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Friday, May 25, 2012

Qi: One Energy - Two Expressions (1 of 3)

Qi Magazine - September 2007
By Adrian Chan-Whyles, PhD

INTRO

Within the field of Chinese medical thought - the philosophical/physical force of "Qi" is not only central, but essential to the entire edifice that is today referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). An underlying, invisible force of one sort or another permeates ancient cultures, from the 'ether' of the Druids, to the 'prana' of ancient India.

Much confusion abounds both in the West and in modern mainland China about what exactly 'Qi' is, how it should be cultivated and developed and what should be done with it once developed. To understand clearly, we must consider the Chinese ideogram for the word pronounced Qi.

Essentially, the character for Qi consists of a cauldron hanging over a fire. In the cauldron there is boiling water and in the water, rice is cooking. There is a lid on the cauldron, which rises gently up and down as the steam in the cauldron builds up pressure and the steam escapes. 

This character denotes in virtually its entirety, the spiritual, medical and martial foundations of the internal arts of ancient China. But the external is still allowed for, although in a subtle way. The cauldron lid, as it rises and falls, serves as an illustration of what it means to perform physical martial movements in an external way. From this, it maybe deduced that the 'external' state is intended to be only transitory and not permanent. The philosophical implications are clear - the internal condition is the highest level and is attainable by the cultivated human being. 

There is only one Qi power in the universe that animates matter and links spirits of the world. The external and internal states are intrinsically linked a their base. What separates the Qi into a predominately external expression on the physical plane is simply that the practitioner has not yet deepened his/her understanding. This natural state of 'un-knowingness' is common to us all. As we get older and become more fully aware of our bodies and minds, our appreciation for Qi deepens and we perceive what it means to express our minds and bodies in an internal manner. 

Qi, being universal in nature, has a physical component and a psychological (i.e. spiritual) component. When we are young, we tend to focus only on the physical and can not see beyond our own physical structure. Eventually, with the appropriate training, we can focus and develop our minds so that our awareness can expand beyond our bodies. We exist as if we are in a three-dimensional sphere of awareness which can permeate far beyond the arbitrary boundaries set by our physical limitations. In this heightened state, we move freely in any direction and there is nothing that cannot be achieved. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Global Standing Gallery - Bangkok

MIT QIGONG GLOBAL STANDING GALLERY

Thank you for supporting MIT Qigong and sharing beautiful pictures of your Qigong practice from around the globe! Our two most recent submissions are from Florida and Bangkok! Please send your photos to qi@mit.edu!!


I decide to pull myself up by my skate straps and pump it down Sukhumvit road. Huffing and skating under all the skytrain stops, maybe you know them… Ekkamai, Thong Lor, Phrom Phong, Asoke, Nana, Phloen Chit. Snake my way through some little hu tong off ton son road. I see two t-shirts while skating worth note… “I heart change.” and “I am an error.” – with a city skyline blurring into a bar code as a graphic. I catch my breath on a grassy knoll overlooking the green lake of Lumphini park: standing horse for 10 minutes. A Monitor lizard slithers through the green water.





Thursday, May 17, 2012

Relax - Practice

Qi Magazine | Issue 75 | March 2005
by Helen Massy

When we start to relax we notice how tense we are. How and when these tensions crept in is an individual matter – partly hereditary, social conditioning or self-imposed attitudes. All these tensions arise out of a sense of need to protect or defend this ‘island’ that we call ‘me’. Undoing the tensions can feel scary. We may feel vulnerable, off-balance and yet gradually freer and more comfortable with ourselves. The things that upset or disturb us, causing us to become tense or defensive, are good teachers. They show us where our beliefs need reassessing.

There can be a sense of safety in being good at things: survival of the fittest, top of the class, praise, accolade, prestige. Yet what happens when this is threatened, if we become ill or fall out of favour? Can we take it in our stride or do we react with fear, anxiety or anger?

Why not just relax and enjoy life, whatever our level? It is so much more important to feel at ease and comfortable with ourselves and our imperfections. There is no need to strive to be different or better than others, just to be ourselves – natural and at ease. This is possible at times, though for some people these times are rare. Which is why we have developed practices like Qigong, Taiji Quan and meditation to bring our awareness into the present, so that we can appreciate our daily lives and live them to the full.

