Qigong and electromagneticism
I don't know whether to put this here or in science... but I have a question.
I've been doing some research, but I would like to see what other people have found/already know. (in reference to internal qi)
I'm curious about the applications of qi gong and the existance of qi in relation to actual electromagnetic fields in the body. Is there an electric field that has polarity and can be influenced around the body? Is there any scientific documentation of electric fields, and their affect on body health (and possible connection to the idea of qi)?
There is a program aired called "Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy and the Wireless Revolution" in LinkTV that discusses Radio Frequency and its effect on human body. You can Google on the subject. Here is another link: http://www.wave-guide.org/library/cellphones.html
Someone needs to bridge the gap between the idea of qi and our present environment.
thanks for the link.
I was doing more research and found an organization called the Qigong Institute that actually does research on qi and it's applications in medical healing and physical properties.
<a href="http://www.qigonginstitute.org/main_page/main_page.php"> link here </a>
But they're still looking at it in an organismal level. Is there anything at the cellular/ molecular level to support the presence of qi? (ie: neurons create electric potentials, and most cells do as well individually.. could they together form a polarity within the body?)
The body is not a giant magnet. It is made of millions of cells which have polarity that change based on its function in a time domain. The magnetism is not cumulative, though certain people produce more field (Gauss) than others. My unscientific observation is that people who have higher magnetic field have shown more psychic ability but not necessarily intelligence. They are somewhat more intuitive - that fuzzy area where one can make better event based predictions than others.
The freewill and ones nurture usually over-rides the benefit one could get from the higher energy state. At the same times, sometimes they get lucky in some life events. I have one of those as my spouse and hence done all types of field tests using sensor instruments, oscilloscopes etc.
thou art wise oJjames R
I don't know much about qi, and I'm skeptical, but a friend of mine says it's a part of his martial arts training in Hapkido. He can do some impressive things, too, like once at a party he allowed three strong guys to tie him up, and he escaped, he can also escape from a standard straightjacket, as well as all the usual martial arts stuff, like kicking ass. I think it has more to do with the power of the mind, mind over matter, that kind of thing.
I'm a little skeptical myself.. I'm actually asking for another person. (my kung fu instructor). I study science... and I couldn't answer his questions about electric potential inside our bodies (except at the neuronal or cellular level) so it piqued my interest. I figured here would be a good place to ask.
I haven't found anything else out there... at least nothing with a scientific basis. It's a really interesting question though, considering some of the things that can be done with qi (and I'm not talking about those guys that can throw someone across the room with mind energy), and how the control of qi can help in health and emotion. (at least so I've been told.)
Anybody out there have stories of how qi has been manipulated? And theories on qi?
Valued Senior Member
I have a fair amount of experience with both biology and martial arts; this has been a topic of keen interest for many years!
There is *something* to the idea of qi. There are enough pressure points, pain management massage methods, acupuncture (many insurance companies cover acupuncture treatment for chronic pain; they wouldn't pay if it didn't do SOMETHING!), etc to suggest that there is something in the human body not explained by modern western science. And that something happens to fit the classical definition of qi pretty well.
I have been unable to determine exactly what it 'is', in modern scientific/medical terms, though. Part of the difficulty in pinning down a definition is that the theory of qi deals with areas of science that are not yet understood well enough to easily form a lab-testable hypothesis.
Is it a universal life energy, flowing through everything, but undetectable by modern devices? Does it exist in the fabled fourth spacial dimension of theoretical physics? Is it the nervous system? Is it the endocrine system? Both?
Is it simply the power of suggestion?
While hormonal systems, the nervous system, cardio-vascular system, et al are all pretty well mapped out (ask any physicist, matter-based studies are pretty easy compared to energy-based studies), EM radiation, exact pathways of electrical charge through neurons, pressure wave patterns through the veins, etc are barely understood at all. They are not testable in dead bodies, and living bodies are difficult and often illegal to dissect for research (while this is a good thing IMO, it does hinder experimentation).
