What is Chi?

Chi is also sometimes written as ch’i or qi.  When it is spoken it sounds like “chee”. It comes from Chinese beliefs and cultural practices, and is a key principle of any living person, creature, or thing. It is best described as being the flow of life energy that courses through a living being. It can be loosely equated as being a form of energy. It is a vital consideration in Chinese medicine and the practice of different martial arts. 

Chi is said to flow through and around the body, linking it to its surroundings. An internal blockage can lead to a disruption of chi, which can then make a person unwell. Conversely, when chi flows freely, and there is a balance, a person is well. A good chi flow is linked to health and energy, and an impeded chi flow is linked to illness and sickness.   

Yin and yang are two opposite forces. They need to be in complete harmony for good flow of chi to be possible.
Within traditional Chinese medicine, chi is said to flow through certain channels of the body, known as meridians. To ensure that chi is flowing through the meridians as it should be, various techniques are used. Acupuncture helps to remove blockages.  Diet is used to also maintain a healthy flow, and herbs can be used to enhance the flow of chi and remove any harmful blockages and obstructions. Moxibustion is also used to promote the flow of chi and internal balance and harmony. 
Affirmations are often used, as a positive outlook and thinking can greatly assist chi to move freely around the body.  Blockages can be mental as well as physical.

There is a link between traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Chinese martial arts, in that both aim to increase the essential flow of life energy. They are often used together so that the effects can complement each other. It is no coincidence that the name of one of the popular Chinese martial art disciplines is Tai Chi. Others include Ch’uan and Chigong. Chigong incorporates breathing, motion, and mental awareness.  It is a similar concept to meditation. Various martial arts from other countries also rely on the concept of chi. It is said to be chi that allows some people to master seemingly impossible feats.

The balancing practice of Feng Shui also uses the principles of chi. It aims to enhance fortunes and well being by allowing a harmonious flow in a person’s surroundings. Many people will use Feng shui techniques in their homes, offices, and other places where they must be on a regular basis. Feng shui aims to create a balance between Yin and Yang, the five elements, and other aspects. Good feng shui can aid with matters relating to health, wealth, luck, romance, energy, and so on.
The earliest records of the concept of chi are from the 5th century BC. 

There is a similar idea within many different cultures and countries. This is particularly noted within different Asian cultures.  For example, within the Hebrew culture it is called ruah, in Hawaii it is called mana, within the Hindu faith there is the concept of cit and prana, and in Tibetan Buddhism it is called lung. In western belief systems it is often referred to as vital energy. 
Various methods are used in other systems to promote the easy movement of this life energy. For example, crystals, gem stones, and other items believed to have curative properties, may be placed on certain parts of the body. 

The Chinese character that represents chi is said to come from a merging of two different characters; steam and rice.  It is therefore believed to be represented by steam rising from rice as it is cooking. Rice is an important staple food in China, and especially in days gone by, rice was vital to the survival of communities.  It is somewhat fitting that the life energy force is represented by the life giving sustenance. 

Chi is a vital consideration within many aspects of traditional Chinese culture and practices. In relation to traditional Chinese medicine, it is chi that ensures treatments take a holistic approach.  Instead of just focusing on the immediate pains or apparent problems, a wider approach is taken to treat both the pressing concern and any underlying causes or problems. This is done by allowing chi to move freely and removing any blockages.