Special to the Village News
What is Chi? It is a special type of energy. Every living thing has Chi. Inanimate objects have it also. Chi flows in our bodies through pathways called meridians and it can be enhanced by special exercises, massage, and meditation. Chi also surrounds us. It is in the very air we breathe.
The Chinese character for Chi represents steam, vapor, or mist rising upward from a pot of rice, which is connected to the concept of nourishment. The vapor or mist calls to mind breathing, which can be controlled to facilitate the flow of Chi in the body. The word "Chi" or "Qi" can be translated as air, energy, or spirit, and the word "Gong" or "kung" means achievement, skill, or work.
Recommendations about cultivating and managing Chi can be found in several cultures. The concept of Chi dates from the ancient Chinese Book of Changes from about 2000 B.C. and has come down to the present day to become "The Force" in "Star Wars." It has been preserved, honored, and known by many names as it has traveled through time.
When we practice the gentle arts of Tai Chi and Chi Gong with attention to magnifying and moving the Chi, we enjoy many health benefits. Among these benefits are enhanced flexibility, balance, strength, cardiovascular health, increase bone density, relaxation of the mind and emotional balance. According to Eastern wisdom, our health improves when we have more energy circulating in our bodies and our ability to handle stress increases.
Whether we are learning Tai Chi or Chi Gong, there are guidelines involving posture, breathing, and mindfulness that help us to circulate the Chi energy. Blockages of the Chi flow can be caused by straining too much in our exercises, being under stress, or holding on to negative emotions. But being totally relaxed and in the present moment, we encourage a connection with the Chi energy which is the key to optimal physical and emotional health.
What does Chi feel like? It manifests in many ways. There could be tingling in your hands or feet. For some people, it is an inner feeling of wellness, wholeness, and calm. There can be a sense of aliveness and awareness that travels out into our surroundings, enriching our interactions with others, and our creative endeavors. Think of Chi as a key to the door between the world of the senses and the world of the spirit.
May the force be with you!
Inglis Carré is a Tai Chi practitioner certified by the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association. She has been teaching Tai Chi and Qigong since 2020. She also has a background in Kenpo Karate and Hung Gar style Kung Fu.