It is made even more difficult when dealing not just with a single electrical signal up a single nerve pathway, but when dealing with the overall effects of the entire system at once; how all of the parts affect each other, and how those effects then affect each other. Following a single calcium potential/electrical discharge chain along a series of nerves is not too difficult (again, physical). But studying patterns of multi-level interaction between different nerve systems and their intertwined EM radiation is nearly impossible.
Studying the effects of blood clots on blood flow is easy, but studying the secondary effects of non-constant blood pressure (not flow, but pressure, ie elasticity degradation) on digestive tissue or muscle tissue is much more complicated.
Triggering non-chaotic patterns in any explosively chaotic system (ie, a small change at the source will result in a huge change at the end) is very, very difficult.
When dealing with such chaotic systems, the normal scientific method is nearly useless. Trying to keep everything stable so that you can repeat the experiment with only one altered variable is close to impossible.
The other option available to scientists is recording observation in situ - in its natural environment; this is what such areas of study as anthropology, astronomy, paleobiology, etc use. By building up pattern tables over extended periods of time, you can accrue a dataset large enough to be considered statistically valid. This takes a very long time to do - think about weather predicting (meteorology). There are roughly 150-200 years of detailed weather records available to our computer models, and we all know how accurate our local weather reports remain.
There are many simple tests to show "evidence" for qi - body heat manipulation, board breaking by very young individuals (once they learn the proper method), pressure point martial arts (including knockouts w/ light hit combinations), heart rate and breathing control, brain wave control, and more.
While much of this can be explained away by other means, it is the same evidence that lead to the formation of the qi theory in the first place!
It should not be ignored, but used to form a testable hypothesis which can then verify if that evidence is indeed linked together via some life energy. Ignoring these tests because they can be partially explained by other causes fails to test the cohesive theory of qi.
There are a few things, which, assuming qi exists in the classical eastern form (this assumption will be dealt with later), we do know.
When dealing with qi, you are not:
1)dealing strictly with hormonal effects
2)dealing strictly with electrical effects
3)dealing strictly with something else
4)dealing with pure fantasy.
this is known because:
1)tests of people engaged in qi based activities, with simultaneous hormonal testing fails to make a causal correlation.
2)tests of people engaged in qi based activities, with simultaneous electrical testing fails to make a causal correlation.
3)tests of people engaged in qi based activities, with simultaneous hormonal & electrical testing often makes a non-causal correlation. ie, if I am in deep meditation and 'lifting qi to the clouds, where is rains back down', my hormonal and electrical patterns are statistically different than when I am simply at rest.
4)see # 3 - there is a statistical difference in quantitative readings between rest and 'actively manipulating qi', in certain people. This suggests that something is going on, and that something is as of yet, not fully explained.
SIDE NOTE: An additional problem that should be mentioned here; when dealing with overall statistical numbers, you also have to understand that the assumption of qi when testing requires another assumption: that the person tested ACTUALLY DOES KNOW HOW TO MANIPULATE QI. Sadly, because we are trying to determine the existence of qi, it is impossible to test the validity of a person's claim to manipulate it.
So, the overall numbers for all subjects will be skewed by those people who make grand claims about their qi abilities for the sake of making a buck - in fact they know nothing at all.
However, when looking at individual cases, those who can 'manipulate qi' (do something to f' around with their internal body systems in a recordable way), there is enough of a change to warrant further study.
Indeed the best method for collecting this sort of data would be to first form a baseline excluding from the study all those who are unable to change readings between rest and meditative states.
The scientific community, however, would most likely reject this; it is too easily labeled as a form of data manipulation to skew results in favor of verifying the existence of qi.
If you do not assume the existence of qi, you still have this unexplained dataset to deal with; what ever it’s reason.
Let's take a specific case for the sake of discussion: biofeedback.
Biofeedback works like this: a series of sensors are attached to the subject, and the subject are simply shown the sensor readings (possibly as numbers, possibly as colors or as the position of a space-ship in a video game). They are then given a task to modify those readings.
For example, in neurofeedback, a person may be hooked up to an EEG machine, and tasked with reducing their beta brain waves. Over time, people are able to train themselves into an abnormal state of consciousness with lower beta waves, thus completing the task.
