Food is a tool we use in Qi cultivation. It is used not only to nourish and strengthen, it helps with Qi flow, balance, and harmony throughout our body. In addition, food also nourishes our energy body by bringing in nourishing, flow, balance, and harmony in our chakra system and spiritual body.
Using Food for Qi Cultivation in the Body
In Chinese Medicine each seasons brings our attention to using different tools we can use to help keep our body well and healthy. For the body, one of the tools is food. The guidelines for using food as a tool to keep the Qi flowing and balanced include identify the nature or environment of the food (cold, cool, hot, warm, wind), the taste of the food (pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, tasteless, and astringent), whether or not a food is in season, and other factors, such as shape, color, etc.
A diet that harmonizes with natural Qi will enhance one’s flow of Qi and harmonize the functional activities of all organs. A diet that is not in harmony with the movements of nature will drain one’s Qi and bring about diseases.
Nature of Food
The universe provides all food with a certain nature. It will be defined as either cold, hot, warm, neutral, or with a cooling aspect. Cold or Cool food have the effect of clearing Heat, purging fire, removing toxic substances, nourishing Yin and suppressing Yang. Warm or hot natured foods usually disperse Cold, warm up the body’s interior and support Yang energy.
Taste of Food
Foods commonly are known to have five flavors and have different actions in the body. For example, a sour taste is attributed to the liver so overeating food with sour taste may impair liver’s function. Foods of sweet and pungent flavor, which induce perspiration, are attributive to Yang. Foods of sour and bitter taste, which accelerate bowel movements, are nourishing to Yin energy.
- Bitter (Fire) foods are generally cooling (yin) and encourage contraction and the descending of energy
- Sweet (Earth) foods are generally strengthening (yang) and encourage energy to expand upward and outward
- Pungent (Metal) foods are generally warming (yang) and encourage energy to expand and move outward
- Salty (Water) foods are generally cooling (yin) and encourage energy to move in and down
- Sour (Wood) foods are generally cooling (yin) and encourage energy to contract and collect
Seasons of Food
The seasons of the year help us identify what types of foods we should use to help us maintain that Qi flow and balance to maintain our health. In the summer (when it is hot) we require more cooling foods and in the winter (water, cold) we require more warming, deeply nourishing foods.
To maintain Qi flow balance, one must be careful about eating foods that would further enhance and boost the strength of the element (and organ system). For spring, the taste that is enhanced in that season is sour foods, but to maintain balance, you should minimize eating sour foods because that is already strong and dominant in that season. Instead you should focus your attention on the flavor that is usually suppressed in that season, and for spring, that means to promote mildly sweet foods what flavor needs to be nourished in that season, which is mildly sweet foods.
Food is also used to cultivate our energy body, the chakras, and our spiritual body. Different foods have different energy vibrations and because of this, it will impact the energy frequencies of our subtle energetic body. This chart identifies which types of foods affect the energy vibrations of the different chakras.
When you use the Qi cultivation process with food, engage your senses when you are growing, preparing or eating food. Pay attention to the food and notice the color, shape, texture, smell, taste of the food. Then direct your thoughts to what you want the subtle energy of this food to do (e.g. nourish and refine the energy of my chakras). Then, wrap those thoughts with a feeling of love and gratitude. That's it! You have now engaged your body, mind, and spirit into the process of using food as subtle energy (Qi) cultivation tool. The food will now enhance and refine the energy vibration of your chakras.
TCM Nutrition and 5 Element Theory
A TCM Change of Diet
Promoting Health During the Four Seasons
Food as a Spiritual Development Tool