Essence and Qi Transfering Therapy

Essence and Qi transfering therapy, also known as emotion-moving nature-changing therapy, refers to a psychotherapeutic method. During this process, the doctor uses various methods to transfer the mental activity of the patient so as to regulate and correct his movement of Qi disorder and other pathological conditions and help the patient recover from the illness.

Essence and Qi transfering is from Plain Questions: Discourse on Moving the Essence and Changing the Qi. It argues that “when the people in antiquity treated a disease,they simply moved the essence and changed the Qi” ,which emphasizes that this is a kind of treatment method widely used in clinic by ancient medical experts. Wang Bing of Tang Dynasty explains that “both moving and changing mean altering and they can make pathogenic factors not damage healthy Qi and keep the patient’s internal maintenance of essence and spirit within himself”. This explains that the therapy is a kind of recuperate medical care method, which achieves the therapeutic purpose by transferring or dispersing the patient’s spiritual thoughts. Gao Shizong of Qing Dynasty believes that “conduction means moving while inspiring means changing”, and explains that some methods, such as emotional conduction and spirit encouragement, can be used to change one’s mind and eliminate one’s obsessiveness from the perspective of treatment methods. Hua Xiuyun especially stresses that the cure for depression pattern is difficult to work out while summarizing Ye Tianshi’s experiences in treating depression pattern, “it all depends on the patient’s moving emotion and changing nature” (Case Records as a Guide to Clinical Practice).And Ye Tianshi suggests that the doctors should not only try to take medicinals of purgation and supplementation, but must be skillful in clinical reasoning to perform therapeutic effects.

Basic Contents

Guided by “the holism of body and spirit”, the therapy produces positive therapeutic effect by “curing the spirit and curing the body”. All the treatment methods that can play the role of moving emotion and changing nature can be applied flexibly according to the patient’s condition and psychological changes. Specific treatment methods can be roughly divided into emotion diversion and emotion conduction.

Emotion Diversion

This method is one of the commonly used methods in clinical psychotherapy, that is, the mental activities of patients are transferred or dispersed from the focus of disease and worries to other aspects, so as to alleviate or eliminate the pathological changes caused by the malignant stimulation of these mental obsessiveness and promote the recovery of the disease.

Abnormal mental activities of patients are mainly manifested as follows. For general patients, especially those with introverted emotional personality and incurable diseases, their attention is more persistent on their own pain. Such as the fear of worsening disease, worry about the impact to work and life, suspected worry due to suffering from an incurable disease, or loss of confidence because of long-term treatment. In addition, due to the death of relatives and friends, setbacks in career, disappointment in love, financial distress and unexpected disasters, and other factors that lead to emotional depression, the patients are unable to extricate themselves. These excessive attention to their own suffering and strong emotional entanglements usually become the key to the long-term treatment of their diseases. If the patient does not try to distract the attention and transfer the negative emotional orientation to other aspects, even needles and medicinals will be ineffective.