This shows the presence of some form of conscious control over the not just the physical being (as with something obvious, like walking), but over the *structure* of the physical being; the basic underlying form of brain function (from normal “awake” to a modified version of “awake”).
Thought can alter thought.
Even though we assign the label 'conscious control' to this evidence, instead of 'qi', conscious control of the body is an area far from being understood by western science anyway.
Another example is extremity temperature change. When you are really stressed, grab a cheap thermometer, and see how cold your hands are. Now sit quietly in a straight-backed chair, hands on your knees, eyes closed. Imagine your hand burning, on fire. This is not a frightening thing; it is just pleasantly hot. It is enjoyable to feel them so warm!
After 10 minutes, check the temp again.
I can raise and lower the temp. in my fingers 35 degrees F in under 10 minutes (recorded by researches as the U of Penn about 15 years ago as part of a study on this stuff). IMO, this is due to constriction and dilation of blood vessels, along with a lower and deeper heart beat; but HOW does relaxation and imagery dilate blood vessels and strengthen the heartbeat?
How does conscious thought alter thought?
Given that a study published a couple weeks ago showing a 33% increase in bloodflow in the upper arm after an extended period of laughing made international news, it seems to me that this area of knowledge is still not fully understood.
Ignoring the qi theory provides us with no benefit (at this time) in understanding how biofeedback works. As we come to learn more about the basic functionality of the body, we may not need the qi theory any more. Until then, it's just as valid as "I don't know".
In the end, what we have today is anecdotal, hard to prove evidence; evidence which cannot be reproduced on the same person during different times of day, let alone on different people in a controlled environment.
We have something, but not much. An age old theory, supported by time and religion, and a handful of evidence which seems to support it.
What is the difference between you and a pile of organic compounds?
The *pattern* of how those compounds are assembled is the only thing separating your body and the dirt outside. That pattern is what I call Qi. And that pattern is very complex.
Last edited by river-wind; 03-11-05 at 04:37 PM.
Valued Senior Member
d'oh, I killed the thread.
short summary: I have seen enough evidence that there seems to be something to the theory of qi.
Insurance companies seem to agree, as many now pay for accupuncture treatement for chronic pain.
Biofeedback can teach you to control both your body and mind in ways thought impossible 30 years ago. Biofeedback is really a high-tech version of meditation.
There is no current scientific theory which can *fully* explain the body of evidence supporting qi theory.
Valued Senior Member
Deconstructionist vs Holistic philosophy: you mention science understanding all the parts, but not being able to conceive of the whole; and that is a perfect example of what I was talking about above.
Science tends to very much be a deconstructionist occupation. Finding the constituant parts of a thing to determine how something works is its main methodology. It rarely looks into how interactions of those things work; in how a thing can be more than the sum of its parts (though more and more it is getting better at this).
RE: salamnder and EM radiation. Tests involving high levels of electrical energy and biological groth will show mutations; that appears to be more due to disruption of the DNA mutation rate than due to qi polarity. I have not read the particular study you are referring too, though, so I could be missing something.
Qi energy is certainly not (purely) electrical, in that if it were, any test to detect electrical current would detect it. IE, 'electrical'=direct passage of electrons in an overall direction through a conductor material. You can't pick up an electrical current through qi meridians like you can through nerves.
Qi theory, and pressure point fighting, suggest that qi flows in one direction overall, but there are areas where the flow can strengthen, weaken, or even stop for periods of time over the course of a day, a week, a lifetime.
From the most common themes I have run into, there are 4 types of qi:
1)ancenstoral or Inborn qi: from your parents. this would be analogous to DNA
2)Breath or Pectoral qi: this is friends, work, etc. basically, stress
3)Food or Nourishing qi: you are what you eat. litterally. the molecules of your body were all once part of a chicken sandwich or a lettuce leaf.
4)defending qi: also largely from food, but also sort of breath as well; this is pretty much your immune system.
