What is Chi? (continued)
When your Chi is strong, balanced, flowing and focused you exude energy and good health. Good health and strong, balanced Chi are almost one and the same. In Chinese Medicine one of the causes of ill health is the stagnation or blockage of Chi.
In the best-selling Between Heaven and Earth, A Guide to Chinese Medicine, authors Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold write,
"That which animates life is called Qi. The concept of Qi is absolutely at the heart of Chinese Medicine. Life is defined by Qi even though it is impossible to grasp, measure, quantify, see or isolate. Immaterial yet essential, the material world is formed by it. An invisible force known only by its effects, Qi is recognized indirectly by what it fosters, generates and protects.
Matter is Qi taking shape. Mountains forming, forests growing, rivers streaming, and creatures proliferating are all manifestations of Qi. In the human being, all functions of the body and mind are manifestations of Qi: sensing, cogitating, feeling, digesting, stirring, and propagating.… It is the fundamental mystery and miracle."
Master George Xu, our T’ai Chi teacher, asks us to focus on our dantien, our center and to allow all movement to come from that place. The energy moves from the center into the body and into the limbs to create movement. Why? Because Chi is stronger than muscles, and movement that comes from Chi is more deeply powerful.
More powerful than muscles? In the West, muscles are almost akin to a god the way we worship them and what they represent. Covers of magazines and TV commercials extol rock hard abs and buns of steel. What is stronger than rock and steel?
In T’ai Chi we quickly learn that muscles are no match for the power of Chi. Like the flow of water that created the Grand Canyon the power of Chi takes you much further and faster than vulnerable muscles whose duration is very short lived.
Your dantien is the best home for your Chi and the best place for you to focus your energy so that you can come from a balanced, whole place in yourself. Your dantien is just below your navel and a few inches in toward your spine. In Chi Running, Chi Walking and Chi Living we encourage all movement, all action, all choices to come from this center, that deep place in yourself that is home to your greatest potential and power.