EAP-086 What is Qi • Michael Max

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Qi is not pronounceable in English. Its whistled aspiration is not a sound found in our language. And much as we can approximate it with the “chee”, as in the beginning of “cheese”, it will forever be a curious transplant; like an exotic ornamental tree from abroad.

Qi. In English we don't have anything close to the idea of an overall enlivening force in nature. A connective force that blows clouds across the sky, surges currents through the ocean, directs the growth, blooming and decline of the myriad forms we recognize as Life. We don't perceive a unified field that directs the beating of your heart and calls the tune on next week's weather forecast.

We don't really have a word in our language that connects the dots between your wife's personality, the pungent taste of cinnamon, the character of the oak tree outside your breakfast window and the way thaty snowy grey-white days gentle and calm the spirit.

Q-i, c-h-e-e, c-h-i, however you wish to represent it in Latinized characters, it basically translates as “vital” or “essential” energy. Which is terribly unsatisfactory to our Western minds, as we tend to prefer Einsteinian equations of abstract proof that all Life is inextricably connected.

Let’s take a look through the Chinese dictionary and glimpse a few of the various manifestations of Qi as it is expressed in some common two character combinations. This will give a sense of the expression of vitality as it unfolds within various aspects of life.

力氣 li qi- strength

天氣 tian qi- weather

生氣 sheng qi- angry

氣色 qi se- complexion

志氣 zhi qi- ambition

不經氣 bu jing qi- economic turndown, recession

淘氣 tao qi- mischievousness

運氣 yun qi- fortune, luck

小氣 xiao qi- miserly and mean spirited

氣短 qi duan- disappointment

語氣 yu qi- verbal attitude

氣死 qi si- infuriate

喘氣 chuan qi- asthmatic breathing

氣骨 qi gu- moral character

客氣 ke qi- politeness

勇氣 yong qi- courage

味氣 wei qi- taste, flavor

Surprising isn’t it, that 氣 shows up in so many places and is wrapped into so many aspects of life? So when your acupuncturist is working to “regulate your 氣” do not be too surprised if your sleep improves, and you find yourself being kinder to people you don’t like, even though she is treating your back pain.

氣 is a profoundly connective force

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