This is a very simplified explination; for instance, defending qi is also associated with body heat regulation and sleep cycles. I have seen as few as three and as many as 8 different qi forms; this is another difficulty that western science has w/ eastern medicine; we are used to a standard, univerally agreed apon explination for things. One.
Many Asian cultures doesn't have a problem with more than one definition going at once - multiple religions and multiple belief systems. Many times, more is better in those cultures.
There are a number of major meridians through which qi "flows". IME, it is better to say that these are areas of central qi presence; sort of like an electron orbital. Electrons don't travel is descrete circles, but has areas in which they are most likely to be found. Meridians are the areas where qi is most likely to be found.
Chakras are the crossing points of meridians along your most major qi channel, the core central meridian. Pressure points are pretty much smaller versions of the 7 main chakras, and there are hundreds of them throughout the body (and those are just the surface or close to surface points that I have dealt with).
Overall, qi pools in an area at the base of you spine (dan tien), and expands outward as you breath in, then contracts as you breath out.
In, qi travels up your spine to your shoulders, where it splits into 3 main arteries, one that goes up and over your head, and two more which extend down the back of each arm. At the same time, qi flos down the back of each leg.
Out, and the qi crests the top of the head, rounds the tips of the middle fingers and meets up between the nipples, where it sinks back down to the belly button. At this point, it meets the qi coming up from the legs, splits around the body, and is back at the base of the spine.
Keep in mind that this is supposed to be the major qi flow direction, there are many "streams" and eddies and such which come off of this - for instance, each finger has qi flow, and each finger has slightly different qi (like a slightly different vibration, or a different note. same, but not the same).
As such, rubbing one finger will effect one part of the body, while another finger will effect a different part of the body. This has uses in both accupuncture, massage, and self-defence. Linking different qi types around the body produces different effects; striking a "wood" point, and then another "wood" point has little effect. Hitting a pair of wood points and then a metal point will often render the person unconscious.
Applying massage pressure to water then wood can help produce relaxation in the muscles, and stimulate endorphin release in the brain.
There are no stupid questions; only people who have been too afraid to ask them!
Never stop asking; I don't want this to be "absolute proof of qi", it never could be; this is simply what I have personally learned, and a few of its real-world applications.
Knowing truth is not what science is about - Science provides at best well-tested theories; "Laws" are not created by science, but by politics.
edit: I would be remiss to not mention that there is alot of crap in qi theory, too. many ideas and ledgends about what can be done w/ qi have cropped up, and even some of the basic ideas of traditional Chinese medicine are questionable.
For instance, the 5 elements theory. Water gives rise to wood, wood to fire, fire to earth, earth to metal, metal to water, and round and round. The cycle of creation.
Now, this visual image has useful applications in accupuncture, just as it's reverse, the cycle of destruction, has its uses in fighting.
However, WTH? only 5 elements? What about the different types of metal? Air? Fire is not actually made of a substance, but of the spontainious combustion of many different possible materials.
It is limited in it's ability to describe the natural world, and that limitation needs to be noted.
Last edited by river-wind; 03-23-05 at 04:56 PM.
Valued Senior Member
as a side note of interest - Scientific American this month talks about a guy who came to prominance when he determined that applying random vibration to the insoles of elderly patients over a couple sessions caused them to significantly improve their balance.
From "an 85 year old to the balance of a 25 year old"[paraphrased]
This is extrodinarily similar to qi theory in that as you age, your qi sinks to the soles of your feet. By activating the soles of people's feet - getting that qi flowing again - you can see significant health improvement.
Last edited by river-wind; 03-28-05 at 02:14 PM.
Valued Senior Member
good questions: we are now getting close to the extent of my knowledge (I'm a shallow well ). It certainly would be easier to understand were we able to pour it into a glass or power light bulbs with it.
I have found that it is usefull to visuallize the flowing qi as a stream; a main flow of water, with offshoots and eddies disrupting the movement. There are fast moving points in the stream, and slow-moving points. points where the water squeezes through a small channel, and others where it spreads out over a flat plane.
The best flow of qi is when those two extremes are balanced; where the qi is moving, but it isn't moving too fast.
