Do you ever feel stressed, anxious or fatigued for no apparent reason? Well, it might be because your chi is imbalanced. You may have come across the term before but for those of you who haven’t, chi is a spiritual energy that helps us to become physically stronger, mentally focused, energized and revitalised. As well as the physical effects, cultivating your chi will help to keep you to improve your health and wellbeing. Keep on reading to discover more about chi, why it’s important and how you can balance yours.
What is chi?
In traditional Chinese medicine, chi was believed to be the life force that runs through each individual. Chi is an energy current that passes through the inside and outside of the body, and also through physical objects too. When your chi is strong, it courses through you and fills you with life and health. When your chi is weak, it remains still and stagnant within your body.
When translated into English, chi literally means “air” or “energy”. Chi also exists in other cultures. It’s known as “prana” in India,“ki” in Japan, and in western society it is often referred to as life force.
You may have also heard of chi being referred to as qi, and while the two are very similar and interlinked, they are technically separate entities. While qi refers to the actual act of restoring balance, chi is the physical force and energy that flows through us.
Chi is thought to be the ultimate measure of vitality. Due to this, many use chi as a way to restore the mind and body to a natural, healthy state. It is a way of achieving zen and finding balance.
The practice of improving your chi is connected with the philosophy of feng shui. It’s manifested as the five elements of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. The goal of feng shui is to ensure that these elements interact in harmony with each other and maintain the flow of chi energy.
As with any energy, chi cannot be created or destroyed. It is in a constant state of flux, flowing, evolving and shifting into another form.
Why is chi important?
It’s believed that having a strong chi energy can have a positive effect on our mental and physical health, and prevent the stressors from everyday life impacting our being.
Having a weak chi energy makes us more susceptible to negativity, which can cause our health, happiness and overall life to deteriorate.
Chinese culture believes that chi is in the air that we breathe and the nourishment that we put into our bodies. It moves with our blood and becomes a part of us to link the mind, the body and spirit. As it’s carried to our brain, it can affect our dreams, emotions and thoughts too. It extends beyond our body and becomes something that’s metaphysical as well as visceral.
What affects your chi energy?
As chi is all about achieving an optimum mental and physical state, any factors that hinder or prevent your body from functioning properly can affect your chi.
Things like not getting enough sleep, not feeding your body with the nourishment that it needs, a lack of clean water, fresh air and shelter can cause your chi energy to weaken.
If you’re not getting enough mental stimulation, love and social interaction, this can also create an imbalance to your chi.
It’s also possible to have too much chi. This can be because of an intense and excessive amount of environmental toxins like polluted air and water.
Putting too much strain on your body through physical exercise, stress and negative emotions can also amount to having too much chi and cause blockages within our body. These blockages prevent chi energy from flowing freely around us, and mean that chi is unable to nourish all areas.
How to balance your chi energy?
So, how do we balance our chi? With practice, we can cultivate our chi energy and help it to flow more steadily. This is achieved by regularly doing exercises that stimulate the mind and body. Here are a few ways that you can balance your chi energy.
Originally developed as a form of martial arts, tai chi has now evolved as a series of exercises combined with deep breathing techniques. Easily identified by its low impact, flowing movements, tai chi is thought to improve balance, posture, circulation and muscle control. It can also help to strengthen your core, arms, legs and back.
The gentle but deliberate motions that make up tai chi help you to work on your self discipline. This soft and slow series of exercises is great for restoring your chi and keeping blockages at bay.
Yoga is another breathing-controlled series of exercises that can help you to balance your chi. While both practices have similarities, they are actually very different.
Tai chi is a series of fluid movements that are constantly evolving and merge into each other, much like the way in which chi itself moves. The action of doing tai chi requires you to be constantly moving as your body moves from one posture to another. Yoga on the other hand, is all about stillness.
Yoga postures are held for prolonged periods of time, depending on the style that you practice, as you find your balance, inner peace and an awareness of your body.
It is thought that as you hold each yoga pose, chi accumulates within you and creates a blockage. As you release from each posture, the blockage clears and your chi flows freely. This repeated sequence of exercises helps to prevent blockages from permanently hindering your chi.
Tai chi and yoga both share an awareness of your movement and purposeful breathing. It’s this honing of your breathing that allows you to access your chi.
As you breathe in, you breathe in air, and also chi energy. The chi is circulated around your body as you continue to breathe in and out. The act of breathing helps to strengthen your chi, which is why taking deep breaths when you’re under stress or great pressure is a great way to help restore your chi.
Practice mindfulness and balance your mind with your body through the act of mediation. Regular meditation is a really effective habit to do in your daily life as it allows you to let go of negative thoughts and relax. Letting go of these negative energies allows your body to cultivate its chi instead.
As we’ve mentioned above, the controlled breathing exercises associated with meditation help your flow of chi stay strong and constantly moving.
Meditation is a great stress reliever which can in turn help to prevent your chi getting blocked and build up inside your body.
Like the air that we breathe, the food that we eat can also be a source of chi. It’s thought that a nutrient-rich, balanced diet that’s low in processed foods is ideal for improving your chi. Foods that are thought to help you fortify your chi are: brown rice, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, ginseng, green beans, oats, lotus seed, potatoes, pumpkin, soybeans, tofu, turnips and yams.
As well as enjoying these foods as part of a balanced diet, it’s important that they are in-season and organic without any chemical additives. Finally, try to avoid overeating or not eating enough as they will put strain on your chi and absorb your energy.
Practicing all of the above will help you to balance your chi, but the best way to improve your chi is to rest. Resting is essential to letting your body restore and heal itself. It enables you to destress and expel any negativity from your mind and body. All of the strain and blockages that have formed in the day dissipate as your body focuses solely on healing.
Chi at home
Balancing your chi not only comes from within, it comes from your surroundings too. Like in your body, chi should be able to flow freely around and through your home and not experience any blockages or leakages. Coordinating your home around the fundamentals of feng shui energy can be beneficial for aiding your chi energy.
Don’t allow chi blockages to occur by ensuring your main door doesn’t open into a wall and that your storage is free from clutter. Leakages can be avoided based on the alignment of your doors and windows. If your front and back doors are aligned, or a door is directly in line with a large window, it can cause your chi to escape.
Another way that you can balance your chi through feng shui is by keeping your key pieces of furniture that you occupy most often in a commanding position. This means that whenever you use them, your back is never facing towards a door.
Also, avoid placing your furniture in a closed-off manner where your chi can get blocked. A strong and steady flow of chi is essential for promoting good health, spirit and productivity.