We can notice our ways, habits, thoughts, preferences and beliefs and see through the illusions that we construct about our lives. Gradually we understand that the defences we hold so close to us actually limit our vision. And there is no way we can speed up the process by more ‘doing’.

I do not advocate that we give up practice or that we practise less often, simply that we watch for those subtle thoughts and tensions that diminish our sense of self and set us on the path of striving. Such thoughts pull us out of the present and relaxed awareness. We know in our hearts when enough is enough and also when we are driven to practice through tension, rather than choosing to practise and develop our skills at a natural pace. Being happy with ourselves as we are (and others too) brings us right into the present. Then we can relax and find inner freedom. This is translated into trust in the moment, where gravity can work with the body to create a sense of buoyancy. There is no need to fight or struggle to hold ourselves upright. Instead, we can yield to the pull of gravity and let the Earth give us support. Then we can open to our surroundings and the Heaven Qi around us. The resultant posture is one of confidence and expanded awareness in the present. In terms of meridians, the Stomach meridian takes energy down to the Earth and the Spleen meridian, in turn, gives lift to the body. We also take in energy through breathing (Lung meridian) and as we breathe out, we can let go of the moment, thoughts, ideas etc (Large Intestine meridian). Other meridians are involved of course, but my studies of Movement Shiatsu with Bill Palmer, interpreting Traditional Chinese Medicine from a Western perspective, show that these are the main ones for the embodiment of grounded confidence and an open mind or radiance. 

It does not matter about the theory as much as practising, to discover for ourselves the benefits of letting go, so that we can be present, relaxed and aware, poised for action. Then our actions reveal more about us as we interact with others and so the process continues. And there is no one way to do this! We each have our own approach to life and so we need to understand how to harmonise and to find inner peace and tranquillity. No one can do it for us. The responsibility is always ours – to see through our beliefs and conditioning and to find real peace and harmony with all life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Qigong Confusion

Qi Magazine | Issue 73 | December 2004 
By Adam Wallace


As Qigong becomes more well known you would naturally assume that the level of understanding would also increase. However, there are still too many misconceptions among the general public regarding Qigong.

Qigong is not a martial art. Traditionally it was linked with Chinese martial arts because it enhances physical performance and mental focus, and heals the body, but it is a health exercise. Qi relates to energy and gong means work.

Qigong is not Taijiquan. With the Pinyin romanisation of Chinese you have Qi, Qigong, and Taijiquan; and with Wade Gilles you have Chi, Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chuan. The word Chi ( Ji, meaning ‘limited’ or ‘ending’) in Tai Chi Chuan is written the same as Chi (Qi, meaning energy) in Chi Kung, and therein lies the confusion. The ‘soft’ watered-down Taijiquan for health promoted today has, in essence, become similar to Qigong, but it is not quite in the same league for health.

Qigong is not a warmup exercise. Many Taijiquan teachers include basic Qigong as a warm-up to their practise but it is no substitute for deep stretching. Qigong is not a ‘quick-fix’. I once overheard two ladies discussing classes they had taken and one said to the other, “I did Qigong last Monday and it set me up for the entire week”. The effect may be immediate but it does not last indefinitely; good results only come from cumulative efforts. A‘Grandmaster’ in New York guarantees that results can be achieved from mere minutes of practising his Qigong every day, and brandishes scores of written student testimonials as ‘proof’. But, it is really simple common sense - the more you put in the more you get out!

Qigong is a Chinese skill. This may sound painfully obvious but people are currently creating (trademarking) and promoting their own Western versions. Syner Chi Sculpt (a combination of Qigong, Yoga, and weightlifting) and Aqua Chi Kung (performed in chlorinated indoor swimming pools), among others, are continually emerging.

Traditional Qigong was designed as a total balanced system of training the body and mind. When teachers must combine their Qigong with other exercise either their own studies are incomplete or else their Qigong is deficient. Mixing up disciplines without internal knowledge and experience can be hazardous to health.

Qigong is not a religion. It is based on the principles of Daoism (following nature) and Buddhism (enlightenment); the philosophy is an education in morality and does not cause conflict with any religious faith. Qigong is not a political movement.When Qigong is combined with activism here is a dichotomy as the student cannot relax, let go, and forget when so passionately involved in a cause.

