A fundamental difference between Eastern and Western medicine is that many of the Eastern traditions include practices that help one to develop and achieve optimal health and wellness before the onset of disease, infection and emotional problems. Prescribing Qi Gong to prevent and cure illnesses of the body, mind and spirit is quite typical for Chinese medicine practitioners, but anything similar is almost unheard of in Western healthcare.
In Chinese medicine and philosophy, Qi is thought of as “the natural force which fills the universe,” and while there are many ways of defining Qi, it may be generally thought of as any and all types of energy which are “able to demonstrate power and strength,” including the power to animate objects with life. 
“It is known that all diseases arise from the upset of qi: Anger pushes the qi up, joy makes the qi slacken, grief disperses the qi, fear brings the qi down, terror confuses the qi, and anxiety causes the qi to stagnate. Anger harms the liver, joy the heart, anxiety the spleen, grief the lungs, and fear the kidneys.” – The Nei Jing
Primarily handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and in actual practice, not in written texts, the ancient Chinese practices of Qi Gong can vary wildly between teachers and schools of thought. It can be many things including physical exercises (both standing and seated), forms that resemble martial arts, breathing exercises, visualizations and, or, meditations.
The system is incredibly diverse, however, the science behind the flow of energy in and around the body has been well documented for thousands of years, and many schools of thought are in concurrence about many of the basic and even more esoteric concepts and terms involved. Among the most important concepts in Qi Gong training is an understanding of what are known as ‘San Bǎo’ (三寶), or, The Three Treasures.
Jing (Essence), Qi (Internal Energy), and Shen (Spirit), are the Three Treasures, The Three Foundations, or The Three Origins, and are the root of life.
“In Qi Gong training, a practitioner learns how to ‘firm his jing,’ and how to convert it into Qi. This is called ‘Lian Jing Hua Qi,’ which means to ‘to refine the Jing and convert it into Qi.’ Then he learns how to lead the Qi to the head to onvert it into Shen. This is called ‘Lian Qi Hua Shen,’ which means ‘to refine the Qi and convert it into (nourish) the Shen.’ Finally the practitioner learns to use his energized Shen to govern the emotional part of his personality. This is called, ‘Lian Shen Liao Xing, or ‘to refine the Shen to end human (emotional) nature.’” -Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming 
Jing means a number of things and as a word it can be used as a noun, a verb or an adjective. It is considered the essence, the original source from which a thing is made, and also the refining process by which a person’s essence is polished or sharpened. Jing is the energy given to you at birth that enables you to grow and to develop strength. Many believe it to be the most important part of a you because it is considered to be the root energy to Qi and Shen. Learning first how to conserve and firm your original Jing is critical to Qi Gong training.
Qi is, again, the energy that fills the universe. There really is no clear explanation of how it works or of the vessels in the body which provide for the flow of Qi, but it can be distinctly felt as an energizing and healing force that can be manipulated and moved by the mind and body. Qi supplies the energy your organs need to function, and much like electricity in a factory that provides differing levels of current for different machines, the flow of Qi must be consciously regulated in order for the body to function optimally.
Shen is more difficult to describe in Western terms, but it may be considered to be spiritual or mental energy, the supernatural, the divine, the immortal soul, or the cosmic energy that drives and elevates consciousness. Shen is also the emotional mind, the part of us that governs our mood and behavior, the force that collects and utilizes wisdom. In order to raise your Shen you must first nourish and fill the brain with Qi, which is how dedication to the practices of Qi Gong can lead to a very real spiritual awakening.
