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Chi healing involves the philosophy of ancient Chinese medicine, which holds that restoring disrupted energies contained within the body helps to eliminate emotional and physical illness. Methods of healing involve procedures including controlled physical exercise, acupressure, and acupuncture. Alternative medicine therapists might implement the use of herbal preparations or may also suggest lifestyle changes, if habits contribute to physical problems.
Some Eastern philosophies hold that chi travels along specific lines, or meridians, throughout the body. The flow of chi through these meridians affects all of the body's systems as well as emotions, thoughts, and spirituality. Disruptions in the flow of energy along the paths manifests as physical, emotional, or spiritual illness. To restore health, the paths must be cleared. One of the common methods of chi healing involves the practice of qigong.
In Chinese medicine, chi, also referred to as qi, is believed to be the energy contained in all matter and that which provides life itself. Gong typically represents effort, exercise, repetition, and skill. The practice of qigong generally involves controlled breathing, movement, and thinking, which together encourage the natural flow of chi through the body. When chi flows unobstructed, practitioners believe that the body experiences enhanced vitality and health. Individuals who practice qigong often believe that the practice connects the body, mind, and soul, producing a heightened awareness.
Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist scholars, along with martial arts athletes and medical doctors have different opinions about the benefits qigong provides. Some believe the practice enhances emotional and mental processes, while others believe the exercise provides physical healing and strength. Yet others believe the practice heightens spiritual awareness and enhances moral character.
Another method therapists use to produce chi healing is acupressure. Therapists believe that external and internal stress, in addition to illness, block natural energy paths. Practitioners determine the areas of the body that are experiencing energy disruption and attempt to promote the natural flow by using touch, pressure and sustained pressure to specific points on the body. Acupuncture also serves to open blocked channels, but does so by the use of needle insertion. While traditional therapists believe that healing occurs because chi is restored, modern practitioners believe that improvement occurs because the procedure generally improves blood circulation and releases endorphins throughout the body.
Chi healing can also include herbal remedies and has similarities to energy healing. Asian herbalists commonly prescribe individually prepared formulations designed to restore inner balance and improve chi flow. Energy healing also involves a philosophy concerning the pathways flowing through perceived opposing forces and the five elements theory of the body.