East Asian Taoism Gathering Qi, Stage 2 of Cultivation Share Flipboard Email Print PDPics/Pixabay Taoism Principles Origins By Elizabeth Reninger Taoism Expert M.S., Sociology and Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison B.S., Mathematics and Women's Studies, Northwestern University M.S.O.M., Southwest Acupuncture College–Santa Fe Elizabeth Reninger is a Taoist practitioner of qigong, acupuncture, and tuina massage. She is the author of several books on spirituality, including "Physics, Philosophy & Nondual Spiritual Inquiry." our editorial process Elizabeth Reninger Updated May 16, 2019 The first stage in the cultivation of our qi (life-force energy) is to discover it — in other words, to become consciously aware of sensations of flowing or pulsing, or tingling, or magnetic “energy” within the body. Keep the Lamp-Oil Brimming to Gather Chi Once we’ve discovered qi, we can begin to explore the second stage of cultivation: gathering qi. Our goal for this stage of cultivation is to maintain a steady stream of qi (chi) into our body-mind system. Qi is our body’s energetic nourishment, in a similar way to how oil is nourishment for a lamp, or gasoline is nourishment for a car. And, like oil in a lamp or gas in our car, it’s best to maintain a certain level of qi within the body, rather than letting it run all the way to empty, before filling it again. How do we do this? In a healthy state, our bodies quite naturally gather qi from a variety of sources. As Roger Jahnke OMD writes, “The human life force system automatically gathers qi through air, food, earth magnetism and the celestial influences of stars, planets and boundless space.” The many sources of qi are then transformed into many different kinds of qi within the human body, defined primarily in terms of their varying functions. Natural Gathering Capacity Things that are supportive of our body’s natural qi-gathering proclivities include drinking plenty of fresh clean water, eating vital foods, and supplementing diet as needed with herbs and/or alchemical tonics. Getting plenty of rest and relaxation, exercising our imagination/creativity, spending time in nature, and practicing qigong and meditation all help you gather chi. In other words, by maintaining a basically healthy lifestyle, we allow our body’s natural qi-gathering mechanisms to function at optimal levels. What to Avoid Things that tend to inhibit our body’s natural capacity to gather qi include excessive tension or stress, physical injury, emotional trauma, and working long hours. Without balancing this with relaxation and play, negative effects from toxic food or drink (e.g. excessive amounts of refined flour or sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine), toxic media (television, movies, internet), or “toxic” conversations or relationships are even greater. We’ve all had the experience of feeling “drained” by someone whose hostility or negativity seems almost contagious — a kind of toxic influence that is best avoided. It’s best to surround ourselves, as much as we’re able, with people whose attitudes are uplifting and life-affirming. Vital Food Suggestions Ultimately, we each need to figure out for ourselves the kind of diet that’s going to work best, given our unique circumstances. That said, there are some general recommendations, which I feel are likely to be useful for a majority of people. Most generally, do your best to include in your diet as many fresh, organic vegetables, and sea vegetables (arame is a great one to start with) as you can. Three or four servings daily — in the form of salads and/or steamed, sauteed, or baked veggies — is ideal. Fresh, organic fruits (cherries are a fantastic "folk remedy" for gout and arthritic pain) and whole grains tend also to be excellent. If animal protein is part of your diet, do your very best to choose organic, free-range varieties. If milk and other dairy products are part of your diet, try for non-homogenized versions. This can be challenging to locate but is worth the effort. Consider chia/salba seeds and chlorella as excellent plant-based forms of protein. Fermented/cultured products provide our bodies with important micro-organisms, so it’s great to have at least a couple of the following in your refrigerator, at all times: yogurt, kefir, or sour cream (be sure to buy those with “active live cultures”), miso, tempeh, apple cider vinegar, kim chi, or sourkraut (again, check the label for “active live cultures”), kombucha, sourdough, or “sprouted-grain” breads. If the names of these foods sound to your ears like a foreign language, I welcome you whole-heartedly and invite you to explore this wonderful country of super-friendly and life-affirming cultured foods. “Good oils” — essential for keeping our cells and brains and skin wonderfully healthy — include coconut oil (important here to choose the organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin variety), olive oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil. Again, go for organic, cold-pressed, and extra-virgin varieties when possible. Coconut oil can be eaten straight out of the container as a supplement, as well as used in baking or as a spread on toast or muffins, or included in a yummy fruit smoothy. Flaxseed oil in combination with organic low-fat cottage cheese forms the basis for the Budwig Protocol for addressing chronic illnesses. Generally excellent “super foods” and supplements that I’d recommend having on hand regularly include garlic, lemons, chlorella (the only super-green that can be eaten more-or-less as a food), apple cider vinegar, salmon or krill oil (in capsule form). Qigong and Meditation Various meditation and qigong practices amplify the body’s capacity to gather qi, and then store or circulate it in the internal organs, dantians, and meridians — all of which you’ll be exploring in greater detail, in the subsequent stages of qi cultivation. Source Jahnke, Roger. "The Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi." Hardcover, 1 Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, March 22, 2002.