“Buddhists and Daoists believe that when you are alive you may use your Jing and Qi to nourish the Shen… When this is built up to a high level, your will is able to lead it to seperate from the physical body even while you are alive. When you have reached this stage, your physical body is able to live for many hundreds of years. People who can do this are called ‘Xian,’ which means ‘god,’ ‘immortal,’ or ‘fariy…’ The ‘Xian’ is a living person whose Shen has reached the stage of enlightenment or Buddhahood.”-Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang, The Root of Chinese Qi Gong: Secrets for Health, Longevity and Enlightenment
The roots of depression, anxiety, fear and other negative emotions are found within the energy body, and in our modern world of stress, over-work, over-stimulation, and constant hustle, the nervous and emotional systems of the body are the first to breakdown.
Qi Gong is itself a true treasure for those seeking physical and mental wellness, as well as happiness in our short, beautiful lives. It is the most practical method of strengthening and building life force energy within the body, mind and spirit, and catalyzing meaningful personal transformation. The presence and experience of Qi is universal to human beings and can be directly experienced with Qi Gong.
Anyone can develop the presence, awareness and sensitivity to come to know The Three Treasures. And what a treasure it is to see a happy, healthy person.
Last updated on November 6, 2013 at 12:00 am EDT by in5d Alternative News
Everything on the Physical plane is a manifestation of something on the Metaphysical plane. When we speak of abundance, what we are really talking about is an abundance of emotional, mental and spiritual energy. We fill ourselves to the brim with these energies and it is the overflow that is manifest on the physical plane.
The signs and symptoms that are apparent on the Physical plane lead us to inquire, ultimately, more deeply into ourselves as energetic and spiritual beings.
We tend not to worry too much about this sort of thing when our body is working well, we are not feeling pain, or we are not in the throes of some chronic disease. But when our body feels pain or becomes disabled by disease or accident we tend to start reaching out for answers. We want to know why. Or maybe we don’t even want to know why we just want to fix something we perceive is broken.
Realistically, when our body refuses to do what we want it to, metaphysically, it is not actually broken. It is doing its job. One of its functions is to carry messages from the higher energetic planes to us. It is then up to us to interpret these messages and take action.
Western medicine takes the position that we feel pain because we can. Western approaches to pain, as the main symptom of any disease, are pretty much limited to drugs and surgery. Treatment consists of numbing or diverting pain receptors in the body or cutting off the offending organ. While this approach does have its place in acute situations, it is at best a temporary and often harmful way to approach pain or other disharmonies we feel in our bodies. Most often, western medicine has little to offer most of us and incredibly makes us wait until our symptoms become unbearably acute before it can even acknowledge a disharmony.
The trend today, as much for economic reasons, as for reasons of spirit and human development is to encourage people to take responsibility for their own lives. This is the approach of ancient wisdom. We use our bodies to communicate with our selves and with others. We use our bodies to work out emotional, mental and spiritual questions. While we do tend to judge a diseased body negatively, there really is no right or wrong about it.
The ancient Taoists theorized that good and bad, right and wrong, yin and yang, were just different points of view that we all adopt at one time or another. Because the earth plane is dualistic in nature we all view, at one time or another from both the Yin and the Yang ends of the telescope. There does not seem to be a point in judging one good and one bad or judging one good and one evil. These just are the symptoms of being human.
Still, there is such a thing as being well, and there is such a thing as being sick. When we get sick we tend to want to do something about it.
Enter the healer.
A healer is trained in the observation and interpretation of signs and symptoms, and in methods for dealing with them.
Wholistic Healing of the individual occurs at different energetic levels. These are the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. For those on the path, there are a great many more levels and sublevels identified in various cultural, religious and philosophical traditions. But for our purposes we can look at the individual in these four broad realms to at least begin the process of healing.
Healing by the way occurs not only at the individual level, but also at the family, community and global level. When one heals ‘mindfully’, as the Buddhists say, these other aspects of individual healing may become apparent.
There are healers operating today at all these levels. Still, a good place to begin is in the individual body. With this in mind, the following is a list of physical symptoms and the metaphysical disharmonies they may reflect.
Louise Hay, in her book, ‘You Can Heal Your Life,’ has done some interesting work in this area. I use her book occasionally in my Reiki II work. Other references are; Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnostic principals, my own Reiki teacher, Denise Crundall, and my own experience.
