Qigong and the understanding of Qi (Chi) is one of the great treasures of Chinese culture. It has emerged over thousands of years from constant research, development and practice. From ancient times to the modern world, we as human beings are on a continuous journey of self-enquiry to discover our true identity and purpose in life. Qigong originated in China as a way of cultivating spiritual, physical and emotional health. Similarly, other cultures had holistic approaches to connect and harmonise with their local environment and their known universe. When we lose this connection it causes problems and we are not able to enjoy the experience of life as much as we could.
The emphasis on the spiritual life, rather than the material life, is one of the major differences between eastern and western cultures. For example, western medicine emphasises the physical body and the treatment of ailments through medication. Eastern medicine tends to treat the person’s spiritual and mental health and has a greater focus on prevention, quality of life and longevity.
“When you are proud of your achievement it is time to stop.
If you sharpen and strengthen your mind by taking advantage of people,
your enjoyment will not last long.
One who accumulates valuable things will not be able to maintain
them without becoming a slave to them.
Becoming rich and noble with pride is to invite trouble for oneself.
After accomplishing one’s goal it is time to retreat.
This is the way of Heaven.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching. Chapter 9
Many people believe that by exercising hard they will achieve an externally strong body and will be healthier and happier. But to have good health it is necessary to have a healthy body, healthy mind and balanced Qi circulation. According to Chinese medicine, many illnesses are caused by imbalances in the mind. For example, worry and nervousness can upset your stomach. Fear can affect the functioning of the kidneys and bladder. The internal energy (Qi) is closely related to your mind. To be truly healthy, you must have both a healthy physical body and a calm and healthy mind.
Too much of something is excessive Yang and too little is excessive Yin. When your body is too Yang or too Yin, your internal organs will tend to weaken and degenerate more rapidly. When we get older, body tissue begins to degenerate and this causes Qi to stagnate in the Qi channels. Movement is a manifestation of Yang activity, and stillness reflects the calmness of Yin. In today’s hectic world, over activity causes Fire to flare up and uses one’s reserves of essence and energy, while the stillness of meditation cools the Fire, calms the system, and conserves vital resources.
For health improvement and maintenance, the Qigong participant does not have to be an expert. Anyone can learn to practice Qigong. The objective of the exercises is to strengthen the Qi in the body and remove obstructions to Qi flow that may have developed due to injury, diet, disease, emotional states, or other factors.
Of all the energy medical practices, Qigong has been subjected to the most extensive research. In China, Medical Qigong is practiced in clinics and some hospitals that integrate traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and conventional Western medicine. In Western hospitals Qigong is among several complementary practices used including therapeutic touch and mindful meditation.
Clinical Research Demonstrates the Multifaceted Effects of Qigong
In the early 1980s Chinese scientists initiated research on the health and healing claims of Qigong. Of the hundreds of research studies that were performed, few were published because suitable journals were unavailable. However, about 1,400 reports were published as abstracts in the proceedings of conferences. English abstracts of these reports as well as those from scientific journals are collected in the Qigong and Energy Database that presently contains more than 5,000 abstracts of Qigongstudies and is available from the Qigong Institute, for more information on Qigong research please visit www.qigonginstitute.org
Concentration of the body movements, breath and mind are the three main principles of Qigong practice. Qigong has a dynamic (Yang) and stillness (Yin) component where these three main principles apply; Qigong can be referred to as a mindful or mediation practice.
The term meditation refers to a variety of techniques or practices intended to focus or control attention. Most meditative techniques are rooted in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions and have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Today, many people use meditation outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings to improve their health and wellness.
Researchers have been collecting data on meditation for many years and countless studies have shown that meditation has not only a mental but a physiological effect on the body. Many of the findings show that, among other benefits, meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain and enhance the body’s immune system.
In one area of research, scientists are using sophisticated tools to determine possible changes in brain function. With the use of MRI technology, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that meditation affects parts of the brain that are in charge of the autonomic nervous system which governs the functions of our organs, muscles and body systems. Stress compromises these functions so it makes sense to harmonise these functions to help ward off stress-related conditions such as heart disease, digestive problems and infertility.
While western scientists are still exploring exactly how and why meditation works, we already know that it has both physiological and psychological benefits. Many therapists now consider it a valid complement to more traditional therapies and anything that helps fight stress is a welcome tool.
Simon Blow is an author of numerous books, DVDs and audio CDs about this ancient healing art. A near fatal accident at the age of nineteen lead Simon to investigate various methods of healing and rejuvenation a path he has been on for over twenty five years. He is a Sydney-based master teacher (Laoshi) who has been leading regular classes for beginning and continuing students since 1992. Simon has received training and certification from Traditional Chinese Medical Hospitals and Daoist Monasteries in China and Buddhist Monasteries in Australia and has been given authority to share these techniques. Simon has been initiated into Dragon Gate Taoism and given the name of Xin Si, meaning Genuine Wisdom. He is a Standing Council Member of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong in Beijing.
Phone (02) 9559 8153 www.simonblowqigong.com