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  • Ellen Brown L.Ac. DACM

Everything is energy, everything is Qi

Physics is perhaps the oldest and purest of all the sciences. Initially referred to as “natural philosophy,” physics derives its name from the ancient Greek word physis meaning nature. Even today, physics continues to be defined as the study of matter and energy, the two basic constituents of the natural world. Physicists first started to explore the relationship between energy and the structure of matter in earnest at the turn of the 19th century. As scientists began to recognize that everything in the universe is made out of energy, belief in a material, Newtonian universe was displaced by the realization that solid matter is nothing but an illusion. Indeed, Einstein’s publication of the deceptively simple, yet elegant, equation E = MC2 one hundred years later illustrates the fact that mass and energy are merely different manifestations of the same thing.

While the classical physics of Einstein sought to describe the relationship between energy and matter on a macroscopic scale, the “modern” leap forward to quantum theory / mechanics exposed the nature of energy at the smallest atomic and subatomic level. Yet these discoveries only confirmed what philosophers have known for centuries: what we perceive as the physical, material world is neither physical nor material. Indeed, the ancient Greeks hypothesized existence of the atom more than two and a half millennia before the rise of quantum physics. Plato was among the first to recognize the immaterial nature of the universe – describing "seen and unseen energies" – asserting that there is more to life and our world than what we can see, touch, taste or smell.

We are all part of one great, vibrating energy field. Things only appear to be solid and separate because their energy vibrates at a unique rate, generating different qualities that allow them to take on different forms. Matter, for instance, is a relatively dense, compact form of energy that is slow to move or transform. At the other end of the spectrum, our thoughts represent one of the subtlest forms of energy, easily affected and changed. It is only because our personal energetic frequency differs from other things that keeps us separate from the people and things that surround us. But in truth, we are not separate - we all live in an ocean of energy that connects us to the unified field. The fundamental truth is undeniable: We are energy. Everything is energy. Energy is all there is.

Admittedly, such revelations about the universe continue to challenge our existing framework of accepted knowledge and daily experience. As Niels Bohr (1922 Nobel Prize winner in Physics who made significant contributions to our understanding atomic structure and quantum theory) said: “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it. Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Indeed, Einstein’s famous quote, “God does not play dice with the universe” reflects his own shock and difficulty embracing quantum theory, with its emphasis on duality and uncertainty.

Certainly, when the pioneers of quantum physics discovered the essence of matter, they themselves were flabbergasted by what they saw: that the most elementary building blocks of matter sometimes behaved as particles, sometimes as waves, and sometimes as both. . . at the same time. Moreover, it also appeared that the researcher himself influenced the outcome of what he was measuring. If he assumed that light consisted of particles, he perceived particles. If he expected light waves, he would find light waves. This wave/particle dualism is one of the most peculiar aspects of quantum mechanics. According to quantum mechanics, the existence of a wave or particle depends on one’s point of view – with the observer’s intention being the “defining” variable. Our consciousness creates our reality. And at the most elementary level, nothing is written in stone.

The implications of quantum physics are staggering: we are the ones who insist that the world is static, stationary and solid. The “solid” truth is only stable because of our own firm conviction in it. While experience tells us that reality is made up of discreet, physical material objects, physics reveals it is really a holistic entanglement of immaterial energy waves that depend upon the observer to be made real. This suggests that we live in a sea of endless possibilities and opportunities – and we choose and affirm those realities with our own convictions.

Appearances are deceiving. Solid reality turns out to be far less solid than it seems. Physics has proven that matter is 99.999999999999 percent empty space (yes, that’s twelve nines after the decimal point). If you enlarge the nucleus of an atom to the size of a pinhead, the first electron would be at a distance of 160 feet. In between, there is only empty space. This means the book you hold, the chair you sit on, the house you sleep in, the earth we all live on – all of the so-called solid reality that defines our lives – overwhelmingly consists of empty space. And with so much empty space, the solid part of an atom is only 0.000000000001 percent of the atom’s mass. In fact, solid objects are barely solid.

Instead, energy is the basis of all material reality. And everything is connected to everything else through vibrational fields. At its most fundamental level, matter is essentially indivisible – a single, connected, dynamic tissue of vibrating fields of energy. The implications of quantum physics suggest there is a fundamental or “source” energy that exists throughout the universe, connecting everything to everything else.

“If you want to know the secrets of the universe,

think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

Nikola Tesla

Yet to claim that quantum physics “discovered” matter and energy are one and the same isn’t fair. Modern science has merely “proven” what ancient cultures have always known — energy penetrates and permeates matter. Everything comes from energy and returns to it. It is the source of all life. Each culture gives its own name to it – it is the “energy with a thousand names.” Of course, what we are really talking about is life energy. The Chinese call it Qi, which is similar to the Greek pneuma, the Latin spiritus vitalis, the prana of yoga, the mana of the Kahunas in Hawaii, the ka of the ancient Egyptians, and the ki in reiki. And despite their differences, every culture recognizes this subtle energy is universal: embracing all and penetrating everything. It is the energy that connects everything to everything else. Matter is formed by it. Life is enlivened by it. The body can be healed by it. And we are all connected by it.

