WHAT IS CHI?
The simple Western scientific explanation of chi is that it is electricity within the human body.
However, this ‘chi’ electricity is different from the electricity that is powering electrical items, like light bulbs, mobile phones and computers. All these electrical items use electricity that is made from electrons (negatively charged particles flowing in a current).
The electrical ‘chi’ energy in the human body is different. It is the flow of charged ions through the cells. This is made possible via the cell membrane which has got selective protein pumps which can pump positive ions to one side and negative ions to the other. This creates a potential difference across the membrane, creating a current. Every cell in our bodies continuously transfers ions to maintain a constant 70 millivolts. Western science often refers to this as bioelectricity. Whether we use the Western scientific terminology and call it bioelectrical energy or the chinese name and call it chi, does not matter.
It is this energy that is flowing within us that enables the body to function and for us to be alive.
We are able to think, move, heal ourselves and live, only because we have this energy within us. The functioning of our brain, our internal organs and the systems and processes that they control are dependent on these pathways of energy transference throughout the body. Every individual part of you, your skin and bones, your muscles and sense organs, only work because of the bioelectrical energy that the flows through them.
Western science acknowledges that bioelectrical energy exists and has found ways to measure and control it to help improve our health.
Starting 150 years ago, Western science started creating machines that use normal electricity to measure and control our internal bioelectrical energy.
Electroencephalography (EEG) – used in hospitals to record the brain’s bioelectrical activity. The EEG machine was invented in 1875.
Electrocardiography (ECG) – used in hospitals to record the heart’s bioelectrical activity. The ECG machine was invented in 1887.
Pacemaker – a device that generates electrical pulses delivered by electrodes to the heart to regulate the sinoatrial node of the heart. The sinoatrial node is where the body generates the bioelectrical energy that creates our heartbeat. The pacemaker was invented in 1889.
Defibrillator Machine – delivers an electric current to the heart to restore cardiac (heart) and pulmonary (lung) function. The defibrillator was invented in 1899.
Not only does bioelectricity keep all creatures alive, but it is also used by some to kill others.
There is a fish called the Electrophorus Electricus which is related to the carp and catfish. It can attack with 860 volts of electricity causing a person to stop breathing and go into heart failure.
There are also hundreds of types of fish that use bioelectrical energy to generate a force field around themselves which they use for navigation, to sense their surroundings, communicate with other fish and hunt for prey.
It is not only fish but many other animals that have the ability to work with bioelectricity in similar ways. For example: salamanders, dolphins, bumblebees, the platypus and echidnas (a type of hedgehog found in Australia and New Guinea) and many more.
Even plants and flowers have an electrical field.
Flowers carry a negative electrical charge and bumblebees a positive electrical charge. Bumblebees are aware of the electrical field of flowers and use it as a navigational technique. As they get close to the flower, due to the difference in charge, the pollen jumps from the flower to the bee.
Bioelectricity in people, animals and all living creatures is not where the story ends.
The earth itself and the atmosphere around it are also part of the story.
In many ancient Chinese texts it is not only the chi of people but also the chi of heaven and earth that are discussed. The relationship between heaven, earth and humans, enabled by the movement of chi, is a central theme in Chinese science and philosophy.
The Western scientific explanation would be that the upper atmosphere is positively electrically charged, and the earth’s surface is negatively electrically charged. This creates a global electric field stretching from heaven to earth, from the sky to the ground. The potential gradient increases by 100 volts for each meter that you rise above the ground.
Lightning strikes the earth 40,000 times every day. It is an atmospheric electrical phenomenon and contributes to the global atmospheric electrical circuit. The global atmospheric electrical circuit is intertwined with atmospheric electricity which has a major effect on human health. It influences the amount of toxic particles suspended in the atmosphere. Every year, 7 million people worldwide die from this air pollution.
Since ancient times the Chinese have always been very concerned about the chi within us and around us. They studied the chi in all living things and the chi of heaven and earth. We can see from the confirmation from Western science that they were ahead of their time.
One of the earliest Chinese books to discuss how regulating the chi can benefit health is called Huang Di Nei Jing, (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). The Yellow Emperor lived from 2,697 to 2,597 B.C.
So far, I have explained bioelectricity (chi) and how western medicine uses it to improve health.
There are two ways that Chinese medicine uses chi to improve health and you can find out more about it here:
The first is through acupuncture which is when an acupuncture practitioner applies acupuncture to the patient.
The second way is when we use Taoist meditation techniques to regulate our own chi directly. We create a ball of positive glowing chi, which we call the pearl, and circulate it around the body through the most important energy pathways (acupuncture meridians).
For more information about these health-promoting Taoist meditation techniques, please click here: