Chinese Qigong Center For Self Healing 

              570.342.4855          www.chineseqigongcenter.com          Scranton, PA 

 

             

                        

WHAT IS QIGONG

  By Christine Sledgeski

  Qi gong is an ancient Chinese medical system that uses postures and movement, breathing techniques and mindful intention to stimulate the flow of qi.  The word Qi gong consists of two words.  Qi is translated to mean the life force energy which flows through all living things.  Gong translates as skill that is cultivated through regular practice.  Together, Qi gong means cultivating energy.  It is a system practiced for improving health, vitality and for healing.

  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qi flows through the body through specific pathways called meridians.  When this natural flow is interrupted by a blockage or a deficiency, illness and pain commonly follows.  The qi gong exercises of postures, movement and mindful intent can help direct the body’s energy to any specific part of the body which needs it and improve its natural circulation.  The practice is believed to relax the mind, muscles, tendons, joints and inner organs, helping relieve stress and pain, and restore health.

  Western medical beliefs state that adequate exercise and proper nutrition will ensure good health.  But, while these are important, they are not sufficient.  The addition of a mind-body practice such as qi gong is required to sustain and improve the health of the immune system, nervous system, and to deal with stress.  This combination of exercise, nutrition and mind-body practice is considered to be the unifying theory of a healthy lifestyle.

  The origin of qi gong is believed to be based on two ancient Chinese books.  The first is the I Ching – Book of Changes (1122 b.c.).  This was likely the first writings discussing qi.  It introduced the concept of the three natural energies:  Tian (Heaven), Di (Earth), and Ren (Man).  Studying the relationship of these natural powers was the first step in the development of qi gong.  The second important work for qi gong was Lao Zi’s classic Dao De Jing.  In it, Lao Zi stressed the way to achieve good health was to “concentrate on Qi and achieve softness”.  This is the beginnings of proper breathing techniques.

  Qi gong types can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual.  All styles have three things in common:  they all involve a posture (moving or stationary), breathing technique, and mental focus.  Certain types will increase qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it or emit qi to help heal others.

  Spiritual practices of qi gong come in three types:   Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucist.  The benefits of these styles are for increasing qi, the circulation of qi throughout the body, calming the mind and reestablish the body/mind/soul connection.  When these aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive healthy outlook on life.  It deepens awareness of self and nature and creates a feeling of harmony, tranquility and peace.  Spiritual practitioners of qi gong train their qi to a much deeper level, working with many internal functions of the body, and strive to obtain control of their bodies, mind and spirit.

  Martial styles of qi gong come in a wide variety.  Most popular is Tai Chi, which is easily accessible for everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete.  The martial styles of qi gong will improve strength, stamina and coordination necessary for peak physical performance.  However, the slow gentle movements of qi gong can be easily adapted for any age group.  These movements reduce stress, improve balance, increase vitality and enhance the immune system.

  Medical qi gong is a healing art.  It includes exercises to enhance personal wellbeing as well as, through practice, “External Qi Healing” to transmit healing energy to others.  This style of qi gong uses the integration of physical postures, specific breathing techniques and powerful mind intent to manipulate the flow of the life-force energy throughout the body.  Those who maintain a consistent qi gong practice find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health, and helps speed recovery from illness.  It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.  The practice has been known to ease depression, improve mood, calm anxiety and aid concentration and focus. 

  Medical qi gong treatment is officially recognized as a standard medical technique in Chinese hospitals since 1989.  The Chinese government, in a way of attempting to maintain control of the large population of Chinese who practice, has begun officially managing qi gong through government regulation.  In this way they can conduct research into the medical aspects of qi gong, while suppressing the more esoteric tenants of the practice they find objectionable, such as chi and energy meridians. 

  Meanwhile, in the United States, in 1993 Congress established the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institute on Health.  Then in 1998, Congress expanded the mandate and responsibility of this office by creating the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).  This greatly increased funding.  According to the most recent government survey on CAM use in the United States, over 36 percent of Americans over the age of 18 used some form of complementary and alternative medicine.

  Later, in March 2000, the president and Congress created the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy.  The Commission’s goal was to develop legislative and administrative recommendations regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies.  This was to provide Americans and their health professionals with information on what is known about CAM therapies and ensure reliable products and methods are available to everyone, so they can participate actively in their own care.

  One of the best research studies published documents qi gong’s affect on hypertension.  The hypertensive subjects were all given standard pressure reducing drugs but were divided in a group which practiced qi gong and a control group which did not practice.  The subjects were monitored for 30 years.  At the end of the study, it was found that almost 50 percent of the control group died as opposed to 25 percent of the qi gong group.  Also, of those remaining, the qi gong group had stronger heart muscles and left ventricle function than did the non-practicing group.  These were statistically significant results!

  The practice of qi gong has many other benefits to the body and mind.  Qi gong practice enhances self-empowerment, enabling a person to take control of their own well being.  It is an excellent practice to be used in conjunction with Western medical treatment.  Routine practice will lessen the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.  Also, the breathing patterns emphasized in certain styles of qi gong are beneficial to asthma sufferers.  The quiet practice is calming and centering, not only during practice but in day to day life.  Through serious routine practice a type of understanding of the body is cultivated and in doing so, gives the practitioner a connectedness to his body which may not have been there before.  This latter benefit is not so easily studied or proven is a laboratory, but is widely reported by the many daily practitioners.

  Another location where qi gong is gaining acceptance for its beneficial properties is in the prison system.  In the United States, the prison population is at an all time high.  At a few locations in California qi gong is being taught to inmates.  The initial evidence indicates that inmates practicing qi gong are generally healthier and make a better adjustment when they gain their freedom.  If this proves true, the societal and economic benefits are extraordinary.

  Anyone can enrich their lives by adding qi gong to their daily routine.  Through the proven benefits of qi gong practice, in conjunction with exercise and proper nutrition, we can make substantial improvements in our well-being.  It is a matter of taking control and being an active participant in our own care.  The more we practice qi gong and other forms of mind-body exercises, the healthier we become.  The healthier we become, the less we require from the over extended health care system, thereby saving money and time.  What great benefits to doing such a simple activity!

Bibliography

The Way of Qi Gong, Kenneth Cohen – 1997

Wikipedia – “Qi Gong”

www.qigonginstitute.org

Miscellaneous internet qi gong sites