Mastering your Mind Body Energy p. 2 (Registered Users)

The Meaning of Internal Energy

Citing both lore and scientific investigation, the present work considers the meaning of “internal energy” from various viewpoints and traditions. It is the life force referred to by the Chinese as qi, by the Koreans as gi, by the Japanese as ki, and by the Hawaiian shamans as mana; while in Sanskrit, it is called prana. As explained in the following pages, some scientific investigators have referred to it as “influence” or “information.”


The possibility of a mysterious, invisible force that can empower body and mind is both intriguing and controversial. Some of us are attracted to the personal empowerment and healing potential associated with developing strong “internal energy.” Practices such as yoga, qigong, meditation, and Chinese forms of martial arts and moving meditation such as t’ai-chi ch’üan, are centered on the idea that, within those traditions, life energy pervades the mind-body. In some traditions, the balance of one’s energy flow is the definition of health and vitality, while others believe that its mastery leads to spiritual advancement.


From Chapter One

The Quest for Internal Energy

This is a detective story. The pages that follow detail a search for clues to the meaning of “internal energy.” In our search, we will ask questions that pertain to the mind-body energetic force known to the Chinese as qi, to Koreans as gi, and to the Japanese as ki. We will consider scientific research that investigates this phenomenon, and, as good analytical sleuths, we will compare and contrast various methods by which many believe this power –- this “life force” –- can be accessed. 

Our detective story looks for clues to a mystery that can be traced back to the earliest recorded times and cultures. The pages that follow include evidence that will help us answer questions such as: is “internal energy” real or imagined? Can mental power influence the strength of one’s life force? Can the power of internal energy in the healing arts be attributed to belief? Related concerns will also be addressed. For example, we will consider whether aspects of the enigmatic force can be scientifically measured. We will also look at how this yet-to-be-named energetic force can be consciously directed through the power of intention, and to what extent it can cure diseases. We will ask if it possesses the power to restore youth and promote longevity.  What exactly is this life force?

Some clues are found in the domain of the acupuncturist and the energy worker (energy healer), while others are provided through the work of the sports trainer and martial artist. There are also hints about the meaning of the life force to be found in the traditions of energetic meditation and yoga.

Our investigation will consider ancient sources and their descriptions of “internal energy.” Moreover, our quest will also include newer, often controversial questions. For example, the pages that follow include new proposals for defining the meaning of the meridians / channels* –- those energy pathways of the body that are the cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine, yoga, and energetic meditation. These controversial proposals include expanded, and in some cases brand-new, explanations of how those channels can be accessed more effectively, to deepen the practices of meditation, qigong healing, and martial arts like t'ai-chi ch’üan. [1]


* In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the current standard translation of the body's jing luo (経絡) energetic lines is, increasingly, “channel.” Formerly, the term "meridian" was favored. However, in the present work, the reader will notice both terms, sometimes used in conjunction with the adjective “myofascial.” The reason for this is that a heterodox description of these lines is presented, first in Section II and later in Section XII. There, it is proposed that the meridians / channels function as much more than simply conduits of energy. In those chapters, they will also be described as demonstrable physical structures that play a physical (as opposed to only a theoretical, or energetic) role in health maintenance and healing. Second, in later chapters, speculation will be presented that they operate as “embedded antenna structures.”  When used, the term meridian is chosen because it more accurately describes the multiple functions that these structures are hypothesized to exhibit.


[1] As described in the introductory pages, although the majority of the present work relies on pinyin style Romanization, there are a few exceptions. In this chapter, the Wade-Giles Romanization is used for t’ai-chi ch’üan,