Please note that these are only general observations, serving hopefully to illuminate areas that you can look at more closely in yourself or with the help of a healer. You are the one who knows you best. As you go through these observations, try to expand your awareness beyond your own life to see also how these disharmonies are reflected in your own family, community, country and in the world. Ultimately it is our own choice to heal or not to heal and it is our own innate healing ability that is activated.
Headaches; Pain always indicates a separation of some sort from something. Usually we say separation from what is the Truth. The greater the pain the more important that something is. Depending on which part of the head is afflicted the meaning changes. Louise Hay suggests that Headaches indicate invalidating the Self out of Fear. In Chinese Medicine there are several different kinds of headaches according to the quality of the pain and the location on the head. Read on.
Vertex; The top of the head is associated with our connection to the Universe or God. Pain here is associated with separation from that higher power. It is also associated with the Kidneys and the emotion is Fear. Both the Gallbladder and Urinary Bladder channels traverse the top of the head. The Gallbladder is associated with Courage, and the Urinary Bladder through its associate with the Kidneys is associated with Fear. Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head is used extensively to ‘calm the spirit’ in Chinese Medicine.
Forehead; The forehead is associated with the 3rd eye, both in Chakra Theory and Traditional Chinese Medical theory. The 3rd eye is associated with introspection and illumination of your own Inner Being. Pain here is associated with separation from your own Inner Being. In Chinese Medicine, Yintang, which is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows, Du 23 (Shangxing), Du 24 ( Shenting) which are located at the hairline directly above Yintang and Du 20 (Baihui) located at the top of the head, all have the action of ‘calming the spirit.’ Yintang is associated with the eyes; not only the eyes that look outward but the eyes that look inward and is indicated in some emotional disorders.
Temporal; The sides of the head are associated with courage, especially courage to face your world. Migraine Headaches, usually located in the front quadrants, right or left, indicates a separation from your world. The involvement of the eyes in Migraines indicate not only an unwillingness to look without, but to look within. Most Migraine sufferers report, not only severe pain behind the eye, but also acute sensitivity to light. In Chinese Medicine, a number of Meridians run through this area. The Gallbladder Channel is associated with courage. The San Jiao channel is involved with processing of water (the elixir of Life), and the Small Intestine Channel is involved with deriving nourishment from the world. Both the San Jiao Channel and the Small Intestine Channel are connected to the Heart, whose emotion is Joy and where the Mind is located. Lack of Joy (with one’s self) is strongly indicated by pain in this area. There is also Anger indicated by the Gallbladder channel’s link with the Liver.
Occipital; The back of the head represents your past. Some say also this is an area of spirituality. Pain here represents something in your past that is not complete and remains unforgiven. The back of the head is traversed by the Gallbladder Channel and the Urinary Bladder Channels indicating Anger born of Fear. The Back of the Head is thought to be the seat of Spiritual Experiences. The only way to see them is through inner sight. Pain in the back of the head represents an unwillingness to look deep within for the source of Light & Truth.
Spine; The Spine Represents the support you think you have in Life and your alignment with those supportive forces. Curved spine, or Scoliosis represents a misalignment with Life. Spasms represent an unwillingness to accept the support that is there.
Shoulders; Shoulders represent burdens and responsibilities. Frozen Shoulder for example represents a complete unwillingness to shoulder your responsibilities in Life, especially your own Life. Pain and dysfunction to varying degrees represents varying degrees of unwillingness to be responsible. Moving forward in Life sometimes requires that you ‘put your shoulder to the wheel’ to overcome inertia. the Gallbladder channel traverses the shoulders and indicates Courage ( or lack of…).
The back, in Chinese Medicine, is considered to be your Yang side; the active, aggressive, lighted side. The back also represents that which is behind you. Very often we do not see clearly that which is behind us. Back problems generally represent conflict between the urge to move forward and the inertia of an unforgiven past that holds us back. This tension very often separates us from both and pain is the result. Louse Hay suggests that backs generally represent support.
