Author Topic: What is Chi?  (Read 31208 times)

Kai

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What is Chi?
« on: October 26, 2008, 04:18:00 pm »
I don't know if we've ever had a thread about this on here, but I thought I might bring it up because of the very different filters that other people have around here, different perspectives and different ideas.

So what is Chi? Is it actual manipulation of internal energy? Is it some sort of psychosomatic effect? Something is going on when I visualize chi manipulation and while I'm going with psychosomatic right now, I would like to hear other peoples opinions about it. There also seems to be some deep health benefits of the sustained practice of Chi Gung, what is that from? I hear stories about older people, well into their 70s, who were once in poor health and after several months of chi gung practice have recovered from intense arthritis, and so on.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2008, 06:20:45 pm »
I think it is very likely that humans are MUCH more capable of consciously manipulating their internal processes than "conventional wisdom" (what a silly term!) would indicate. I'm not informed enough to have an opinion on the framework you use to achieve that end other than to say that if it works for you, keep doing it.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2008, 06:35:38 pm »
i did ti chi for a little while, i am not an expert or a convinced believer but i enjoyed it and got something out of it as a mind fuck yourself view the world differently type exercise
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2008, 07:36:00 pm »
I think it is very likely that humans are MUCH more capable of consciously manipulating their internal processes than "conventional wisdom" (what a silly term!) would indicate. I'm not informed enough to have an opinion on the framework you use to achieve that end other than to say that if it works for you, keep doing it.

Well, you hear about those scientific studies that show Buddhist monks using meditative activities to manipulate their body temperature, to the point where they can steam dry cold wet towels in cold weather.

My question is, what is that is moving, if anything? I mean, it could very well be energy, though its never been measured as far as I can tell. It could be changes in circulation patterns, as in, lymph fluid circulation, blood circulation. Your body does not open all of its blood vessels all the time, usually it causes physiologic shock. If you could somehow manipulate the circulation of fluids by the dilation and constrictions of vessels, whether lymph or other wise....nahh, I don't know where I am going with this. *waves hands* something.
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Kai

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2008, 08:08:02 pm »
i did ti chi for a little while, i am not an expert or a convinced believer but i enjoyed it and got something out of it as a mind fuck yourself view the world differently type exercise

Well, T'ai Chi is something I do, and have been doing for a long time. You can do it completely without the Chi Gung exercises, but it is far more beneficial if you join the two together. Chi Gung is something I just picked up recently.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2008, 09:28:02 pm »
a big part of what i was supposed to be doing as i practiced ti chi was moving and manipulating energy "chi ". i am not sure if that is the chi gung exercises you are talking about or not, i found that visualising and repetition altered your perception to where you could feel the chi (a good "different paradigm" for a westerner to experience). i never went any further than that and never even considered trying to get results that could be measured by science. if you can get (or are willing to try to get) measurable results i say go for it, i have no clue what energy you would be measuring or how to measure it, or what the physiology you can measure would show
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2008, 09:47:14 pm »
a big part of what i was supposed to be doing as i practiced ti chi was moving and manipulating energy "chi ". i am not sure if that is the chi gung exercises you are talking about or not, i found that visualising and repetition altered your perception to where you could feel the chi (a good "different paradigm" for a westerner to experience). i never went any further than that and never even considered trying to get results that could be measured by science. if you can get (or are willing to try to get) measurable results i say go for it, i have no clue what energy you would be measuring or how to measure it, or what the physiology you can measure would show

Yes, that is the Chi Gung. Chi gung is literally "energy work" in mandarin. The goal is be able to effortlessly manipulate your internal energy for personal use. The first step is suppossed to be just feeling/sensing energy movement. Whether it is some aspect of your physiology, imagined, or some cosmic energy moving through you, you start feeling it. Then you can learn how to move it around.

I don't think its measurable except in the results, that is, any physical or physiological improvement. The same way meditation leads to mental improvement. Hm.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2008, 09:53:56 pm »
I've heard of Chi Kung/Qi Gong before.  I have a couple of books in my library, one on the philosophy behind a Japanese conception of ki, and one about the technique.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I suspect since some of the effects are biologically readable, so are the causes.  It suggests some form of conscious control over various body systems, though a better anatomist than me would have to tell you what ones.  Looking over some of the exercises could yield clues, however.
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Kai

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2008, 10:19:00 pm »
I've heard of Chi Kung/Qi Gong before.  I have a couple of books in my library, one on the philosophy behind a Japanese conception of ki, and one about the technique.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I suspect since some of the effects are biologically readable, so are the causes.  It suggests some form of conscious control over various body systems, though a better anatomist than me would have to tell you what ones.  Looking over some of the exercises could yield clues, however.

