Thursday, November 29, 2012

What "Chi" Means to China

Chi, traditionally spelt qi, is a concept in Chinese culture dating all the way back to 5th century BCE. Ancient Chinese philosophy describes chi as a life force or energy which binds all things together. Even today, it is believed that chi is the flow of energy through the body that forms cohesion and balance. Ancient Confucian scholars believed that life was the result of the accumulation of chi, without it we would simply cease to exist. Even through advances in science, technology, and medicine, Chi still remains an active part of Chinese culture and tradition. Chi acts as the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine as well as martial arts. 

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Traditional Chinese medicine, dating back to ancient times, is still practiced throughout China today. The belief behind these traditional practices are that illness and disease are the result of blocked or unbalanced channels, referred to as meridians. The unbalanced within the meridians stops the correct flow of chi, resulting in deficiencies in organs or other parts of the body.  Traditional Chinese medicine seeks to reverse these imbalances by restoring the flow of chi. This is done through countless methods such as eating or drinking specific herbs, massages, physical training, food therapy, and acupuncture. 

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This alternative form of medicine is as easy to find in China as Western medicine. Many hospitals and clinics in China will have Western medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine being practiced side by side. Incoming patients are given the choice of whether they wish to be treated with standard Western medicine or opt for an alternative treatment. Often times, Chinese patients will combine the two, for example, alternating between daily doses of Traditional Chinese herbs and prescribed drug regimens. One of the core beliefs in Traditional Chinese medicine that differs from the traditional Western Biomedical model is that being healthy is not strictly having an absence of illness of disease, but possessing overall mental, physical, and social wellbeing

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