Mid back; The mid back is the link between the shoulder and the lower back. It can be a weak link. As we firm up our shoulders and become willing to take on the responsibilities of Life, and we have gathered around us the financial and emotional support we need (lower back), something sneaks up and stabs us in the back. This is a blind spot. Not only can we not see it, but is very difficult to reach. The weak link crumbles. It is the saboteur or seducer that takes us off our path. Located in this area are the Tonification points (called ‘Shu’ points) for the Liver, the Stomach, and the Spleen. These organs are responsible for the transformation and transportation of Qi, and the free flow of Qi in the body. Blockages here affect the entire body and can stop you dead in your tracks. The Spleen represents Worry or Overthinking and the Liver represents Anger or base emotions. Both of these can sabotage even the best laid plans. Louse Hay suggests that the mid-back represents Guilt and stuck in the past stuff.
Lower Back; The Lower Back represents support; financial support, emotional support of family and friends, and support of God or the Universe. The Kidneys are located in this area and Kidney dysfunction results in Fear/Fright/Phobias. A sore lower back may indicate that we have taken on more than we think we can handle. This is a dysfunction, only if it is not the Truth. If we have indeed taken on too much, that would be indicated by a physical trauma to the back and all we need to do is lighten the load. Chronic low back ache, though, not associated with any trauma is the one with the Metaphysical application, and the one related to Kidney depletion. Kidneys are considered to have a central function relative to other organs since it is where Yuan Qi or our Primary Essence is stored. Yuan Qi is also known as Primary Qi or Congenital Qi. It is the Qi you are born with and determines your relative strength in the world. It is considered to be quite difficult to strengthen an already weak Yuan Qi, but it can be done. Low back pain is often diminished by strengthening the Kidneys. In short, Low back pain, generally refers to a lack of trust in the Universe to protect and support. Louise Hay suggests Fear of money is indicated.
Coccyx; The Coccyx/Sacrum is the seat of Self-pity. There is a fear of asking for help. One would rather sit and feel sorry for one’s self than get of one’s ass and do something.
Hips; Hips represent decisions in Life, especially decisions about moving forward. Pain in the hips is a sign of being ‘stuck’, unable to make a decision, or see clearly what is needed to be done next. The process of walking requires that we first thrust the hip forward and the leg etc. follows. This is actually, an act of faith on our part, since we are quite literally initiating a fall to the ground and trusting that our legs will save us. The Gallbladder Channel traverses the hip which again represents Courage and confidence to move forward. Louise Hay suggests that hip problems represent fear of going forward with major decisions. Hips represent the idea that the next step in your life is important. Pain or discomfort advises you to slow down or stop, look around, buy a map, or ask someone for directions.
Upper Thighs; Thighs are the link between the Hips & decisions, and the Knees & pride. Very often, when we have made a decision and take the next step, Pride gets in the way. “What if I look stupid? What if it’s not right? What if it doesn’t work out?” Our knees lock up or turn to jelly, and we are prevented from moving forward. The pain that begins in the Hips and shoots down the Thigh (Sciatic Nerve), is the separation from our desire and decision to move forward and our Fear of falling flat on our ass. Louse Hay suggests that Upper Thigh problems represent retaining childhood trauma.
Knees; Knees represent Pride. In spiritual practice it is suggested that one must go down before one can rise up, as Jesus did before John the Baptist, before taking up his own ministry. Pride or Ego keeps us from surrendering to the Will of God or the Universe. In practice, every time we move forward in Life or approach change, we approach the unknown. We may feel vulnerable or unsure. We may stand still, stiff kneed resisting the winds of change. It is interesting to note that stiff, sore knees are a symptom of Kidney deficiency, whose emotion is Fear. Rather than admit our fear, we resist it until it overwhelms us. While knees represent Pride, and it is said that ‘Pride goes before the fall’, knees can also represent Humility which is the wisdom to be yielding in the face of change.