Looking over the book I have, Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body by Bruce Franztis, he incorporates several sets of lessons, one set on breathing, one set on standing and sitting posture, one set on sinking chi (physically feeling chi and then systematically moving it down the body and out through the feet; he says you will feel a relaxation of muscles and a release of tension of hardness as this occurs), one on opening energy gates (that is, locations around the body that chi travels through and can become blocked, found at joints, intersections of nerve pathways, around organs, lymph nodes, etc) to facilitate chi movement, and several more on swings (sorta like back and forth swinging of the body, arms and legs).

My guess (and there are many other things he talks about) is that mental visualization and awareness causes systematic relaxation. Coupled along with breathing, it facilitates the dialation of circulatory vessels slowly (which would explain the buzzing, vibrating feeling I get after I get done with it) to increase blood flow. The increase of bloodflood increases nutrient transfer, oxygen exchange, lymph circulation, and reduces tension. The whole process at the same time promotes relaxation and connection and awareness with the body. The whole thing is some sort of induced psychosomatic response to visualization and awareness of the body, along with healthy posture and breathing.

I've been able to do similar things to this before. For example, with use of a breathing technique and mental release of identity, I can reach a state where the whole body pulsates with blissful feeling that can last sometimes an hour, and leave you feeling relaxed and focused. Theres lots of interesting things you can do with the mind-body connection. I had forgotten about them, but maybe its time to remember.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2008, 10:31:19 pm »
I've heard of Chi Kung/Qi Gong before.  I have a couple of books in my library, one on the philosophy behind a Japanese conception of ki, and one about the technique.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I suspect since some of the effects are biologically readable, so are the causes.  It suggests some form of conscious control over various body systems, though a better anatomist than me would have to tell you what ones.  Looking over some of the exercises could yield clues, however.

Looking over the book I have, Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body by Bruce Franztis, he incorporates several sets of lessons, one set on breathing, one set on standing and sitting posture, one set on sinking chi (physically feeling chi and then systematically moving it down the body and out through the feet; he says you will feel a relaxation of muscles and a release of tension of hardness as this occurs), one on opening energy gates (that is, locations around the body that chi travels through and can become blocked, found at joints, intersections of nerve pathways, around organs, lymph nodes, etc) to facilitate chi movement, and several more on swings (sorta like back and forth swinging of the body, arms and legs).

My guess (and there are many other things he talks about) is that mental visualization and awareness causes systematic relaxation. Coupled along with breathing, it facilitates the dialation of circulatory vessels slowly (which would explain the buzzing, vibrating feeling I get after I get done with it) to increase blood flow. The increase of bloodflood increases nutrient transfer, oxygen exchange, lymph circulation, and reduces tension. The whole process at the same time promotes relaxation and connection and awareness with the body. The whole thing is some sort of induced psychosomatic response to visualization and awareness of the body, along with healthy posture and breathing.

I've been able to do similar things to this before. For example, with use of a breathing technique and mental release of identity, I can reach a state where the whole body pulsates with blissful feeling that can last sometimes an hour, and leave you feeling relaxed and focused. Theres lots of interesting things you can do with the mind-body connection. I had forgotten about them, but maybe its time to remember.

I tend to agree with this. The system may refer to "energy gates," and I've often heard chi described as a "life force." These things may not be objectively real, in the sense that you probably couldn't invent a chi-o-meter to measure the stuff, but the combination of visualization and physical practice seem to produce very real results. It's almost like an intentional placebo effect.

Unscientific anectodal evidence: What little experience I have with Qigong emphasizes moving your body as if you were moving through a very thick fluid, or even sand. I don't know why, but this method improves circulation in my hands, even though I have Reynaud's Syndrome.

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2008, 12:09:38 am »
I've heard of Chi Kung/Qi Gong before.  I have a couple of books in my library, one on the philosophy behind a Japanese conception of ki, and one about the technique.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I suspect since some of the effects are biologically readable, so are the causes.  It suggests some form of conscious control over various body systems, though a better anatomist than me would have to tell you what ones.  Looking over some of the exercises could yield clues, however.

Looking over the book I have, Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body by Bruce Franztis, he incorporates several sets of lessons, one set on breathing, one set on standing and sitting posture, one set on sinking chi (physically feeling chi and then systematically moving it down the body and out through the feet; he says you will feel a relaxation of muscles and a release of tension of hardness as this occurs), one on opening energy gates (that is, locations around the body that chi travels through and can become blocked, found at joints, intersections of nerve pathways, around organs, lymph nodes, etc) to facilitate chi movement, and several more on swings (sorta like back and forth swinging of the body, arms and legs).

My guess (and there are many other things he talks about) is that mental visualization and awareness causes systematic relaxation. Coupled along with breathing, it facilitates the dialation of circulatory vessels slowly (which would explain the buzzing, vibrating feeling I get after I get done with it) to increase blood flow. The increase of bloodflood increases nutrient transfer, oxygen exchange, lymph circulation, and reduces tension. The whole process at the same time promotes relaxation and connection and awareness with the body. The whole thing is some sort of induced psychosomatic response to visualization and awareness of the body, along with healthy posture and breathing.

