If you want to boost your energy levels there are 2 main ways to to do it. And the Chinese character for qi (or ‘chi’) tells you everything you need to know – if only you know how to decode it. So allow me to unpick it for you…
The Meaning Of Qi
Qi (or ‘chi’ – it’s the same thing) means something like ‘energy’. It describes the basic day to day life-force that keeps you going. You need Qi to move, think, speak, breathe, digest, and so on. In fact, Qi is the energy that powers all of life.
You can’t have too much of it, really. When you have plenty of Qi you have all the energy you need, and more left in reserve. Your body functions well, inside and out, and your immune system is strong. If that doesn’t describe you, then you need to make more Qi!
At the top of this post is the Chinese character for the word Qi. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see this crop up all over the place whenever Chinese medicine is mentioned. It’s actually composed of 2 parts, and they each have a lesson for you about how to build more Qi for yourself.
The main part of the character, looking a bit like an asterisk, means ‘rice’. As rice is the staple food for the Chinese, we can broaden that out a bit to ‘food’ in general. This is the first component of both the character for Qi and also for your own Qi.
In other words, when it comes to making Qi in your body, the basic building blocks are the energy you extract from food. (To use a cliche, you are what you eat!)
Whatever you eat, your body first extracts the Qi from the food (this is called ‘gu qi’ – literally ‘grain qi’), and then sends it up to the Lungs for the next stage in the ‘Qi production assembly line’. That’s where the second part of the character comes in.
The three lines on the top and coming down to the right means, ‘air’, ‘vapor’ or ‘breath’. When Qi is written in its simplified form, only this part is used (you may notice that my logo at the top left of this page is a stylised calligraphy drawing of this simplified character)
This is the second building block of your Qi. As you breathe, you extract Qi from the air. (This is also called Qing Qi)
The Air Qi is combined in the Lungs with the Grain Qi sent up by the digestive system, and then you’re pretty much set. There’s a little bit more ‘mixing’ that goes on before your Qi is fully formed, but that’s about it. Your Qi is then ready to use for all your everyday activities, and is spread all over your body to make everything work.
How To Make More Qi
OK, so what does this tell us? If you want to make more Qi, and have more energy, then there are pretty much only 2 ways you can go about it.
1. Maximise the Qi you get from your food.
This means two things. Firstly, eat food that has a lot of Qi in it in the first place. That means good fresh, natural, unprocessed food. The longer food has been hanging around (especially fruit and veg) the less Qi it will have in it, and so the less it has to give to you. Also, foods lose Qi the more they’re processed. So fresh and natural is best. Artificial additives and chemicals don’t have any Qi to give you at all, and shouldn’t be called food. Monosodium glutamate, E102 and sodium-5-ribonucleotide are not foods!
(On top of that, there are certain foods which are called ‘Qi Tonics’ which are particularly good at strengthening your Qi, and these can be good to include. I go over these in my ‘Supercharge Your Qi‘ mini-course.)
Second, it depends HOW you eat. Even if you’re putting in good stuff in the first place, you need to digest it well. If it passes through you with its goodness still intact, then it won’t help you build your Qi! So that means presenting your food to the digestive system in a way that makes it easily digestible.
That means not overeating, chewing well, using appropriate cooking methods, and avoiding too much heavy and rich food. Make it easy for your digestive system to extract the Qi from your food, there’s no merit for giving yourself a challenge!
2. Maximise the Qi you get from the air.
On the face of it, there may not seem like much you can do about this side of things, but small changes can have big effects. When it comes to the quality of the air you breathe, there’s probably not a huge amount you can do without upping sticks and moving your home and/or job. However, you can do things to purify (and Qi enrich) the air around you. One simple thing is to put pot plants in your living and working spaces. They will sit there and happily purify the air for you 24/7.
More useful is to make some changes to HOW you breathe, to make sure that your lungs are working at full capacity and you’re getting all the Qi out of the air that you can. Most adults take shallow breaths high up into their chest, which is not an efficient way of breathing. You should breathe more like a baby does. Slowly, and deeply.
The closer you can get to this deep abdominal ‘baby breathing’ the more Qi you will extract. (As a bonus, this is also the most relaxing way of breathing) – Try to sink you breath down lower so that your tummy expands and contracts naturally with each breath. The trick is to relax as much as you can and don’t try to force it, and the easiest position to practice in to start with is lying down. Eventually, you’ll be able to breathe this way all the time without even thinking about it, and your Qi production will rocket!
So there you have it – the 2 keys for maximizing energy levels, contained in the Chinese character for ‘Qi’. Don’t neglect these simple lessons – if you put them into practice you’ll soon begin to notice the difference, and over time they can be life changers.
If you really want to take your energy and vitality to the next level, then you might be interested in my ‘Supercharge Your Qi’ mini-course, where I go into detail about eating for maximum energy, how to do deep abdominal breathing the right way, qi-boosting acupressure, using herbs for energy, and more. All the details are here: Supercharge Your Qi