Briefly, Knee problems may be said to indicate being stuck in the Ego, too proud to bend. Louise Hay also suggests that Knees represent Pride and the Ego.
Shins; The Shins represent another weak link. Although the Shins are mostly bone, the hardest substance in the body, the Shins are actually quite sensitive and brittle. A slight whack on the Shins is not only painful, it weakens the entire body and stops it cold. When we have organized ourselves to move forward, to take the next step towards the goal we have set, and are in the process of taking it, something comes along and sends you tumbling. It is something we trip over because we don’t see it, even though it is right there in front of us. In ancient times the shin pads that worriers wore were called greaves. Very often what trips us up is something, the loss of which we haven’t properly grieved. Moving forward always means something gets left behind. Interesting to note is that the three Yin channels of the foot all criss cross at Spleen 6 (Sanyinjiao), representing a confluence of Worry, Anger, and Fear. Moving forward is often marked by a jumble of emotional responses which need to be sorted out, especially if we are resisting it. Louise Hay suggests that problems are fear of the future; not wanting to move ahead.
Ankles; Ankles represent flexibility, which is important as one navigates the twists and turns of Life. Stiff, painful ankles means that change is difficult for you. Maybe you are one who digs in your heels and resists moving forward. The more Life forces change upon you, the deeper you dig in. A broken ankle is a good sign to develop some flexibility in your Life. Louise Hay suggests that ankles represent mobility and direction.
Feet; Our feet represent our connection with Mother Earth. Sore, swollen, numb or painful feet represent the state of our relation with our Mother. Mother Earth, and our base energies. While it is legs that carry us forward into Life, it is the feet that actually make contact with the ground and can stop any advance, or at least make it difficult. In modern society with its asphalt, concrete and High Rises, we lose touch with the Earth and its energies. This may be reflected in our relationship to the one who gave birth to us. Separation can cause real pain.
All the Leg Yin & Yang channels meet and flow into each other in the toes. This is an area of high energy and strong effect on the body. This is an area where strong energies are in transition, so our contact with Mothers, Mother Earth and our base energies is always ambivalent. We want to draw closer to that love, but at the same time move away on our own course.
In my experience, the feet often store toxic energies (as often to do with grief or resentments as not), as far away from the Heart as possible. This means, in the feet. Often, these are issues that go all the way back to childhood. Lacking the tools to effectively release grief or resentment the body stores it, like it stores fat. Over time, more and more toxic energies are stored here and fill up the receptacle. In many cases, the entire leg can become involved and the waste starts leaking back into the system. This is a very serious situation indeed, that can lead to amputations, blood disorders and even death, as the body struggles to protect the Heart. Metaphysically, it becomes clear that the space you are standing in is painful. The key is to move on. Stop dwelling on the past, release or transform whatever it is that keeps you emotionally standing still. Louise Hay suggests that feet represent our understanding of ourselves, of Life, and others, and toes represent minor details of the future.
Throat; The Throat represents our Will, and our ability to communicate, both with others and with ourselves. Sore throats, lumps in the throat, tumours all represent difficulties in saying what we want to say. Lumps, both physical tumours and those that are non-manifest (Hystericus Globus) are our willful attempts to block free expression of emotion and of our identity. The Throat is another one of those weak links that can seduce or sabotage you from your path. The Throat is the channel between the Head and the Heart. In Chinese Medicine it is said the Heart houses the Mind, especially in its connection with the emotion of Joy and the expression of Love for ourselves and for others. Have you ever had a great idea, gotten your body motivated, put your Heart into it, only to say something completely stupid which makes a mess of things? Have you ever felt the urge to say something complimentary and suppressed it? Have you ever just blurted out something that just seemed to by-pass the brain? How often does a careless or ill chosen word create havoc in your Life? Where this comes from is all the things you have not said over the years that get stuck in the throat, needing to get out, and out they come, one way or the other.
