What is Chi?

Loosely translated, chi would correspond to the life force or motive force flowing in our body. This is the energy that makes everything occur and is the most fundamental thing that comprises the basis of all other things. Like magnetism, gravity, and other forces, Chi cannot be seen and the channels that it courses through are not tangible structures, anatomically speaking. Since it is considered a force, it bounces and ricochets inside and around your body in directions that helter skelter all over. These directions are called energy channels and chi flows within them in a typical and regular manner. Chi begins in your torso, moves out of your hands, goes back the torso, then to the feet, and then again goes back once more to the torso. Chi passes through a different internal organ each time it goes back to the torso. Therefore, in the course of one whole cycle, your chi has covered every area of your body and passes through all your internal organs.

There is no Western equivalent to chi. While chi moves in the same general direction as the nerve impulses and blood, it is not the same. It can be compared to the push behind the nerve signals that activates them or the energy that gives your heart the power to pump blood. In the West, the closest thing corresponding to chi would be like the idea of energy as it is seen in physics. For instance, everything in physics is a variant of energy and, according to Chinese medicine all things are different manifestations of chi.

In the human body there are two basic manifestations of chi: function that includes warming, protecting, nurturing, holding, moving, and transforming and substance, such as tissues and organs. The protecting function of Chi shields us against microoganisms that cause illness, safeguarding from weather extremes and pathogenic infections, Chi’s warming quality makes all physiological processes possible through the warming of our bodies. The nurturing ability of chi raises our organs up against gravity, preventing them from prolapsing. The holding function of chi is what keeps things in place, including the manner in which the uterus holds a growing baby. The moving function aids the body in transporting substances from one area to another, moving food along the urinary or digestive tract or from the kidney to the bladder. Chi through its transformative function aids our bodies in turning the raw materials of food and air into fuel.

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