There are many emotion diversion treatment methods. Besides Edificatory Speech therapy to relieve the patient’s psychological and emotional disorders (see “Edificatory Speech Therapy”), there are many other methods, such as the use of music, singing and dancing, lyre-playing, chess, calligraphy and painting, flower and bird, fishing, sightseeing and other methods to move emotion and change nature and play the role of smoothing the emotion and the movement of Qi. This is what Rhymed Discourse on External Remedies says, “for those with diseases of seven emotions, it is better to read and listen to music to relieve the loneliness and grief than to take medicine. “For example, The Book of Rites: The Book of Music has elaborated the influence of music on emotion in detail. When people hear bleak and low music, they will have sad feelings. When music has slow, lively, gorgeous, colorful and distinctive rhythm and other characteristics, it will make people produce serene and happy emotions. If music is magnificent and loud and full of passion, people will inspire resolute and exciting emotions. When people hear solemn music, they will have the feeling of serious reverence. When people hear soft, soothing and kind music, they will have a loving heart. Some quickly scattered perverse music will induce sexual feelings and so on. Therefore, Kong Yingda, a Confucian classics scholar of Tang Dynasty, points out: “the good and evil sounds of music originate from the hearts of the people. When you feel good, you respond well; when you feel bad, you react badly. The good and evil of music are from the hearts of the people at first and then the synthesis of music. Music is felt by people, good music is followed by people for good, bad music is followed by people for evil. Music is from people and also felt by people”. This shows that music not only exerts a subtle empathic effect on people’s emotions, but also cultivates people’s temperament and changes people’s behavior mode through the effect of music. The application of music in clinical treatment has been recorded in Zhou and Qin dynasties. It is said in Guan Zhong: Internal Industry: “The mortal life must live with balance, or the body will be attacked by abnormal joy, anger and sorrow. So, it is the reason to stop the anger by reciting pomes, and to removing sorrow by joys… Ancient medical doctors promoted music as one of the ways to modulate emotions and prevent diseases on that basis. Music, song and dance, drama,etc.,which are familiar by patients, all can be used as general emotion-moving means to adjust emotions; however, for some patients with severe mental disorders, they need to be treated by a treatment plan for their temperament type. For example, for patients with depression, they can relax their feelings with comics, funny things, comedy, etc. For those who are sad, they can listen to some idyllic music to ease their sentimental mood.

In addition, with the help of reading to be sensible, reciting to express feelings, calligraphy and paintings to be virtuous, fishing to cultivate one’s mind, touring to be refreshed etc., among which are beneficial to rehabilitation of physical and psychological diseases by moving emotions and cultivating dispositions. The ancient physicians use the “reading the righteousness book” as a way of self-cultivation, because the reading and reciting can not only be sensible, but also broaden the knowledge, and when it enters the artistic conception, it will have a certain therapeutic effect. A Sequel to Strange Tales by Qing Chengzi in Qing Dynasty states that “Zhu Gong in Baiyan suffers from an analgesic disease. When the disease occurs, he will recite a few poems of Du Fu to stop it, and it is useless to take medicine as timesgoes by. “When it comes to analyze the mechanism, the author points out: “Zhu Gong loves Du’s poems and if he reads his favorite pieces, his diseases will be alleviated.” Because “the patient’s disease is caused by obstruction of Qi, Du’s poems have varying intonation, therefore, it can lead to pain alleviation by Qi flourishing”.

