Yi & Zhi (Intent & Will)

Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee explains the meaning of Yi and Zhi and how the affects the mind (Shen).

Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée
Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée

Course Overview

The desire in your heart will determine how you behave. Heart will guide the bodily movement. The meaning of Yi - intent, is what appears in your mind as preconception, idea, opinion, before thinking or discernment or judgment. Beware as preconception may become prejudice or a judgment. What is in the Heart-Mind carries all my being but also carries what we put in ourselves. We are responsible for what we read or study. We are responsible for all that we intake. We are also responsible for the quality of our Yi -intent. The mind works with what is available, and the discernment on the input is necessary in order to render it. The input may fill my heart and take possession of it, and we may lose discernment at the long term.


  • The practitioner to develop his/her art.

  • Invigorates his/her thought.

  • Raises his/her vision and conduct.

  • The practitioner will have a stronger understanding of the concepts of Yi & Zhi, and how they can be utilized to benefit treatment outcomes.

  • The practitioner will understand the history and sources of the Yi & Zhi in Classical texts and its modern implications.


  • 0 hrs - 15 min

    What is Intent? Yi in relation to the spirit. Review this concept from their roots in Chinese Medical and Classical texts. What Yi (intent) and Zhi (Will) are in relation to Shen (Spirit). What is their notion and how is it responsible in the working of the mind of a responsible human being.

  • 15 min - 30 min

    The direction taken by the heart, mind, toward which the heart-mind is aiming, is called Yi. When intent is exhausted, the spirit is disturbed and the Qi is diminished and there is difficulty to maintain a long life. As in reference to Lingshu 8, it is the Yi - Intent that appears as the beginning of the functioning and manifestation of the heart-mind, and it is the heart-mind which is able to take charge of one's life. Qi cannot be restrained by physical strength, but it may be brought to rest by spiritual power such as virtue. It cannot be directed to one’s call, but it may be welcomed by one’s intent. Such is called “Power of awareness." It is intent which decides how is my Heart-Mind, and how it reflects the quality of my Qi!

  • 30 min - 45 min

    Presentation of the 4 cardinal movements referenced to Lunshu 16 and 38. Illustration to the “Yang ascending” movement of the Yin starting from Earth and the “Yin movement” of the Yang descending from Heaven. Illustration of the Bia/Li (inner-Outer) movement. Reference to Nanjing 8 as 12 meridians are connected to the source of vital Qi.

  • 45 min - 1 hrs

    In nourishing and shaping our discernment, Intent - Yi - is very basic and represents one of the five aspects of spirit (Wu Shen) and one of the essentials of the heart-mind. As referred in Lingshu 8, when the heart-mind applies oneself, we speak of an inning -Yi. What is it to apply oneself? To apply oneself is to have in the mind what we received, what we remember, and what we recorded in our heart. Yi - Intent is coming from what is already entered in myself and is recalled in my Heart-Mind all the time, to reflect upon.

  • 1 hrs - 1.25 hrs

    Will -Zhi - Presentation of the Chinese character which reflects something that is able to rise upright from its root and able to sustain itself. It carries a sense of strength and firmness, determination, and purpose. In the classical text, Yi and Zhi are not a couple like Hun and Po. They are very close. They are a continuity from the inner disposition. When intent becomes permanent, we speak of Will - Zhi - (Lingshu 8). Intent-Yi - is more related to what we may call receptivity while Will - Zhi - is more related to what we may call rendering. Since we can render only what we have received, they are closely related. Will - Zhi - is when something is finally rooted in oneself, in alignment with its true nature. Will - Zhi - is close to water element - kidney - like true nature rooted in my life, Original nature. Intent - Yi - will become my Will - Zhi - and give direction to my Qi. As in reference by Mencius 380-289 BCE, the Will - Zhi - is the commander of my Qi.

  • 1.25 hrs - 1.5 hrs

    When Intent - Yi - becomes permanent, we speak of Will - Zhi. When there is perseverance, Will, changes, and we speak of thought. Will is the root of all my desires, of all my inclination, to the full development of my life; it is the root of my life. As mentioned in Suwen Chapter 2, there is a will adapter for all seasons. As in seasons, there is no change in the mind, but a change in the expression of myself. Adjustments are fine as long as they remain in alignment with your true nature. There is not a river going straight to the sea, but it is always detoured due to circumstances, but faithful to its own nature. When Will - Zhi - is tuned, all expression may be upright and adjustable. The mind is firmer, but more adjustable because we are more rooted in oneself. There may be multiple expressions of one’s authenticity. Confucius references on Will and Zhi. Will - Zhi - leads to the full expression of oneself.


  • Kamala Q. (United States of America)

    This course really elucidates the meaning of yi and zhi and their relatioinship. It inspires me as a practitioner to continue to nourish them properly.

  • Matthew Q. (United States of America)

    Very interesting theme of how the 5 'spirits' start the process of manifesting one's destiny.

  • Jane O. (Canada)

    Elisabeth is such an inspiration with her considerable knowledge and clarity. It is a privilege to hear her.


This course really elucidates the meaning of yi and zhi and their relatioinship. It inspires me as a practitioner to continue to nourish them properly.

Kamala Q. (United States of America)

Very interesting theme of how the 5 'spirits' start the process of manifesting one's destiny.

Matthew Q. (United States of America)

Elisabeth is such an inspiration with her considerable knowledge and clarity. It is a privilege to hear her.

Jane O. (Canada)


Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée

TCM academic and historian, Elisabeth Rochat has specialized in both medical and philosophical Classics in her 40+ years career. She co-authored 'A Survey of Chinese Medicine' and continues to teach about the Classics of TCM internationally.


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More Details
  • CEUs:

    Approved By: NCCAOM (1.5), Standard Certificate (1.5), IVAS (1.5), Florida (1.5)

    Pending: California [Upon Request]*

  • Language: English

  • Course Type: Recorded Webinar

  • Course Length: 1.5 h

  • Course Notes: Notes are provided with this course.

  • Access Period: Lifetime


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