QI – the Chinese concept of energy

Just as we have a physical anatomy, we also have an energetic anatomy. The physical body can be thought of as the most dense expression of that energy, while our emotional, mental and spiritual body is comprised of a more subtle, fluid energy. Qi represents all of this energy. But Qi is also much more than that. Qi is the universal life force. Everything in nature and the universe is composed of this energy — swirling wind, raging storms, rushing water, shining stars, growing plants and human life. Qi also contains power and intelligence. It is the energy of consciousness and wisdom that connects all living things throughout the natural world. Everything in the universe, including thoughts, feelings and all forms of matter is comprised of Qi.

As human beings, every gene in our body contains the universal energy and intelligence of Qi. Since everything in the universe is energy, then so too are all of the organs, blood, bones and cells that make up the human body. Consider that our body contains nine systems: Circulatory, Digestive, Endocrine, Muscular, Nervous, Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal and Urinary.

What are those systems made up of?

Tissues and organs.

What are tissues and organs made of?


What are cells made of?


What are molecules made of?


What are atoms made of?

Sub-atomic particles.

What are subatomic particles made of?

Energy or Qi.

Just like the universe and the larger macrocosm, each of us is a microcosm of pure Qi energy in its most vibrant and intelligent configuration. By tuning into the subtleties of this energy, we can harness it to heal. Energy medicine is based on the fundamental premise that everyone’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes – and bodies – are made of energy that can be moved, strengthened or re-directed, depending on the person’s needs. According to Chinese medical theory, energy flows through our body in twelve main channels called meridians. (Hindu metaphysics and Ayurvedic medicine have similar energetic concepts referred to, respectively, as doshas and chakras). Qi encompasses all manifestations of energy, from the most material aspects – such as flesh and blood – to the most immaterial expressions – such as nerve impulses, thoughts and emotion. Qi can be thought of as our body’s natural, innate intelligence – guiding and activating how our body’s various systems interact to help us heal and thrive. Qi also represents our inner healing force, or inner physician – it is what prompts our skin to grow back after a cut, fights off a cold when a virus attacks, and prompts our liver to detoxify after one drink too many. Qi doesn’t teach our body anything new. Rather, it reactivates and restores healing from the resources already within us to regain health and well-being.

When we are healthy, energy flows smoothly and steadily through these channels, and the body remains in a state of balance. But when we are in a state of emotional, mental, physical or spiritual imbalance, the flow of energy can become blocked and our health will suffer. Experiencing a physical, emotional or spiritual trauma can cause our energy to become disrupted, depleted or stuck – ultimately manifesting in pain and disease. Energy medicine such as acupuncture – as well as energy practices such as yoga and Qigong – keep Qi (or prana) flowing freely, rebalancing the body, and healing our physical and emotional issues. Unlike conventional medicine that focuses on the biochemistry of cells, tissues and organs, energy medicine targets the energy fields within the body that organize and control the growth and repair of cells, tissues and organs. Acupuncture inserts thin needles in points along the meridians to activate the body’s own innate ability to heal itself and help restore the proper flow of energy so that the body, mind and spirit can return to balance. By redirecting impaired or imbalanced energy patterns, acupuncture addresses the root cause of dis-ease within the body to improve our mind-body-spirit and vitality. Herbs, crystals and sound therapy are other examples of energy medicine that contain vibratory patterns that can influence the flow of energy within the body.

We make our own reality. . . and our own health

The academic discipline of quantum physics can seem far removed from our daily lives. Yet, the revelation that our physical, material reality isn’t really physical or material at all opens up infinite new possibilities for us – if we are willing to push beyond the boundaries of the world we see and perceptions of our own physical bodies and environment. Quantum physics shows us that the world – and our lives – are not as static or unchangeable as they may appear to be. It teaches us that “the observer creates the reality” – and as observers, it is our actions, thoughts, feelings and intentions that create our personal reality and our health. The way we move, speak, think, and interact with each other are all examples of energy we control and send out into the universe. Everything we see or experience in the physical world starts as an idea, an idea that grows as it is shared and expressed, until it takes material shape. We literally become what we think about most. And our lives become what we have imagined and believed in most. The world is literally our mirror, enabling us to physically experience what we imagine. . . until we change our thought patterns and intentions.

This can give us power – but also challenge us – since we all have our own limiting thoughts and perceptions that can obstruct the flow of energy within us. But make no mistake: belief systems are energy too, and too often they can get in the way of our “flow” to stop us from becoming our best and healthier selves. We need to identify belief systems that no longer serve us – "I will never lose weight” or “I am growing old" – and then clear out the underlying energy blockages they cause so that we can become open to new possibilities and a new reality.

Scientists, mystics and Chinese medicine healers all unite in this single, profound truth – everything is energy. Our bodies, our physical world, our thoughts and beliefs are all part of a resonant field of vibrating energy. Our personal energy is improved or diminished by our lifestyles, our environment and our emotions. The pattern and flow of this energy can be influenced, re-directed and re-balanced through acupuncture and herbs, yoga and exercise, our thoughts and intentions – all with the ultimate goal of improving our health, well-being and state of mind.

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