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Chi: A River Runs Through You
Holistic treatments such as acupuncture work with something even the strongest microscope can't see: life energy. Check out Groupon’s report on the mysterious but vital force known as chi.
Rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism, Chinese medicine states that a force flows through all life, unifying and connecting everything in the universe. This energy, known as chi, reflects the classic Taoist principle of yin and yang: an imbalance of chi ignites chaos, whereas a harmonious flow yields peace. According to traditional beliefs, the human body is a microcosm of the universe at large, and chi is its cosmic matter—invisible, even imperceptible, yet constantly flowing through the organs, muscles, and tissues via a series of pathways called meridians. As humans, we are born with an existing pool of chi and must spend our lives enriching and sustaining it through experiences such as good food, positive emotions, and social and sexual interaction. Succumbing to negativity or vice, however, causes us to lose the fragile energy and dam up its healthy flow along the meridians, an imbalance that treatments such as acupuncture or herbal medicine seek to rectify.
Scientists have found little, if any, empirical evidence of chi’s existence, but its widespread acceptance by Eastern cultures and holistic professionals throughout the world makes it hard to dismiss. Some scholars have suggested that modern science and Chinese medicine may not be so disparate; both involve opposing forces and notions of cause and effect, though science, of course, limits its scope to the physical world. To that effect, a 2010 study published in PLOS One has already made one physical connection: bands of collagenous tissue present less opposition to the flow of electricity than other areas of the body, and these bands underlie some of the meridians that channel chi through the body. The findings raise the possibility that bioelectricity may in fact be empirical evidence of chi, or even a result of it.