Many cultures have a word that means energy and refers to the bio-energetic field of the human body. Words such as “chi” or “qi” (Chinese/Japanese), “prana” (Indian), and “ruah” (Hebrew) are all understood as the life force (vital to survival) that is part of ALL living things. Knowing our own unique resource of Qi allows us to better understand our health. Qi is broken down into 3 types: Parental, Acquired, and Inherited.
• Parental Qi is considered original Qi which we inherit from our parents; also called “pre-natal” Qi which we acquire at birth. Our parents’ health (at conception), our mother’s during pregnancy and delivery (mothers who take drugs, under severe stress, live extreme lifestyles, or traumatic pregnancies also contribute low quality Qi), and fathers (men who heavily drink and smoke have low sperm quality) determine the quality of our Qi.
• Acquired Qi is earned during our lifetime; also called “post-natal.” Derived from the food we consume, fluids, and the air we breathe. Poor diets, excessive alcohol, and environmental pollution all contribute to poor health, even if we are born with strong and healthy parental Qi.
• Inherited Qi is associated with the general contribution of our family and explains hereditary genetics and can sometimes skip generations.
Qi, like money is spent, is saved and invested.
• Deposit Account (Parental Qi) is used occasionally in case of emergencies. If it isn’t used (drawn upon) often, the “interest rate” can be very reasonable. Severe usage depletes the inherited Qi (Nest Egg) account.
• Current Account (Acquired Qi) covers our day to day energy usage and fluctuate according to daily needs, being depleted, and renewed often. Constant depletion (overspending) draws form deposit (parental) account.
• Nest Egg (Inherited Qi) varies according to individual lump sum that cannot be added to and, once it’s depleted, you are “broke.” People born with poor inherited Qi suffer from congenital illnesses. Over time, this storage gradually erodes. TCM attributes aging and menopause to such gradual depletion. There isn’t much that can be done about inherited Qi’s levels, but acquired Qi strengthens overall energy levels.
Simply put, we all need to work at keeping Qi at top performance for maximum health. Alterations to our lifestyles, such as taking herbs, are a priority in TCM to treat disharmonies. Of course, there are no good herbs, bur particular herbs can be good for you, especially if it’s the ones needed to address the particular disharmony. Despite the fact that everyone has varying requirements, there are laws of nature that if broken will result in consequences for mental and/or physical health. Sleeping, eating, breathing, and exercise all contribute to our vital life force.
• Sleeping – 8 hours or more is essential. Consistent fatigue requires additional sleep. The body heals itself between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. but the human body can tolerate midnight – 6 a.m. Deep sleep (proper) occurs during these hours and it’s when the body makes vital repairs. Afternoon catnaps are great at adding hours to your sleep if demands on your energy are high, or you are recovering from an illness.
• Eating-not optional. Our metabolisms are relatively constant. Extreme weather and environmental conditions can alter metabolism. During early parts of the day, our digestive systems are at their top performance; therefore large meals should be eaten during breakfast and lunch. Dinner should be nutritious and light because it is in the evening (when digestive system slows), but our Western ways practice the exact opposite. There are herbal concoctions designed to be taken first thing in the morning to utilize digestive energy. Late night eating stagnates.
• Breathing – poor posture, lack of proper exercise, jobs that require consistent sitting, are all responsible for poor breathing. Women tend to hold their stomach in, which in turn prevents the diaphragm (controls breathing) from being properly used. Non-utilization leaves lungs either not fully filled or emptied, and organs in the stomach are deprived of essential massage from respiration.
• Exercise – depends on sex, age and constitution to be defined as the right kind. The first third of life asks for vigorous exercise; middle age should utilize harmonizing and regulatory, while old age should rely on meditative and relaxing. Your physique also determines the amount and type suitable. Weak and ill/recovering people should use gentle, focused area exercise and not deplete resources through overexertion.