All emotions are designed to be expressed, even the ones we judge to be negative and especially the ones we judge to be positive. Louise Hay calls the the Throat an avenue of expression and a channel of creativity. Problems indicate an inability to speak up for one’s self, swallowed anger , stifled creativity and refusal to change. Thyroid problems indicate difficulty in analyzing, digesting and assimilating the communication between the Head and the Heart.
Chest/Breasts; The chest area represents the Feminine principal of nurturing and nourishing the connection with the ‘breath of Life’ as it flows through the Lungs. In men, pain or discomfort, not associated with any organ or vessel represents a disconnection from the Feminine principal. Breast envy, may exist in men; the desire to connect with the feminine side, the same way penis envy is said to exist in women; the desire to connect with the masculine side. In Chinese Medicine, the front is considered Yin. The chest is the confluence of the three most important kinds of Qi, that nourish the body; Zhong Qi, from the Lungs, Jing Qi, from the Spleen, and Yuan Qi from the Kidneys. Breast problems represents a denial of the Mother/feminine principal to nourish the self and to nourish others. Louise Hay suggest also that the breasts represent mothering and nurturing. Cysts, lumps etc. represents over mothering.
Solar Plexus; Is said to the be the seat of the Ego and Individuation. Some call this the Negative Ego. In general this area represents the conflicts in your life. Pain or discomfort in the Diaphragm area represents unresolved conflicts. In Chinese Medicine, pain in this area indicates Liver Qi Stagnation, usually associated with Anger.
Stomach; The stomach represents digestion, not only of food and physical nutrients, but of new ideas, new ways of doing things, and accepting change of any kind. The Stomach is nothing more than a big flexible bag of muscle whose job it is to ripen and rot whatever is put into it. That is, its job is to break down what is put into it into a form that the body can deal with. This it does by adding Hydrochloric Acid, Hormones, Enzymes and Bile which reduces every sold morsel into an undifferentiated mass called Chyme. Simultaneously it rocks back and forth swishing and swilling this mess until it is liquefied and able to pass through the small Pyloric Valve into the Small Intestine where the actual absorption of nutrients mostly takes place. Metaphysically, when we come upon a new idea or a new way of doing things, the process is similar. First we must swallow the idea, either whole or in handy bite sized morsels, break it down into a form we can handle and finally absorb that which we need to nourish ourselves. In the same way that a bad diet poisons the body, toxic ideas, suppressed emotions and resistance to change can have a poisoning effect. In traditional Chinese Medicine, long standing emotional disharmony is seen as a primary cause of disease. Strengthening the Spleen/Stomach which between them are responsible for transforming food and water into Qi, and transporting it throughout the body, is seen as a key strategy to deal with almost any disease. Metaphysically we need to nourish ourselves every day, just as we need to eat nourishing foods. Just as the physical body needs nourishment to grow and carry on its day to day activities, so do the Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual bodies. Metaphysically, ‘wellness’ is not accomplished by a change in diet alone. Louise Hay suggests that the stomach holds nourishment, digests ideas. Problems indicate dread, fear of the new, and an inability to assimilate the new.
What is Qi and why has Western science failed to explain away this phenomenon?
Modern acupuncture research has tried to understand Qi but instead of coming away with one unifying theory, or perhaps even a way to flat out disprove its existence, science has posited several possibilities as to the biological manifestation or physiological occurrence that the Chinese refer to as Qi. What follows is my interpretation of Qi as it pertains to acupuncture as well as the practice of Qigong, a form of moving meditation that translates into “life energy cultivation”.