The ancient doctors have accumulated rich experience in clinical trials with this method to treat various diseases, and left many clinical cases for future generations to study. OuYangxiu, a famous writer in Song Dynasty, suffered from severe depression. He was not cured by famous doctors. Later, he “studied the piano from Sun Youdao, and was inspired by the note of gong. Gradually he didn’t know his disease.” As far as its medical theory is concerned, gong is one of the five ancient tones, and it belongs to the spleen; the spleen dominates thought and thought can remove sorrow, so it is used to solve the problem with the note of gong. Marked by modern music, the note of gong is arranged in the scale of 1 (DO) in 12356; the melody of gong is dominated by the sound of gong, and it has a deep and simple style. For example, the ancient Chinese lyrics Moon on Guan Mountain is a five- sound gong style, which has a very strong appealing effect. OuYang Xiu not only deeply benefits from playing the piano to change temperament, but also through his experience, he says that he wants to calm his heart to treat his illness. He believes that playing the piano by “listening with ears and playing with hands can remove depressed feelings and alleviate sorrows.” His friend Yang Zhi was sick and depressed, and OuYang Xiu gave him a piano, telling him that it was better than using medicine to care for his feelings and distractions, and wrote Preface to Yang Zhi, in which his treatment experience was included. This is one of the examples of psychotherapy in ancient China.
Zhang Zihe, a famous doctor of Jin and Yuan dynasties, describes the case of Mr. Yang’s treatment of the diarrhea without the application of prescriptions in Confucians’ Duties to Parents. He talks with the patient about the changes of the sun and the moon and the thunderstorms for seven or eight consecutive hours without hypnosis and the patient forgets to go to the toilet. Mr. Yang also tells Zhang Zihe:”The person who has diarrhea is treated by asking about his favorites. For example, a chess lover is treated by playing chess with him, a music fan is cured by playing the flute with him. “Zhang Zihe is also very good at using the form of music and singing and dancing to divert the attention of patients, and many similar medical cases are recorded in Confucians’ Duties to Parents.
Yu Zhen, a famous doctor in Qing Dynasty, says that he suffers from nocturnal emission and hemoptysis due to lacking of caring and regulating when he is around fourteen and fifteen years old. He has nocturnal emission and seminal efflux for more than 10 times in a month when he is twenty-four years old. He has expectoration with blood and hectic fever frequently. At the time, although there is no improvement in treatment and his self- deprecation is definite fatal. After encountering a doctor, he is advised to read to cultivate his nature by the physician. Yu follows the instruction and devotes himself to exploring the book’s righteousness physically, which raises his great interest in book and the fear of death is gradually disappearing, and the pornographic dreams are no longer repeated and the mind state gradually clams down.”(Comments on Ancient and Modern Case Records).Reading is one of the main methods of ancient Confucian self-cultivation. This method not only has a strong subtle effect on the patient’s temperament, but also can produce a positive therapeutic effect by adjusting the state of the mind, and is also a means of empathy commonly used in modern medical methods.
Supplement to Classified Case Records of Famous Physicians records the case of the treatment of cataract by the famous doctor Yang Benheng of Ming Dynasty. It also reflects the effects of mental shift on the physiological and pathological state of the body. A noble person suffers from cataract, and his temperament becomes more and more violent. He takes mirror all day, and asks the famous doctor to diagnose and treat it, and his disease has no improvement. Yang says that his illness could be cured within days, however, drug poison has been accumulated in the left thigh due to overdoes, “it has been a critical state. “The noble turns to worry that his outbreak of poison and constantly gazes at his thigh and fondles it. Since then, the patient’s eye condition has gradually improved and the poison does not outbreak. After that, the patient asks about the reason, Yang says “it is physician’s intention to divert attention from eyes to thigh to reduce the mental fire”. In this case, the patient’s attention is transferred from the eye disease to the foot and thigh through psychological induction, which gives some time to perform self-spiritual adjustment, and even produces “shape” effects.
It can be seen that when these methods are applied into clinical cases to perform emotion moving, it is necessary to understand the patient’s hobbies, interests or causes firstly, and then to subtly determine which method is more suitable for the disease, and the focus of the application of this method.

Emotional Conduction Method

Emotional conduction is a kind of treatment method by way of respiratory practice instructed by the physician or accompanying actions to control mental activity to attain the curing effect of shifting essence and changing Qi. The reason why it is called “emotional conduction” is that its aim to shift emotion and change nature is mainly by “conduction” (Qigong) rather than diverting or shifting the patient’s attention with the help of exterior things.

Qigong, the modern name, is called “conduction” “expiration and inspiration” “fetal respiration” “Qi regulation” by ancient health experts. It has formed a lot of schools and methods with penetrating and influencing of various traditional cultures and religions in its spreading history of thousands of years. When it comes to the most basic methods, namely, “heart regulation” (thought control), “Qi regulation” (breathing practice), “physical regulation” (position), and “thought” and “breathing” practice play a main role in emotional conduction method. It is concluded in Yun Ji Qi Jian that “treating my disease by regulating my emotion and Qi according to my physical status”, which reveals that Qigong highlights mind concentration and contemplation and regards thought self-control as top priority to gain the positive effects of body building and illness removing, by which stimulates channel Qi, dredges the meridian and regulates Qi and blood. Hence, Qigong is a kind of specific reflection of “essence shift and Qi transfer” in some way, which means that it eliminates such negative emotions as tension, anxiety and depression by regulating and controlling mental activities in order to gather genuine Qi by changing the direction and nature of psychological activities,(for example, turning blepharochalasis into internal concentration). Besides, with the instruction of thoughts and ideas, the vital Qi of human body gets stronger to resist pathogenic factors. Therefore, “essence shift” and “Qi transfer” are the basic effects generated by regulating human body both psychologically and physically.

