A physicist's thoughts on Chi flow

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by sciguy137, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. sciguy137 Registered Member

    I posted this here, because it didn't seem to fit well elsewhere. I am an experimental solid state physicist. My wife and a friend who is a Philosophy professor go to an acupuncturist, and have had good results. I have two minor complaints so I went to see her too. When the needles are stuck in me, I can feel a very strong ebb and flow sensation in the area. It is somewhat diffuse, like a small wave that comes in and flows back out. The acupuncturist says it is the chi flow I am feeling. It is so strong, that it is easy to keep track of. There might be a little helicity to the ebb and flow, but it's hard to tell because it feels like a diffuse wave. I checked the rate, and it is 25 cycles per minute. My heart rate is just under 60 pulses per minute. (It takes some concentration to be able to sense both at the same time). My respiration rate is 8 to 10 per minute. If it is not chi, what is it? I can find no list in literature of any kind of diffuse flow (neurological?) throughout the body with that kind of frequency. The nearest I could find was the D-waves for brain activity, but those seem to bottom out above 30 per minute.

    It is hard to detect without the needles, but not impossible now that I know what it feels like. But when she puts the needles in it is like an amplifier that turns the signal way way up. She says most people without training don't feel it, but I've always been highly sensitive to very subtle sensory feelings. I'm going to ask her if I can bring in some of my own probes and instruments to see if I can see this signal using lock-in amplifier techniques. I've got a number of ideas for how to see if I can find this signal electronically.

    Are there any thoughts out there about what I'm feeling? Is chi another word for some kind of collective basal neurological communication.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert Title Here)

    Start by looking at Chi metaphorically instead of literally. Remember that many old ideas like this explained things to people before there were scientific explanations. I think you're looking in the wrong places for your answer.

    A friend of mine who is a psychologist and novelist uses, and teaches, traditional Chinese medicine in character development. And it works; even writers who aren't aware of this concept manage to reflect it. Not because TCM is necessarily scientifically correct, but because this part is a superstitious metaphor based on observations of common behavioral traits between people of certain body shapes.

    It's not science, the way we're looking at it, but for superstitious metaphor, there is much about TCM that is surprisingly useful.

    What you're feeling, and what the acupuncturist describes as a Chi flow, is the stimulation of specific nerves. That's how acupuncture works. The signal exchange between nerve, brain, and body might start to feel cyclical; in some cases it is, while in others your brain is simply seeking to organize into some regular pattern the stimuli it receives. That your respiration should change is expected; yes, you can do this by stimulating certain nerves. A good acupuncturist knows where the needle needs to go, but his explanation of why it works will follow the myth and superstition of TCM. If you happen to know a neurologist, ask him about it. Even a chiropracter should be able to tell you something about why your body responds to specific stimulation of certain nerves.

    That there is a real Chi flow? It's not impossible. But there would, necessarily, be some reconciliation to achieve between the imprecise mythical outlook and the precise science.
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    There are many different atoms floating around and they all have different frequencies. The type of needles draw certain atoms, healing ones, to the spot that it needs to be. Like a internal magnet that heads toward that needle that is inserted because , as you know, whenever you hurt yourself many immune defenses come to help that area heal. This just draws more of those beneficial atoms that are able to also promote the healing. IMHO
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    i dunno. there's an insurmountable obstacle in trying to convey to western minds, i think--namely, what the hell is ch'i? we have neither an adequate translation nor notion.

    it's kinda like comparing chess with go, or napolean with genghis khan. those enamored of "qualities" and whatnots simply don't get a bunch of anonymous, non-essential, collectivist disks. chess is actually more tactical than strategic, everyone's "strategy" (in chess) is essentially the same (get the king); go is pure strategy. and apparently, one's right brain hemisphere is activated more with go, whereas the left is activated more with chess. A functional MRI study of high-level cognition: II. The game of GO

    i was staying in this monastery in trabzon one time, and i walked into the dining room to a group of young korean guys about to commence a meal. one spoke up and invited me to join them. i paused for a moment, then said "sure" and sat down. they laughed at me. why? apparently, they sensed my "typical american/westerner" reticence and obsession with propriety/property/proper-to-me and whatnots. fuck, i paused for but a nano-second! what exactly were they "sensing"?

    furthermore, while we talk about ch'i "flow" or "energy," don't the chinese tend to think in terms of patterns and life (or something like that)? what's "energy"? what's "matter" (for that matter)? i think i've got some sense of what energy is, but to this day i honestly have no idea as to what precisely is intended by this term "matter." (see berkeley, three dialogues...) frankly, i think westerners are too semiologically inclined; it'd do us some good to be a trifle more absent-minded and forgetful.

    lacking a correlate notion, how can one even deign to measure? is it measurable?
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Welcome to my world of senility!

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  9. sciguy137 Registered Member

    The problem I have with the "stimulation of specific nerves" part is that the effect is non-local. The feeling of this sensory wave is not just at the needles. It extends across the entire region (in this case hand and arm), while the needles are in a local area of the palm. When I feel my heart pulse, it is not just my brain seeking to organize stimuli into a regular pattern. I have no reason to believe this diffuse wave is or isn't any different than what I feel with my heart pulse. It is just as strong. My intuition about my senses tells me this is not the (non-visual) sensory equivalent of an "optical illusion" that my brain is creating. It seems doubtful that what I am feeling is all 'just in my mind'. The physical changes that are happening in the area being treated are real, why should the physical sensations not be? Assuming the sensations are real (you'd have a hard time convincing me otherwise - it's as strong as my heart pulse, and nothing else seems to be working at 25 cycles per minute), it requires some kind of collective effect between neurons in the areas I feel it, in large areas where the needles aren't.

    The attempt to measure what I'm feeling is the reconciliation you describe. I'll try to find a neurologist to talk to, but some brief research has not turned up anything about such neurological communication frequencies or collective effects at that rate.

    Just food for thought.

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