So during the day, you often may find that your qi is stagnating in certain areas; not flowing properly due to strees, bad posture, sickness, etc. So then qi gung, ti chi, yoga etc can help to get that qi moving again.
Now, just because qi can stagnate in different areas, doesn't mean that qi shouldn't *be* in those areas. In fact, qi should be everywhere; but it should be moving.
So, to your question of bringing qi to your dan tien, and 'lowering' qi in order to stabalize balance vs qi 'falling' to the soles of your feet: you are perfectly correct. When practicing qi gung, you try and lower the focus of the qi flow through external and internal movement, so that the majority of flow is lower; shoulders are relaxed and not trapping qi, breathing is steady.
But in this example, the qi flowing to and from the base of your spine, and down your legs, through your feet, is *moving*.
The problem come in when the qi slows down, and beings to collect in your feet. At that point, it is not providing a usefull service to your body - it has stagnated.
This happens over the course of the day (how good does a foot massage feel after 8 hours on the job?), and steadily over your lifetime; the stagnated qi settles to the lowest parts of your body like old blood.
All the different qi based exersizes work to pull that energy up to your dan tien as well, in order to get it moving again.
So having energy low is not really good in of itself; it's having flowing energy not too high up that is good. As we stress, our shoulders bunch up, our eyebrows knit together, and our brain races at a thousand miles an hour...this is not healthy. Relaxation, lowering the flowing qi back towards our more basic nature balances us out, and keeps us healthier.
As for fa shia: I have not heard of that. A quick search of wikipedia and google turned up nothing, must be a spelling error - I did find a fair amount of info on a "Human Epidermal Membrane", which honestly, I'm betting is a fancy name for the skin which I haven't heard before. If not, though, and this HEM is some membranous structure between the skin and the inner-body tissue, there may be something to this massage that triggers more activation across this membrane.
Does this massage provide some noticable benifit? What sort of results does it trigger?
I'm quite sure that I've spelled fa shia wrong. It's hard to put chinese words into pinyin when you've only heard then spoken. I've tried to find something online too, but no luck. The way my teacher described it tho was similar to what you said. A layer of skin?energy? that is under your main skin layers and becomes attached if you don't massage/work at it. A tight fa shia indicates that you are holding stress in the area where it is tight. So the whole idea of the massage is to loosen it from it's attachment below.
How did the massage affect me? Well.. you know how sometimes if you're doing qi gong or tai chi, especially if it's an internal type like liu he ba fa, suppressed feelings can end up getting dislodged from wherever they were and resurface with a vengence? That is what happened after this fa shia massage too. I'd been feeling frustrated/angry about a month before, and thought I'd gotten over it but then after that massage it was all I could think about and I was angry for the rest of the day. I know it's a good thing to get repressed things like that out of your system.. but it's also slightly scary that they can be brought out so easily. Do you have any theories on how this occurs?
Valued Senior Member
heh; on a chemical level, yes.
I'm not sure to what degree emotions are purely chemical in nature, but there is at least a correlation between physical chemicals and emotional response. In fact, given the effectiveness of drugs in changing our emotional state, I personally feel that emotions are mostly, if not all, chemically based.
Combined with the fact that many chemicals can be stored in body tissue as mostly inert substances, we have a recepie for this sort of thing.
When we feel stress, or anger, or happiness, our body is flooded with different hormones; how much of this flood ends up simply stuffed in all the trillions of cracks and crevices (and vacuoles) around or bodies, only to be released during exersize, stretching, or massage?
I had a good friend growing up who got into drugs heavily. He ended up on heroin and LSD for a while, and even now has times when he can feel effects of the LSD cropping up (although he has never had a full-on flashback). His weight is a huge factor in this - as he gains and drops 50-100 pounds at a time, the chances of his body randomly buring *that* particular section of fat cells which hold residual hallucinogen goes up.
Replace anger hormones for LSD and intercostal tissue for fat tissue, and the situation appears strikingly similar.
Either way, it is certainly a "cleansing" of the system.