The application of emotional conduction method, as it is said in Quotations of Life Nourishment, “deficiency disease is best by astringing thoughts and ideas to treat it; excess disease is best by massage to cure it; heat disease is best by smooth breathing to cool it; cold disease is best by rest and heating by fire to warm it. “The four methods, as short cuts of treatment, rein over such material medicines as herbs, metal and stone. The above is based on different diseases to perform treatments according to different patterns. For instance, the patient with deficient Yin and excessive Yang is treated by motionless methods; the patient with excessive Yin and deficient Yang is cured by active methods; the introvert one whose preference for motionless activity is better to do physical exercise activity and vice versa.

The “six words of Qi” can be applied in various of malevolent emotions caused by circumstance factors. Tao Hongjing, the famous scholar of the Northern and Southern Dynasty, says what quotes in Qi Sutra in Records of Nourishing Nature and Prolonging Life that, “blowing removes heat, exhaling eliminates wind, sighing removes irritability, breathing descends Qi, hissing dissolves stagnation, sobbing lifts extreme.”

The 44 conduction positions recorded from a roll of colored drawings in medical books of Han Dynasty were excavated from Mawangdui Tomb in Changsha in 1973,among which several conduction drawings and note texts showcase a kind of relation with “six words of Qi”. For example, one of drawing called “hate” depicts vividly a position performed by eyes gazing forward, lips closing slightly, hands straight, belly in and shoulder shrinkage in order to “exhale” the accumulated resentment slowly. It is proved to be a success by practice that performing such “six words of Qi” as “blowing, exhaling, sighing, breathing, hissing, sobbing “can remove visceral stagnant Qi such as irritability and tightness in chest to generate comfortable and relaxed senses. Other methods about emotional conduction can refer to corresponding treatments in Qigong and do not go into details.

Clinical Application

This method has double effects on psychological and physical regulation. Not only can it relieve emotional stress caused by various circumstance factors but also treat depressive disorder, neuroses, hysteria and other psychogenic or functional diseases. It can also treat lots of chronic diseases and have a good effect in treatment of organic disorders when applied properly.


The key to achieve treatment effects lies in absolute trust from patients. The patient has to give the physician absolute trust, follow the physician’s recommendations and coordinate the treatment, only in these ways can the treatment effect of emotion shift and nature change be achieved.

Although such methods as attracting, transferring and dispersing patients’ attention can be applied as treatments, the uniqueness is that the patient is treated according to his/her illness, personality, emotion and the physician’s preference in a flexible way.

For those patients who are treated by emotional conduction method accompanied by Qigong practice, it is better to choose appropriate methods according to physicians’ instructions, while hearsay and reckless acting are inadvisable.


The treatment of essence shift and Qi transfer has extensive meanings and effects in psychological health, psychotherapy based on medical practice and accumulated experience of thousands of years. In recent years, such therapies as music, art, calligraphy and painting, theater and drama have gained popularity overseas as the development of psychosomatic medicine. Besides, Modern Diagnostics and Therapeutics, the recently published book in America, underlines the importance of hobby transference and hobby or skill development, especially for those patients of the very idle. In addition, such a way has been approved and included in modern therapeutic concept, however, these therapies are mainly used in prophylaxis and treatment of situational of psychoses (such as melancholia and hysteria), since they are confined to psychanalysis and attention diversion. This therapy not only has obvious effect in psychogenic and functional disorders but also in organic and chronic diseases as an auxiliary method according to its rich and specific treatments both in mental adjustment and transference and Qigong practice.