VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 FALL 2021

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 2 1 Mark Westmoquette 4.5 Electrical Qi – ElecQicity We know that fascia is a semiconductor, generating and con - ducting electrical currents under conditions of mechanical stress (remember, these electrical currents are separate and independent from those transmitted in the nerves). Lines of fascial connection, therefore, transmit not just mechanical forces, but also the electrical currents generated by those forces. In his book The Spark in the Machine , Keown (2014, 81) calls this electrical information ElecQicity –“the electrical component of Qi”. Meridian channels follow lines of fascial connection, but it may be that, more precisely, they follow the contact surfaces between fascial membranes (e.g. , between separate muscle fiber bundles, between muscle fibers and nerves or blood vessels, or between muscle fibers and the organs they’re next to; Langevin and Yandow 2002, 257). There’s also evidence to suggest that some acupoints are located at the intersection between two of more fascial planes (a fascial intersection; Langevin and Yandow 2002, 257). Qi is often said to flow from areas of concentration (the tor - so) to the extremities (fingers and toes; Keown 2014, 85). These fascial planes, therefore, may offer routes of “least resistance” (thus acting like wires in an electrical circuit) for the flow of extra-neuronal electrical currents from the body’s center to periphery. For example, when I stretch my arm out behind me with the thumb facing front, I’m not only transmitting mechanical tension along the myofascial of the Lung meridian, but the movement will also generate a piezo - electric current, which will travel along the fascial planes of that line of tension. This is similar to the situation known in physics where a charge is seen to flow around a circuit consisting of capacitors and resistors until the potential dif- ference across each capacitor is equal (here the capacitors would represent different areas of fascia). The stretch will also generate a substantial level of sensations, which will further bring that meridian line into my awareness, generat- ing a strong mind-body (awareness-sensation) connection. 5 Conclusion When I started practicing yoga, I had just arrived at university to study astrophysics, and I became convinced that the exis - tence of prana or Qi was imaginary or at least ungrounded in scientific reality. But over the years I’ve come to see how it can be understood in terms of physics. The concept of energy in the West and Qi in the East are both difficult to define since their meanings change with context and experience. In the West we define energy in terms of a capacity to do work or exert force. It comes in forms like ki - netic (mechanical, thermal, etc.), electromagnetic or potential (gravitational, elastic, chemical, etc.). The Eastern concept of Qi is more often described more in terms of movement, flow or circulation, and vitality or life force – of the energy that sustains and supports life. In both uses of the word, energy is a collective term that encompasses many different forms. Since energy isn’t a “thing” in the traditional sense, it strains at the limits of language-based definitions and labels. This proved a major issue in the revelations of sub-atomic physics and the development of quantum mechanics in the early-mid 20 th century, when particles were seen to behave like waves under some circumstances, and waves behaved like particles in others (Westmoquette 2020, 125). The problem was the discriminative nouns of our language became inadequate for describing world as it really is. In 1905, Einstein published his famous equation E=mc 2 , showing that mass is equivalent to energy (Einstein 1905, 639). As the meaning of this equa- tion became understood, quantum physicists realized that particles are not distinct from waves. Sub-atomic particles are better thought of as confined or localized energy waves with particular properties such as position, momentum, spin, etc. The universe of “things” became a universe of energy: ev - er-changing and ever transforming. Thus, both physics and spiritual investigation show us that, fundamentally, there are no things, only energy – no fixed permanence, only change and transformation, no primary building blocks of matter, just a seething field of interactions and relations.

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