Friday, December 16, 2005

Talk Snippet

Recently I gave a small talk to a very small "audience" at a toddler center, a snippet of same follows. Rest assured that this was the most "technical" bit....................................................

The existence and understanding of Qi is essential and central to the understanding and practice of Oriental Medicine. The Chinese character for Qi incorporates the characters for vapor, steam or gas and for uncooked rice, indicating that Qi can be both rarified and material. It also indicates that Qi is a subtle substance derived from a coarse one, just as cooking rice produces steam. Translating the word Qi leads to many and varied definitions; energy, material force, matter, ether, matter energy, vital force, life force, vital power, moving power. The difficulty in translating the word lies in the changeable nature of Qi; Qi can assume different manifestations and be different things in different situations. Most modern physicists would agree that Qi can be thought of as expressing the continuum of matter and energy as is now understood by modern particle physics. Zhang Zai who lived and thought about things in the late 11th century China said, “ If Qi condenses, its visibility becomes effective and physical form appears”. I think this is very much the same as the physics definition. Some other current ways of labeling Qi range from EMFs to biophotons to the nervous system, these are all valid in a somewhat limited or rather specialized sense of Qi. In the Chinese sense Qi is everything and everything has it’s own special Qi;, each organ has special Qi and so do rabbits, monkeys, the Empire State Building and the moment of your conception. And it is all connected because it is Qi. There is a Qi for space, time, location and organism, and there is Qi for the mind and the spirit.
Qi is material and immaterial. For the purposes of healing the physical body we are most interested in the invisible Qi, the Qi that has not yet become form because that is where is easiest to encourage a change and hence a shift in the physical. One of the best ways to understand the unseen is by its relationship to the seen; we can understand wind in its relationship to a tree and the motion it causes. Chinese Medicine says, “Qi is the leader of the Blood and Blood is the mother of the Qi” From this we understand that Qi is the animating element of the body; Yang to the Yin of the blood. On the continuum both are Qi, so we differentiate by calling the invisible driving Qi, Yang and the more material Qi, Yin. Organs function because Qi is animating them, each organ has it’s own special Qi with it’s particular and sometimes peculiar attributes. Through thousands of years of observation and experimentation Chinese Medicine has mapped out the Qi of the body into 12 main meridians with a total of 360 points on the meridians. Each point has a special use and some have many more.

Qi is a shape shifter, a mover and a shaker.

Remember that material is Qi condensed, a coagulation of Qi. Substances have special Qi. We know what kind by the effect they have on the body. For instance dried Orange peel or Chen Pi has been observed again and again to dry phlegm, this is due in part to its Qi, which is warm and dry. It is the effects of these different Qis that give herbs and food their power to shift the physical body.

Children’s Qi is quite available on the surface of the skin, it is easily changed and changeable. Classic Chinese medical wisdom states
“Xioa fu jiao ruo, qi yi chu dao” or “ Organs are fragile and soft, Qi easily leaves it’s path”. We have all seen how babies can get too hot or too cold and simply loose it, cry, get sick, sometimes becoming very ill. This is the Qi loosing its path. By the same token young children can pull out of a serious illness, almost as if by a miracle. This is because of the same very changeable nature of their Qi. The changeability, availability, the openness of children’s Qi is the gift and the issue in children’s health.

On the energy-matter continuum adults are more matter than children. Our Qi is not as available, it is harder to move, and the patterns are more ingrained. And that’s good and not so good, we may not get an infectious disease as readily as a small child or fever for days, but we are more prone to chronic degenerative conditions.