succeed in operating on that individual.
Not only human beings and animals were believed to have qi. Zhuangzi
indicated that wind
is the qi of the Earth
Moreover, cosmic yin and yang
"are the greatest of qi."
He described qi as "issuing forth" and creating profound effects.
He said "Human beings are born [because of] the accumulation of qi. When it accumulates there is life. When it dissipates there is death... There is one qi that connects and pervades everything in the world."
Central to Taoist world-view and practice is qi (chi). Qi is life-force -- that which animates the forms of the world. It is the vibratory nature of phenomena -- the flow and tremoring that is happening continuously at molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels. In Japan it is called "ki," and in India, "prana" or "shakti." The ancient Egyptians referred to it as "ka," and the ancient Greeks as "pneuma." For Native Americans it is the "Great Spirit" and for Christians, the "Holy Spirit." In Africa it's known as "ashe" and in Hawaii as "ha" or "mana."
In China, the understanding of qi is inherent in the very language. For instance: The literal translation of the Chinese character meaning "health" is "original qi." The literal translation of the character for "vitality" is "high quality qi." The literal translation of the character meaning "friendly" is "peaceful qi."
The capacity to perceive the flow of qi directly -- to actually see or feel it -- is something that can be cultivated through training in qigong or acupuncture. Like any skill, some people are better at it than others: for some it seems to come "naturally," for others it's more of a challenge. Even if it's not consciously cultivated or acknowledged, most of us can tell the difference between someone who has "great energy" and someone from whom we feel a "bad vibe." And most of us are able to notice, when we enter a room, whether the atmosphere seems relaxed and uplifted, or tense and heavy. To the extent that we notice such things, we are tuning into the level of qi.
We might be in the habit of perceiving our world in terms of solid shapes and forms. What Taoism teaches is that we can train ourselves to perceive in other ways; and a good place to start is with our own human body. Though we may now experience our body as being rather solid, at a molecular level it is comprised mostly of water -- a very fluid substance! And at an atomic level it is 99.99% space -- a vast (and infinitely intelligent) emptiness.
Taoism and Experiencing Qi or Chi Power
Taoism beliefs and philosophies have had a huge influence on ancient Chinese healing practices. These practices, therefore, focus on the patient as a whole and the body's ability to self-heal. tai chi is the set of easy to do stretching and extension exercises with many health and meditative benefits.
According to, tai chi is gentle, adaptable to all ages and capabilities and has a history of treating ailments such as arthritis, hypertension and body pains.
Taoism is indeed, fascinating and intriguing for the Western world and the concept of chi has led to many interesting discussions, debates and books. Essentially, chi is life force and Taoism believes that it is possible to channel this life force using gentle exercises and meditative practices such as those of tai chi.
Basic Qigong Axiom: Energy Follows Attention
In spite of their differences, there are basic mechanisms that are common to all forms of qigong. The primary axiom of qigong practice is "energy follows attention." Where we place our awareness -- our conscious attention -- is where will flow and gather. You can experiment with this right now by closing your eyes, taking a couple of deep breaths, and then putting your attention, your mental focus, into one of your hands. Hold your attention there for thirty seconds to a minute, and notice what happens.
You may have noticed sensations of warmth, or fullness, or a tingling or magnetic feeling, or a sense of heaviness in your fingers or palm. These are common sensations associated with a gathering of qi in a particular place in our body. Each person's experience, however, is unique. What's most important is simply to notice what it is that you are experiencing, and to develop some kind of confidence in this basic principle of qigong practice: energy follows attention. In the Hindu systems this axiom is rendered, with the Sanskrit terms, as: prana
(life-force energy) follows citta
Breath As A Conduit For Linking Energy & Awareness
What is the mechanism by which "energy follows attention"? In the initial stages of practice, this has a lot to do with the physical breathing process. By learning to rest our attention on the cycling of the inhalations and the exhalations -- merging our mind with the movement of the breath -- we activate a capacity for our mental focus to be able to guide the movement of qi.
The Chinese word "qi" is sometimes translated into English as "breath" -- but this is not, in my opinion, the best choice. It's more useful to think of qi as energy plus awareness. The physical breathing process is used to guide awareness into a union with life-force energy -- the offspring being what is pointed to by the word "qi." As this union of life-force energy with awareness is stabilized within the bodymind of the practitioner, the physical breath becomes (over years of practice) more and more subtle, until it is absorbed into what is called embryonic breathing.