Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) is the same as energy. However, in East Asia, energy has more functions than just giving us oomph and power. It holds our organs in place and keeps them up so they don’t prolapse, including the embryo or foetus. It also protects the body from viruses and bacteria by maintaining the immune system. It keeps the body warm. For these reasons, qi is yang in Nature.
Western medicine can measure a person’s energy expenditure and energy intake, but it cannot measure their current energy level. Chinese medicine can measure the current energy level of a person through pulse diagnosis.
Energy levels decrease with age. You may see young people walking around in the cold wearing fewer clothes than others. This is because as they are young, they have more energy, which aids in keeping them warm (yang). In the elderly, they are often cold and need to heat their homes more than younger people, as they have less energy (yang), as they have spent it through living. To help you understand how energy works and how it can affect your health, I will use a simple analogy: energy is like money.
We convert our energy through work into money, which we use to buy food to give us energy. We also spend energy when we exercise excessively, overwork and don’t sleep enough. Most people’s energetic outgoings are greater than their energetic income, which weakens the body and damages health. They are spending more than they receive. Over time, with career promotions, socialising and living life to the full, this can make the body physically weak.
It is therefore important to manage and budget energy expenditure to improve your health. This comes from being more aware of your energy levels and your body’s needs. It won’t take long for you to become more aware of your energy and where you are spending it.
When asked, most people will say their energy levels are good, only for me to check their pulse and find that it’s weak. This is because most people have their awareness plugged into their mind. We are more than our minds; we are the awareness that sits behind the mind. If you can unplug your awareness from your mind and plug it into your body, most people will find their body is weak and wants to rest. You can unplug your awareness from your mind through activities such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness.
Energy is finite – there’s only so much you have. If you spend too much of your energy working, commuting, socialising, exercising or using technology such as social media, you will have less energy and fewer resources left over for your health.
To improve your health, you need to do less and conserve resources to support you. Doing less is difficult for most people as our minds tell us we need to work hard to get what we want or finish off those things on our ‘to-do list’ before we can allow ourselves to relax. In terms of fertility, it’s the opposite: doing less can actually improve your fertility. Try to start listening to your body rather than your mind.