Chinese Medicine is really abstract, full of flowery imagery and concepts that are foreign to most of us in the West. In that sense, it’s quite different from Western medicine which is steeped in reductionism or the idea of breaking the body down into small isolated pieces in order to understand each component; this often leads to forsaking the forest for the trees. Perhaps this explains why biomedicine has such a disconnect between the mind and body. There are specialists for just about every area and function of the human body and yet, only a select few physicians are able to see the way these disparate systems interrelate or connect. Conversely, Chinese medicine views the human being as an integrated whole, a divine cohesive unit that must be treated as such in both life and in medicine.
Is Qi really as esoteric as it sounds? Not really. I’ll give you some Western biomedical explanations of how it works. For starters, Qi is, for all intents and purposes, “matter on the verge of becoming energy or energy on the verge of materializing” (Kaptchuk, Web That Has No Weaver). Let’s put that into more Western terms: potential and kinetic energy. Everything in this world has either potential or kinetic energy and according to physics and the law of conservation, energy cannot be naturally created, only transferred from one state to another. With that in mind, Qi can be viewed as the manifestation of energy in a state of flux – somewhere between potential and kinetic. This is why, when we cut someone open, we can’t see their Qi, yet it’s something that everyone can feel in themselves (with training).
I practice Qigong regularly and am able to feel Qi movement in my body. I even notice differences from session to session, based on what’s going on with me at a given time, physically as well as emotionally. Qigong is essentially exercise, but instead of just building the muscles, it builds the mind as well; something modern science is just now beginning to understand with it’s extensive studies of neuroplasticity and meditation. Keeping in mind that the body and mind are to be viewed as one, Qigong requires relaxation, breath work and an open yet disciplined state of consciousness. The mind guides and the Qi follows. If the mind isn’t open during practice, results are tempered. The stronger your mind, the easier it becomes to cultivate and guide the Qi. This doesn’t mean the smarter you are, the easier it becomes, but rather the more relaxed and receptive your mind is, the easier it will be to experience results. As traditional societies have known for quite some time with their own cultivation practices (i.e. Ayurvedic, Shamanic or Native American), the building and cultivation of ones self can only be truly achieved through meditation or meditative-like practices. The stresses of modern life such as smart phones and all of the other non-stop stimuli inundating our brains make such development and practice that much more important – and simultaneously, that much more difficult for the average person.
Qi has also been described and quantified in the West as our bioelectric charge. Bio-electromagnetism refers to the electrical and magnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues and organisms. During the electro-physiological research of the 1960′s, scientists proved that bones are in fact piezoelectric. This means that under mechanical stress, chemical processes convert energy to electric current. It is understood now however that the human body is constructed of many different electrically conductive materials, and that it forms a living electromagnetic field and circuit. All living things on this planet, large and small have some level of electric and/or magnetic charge. Humans and some plant cells, experience living “electrical events” known as action potentials, or nerve impulses, in which neurons, muscle cells and endocrine cells facilitate inter-cellular communication and activate intra-cellular processes. Electromagnetic energy is continuously being generated in the human body through biochemical reactions such as those we experience in assimilation of our food and air.
In addition, we are constantly being affected by external electromagnetic fields such as those of the Earth, moon and large bodies of water. Anyone who has ever practiced Qigong next to a river or ocean can attest to the difference! Many acupuncturists use magnets or electricity in their treatments for this very reason. Dr. Robert O. Becker, author of The Body Electric, reports in his book that the conductivity of skin is significantly higher at acupuncture points. Dr. Becker’s book, as well as several other reports on the subject, confirm the notion of Qi is indeed both real and scientific.
Most people go about their daily lives with no sense of the Qi within them or around them. However, there are the naturally gifted few that are born with the innate wisdom and sensitivity to be able to see and work with these energetic fields. Again, these people are truly rare today and I believe that most who profess such skills are telling half-truths or flat out lies. That being said however, such individuals certainly exist and there is absolutely an aspect to energetic healing that is beyond the scope of modern medicines capability to explain. For the rest of us normal humans however, it requires extensive training and development of our minds and our nervous system to be able to get in touch with this field, let alone control it or yield it… but it is possible.