Qigong is not a self empowerment/goal-achievement method. It was created for health, vitality, and longevity by Daoists and Buddhists, and not by 21st Century self-help gurus. Certain people are actually marketing Qigong as the means to cultivate financial success, land a dream job, or find one’s ‘soul-mate’.

Qigong is not a substitute for psychotherapy. As a mind-body exercise practice, it balances emotions, far better than merely talking endlessly about oneself and being ‘medicated’, but certain ‘masters’ promise a lifetime of anger or depression can be eliminated in one or two ‘treatments’.

A doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine is not indicative of Qigong skill. Knowledge of herbs and acupuncture does not replace experience with internal training, i.e. Chinese movement and deep meditation. Surprisingly, most Western TCM doctors today do not actually practice Qigong (despite having learned elementary skill as a course requirement), or have any active interest whatsoever.

Qigong has nothing to do with feeling Qi. This is no more indicative of good health than not feeling Qi being indicative of illness. Certain teachers so impress the need to feel the energy that students either begin to imagine this or else are left feeling inferior to those who can (or claim to) feel Qi sensations.

What accounts for all this confusion? Unqualified low-level teachers not fully comprehending Qigong’s capabilities who remain confused themselves, and authors writing on the subject in complete ignorance with zero experience. For example, NewYork’s Time Out magazine featured an article on Qigong in July 2004. The author recommended a “yoga-qigong hybrid class” (that she had attended) as an “easier entry point” over “Qigong in its purest form (as in Wallace’s Dayan class)” where “postures are often excruciatingly slow and it can be a challenge to stay focused”. Dayan Qigong is nothing like this! Mistaken perception or deliberate deception? The author wrote these comments even visiting the class!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Night Qigong with Jim Roselando

Date: 5/14/12
From: Jim
Subject: Student Center/Room 491

Hello,

     I'm looking forward to a powerful session of standing meditation qigong in room 491.  Come train your mind, body and breath with tranquility every Monday night at MIT.  All classes are FREE and we train all year.  So, if your class schedule is too hectic during the semester come train with us during your semester break!  All you need to do is show up and we will give you the technology to heal, strengthen and unite your mind, body and spirit.  All this with One Simple Posture: Zhan Zhuang.

Respect to Master Wang XiangZhai "The Ordinary Is The Extra Ordinary"


Time: 7:00-8-00
Location: Student Center/Room 491


Peace,

Jim Roselando 


Monday Night Schedule (5/14)
10min gathering qi
5min turning cow
10min low post
10min natural post
5min cow post
5min natural post
5min shi li (left)
5min shi li (right)
seal/wash

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Contribute to our Global Standing Gallery!

MIT QIGONG GLOBAL STANDING GALLERY
Send your pictures to: qi@mit.edu

Thank you to all of our readers who have shared their Qigong practice from around the world!! Traveling this summer? Please send pictures of your favorite Qigong pose from an exotic location! Or send us a picture from your favorite peaceful local practice spot! Most recent additions to our gallery are from Pondicherry, India and the Roof of Africa, Ethiopa (seen below).


"The definite highlight was our second night, where we made camp at this kind of sun-burnt alpine plain, at around 3600m. I can't imagine a more Dali-esque landscape: smooth hills covered in short, dry yellow grass; the occasional rocky outcrop, a few lonely cacti standing watch - right down to the occasional skinny horse grazing at dead grass, ribs showing. And looking beyond all this, mountains descending to the horizon below. Then began an epic march up to the yellow hills overlooking our campsite. But the crowning moment was unquestionably making it to the other side of the mountain top, revealing a biblical view of the canyons and mountains below. Yes! This was the opportunity I had been waiting for!  The sun was setting; the sky a rarefied azure; no sound but for mountain winds. On this peak - literally the roof of Africa - I stood and watched the sun set on the cradle of humanity as if from above. A single eagle soared above the sun, effortlessly gliding on ethereal thermals. I felt I needed to be on my knees, paying silent homage to the scene." 

MIT Qigong Schedule: Spring/Summer 2013

Spring Schedule
The MIT Qigong Club meets every Monday from 7-8pm


February 11 - June 3: Building 5, Room 234
http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=5


Summer Schedule
The MIT Qigong Club meets every Monday from 7-8pm


June 10 - September 2: Building 5, Room 217 http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=5

Meditation is Part of the Solution


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Qi is the Medicine

An Editorial by Michael Tse
Qi Magazine | Issue 71 | June 2004

What do you feel when you practise Qigong? There are so many answers. Sometimes you will feel   feelings, sometimes you will feel emotional and maybe feel like crying. Sometimes you might even feel like laughing. Some people will say they feel peaceful, more aware of the Qi flowing inside the body, pulsing and some people will even see colours, pictures, people, scenery and even smell things. There are so many different feelings.