/edit: this might be a good thread topic for the "human biology" section of this site. "Are any human hormones fat soluble; or may any stay in body tissue for long periods of time?"
Last edited by river-wind; 04-04-05 at 03:21 PM.
haha.. you should start another thread. It's an interesting theory. Quite a few hormones are lipid-soluble.. so they may end up trapped in adipocytes, I suppose. Adipocytes have their own hormones tho.. like leptin and adiponectin.. so they are like tiny endocrine organs. I don't know if they would store things that aren't part of the normal cell system, seeing as they are highly regulated secreting cells. But, I suppose that certain hormones could be taken in via endocytosis and not broken down. And giant molecules like LSD. Or the things like what your friend describes could be neuronal, something about a change in synapse pattern that is a result of the drug and becomes permanent.
Seriously.. start the thread.. people with more knowledge than me could answer this better for you.
I stumbled across this thread and felt I could help some. River-wind has obviously spent many years on this subject and has many insights that are accurate. I just want to shed some light on the pressure point comment he made.
A wood strike is a very dangerous thing to play with, in fact it could cause knock out or even death all by it self. A metal strike would be the set up for a wood strike, not the other way around, as he explained. If you were to use a wood strike as a set up, it would be an earth strike that would follow.
Again, this are very dangerous things to play with and in fact works well.
As for zougirls original question, if I could help.
As river explained, qi flow is a very complex system. There are actually 72 different manifestations of qi. They travel along these meridians in different directions with ebbs and flows depending on physical and mental activities, as well as outside influences. Qi is as much electrochemical as it is electromagnetic. This explains why it is so difficult to measure and explain.
Qi gong, taiji (tai chi), baguazhang, xingi, acupuncture and (some) philosophies of yoga are all internal arts that work to set these qi flows in a balanced state. These arts were invented in the beginning to manipulate qi for both good health and for a martial application. Other external martial arts have associations with qi and many have claims of knock outs from a distance and other outrageous claims. These arts are mostly based on impact style training and can actually inhibit the flow of qi. Until someone successfully does it to me, I will continue to raise the bs flag on these claims.
Before you can understand qi, you must first understand how the acupuncture system works, this takes a few years of study and or practice in one or more of these internal arts. You must understand all of it, before you can understand any of it! Our western minds over analyze everything put before us and tend to overlook the obvious. There is a method of measuring the balance of qi using an eeg type device that some genius tied into a computer program recently. My acupuncturist uses one. I happened to be hooked up to one last night. I will see if I can get the product name and the source, if you are interested.
I would suggest you continue your qi gong practice and be careful with your gung fu practice. There are many good books on acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), have fun in your studies and enjoy your improved health.
kind regards, Mel
well see Qi runs through all living organisms on earth, (im not here to discuss the existance of Qi atall by the way)
each life form gives off a differwent amount depending on what it is, there are many many main points on the body where it resides and travels through.
i have studied Qi gong / Qi qong / Chi kung (whatever you want to call it)
for over 17 years, i practice taiji also, and many other forms/methods, my main training is shaolin gong fu though, apart from western PT training with clients,
there is said to be a Qi aura surrounding the body, eastern scientists actually have this light device that can pick up peoples auras, they are japanese reaserchers, there was a post/thread on here witht he direct link to there reserch, in an "auras" post. it picks up on photons of some sort i believe, you can measure the current health level roughly by measurign the light reading,
in my personal experience, you can physicaly feel other peoples eneregy fields within a certain range depending on the person, i would class Qi as a bio electrical current, it can heal blockage in the body, your own and others, i think keeping your 3 energys alligned is key to maintaining good overall health. mentally and physicaly,
there are actually different types of Qi energy if you break it down, and not just good/bad qi either, i wont go into that yet though,
also orgone energy is what the west call Qi, i find better results using real Qi gong and taiji methods than using machines and orgone devices, although there good to have around the house, especially a HHG they dont look to bad either an as orniment,
river-wind speaks wise words on Qi also,
and an important word you must remember when speaking of qi is always,
Yi. - Intention.