Qi – Life Force

Chinese character for chiThere is a power within each of us, but few are aware of how powerful we really are.  This is our life force, and it is known simply as Qi.

The word for “life force” is written three ways:  chi, ki, or Qi (pronounced “chee” or “kee”).  In this article, it is spelled “Qi”.

Ki is the Japanese spelling, and chi or Qi are used interchangeably or when designating a specific Chinese art, such as qigong or chi-kung (pronounced “ki-gong”) or tai chi (pronounced “tie chee”).  However, the meaning of “chi” in tai chi comes from the concept of yin and yang, and is not the same concept we are discussing here.Qi is the force that keeps us alive. 

There are three types of energies:  Jing (essence), Qi (internal), and Shen (spiritual).  These are the energies that surround us and lives in our bodies.  Qi is the expression of Jing and Shen, and to explain this as simply as possible, I will focus on Qi.

“What is Qi?”

Qi is in every living creature.  Hard to pin down; Qi is as ethereal as love and as undefinable as God.

You cannot see love, you cannot touch God, but we accept the concepts of both.

Love can be explained physiologically.  A combination of hormones – oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, and others; plus the neuropathways of mirror neurons, and cell regulation.

Qi can also be explained physiologically.  A rush of hormones, neurons, chemicals, breath, and heartbeat – those things that give us life.

But the idea of Qi goes deeper than our physical bodies.

The Chinese have experimented with and studied this concept for 2500 years.  Hundreds of millions of people have experienced Qi through practicing tai chi, yoga, and the martial arts.  Yoga refers to breath as prana, which also translates to “life force.”

What exactly is Qi?  Is it physical, mental or spiritual?  – or is it all three?

Qi is our connection to the Universe; that from which comes our source of energy.  We are a sum total of energy.  Electrical impulses surge through our bodies.  The basis of every cell, the nucleus, has an electrical polarity of plus, minus and neutral.

We all breathe the same air and are made of carbon mixed with hydrogen and other elements.  We are like the rest of the Universe. Our composition is the same as all living and nonliving things.

We are no more aware of this life force circulating through our bodies than we are of our breath – both are a natural response for survival.  We do not count our breaths or wonder where the next one is coming from.  Yet we trust we will breathe again.

Qi is recognized through visualization, awareness of how the body functions, and concentrated thought.

When you have a hard work out, you feel exhilarated, sore and sweaty, but you may not feel the warm, tingly feeling of Qi.

You have to call Qi forth to channel its use.

New-age qigong practitioners go through the motions of waving arms, bending, stretching, and breathing, so what is the difference between qigong practice and any other?  Well on this level, there is no difference.

I first came across the healing power of Qi many years ago.  My sensei healed broken bones in three weeks!  His healing powers are amazing.  His secret is this:  He visualizes a construction crew in his body, and each night he sets them to work, watching them working and building bone.

Qi is visualization and awareness.  Nothing mystical at all.pathway of chi

This is how it works.  When you breathe into your belly (dan tien), you just don’t just breathe, you see the breath.  See the energy.  Imagine a fire burning in your belly spreading warmth and light as it travels the pathway of Qi.

Follow the Qi from the dan tien, up the spine, around the brain, down the face, chest, abdomen, and back to the beginning.  You can send Qi to a hot spot – a place of pain, and mentally massage it.  You can use Qi to help you relax and fall asleep.

Healer’s hands emit the energy of Qi.  People who are aware can feel the warmth of an area of another’s pain.

Just like love, because we cannot see it, that does not mean Qi does not exist.  We emit energy, and whether you can see someone’s aura- energy field – or not, believe it.  Qi exists.

Our bodies are part of the Universe. Our bodies produce and emit the same energy as the Universe.

This is Qi.  The living, breathing force that gives each one of us life and vitality.

Do not discount the power of the mind and body.  Or the force that drives us.


“Follow the Qi”
An active meditation

1. Do this meditation outside in a quiet place, if you can. Clear your mind. Take a breath. Calm the thoughts. Next, stand up tall, and place your hands over your lower belly (dan tien).

2. Keeping your hands clasped in front of you, breathe in and feel the world around you. Hear the sounds, connect with nature. Become one with the world. Let the wind blow through your body as if you were a void. Let the wind take your troubles away, dispersing them in the air. Imagine you are not “human,” simply another being on this earth.

3. Raise your hands to the sky, arch your back, feel the power of the earth, become a conduit between heaven and earth.

4. Place your hands near your shoulders, and as you bend down, push your hands down along your chest, abdomen, and legs, visualizing pushing those dark, toxic thoughts away from you into the ground.

5. Reach for fresh earth, feeling the healing power and renewed energy as you run your hands up the backs of your legs, your back, over your head, and into the air.  Become energized and refreshed.

6. Repeat this, reaching to the heavens, pushing the dark thoughts out of your body into the ground, bringing in golden energy from the earth, up your body, and into the heavens. All the while, concentrate on your breathing, feel the flow of Qi coursing through your body. You will know it when you feel it. A tingling, exhilarating, goose-bump kind of feeling.


If you are satisfied with yourself you are humble and peaceful