qi

In traditional Chinese culture qi is a ‘life force’ or ‘energy flow’ that is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity. Some have perfected the skill to control this energy flow through meditation. Our modern lifestyle and pragmatic thinking disconnected us from the benefits of qi. But we still have the potential to tap into this unlimited source of energy and reap all of its benefits. How can we use qi in our daily lives and at work?

Qi and martial arts

In the past decades I practiced several Eastern martial arts: Karate (Wado-ryu), Kung fu (Wushu) and Aikido (Aikibudo). Besides the physical workout I was always drawn to the aspects that had to do with the mind. Martial arts also introduced me to the concept of qi.

Since I was a little kid I always admired those martial artists – mostly in Hollywood movies – that always seemed to be so focused and calm. But also extremely powerful when they needed to be. And no, I am not talking about Steven Seagal…. I guess the special effects department helped too. Bu still, I was mesmerised and I wanted to be able to do those things.

In traditional Chinese culture qi or chi is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity

Shaolin monks

A long time ago I also went to a theatre show of real Shaolin monks. They were doing extraordinary things with their bodies and seemed to feel no pain at all. They claimed to be using something they called ‘qi’. When I started to read more about their lives I learned that some Shaolin monks enter the monastery as young as the age of three. Their days are long and filled with extreme mental and physical training. They learn how to control an energy force (qi) through meditation. Some monks can even raise their body temperatures with their minds. These meditators are able to dry wet sheets that are wrapped around their cold, naked bodies.

In traditional Chinese culture qi or chi is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity. You can also call it ‘life force’ or ‘energy flow’.

Believers of qi describe it as a vital energy whose flow must be balanced for health. The ancient believed it permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. Qi was also linked to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive functioning unit. By understanding the rhythm and flow of qi, they believed they could guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity.

Bad posture and tension

They believe that, when we use our qi, we need to be as soft as possible without tension. This sounds easy but it seems that mostly we are too stiff or moving too forced so it blocks our qi. We also need to use our breathing to be able to tap into our qi energy.

Our modern lifestyle and pragmatic thinking disconnected us from the benefits of qi

Our modern lifestyle and pragmatic thinking disconnected us from the benefits of qi. But as human beings we do have the potential to tap into this unlimited source of energy and reap all of its benefits. I believe that we can also use our qi to achieve a good level of focus and concentration for our work.

To be able to do that, when we are working, our posture and movements should not be forced, tense, stiff or with lots of muscle power. Having a bad posture and performing movements forced, tense or stiff will block your meridians so the qi will not flow anymore.

We need to let go of our habitual mind patterns, our stress, our tensions and our way of wanting to force everything in a certain direction

We need to let go of our habitual mind patterns, our stress, our tensions and our way of wanting to force everything in a certain direction. To be able to focus we need to be calm and align our mind and our body.

Meditation, Tai Chi or Qigong

We can do that by practicing meditation or doing things like Tai Chi or Qigong. Qigong is a form of dynamic meditation that involves a series of physical movements and postures in addition to focused breathing techniques. It encourages qi and blood to flow freely through your body. Practicing qigong early in the morning will help you feel mentally refreshed for the rest of the day.

In particular the kidney and spleen both play important roles in concentration

Concentration and Traditional Chinese Medicine

What other things affect our concentration according to Traditional Chinese Medicine? According to their belief, our mental activities are closely related to our body’s physical functions. In particular the kidney and spleen both play important roles in concentration. The kidney is responsible for creating and storing qi and is linked to memory and willpower. Poor concentration is often a result of excessive yang (warm) energy in the kidney and a relative deficiency in yin (cool) energy. If this is the case you may find yourself being unusually impulsive, scatterbrained and physically clumsy.

What can we learn from this?

So what can we learn from this? First of all we need to learn to find- and- use our qi through breathing and meditation. We should also enable the qi to flow by letting go of our habitual mind patterns, our stress, our tensions and our way of wanting to force everything in a certain direction. And if you believe in the concept of yin and yang: take good care of your kidney and spleen.

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