What is Chi?

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What is Chi?

Postby johngMD2014 » Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:00 pm

This is my first post--I am new to this forum so please forgive me if I go about this incorrectly. My question is simple and exceedingly complex: What is Chi?
I have read countless books about Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and traditional Chinese medicine, so I believe I understand the explanations practitioners are familiar with. But I want an answer that satisfies the strict scientific methodology of the western world.
Can you imagine how powerful Chinese theories about internal energy and health would be if it could be proven to the satisfaction of western science? Entire new medical methodologies could be developed. Our two cultures could find new ground for cooperation, based on humanitarianism, not economics and political posturing. The martial arts community would enjoy a new level of validation that has never before existed....
I am a board certified physician, retired, and I have more familiarity with Tai Chi and Chi cultivation than the average novice. In fact, I was first introduced to the art in Mainland China in 1978 when I traveled there for one month, during a time when travel by Americans was restricted. Through the years I have picked up Tai Chi training and put it down too many times to count. In all honesty, I never had the self-discipline to continue my practice. I would return to practice and focus all my attention to the art for a year at a time, and then find my commitment waver. I think it is safe to say that finding that commitment is half the battle of mastering the art. I should add, though, that every time I begin again I find that I have learned a great deal during that time of contemplation--but I do understand that there is no replacement for daily practice.
To make things more difficult, I have not lived near an advanced practitioner or master, so I had to decide long ago that learning alone was better than not learning at all. All of my time was taken up by my busy practice and family commitments. In saying that, I marvel at all that Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming has accomplished in his lifetime--it seems totally inconceivable to me that one man could do so much. I think it just emphasizes that some humans are more evolved than others...
My main motive for starting this thread is because I believe that many philosophies inherent to Traditional Chinese Medicine could be adapted to augment primary medical care in the US, while China could benefit greatly from our anatomically based surgical practices.
People who post on this forum, and many thousands of Westerners who have adopted various martial art practices, have first hand experience with chi (particularly those practitioners studying internal arts like Hsing I, Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua, Chi Gong, and Aikido). But every member of the martial arts community was either open minded enough, or searching for something completely different when they signed up for this experience. They all drank the cool-aid, so to speak--they all took a leap of faith because no bridge exists to unite Western and Eastern thinking about internal energy.
But I am convinced that we will discover explanations for, and proof of, chi energy that will satisfy the criteria of the Westerner scientific community. Imagine how the world will change when that happens! Why not start that discovery process right here.
After that long-winded prelude, here is my theory:
We know that chi flows along the orientation of the long bones, or bone and marrow strengthening would not be possible. We also know that chi is ubiquitous in the natural world, and that certain techniques can be used to cultivate that chi and store it in the Dan Tien. My experience suggests that proper Tai Chi Practice is dependent on PERFECT posture--so perfect that the practitioner is essentially balancing on his bones (his skeletal structure). By utilizing as little skeletal muscle as possible, he is damping all the "noise" that is created by muscle contraction, and in doing so chi is able to flow freely. To me it seems that mastering Tai Chi is all about mastering perfect posture--with that all the benefits will be possible.

John Goleas MD--author of "Searching For Prometheus--Discovering the Soul of American Medicine in the Philosophies of Traditional China."
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby johngMD2014 » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:42 pm

To add to the comments I made above, I would like to note that electromagnetic fields, the powerhouse of the known universe that converts magnetic energy into electrical energy and vice versa, are both examples of fields that are oriented perpendicular to each other. If you apply this thinking to the human body, I wonder if quieting of skeletal muscle contraction, thus eliminating "noise," allows atoms along these quiet areas to all line up in the same orientation, thus creating a large magnetic field which disperses energy (chi) perpendicular to the magnetic field. The more quiet the muscular contraction, the more powerful the energy field, and the more powerful the chi flow.

Comments, please!
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby brer_momonga » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:22 am

Here are a few previous discussions on the nature of Qi/Chi

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4691

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4539
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby Dvivid » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:22 pm

Good question. Important topic. Interesting discussion.

I think the main problem is actually that people for some reason continue to think that Qi is somehow different than other energy commonly understood within the body.

You said:
no bridge exists to unite Western and Eastern thinking about internal energy.


What about EEGs? EKGs? MRI? S.q.u.i.d.? These Western devices measure bioenergy. Energy = Qi.

