“To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be….”
From WALKING by Thomas Traherne
Nearly 30 years ago on my first day of acupuncture school in Santa Fe, NM, I sat poised and ready to absorb anything and everything about Qi.
Leaning forward, balancing on the edge of my seat, I was excited and nervous for the journey to become an acupuncturist to begin. In my introductory class on Chinese Medical Theory, my instructor and the owner of Southwest Acupuncture College, Skya, was dressed in an expensive flowing silk skirt and stood in front of the class with her sharp hip jutted forward.
Skya, widely known for her research and successful treatment of Multiple Sclerosis patients, definitely made an impression on our incoming class as we sat pens at the ready to take notes! She pointed at us and the board with manicured burgundy-colored nails, pursed her matching lips and said, ”Where the mind goes, the Qi follows.” And that quote has stuck with me over many years of diagnosing my patients and figuring out how to help them. It has echoed in my daily life as I ponder my own personal thoughts and remember that, intention or the power of our mind, is well….quite astonishing!
Qi, probably the most important concept to grasp in one’s first semester of Acupuncture College, is often defined as energy or life force. It is what makes us up, directs us, gives us feelings and nourishes us. Animate objects, such as a kitchen table or a sunflower, are manifestations of Qi. Qi is also movement itself and what causes movement, such as a rock climber lunging for an out of reach hold or water in a river flowing swiftly downstream.
In Chinese Medicine, Qi flows along pathways called meridians that are located in the body. The circulation of Qi may be compared to that of nerve impulses or blood flow in western medicine. To stress, Qi is everything in our lives from substance to action, from Yin to Yang.
As Traherne expresses in his poem, “Observing all the things we meet…” is significant in developing an understanding of Qi. Observation of the world and experiencing it with our senses is one way to not only understand the concept of Qi but to also incorporate it into our lives.
As stated in the I Ching, “Everything observable by the senses is subject to change and therefore in motion”. Qi is not a static concept, it is dynamic and transformable. One question posed to me by a Buddhist monk as I have progressed along my path as a healer is, “Does that kitchen table really exist?” In other words, if Qi is dynamic, how can we have a physical manifestation of it? Those words have remained with me over the years as well.
Qi Gong and Tai Qi are branches of Chinese Medicine whereby one learns not only to identify with one’s own and universal Qi, but also to direct and transform it through simple standing or sitting exercises and flowing movements that appear to be mimicking martial arts, only done in slow motion.
Acupuncturists identify, nourish and shift the nature and direction of Qi in their patients using fine needles inserted in points along meridians or channels in body along which Qi flows. In order to be healthy in both body and mind, it is essential for us to maintain more positive thoughts and intentions in order to create movement, action and the free flow of Qi. If one is consumed by negative thinking, one’s Qi will become stuck and they will be held back along their path to health and well-being.
Acupuncture, Qi Gong, Tai Qi and other branches of Chinese Medicine including Chinese herbs and healthy nutrition are powerful tools to maintain the patency or free flow of Qi.
In order to address physical and emotional issues that arise for people, I must return to the idea that, “Where the mind goes, the Qi will follow.” Intention; my intention with patients as I treat them with needles is to bring them healing results. Intention; for my friends and myself is to achieve our goals and attain physical and emotional well-being. Intention; my intention for those in the world who are struggling is to find safety and peace in their daily lives. Intention; what is yours?
Lynne M. Drakos is the longest practicing Oriental Medical physician in Summit County, having owned and operated her clinic, A Balanced Crane Acupuncture Clinic, for the past 25 years. She is a state licensed and nationally certified acupuncturist and herbalist. She enjoys sharing her
knowledge of healing, staying healthy, and getting the most from life with her patients. Please call (970) 547-9415 or contact the clinic with questions or for an appointment at balancedcraneacupuncture.com