When you practise movement, we usually feel good, warm and the breathing is very deep. Sometimes though, you might feel stiff or ache. This is quite normal because when you move, you open your body up and allow the Qi to flow all around it and find any problems you might have. It is like water washing the dirt out of your clothes. Qi cleans up the internal organs and even your joints, muscles, skin and bones. Qigong is like giving your body a good service, the same you do with your car. If you always maintain your body and keep it in good condition how can you not be healthy? This is one area that Western medicine misses and is going in the wrong direction.

Practising Qigong movements rids us of bad, old energy, opening up the channels and acupuncture points and stimulating the internal organs. It keeps the flexibility in our joints and maintains our muscles and the whole body. Then we can be healthy. So when we do this we must have some sensations in the body. This is normal because you are releasing all your problems, which have no other way to release or recover. Actually the feelings are usually good, just like having a good massage. That is why we must move regularly. If we do not move the body, we will become lazy and the more we do not move, the lazier we become. Move more and enjoy the movement and particularly the results and feeling afterwards. The second part to Qigong is meditation, which comes after the movement. This helps us to recharge our Qi and lets the Qi settle at the Dantian, the centre of the body. In Qigong we have a term, “Collecting Medicine”. What is the medicine? The medicine is Qi, which we collect from nature.

When we move, we collect Qi from nature and this penetrates the body and becomes part of the body and supports the energy we need and so we feel better. However, without meditation, the Qi is too active and so we can become too excited and use the Qi very quickly. Meditation lets the Qi settle down at the centre of the body so we can store it and not use it too quickly.

When we start to meditate, we will feel warm and the breathing will become strong and deep. Even then we will feel stiffness and aching in the body. Again this is normal. Many people today do not know the deeper feelings of the body. We should be able to feel the heart beat, the lungs breathing, even the liver and kidneys if we let our feelings go. In the beginning, you will feel the right and the wrong in the body. So you will notice things like your temperature, your breathing and the blockages in the body.

We must let go of all those feelings so the body can recover. The best method for clearing any problems is to let them release and then change the problem. After we let go the pain and stiffness will ease and then the warm, good, comfortable feelings will come. This is one of the principles of nature. If you can handle the difficulty then the situation will turn and become positive. The Qi will slowly flow through all the blockages and then you will feel much better.

Also when you start to meditate you will have a lot of thoughts going through your mind. This makes most people give up as they think to meditate the mind must be completely empty. Actually a lot of people, even people who are high level in mediation will have a busy mind when they start. Then later it clears up. I remember I was practising in the park once, when a man asked me “Do you need an empty mind to do meditation?” my answer to him was that meditation is about patience. He was very surprised by my answer as he thought that it was about emptying the mind. Therefore, many people with this concept cannot do meditation because they cannot empty their minds.

Actually, if someone can empty the mind straightaway every time, then they do not need to do meditation. In reality, the mind cannot be totally empty. You can feel peaceful, relaxed, calm and enjoy the meditation, but it is very rarely totally empty. However, some times it needs to be like this. For example, if you want to have dinner you need to either cook or go out to a restaurant, but without any preparation or action nothing will happen. So meditation is about patience. We just need to sit or stand, close the eyes and keep a good straight posture and then allow everything to happen. No matter what happens, it will be good for us. The first thing to happen will be the blockages will clear and so that is why we feel things that are not good or uncomfortable, even painful. But this is good as without letting these go, we cannot become stronger and healthier. Then we can reach a level, which is better and more enjoyable. After all the discomfort has gone, we will feel more relaxed, calmer and the Qi will flow through the body. So some parts of the body will feel pulsing or twitching, or certain muscles will vibrate. This is because the Qi needs to go to the tense areas. It is normal and very common and this is why certain areas feel as if they have more Qi than other areas.

Once we allow everything to happen, then a lot more things will start. Colours are very commonly seen. Bright colours mean the Qi is strong and weak colours when the Qi is weak. Green colours come from the liver, red from the heart, yellow from the spleen, white from the lungs and blue from the kidneys. If there are different colours, then they are usually between two of the organs which means you can see more than one organs’ Qi. When you are very healthy, you should see a rainbow of colors.

The deeper you go, the more you will see. Sometimes you might see yourself, your organs or skeleton. Sometimes you will not know what it is you can see. Just let it happen because this is the process of meditation and it is the Qi stimulating the body that causes all these things to happen. Qi is not just energy. It is more than that. It can carry messages and information. Some see pictures of the past or the future, but you must not take them too seriously. So when you are patient and allow everything to just happen you will enjoy the “ride” of meditation.

I remember one of my Qigong ancestors was a Daoist monk. When he sat down to meditate, he knew what was happening all around him for a about one mile. Why was this? It was because he was totally still and calm, so that he could pick up the messages and changes all around him. Of course, to do this you must have a very deep level of meditation.

If you can really let go and be patient, then you can reach a high level of human ability. But remember movement is as important as mediation so you can reach a high level with a healthy body.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is Qi? Part Three

By Ken Rose

Excerpt from: Qi The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness Volume 17, No.2, Summer 2007



Communication

     It is not enough to notice that we are interconnected with all things, all spaces, all times, all other people, spirits, animals, plants, and inanimate objects in the whole universe. Perhaps this sounds like a grandiose overstatement, but it is the essential truth, and as I suggest, it is not enough even to notice and remark on this remarkable connectivity: qi.

     We must also point out that through this inter-connectivity we communicate...at least we have the potential to communicate with everything that is. Just as in the English word "universe" whose roots mean "one turn" or "turning to one", the Chinese word qi implies that all things seek to express their common origin and destiny with all other things.

     Moreover, all things must engage in this communication of their common urges in order for living systems to exist and survive. In the human body, the lungs and the heart must intercommunicate or they die...along with the whole body and the person, of course. The same is true naturally for all the other primary internal organs, the liver, the kidney, the spleen and stomach, etc. And the intercommunication of fluids and functions of all these organs is described in terms of their coursing qi in Chinese medical terms.

     This pattern of observation and description of the structures and operations of the body and mind is refined further in the texts and teachings of qi gong. And qi is the primary concern here as well. What is the proper use of the body? The mind commands, the muscles and bones obey. How do we move the body therefore in qi gong? The mind moves the qi, the qi moves the body. And this communication of body, mind and qi is governed by and results in the vitality of the spirit.


Change

The most basic notion in ancient Chinese thought is change. The oldest of the old Chinese books is the Book of Changes. The book of changes records the blueprint for a universe constructed on these few principles:

Everything always changes, and change is therefore the only universal constant. This change manifests in and from a fundamental pattern of vibration, back and forth, between yin and yang, the two primordial powers. The word that describes this basic pattern of change is qi.

Qi is change. It is the subject and predicate in ancient Chinese sentence that tells us that the world in which we live is the never-ending dance of yin and yang. This wonderful sentence contains just one word. Qi.


Movement

     Scientists in the West examining the nature of the universe began to calculate the pressure and temperature of gasses some 300 years ago. They came to recognize, among a wide array of other properties, that one of the primary characteristics of the physical universe is that nothing ever stops moving. To do so would result in that thing, whatever it might be, having a temperature of absolute zero. Apparently no place in the physical universe has this temperature. Mathematicians speculate about and even calculate tempratures below absolute zero. But no one comes to this point experimentally so far, although a few physicists have come close.

     In our meditations we can do even better, and as in the meditative practice of Yiquan, we seek and even achieve stillness in movement. How? It is all a matter of qi. For what is moving that keeps any and everything in the world and in the universe in which the world exists about absolute zero? It is qi. Physicists speak of Brownian movement as the result of instantaneous imbalance of forces in underlying molecular structures. The ancient Chinese classic of astronomy (in which we find the earliest recorded Chinese discussions of cosmology) mentions that the universe comes into existence when the void begins to vibrate. This most fundamental movement is conserved until the present and is known by just one word: qi.


What is Qi?

     So what is qi?
     Qi is that which...it is the fact that...all things, events, phenomena interconnect, intercommunicate, interchange and move. It is the medium of change from the most fundamental, proto-typical aspects of the universe to the whole throbbing mass of universal emptiness. That the world is constructed from the ceaseless dance of yin and yang is described in this single Chinese word: qi.

