Thoughts on Bioelectricity and Qi
bill bryson bio-electricity electricity qi
Bryson pointed out that this is a pretty small charge, something on the lines of 0.01 volts over the distance of nanometers, but he also pointed out that it's meaningfully comparative to the electrical charge in a thunderstorm (I took this to mean that if we were the size of a thunderstorm, we'd have the same amount of electricity being generated).
Considering that the average Midwestern thunderstorm releases enough electrical power to run the US's electrical needs for 20 minutes, that's a whole lot of electricity. Even if we're running it on a small scale, it's still a lot of electricity.
The weird thing is that we don't really know what all this electricity is capable of doing (or how it can be messed up). It occurred to me that there might be ways to affect the electrical charge in your body. Since thoughts affect physiology and biochemistry, over time cultivating certain thought patterns could lead to small but noticeable changes in your electrical current. Over time and by developing extreme sensitivity, you might even be able to direct your electrical energy.
Qi, the Energy of Life
This starts to sound really far-fetched, but if you buy into the idea of Qi (or Chi) energy, there are some interesting overlaps. For those who don't know, Qi is basically the life energy that flows through the universe and humans. It was a concept developed in China and formed the basis of certain kinds of Chinese medicine. It has variously been explained as supernatural and simply a convenient mental construct for envisioning the way the various muscles and nerves in the body connect to one another.
It is possible for Qi to become blocked or dissipated, which can cause problems like pain, disease, and general malaise. Acupuncturists seek to clear the flow of Qi. My acupuncturist (he prefers the term sports doctor) even uses electrical charges to help my muscles and nerves line up correctly.
We know that people who live near power lines are more susceptible to cancer, and that electromagnetic fields can cause health problems and be beneficial in other circumstances. A believer in Qi might say that the destabilizing forces of the power lines are causing interruption in the person's Qi. A biologist would argue for radiation or electromagnetic disruption. To me, it sounds eerily similar.
In any case, what I find most interesting is that it is generally accepted (by Zen practitioners, martial artists, and Feng Shui masters) that Qi can be directed and used to affect internal and external change. While I'd be willing to accept this idea outright, it helps to realize that we have an electrical density comparable to a thunderstorm upon which to draw. Who knows what tricks our cells perform with all that energy, and what tricks could be devised? We understand so little of our most basic biology; all that electrical energy might let us interact with other electrical fields, the magnetic field of the Earth, or do nothing at all. Considering how sensitive we are chemically (a few molecules of some toxins is enough to kill you), it seems reasonable that our bio-electrical fields can be influenced by the planetary electrical fields, or those of other animals and people. Perhaps we can exert influence on them too.
We are probably a long way from shooting lightening out of our fingertips, but it is worth keeping in mind that we've got some pretty impressive stores of energy to draw upon, if only we can master the subtle methods involved.