Regarding your other idea: yes. Tension stagnates your circulation. So, absolute relaxation in tandem with ideal posture allows energy circulation to be as abundant as possible.

With Qigong (and Tai Chi) we primarily work on 1. increasing the QUANTITY of energy in the body, and 2. improving the QUALITY of the circulation.

In order to increase the quantity, the physical body must be conditioned to be comfortable with (and capable of) circulating energy. So, the invisible (yin) energy aspect of the body relies entirely upon a physiological (yang) process. THIS is where the Western view can finally complete the picture for us.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

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Re: What is Chi?

Postby johngMD2014 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:11 am

In my opinion, the reason Chi has not been accepted in the West is because Chi has no dissectable anatomic representation. EMGs measure muscle potentials, EKGs heart energy fields, MRIs anatomic findings. In China anatomical dissection was frowned upon (due to respect for the dead??) and physiology was explained based on function, not anatomy (The Triple Burner?). Westerners are so suspicious of subjectivity that most don't even believe in what they feel unless they can explain it.

I have felt chi energy, and I don't need to measure it in order to believe it exists. But the holy grail of acceptance in the West will require something measurable and quantifiable. If we can feel chi flow, how can we measure it? How does chi flow through a paralyzed arm? What is chi propagation like in weightlessness?

All of us became involved with martial arts, meditation, yoga because we chose to believe it was valid. Our beliefs were confirmed by experiencing what we assumed early on. Our certainty gives us good reason to want to find reproducible quantifiable "proof," because we know it must exist. Imagine the benefits that will occur once we have squared the circle and found verifiable proof that chi exists and can be measured! A whole new medical system could result.

Maybe I Ching hexagrams can be programmed into a computer and used for medical purposes in the same manner traditional Chinese doctors use this information. Maybe the bridge between these different ways of thinking will be built during this digital age, to create new approaches to diagnose and treat disease.
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby Dvivid » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:20 am

I think you're missing my point. Please think about this. I need MDs on my side. You said:
Westerners are so suspicious of subjectivity that most don't even believe in what they feel unless they can explain it.


I agree. My subjective experience is an increasing feeling of Qi, the more I train qigong. I stopped getting sick 7 years ago. I see light when I meditate. But this is meaningless in as far as proving anything. It does however correlate to what all the qigong documents say will happen, if you train correctly. The problem is that we don't yet have a unified theory of human energy in English. We think of energy as a sideline, not the basis of our being.

EEGs measure muscle potentials OF ENERGY, EKGs heart ENERGY fields, MRIs give us a view within our phsiology at anatomical structures related to our energetic circulation, and let us see the results of stimulating acupoints. S.q.u.i.d.s. measure the radiating energy field of the body. All of this is Qi.

In order to read this sentence, your brain emits a frequency of energy that we can measure as a brainwave. What is there to prove? We already agree this energy exists, we are just not yet thinking clearly about how essential it is in every aspect of being. All we need is a unified language about energy, and to discard the misunderstanding that Qi is something other than the above forms of energy already widely discussed.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

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Re: What is Chi?

Postby Dvivid » Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:21 am

"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby johngMD2014 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:52 pm

I hope this doesn't sound crude, but with the Dan Tien residing so close to the genitourinary tract, if not within it, I wonder if conscious control of chi isn't like sustaining a controlled orgasm. There is definitely a strong correlation between the two sensations--in my mind they are one and the same. It makes all the sense in the world that chi propagation would occur within the gu tract. There is a perfect yin-yang relationship there. Like Einstein proved: energy is to mass as mass is to energy, another perfect relationship.

The article you linked to is fascinating. Maybe this will satisfy the Western scientific community. I really appreciate your comments. Thanks
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby John the Monkey mind » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:45 pm

johngMD2014 wrote:I hope this doesn't sound crude,
It's not crude Mantak Chia made a career out of writing about the relationship.
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Re: What is Chi?

Postby Dvivid » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:45 am

We control the Qi consciously all day, every day.

Hold your hand in front of your face. Now, wiggle your fingers.

That is the Yi leading the Qi.

There is a neural network through the guts, sometimes called the "2nd brain". These neural cells can store a lot of energy. And yes, E = MC2. The mass of the guts is Yin, with Yang in the center. The brain is Yang, with Yin in the center. These are the two polarities of the body.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

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