The ancient Chinese people had no knowledge of electricity, yet they knew that when an acupuncture needle was inserted into the body at a specific location, some form of energy other than heat was produced. In acupuncture theory, Qi ‘flows’ through the body via channels or meridians that connect our entire structure. These meridians, although not identifiable formations by Western biomedicine, have been mapped, described in detail and utilized by Chinese medical practitioners for thousands of years. Meridians contain ‘gates’ or points along their pathway where manipulation of the energy or Qi that flows through them is possible and particularly effective. By manipulating these points, one can influence the flow of Qi along the meridian in order to help the patient regain health and wellness. That’s the acupuncturists’ job, to transmit the message to the patient’s body in order to allow them to regain balance. The healing isn’t in the needle itself, but rather it’s in the practitioner’s ability to read the patient and transmit the correct message to them at the correct time in order to facilitate that person’s natural ability to heal and self-regulate. In that respect, true wellness is actually up to the patient and their ability to receive that message.
Western medical research has determined that acupuncture points are locations of fascial bundling. Our fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body — it’s absolutely everywhere! While much of the incredible healing power of acupuncture is still being researched, acupuncture points have been found to mostly lie along fascial planes, between muscles or between a muscle and bone or tendon. Fascia envelops the smallest fiber of muscle, every bone and joint and holds us together, in effect, supporting our structure and giving us our shape.
So what does Qi have to do with fascia?
A blockage of Qi can be viewed as an alteration in fascial composition and the majority of acupuncture points correspond to the sites where fascial networks converge. Thus, manipulation of an acupuncture needle produces change that can propagate along the fascial network and communicate with our entire body since everything is connected via this massive web of tissue. Think of fascia like a spider web; when something hits the web, the spider doesn’t have to see it, it just knows exactly where it is because of the vibrations. Similarly, when acupuncture needles enter the fascial web, it propagates a signal to our nervous system and our neurochemistry responds accordingly. A 1995 study by H. Heine, a German MD, documented the existence of perforation points in the fascia. He found that the majority (82%) of these perforations are topographically identical with the 361 classical acupuncture points of Chinese medicine.
I’m going to get a bit more in depth so bear with me if you can, because this is really interesting stuff!
Fascia is densely innervated by mechanoreceptors, also known as golgi bodies. These receptors influence local fluid dynamics of the tissue and their activation triggers the autonomic nervous system to change the local pressure in blood vessels. Strongly stimulated fascial fibers can even influence the extrusion of plasma from blood vessels into the interstitial fluid matrix, thus changing the viscosity of the extracellular environment. The interstitial mechanoreceptors can also trigger an increase in vagal tone or impulses from the vagus nerve, which leads towards more trophotropic tuning of the hypothalamus. In other words, the parasympathetic (rest and digest) aspect of our nervous system increases, our muscles relax, our adrenals close up shop for a while and our body essentially down-regulates into a deeply relaxed state — all from a properly inserted acupuncture needle!
Qi is absolutely real and cannot only be felt but it can be measured. While acupuncture has been the focus of roughly 1,000+ scientific studies around the world over the past five years, Qigong has earned only a fraction of that attention. Interesting considering Qigong practices are thought to pre-date acupuncture, a healing modality dated somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.
Although the aforementioned studies have shed a great deal of light on the Qi phenomenon, there are still several questions left unanswered. For example, how can the mind generate a force in order to circulate the Qi of the body (as in Qigong)? How are we as humans affected by the electromagnetic fields that surround us in our environments? What about our daily use of electronics; how does that impact us? How do the fields of other people affect us? Why is it that you can be at a party and when someone walks into the room that is upset or angry, even without seeing them, you can sense it in your body? How do we quantify those things?
Nanotechnology is beginning to help us address some of these queries. But the future of Qi research and our exploration of the internal is going to be quite an adventure.