The Key to Qi
Go with the Flow
We’re all familiar with the exercise, ‘Close your eyes and think of something that makes you happy.’ What makes us happy usually produces the sensation of energy, which flows through our bodies like a life force. Likely not as familiar is understanding the role of qi (the flow of energy along meridian points of acupuncture).
Pronounced ‘chee,’ qi is balanced by the negative yin (female) and the positive yang (male) and, according to the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the way that acupuncture needles are manipulated along meridians in a person’s body, to stimulate a number of sensations – heat, cold, pressure, sensitivity, etc., can result in a heightened flow of qi. Since each person is different, this begs the question, ‘Does the flow of qi differ in every individual?’ The answer, is as obvious as it is complex.
“The feeling of ‘Qi’ is different for everyone, and varies depending on the time of day, the time of the month, and the season,” says Jennifer Redding, owner and acupuncturist, AcuFx Health and Wellness Clinic. “For instance, spring is a time for detoxing, eating your greens, being outside, and ingesting the beautiful sights and smells. Treatments in the springtime are always geared toward allowing the body to detox.”
From an acupuncture point of view, what this means is that cleansing out the system is key to optimising the flow of qi. “We use points that help you flush. After your treatment, you might have the best bowel movement or feel lighter,” says Redding. “[The] actual sensations that my clients describe from the needles are water moving down your legs, tingling, itching, power, and some people see beautiful colours, or gain [a] heightened sense of smell or taste.”
The feeling of ‘Qi’ is different for everyone, and varies depending on the time of day, the time of the month, and the season
In summertime, the heat emanating from the sun, is associated with the fire element. A time of productivity, fecundity and activity, the need to balance growth, with rest, is imperative. “Aligning your body to Nature’s flow can help you stay healthy and balanced during seasonal transitions,” states TCM World Foundation article, Seasonal Qi for Better Health.“To follow Nature’s law, it’s important to nurture or support your Yang energy during spring and summer and your Yin energy during fall and winter. And in summer, the perfect way to do that is to remain peaceful and calm.”
Aligning your body to Nature’s flow can help you stay healthy and balanced during seasonal transitions
Whether you’re familiar or not with acupuncture, the sensations associated with the TCM and the flow of qi are experientially based on the needling techniques used, which many say produce similar feelings to those experienced when endorphins are released in the body. Knowing where to insert the needle along one or several, specific meridian points to awaken, stimulate, and to improve the qi (de qi, or chee), is based on hundreds of hours of training and practise. “We look for the most powerful point(s) for that case, insert the needle with complete precision (pain free), [and] look for what we, in TCM, call De Qi,” says Redding emphasising the introductory role that qi plays in the acupuncture process. “[This] refers to the excitation of qi or vital energy inside meridians by acupuncture needle stimulation,” continues Redding. “Patients often experience multidimensional and intense needling sensations, like tingling, numbness, movement, water flowing, complete relief. We can, at times, use extra stimulation by twisting, lifting, and going a bit further in, depending on the case and the person.”
Patients often experience multidimensional and intense needling sensations, like tingling, numbness, movement, water flowing, complete relief
Imbalances in the flow of energy are caused by blockages, which are either the ailments (i.e. allergic rhinitis, including hay fever, depression, headaches, knee pain, nausea and vomiting, neck pain, lower back pain, etc.) themselves, or which are caused by the symptoms experienced as a result of the ailments themselves.
“Each acupuncture point has certain diseases and conditions associated with it,” writes Dr. Chuanxin Wang from the Acupuncture School of Miami in the article, What is Qi? (Chi) Energy? “though sometimes a practitioner will manipulate a combination of points to improve the flow of chi through the pathways and balance a patient’s energy flow.”
As the practice of TCM espouses, and as affirmed in the Eastern Currents’ Qi Flow Theory article, all matter possesses its own individual qi. Acknowledging the existence of the energy within our bodies, and recognising the source of the energy helps to determine the “path of least resistance” through which the qi flows, thus, creating harmony and balance between yin and yang.