Qi… The Power of the Invisible

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ball of lightIt isn’t easy to quantify Qi for the Western mind, but inasmuch as so many now experience it in Alternative Healing modalities like Acupuncture and Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Martial Arts, Yoga and Body Work, I’d like to offer a little crib sheet that might help you wend your way through the many subdivisions of Qi.

The Chinese do not differentiate between matter and energy and Qi has many different functions and names.  


What is Qi?

Everything in the universe is composed of, and defined by, its Qi.  Qi is the atomic energy that is the non-visible substance of all that is.

Qi has three sources:

man of light

Prenatal Qi, (yuan Qi), you get this from parents at the moment of conception.  Sometimes called Original Jing, it determines inherited constitution.

Grain Qi (qu-qi), you get this from food.  The Chinese know you are what you eat.

Air Qi (kong qi), this energy is obtained from universal Source via the lungs, then exchanged by them into various useful sub-energies for the body’s needs.


Functions of Qi 

Qi is defined by what it does:

1.  Qi is the source (not cause) of all movement

-voluntary, involuntary, willed, mental action, life processes are all Qi in motion.


2.  Qi protects the integrity of the physical entity

-it repels pathogens (called External Pernicious Influence) and fights them, if they invade the body.


3.  Qi is the source of harmonious transformation

-blood, tears, sweat, urine, feces, etc.


4.  Qi governs retention in Substances, Organs, and Fluids


5.  Qi warms the body

Kinds of Qi 

yogaOrgan Qi (Zang-Fu-Zhi-Qi) heart, kidney, liver, lungs, spleen each has its own pattern of Qi

Meridian Qi (Jing-Luo-Zhi-Qi) Qi channels flow throughout the body, organs, non-visibles, like the Triple Burner that doesn’t exist in western thought) etc., regulating all activity)

Nutritive Qi (Ying Qi) this is the Qi of the blood which transports nourishment of many kinds

Protective Qi (Wei-Qi) is responsible for resistance to, and combat of, invaders

Ancestral Qi (Zong-Qi) this gathers in the chest and centers in abdomen to form the “Sea of Qi”, a reservoir which resides between the kidneys in the lower abdomen.


Qi Disharmonies

Deficient Qi (Zi-Zhu) depleted energy, insufficient to function well

Collapsed Qi (Qi-Zian) this energy can’t hold organs in place

Stagnant Qi (Qi-Zhi) this Qi is movement impaired, so natural rhythms are blocked

Rebellious Qi (Qi-Ni) this energy goes the wrong way for normal function



man woman energyThis is the essence that underlies all life, a specialized form of Energy that comes from 2 sources.

Original Jing – determines, at conception, the makeup of your constitution

Postnatal Jing – this comes from food

Jing, from birth to death, involves the developmental capacity of you, the organism.  In some ways, it’s analogous to genetics, but differs, somewhat, because it includes mind and spirit, as well as body.  (Jing is Yin, Qi is Yang)


Shen = Spirit (Human Consciousness)

in health, Shen is the capacity to form ideas and to live life

in extreme disharmony of Shen, there can be incoherence, unconsciousness, madness, etc.

Shen is the indefinable substance that makes us human, not merely animal


© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011


Posted on February 3rd 2012 in Metaphysics, The Philosopher’s Teacup

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