I've been able to do similar things to this before. For example, with use of a breathing technique and mental release of identity, I can reach a state where the whole body pulsates with blissful feeling that can last sometimes an hour, and leave you feeling relaxed and focused. Theres lots of interesting things you can do with the mind-body connection. I had forgotten about them, but maybe its time to remember.

I tend to agree with this. The system may refer to "energy gates," and I've often heard chi described as a "life force." These things may not be objectively real, in the sense that you probably couldn't invent a chi-o-meter to measure the stuff, but the combination of visualization and physical practice seem to produce very real results. It's almost like an intentional placebo effect.

Unscientific anectodal evidence: What little experience I have with Qigong emphasizes moving your body as if you were moving through a very thick fluid, or even sand. I don't know why, but this method improves circulation in my hands, even though I have Reynaud's Syndrome.

I think it has something to do with the heat the muscles produce, because slow sustained constant muscle movement actually burns about as much energy as the most aerobic exercise. I've heard that T'ai Chi burns as many calories in an hour as downhill skiing, and some of that goes to heat. If at the same time you are relaxing your blood vessels, your hands will warm up.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2008, 02:16:22 pm »

I suspect since some of the effects are biologically readable, so are the causes.  It suggests some form of conscious control over various body systems, though a better anatomist than me would have to tell you what ones.  Looking over some of the exercises could yield clues, however.

I'm not a particularly knowledgable anatomist, but I've read something (about 4 years ago, now; damn time goes fast) about the causes of chi/ki exercise control. In a lot of cases, tai chi and other chi/ki-building exercises work on forms of endocrine-neural synthesis (or some such word; can't remember the actual term). People who frequently practice mental, emotional and physical calming exercises tend to strengthen their nervous system's ability to signal the release of various synaptic enzymes (as well as reducing other enzymes, like SSRIs), as well as other chemicals from the various major endocrine glands throughout the body.

Physically, the health benefits of various awareness-based exercises comes in a large part from the ability to exercise muscles and neural pathways and  simultaneously reduce the introduction/release of detrimental chemicals (like lactic acid for muscles, or the aforementioned SSRIs for synaptic clefts) that would otherwise damage/physically tax the areas being exercised.

That's the gist of what I put in my notes from my anatomy class. I'll try to find the original article that I had as a reference to this but, until I do, feel free to call bullshit on anything that I said. There's a good chance that I'm wrong.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2008, 03:08:22 pm »
I think that Chi and Ki and 'Energy' in some of the neo-pagan senses are all talking about some similar objective territory. I've done both Chi exercises and various 'energy raising' rituals when I was playing with various forms of paganism. The experiences seemed to have a lot in common.

My personal opinion is that:

A) There is something going on. It probably doesn't directly relate to 'energy' but that's the closest word we can find to associate it with... or at least it tends to be the most common one. I think a lot of it has to do with the neurological aspects of our reality, but I think that's a pretty huge chunk of reality anyway ;-)

B) The less symbols dumped on top of one of these systems, the better it seems to work. That is, I could feel that internal 'energy' when in ritual, I could feel it more when practicing Chi and I noticed the feeling quite a bit when playing with Antero Alli's 'Archelogy of the Soul' where he basically tried to strip of all the metaphors and work directly with the psychological mechanisms of ritual.

So, in my wild conspiracy theory:

Once upon a reality, humans found that they could control their bodies much more competently than most people believe today. To gain this control, certain exercises and meditations were useful. In order to teach these, people created models/maps/symbols to make teaching easier. Over time, the map became the territory and people became so focused on the signs and symbols, that they lost sight of the actual valuable stuff. And thus we have the birth of religions, invention of the idea of Magic and Supernatural and Powers...

Of course, I don't believe this... but sometimes I think about it. I agree with Kai, when I do Chi (or some rituals) something definately seems to be going on... and though I am trapped in my perceptions, it does tend to act as though its something beyond simply psychosomatic response.

I don't think energy is really the right term, but I dunno what the right term is.
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Kai

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2008, 03:18:50 pm »
I think I like both Ratatosks and Manta's answers very much and I need to think more about this.  :)
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2008, 04:33:02 pm »
This thread is inspiring me to try and begin some form of Chi manipulation exercise.  Up to now, i have always clung to the view that there is definitely something there, but it's not well defined enough (without handwaving or fluffery) for me to give credibility to... My wife (a massage therapist, and more esoterically gullible attuned)  refers to 'energy' and my immediate response is along the lines of 'what are you blathering about? what energy are you talking about?' which, of course, kills any useful coversation.  then i feel like an ass, and it's over.  But i'm thinking now (in part because of this thread) that i should experience the phenomenon first hand without getting too hung up on the fact that we don't have an adequate enough (in my tiny opinion) model to explain it.

soooooo. that being said:  Could we have a weigh in on what people have had the most successful experiences with? Rat voted for the 'archaeology of the soul' it seems.  what about the rest of you?  Also, i'm thinking the state of mind that you embark on it with would effect your success too, so that would be worth mentioning, no?