     Where there is qi there is life. Where the qi does not penetrate, life ceases. How do we come to know these things? Only through direct personal experience. Perhaps beyond the great importance of knowing what qi is lies an even more essential question: what do you do with qi? In fact, the discovery and understanding of qi opens up a whole world of exploration and investigation. This is the path of self-cultivation that has been followed for thousands of years. Perhaps reading these few words about qi, you can decide whether or not it is a suitable path for you.

     But why dos it matter that we know what qi is? For the practitioner of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, etc. done according to ancient Chinese models and theories, the proper understanding of qi is central. If we think of qi as energy, for example, then when a patient has the signs of qi deficiency, we should fill him or her up with energy. But what does that mean? Practically speaking ,there is little anyone can do to accomplish this. But if we look at the same individual as having a lack or absence of connectivity, suffering from disrupted communications, obstructed changes, and inhibited movement, then the door to effective intervention opens widely.

     Need more qi? Find the disconnted parts that need and want to be connected and reconnect them. Discover what one part of the body needs to communicate with the others and do what you can to facilitate the exchange. See What needs to change, find what has ceased to change and restore its capacity to change. Feel the restricted movement and move it. The qi will flourish.


You will be on your way.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is Qi? - Part Two

By Ken Rose

Excerpt from: Qi The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness Volume 17, No.2, Summer 2007


Connectivity

     The implications of this one remark are considerable. For if old Zhuang Zi was right, if one qi permeates the entire universe, then everything in the universe is interconnected by this single qi. In other words, a single unifying qi connects everything that is or was or will be. It is in recognition of the primacy of this character of qi that I have chosen the English word connectivity as the first equivalent for qi. That there is a connection between any and all objects, artifacts, phenomena, and interactions between them in the whole universe is expressed in the ancient Chinese word qi.

     When we speak of points lying along channel pathways on the surface of the body that bear names and associates with internal organ systems, we exemplify this connective potential of qi. The points, the channels, the organs are all interconnected by qi. If the large intestine is sluggish, for example, we can stimulate its activity by stimulating a point on the hand that lies on the associated channel pathway.

     This kind of physiological relationship can be described in many ways. The Chinese selected this word qi to serve as the descriptor of all such phenomena and functions, within the body as well as without. This selection reveals an underlying sense of the way the word is. Everything is interconnected, and thus the proper study of the human mind is the discovery and mapping of the interconnections as well as the patterns and meta-patterns of these interconnections.

     Thus we get the often seen yet little understood charts of the body that depict the depots and stations, the mountains and valleys, the markets and the meeting places to and through and about which the qi courses it particular travels through the body each day as it busies itself with its cosmic task of connecting each and every place in the body to each and every other place.

     Quite simply, the fundamental treatment strategy in Chinese medicine could be described as discovering where the body's patterns of interconnection have been disrupted and acting (as through acupuncture, massage, medicinal herbs or other means) to reestablish normative connections and patterns of connectivity. This connectivity begins and ends with breathing.

     Before proceeding to a brief discussion of the other three English words chosen to round out the meaning of qi, namely, communication, change, and movement, I want to make note of the importance of this very common definition of qi that pertains to gaining a full comprehension of what qi is. In Chinese qi means many things, among them, air and breath. The atmosphere is known simply as the big qi.

     Therefore qi is all about breathing and the breath that, while passing in and out of our lungs, connects us with the great qi in which we exist. One of the most potent curative aspects of qi gong, that catchall phrase used to describe a wide variety of breathing and yogic/meditative practices intended to develop, accumulate and cultivate an individuals qi, is simply the concentration and strengthening of the capacity for breathing. The breath of life: qi. And when you can no longer draw it in or let it pass without, life has ceased to be in that small sector of the universe known as your body.

     Breath, then, might be considered as the first and last definition of qi, except for the fact that this one English word, "breath", tells us rather little about the other implications and innuendos that have become associated with this word over the millennia since it was first coined and used in ancient China. To get at this fuller understanding of what we mean when we say, for example, sink your qi to your dan tian, as we often say in the study and practice of qi gong and other related arts (not the least of which certainly is the art of medicine), we have to turn to additional English words. Turning from page to page in the dictionary, we find these three words that taken together and summed up with connectivity all serve to construct an aggregate of sense that comes close to the ancient essence of the word, qi.