What Is Qigong and How Do You Find a Good One?
What Is Qigong and How Do You Find a Good One?
Qigong describes a form of physical exercise that facilitates the flow and the balance of the energy inside the human body to achieve optimal health. Many people in the Chinese American community know that qigong is very beneficial to our physical health. Often, those with chronic illness and suffering from difficult diseases that cannot be cured turn to qigong to find new hope. Nowadays, not only in the overseas Chinese community, but many people in the West today are increasingly practicing qigong to benefit the physical and mental wellness.
So how can qigong help our health?
To understand the therapeutic effects of qigong, we must first have some basic knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine.
The traditional Chinese medicine has a very clear understanding of the human body’s energy system: as long as people are alive, their bodies have biological energy. And it is because of the biological energy that we have vital signs. An electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram can monitor the presence or absence of biological energy, but doctors do not know the true nature of biological energy, as it is invisible.
Traditional Chinese medicine calls this biological energy “qi.” The qi is like air, invisible and intangible, but it is vital to human life activities.
Similar to blood circulation taking place in blood vessels, qi travels via invisible channels. This channel system is very complex, like a network, called is the “meridians” in the traditional Chinese medicine. If the meridians are blocked or run in the opposite direction, it will cause various problems in the body.
In traditional Chinese medicine theory, qi also has a balance issue: there is heat and cold, dampness and dryness, movement and stillness.
For example, the kidney provides “cold” energy to balance the “heat” energy from the heart. In women with menopause, the kidney energy is deficient and can not balance the heat, and thus they will suffer form hot flashes and night sweats.
Qigong can balance the qi like what acupuncture and herbal medicine does. Instead of receiving herbs and needling, one practices qigong with slow and smooth movements and mindful meditation.
So how can one exercise qi? And how do we make make qi, blood, and the meridians more healthy?
From a simple point of view, the role of qigong (energy exercises) is to enable the movement of qi, so as to achieve the following purposes:
- Promoting the flow of qi and blood and keeping the meridians open;
- Keeping qi and blood moving in the right direction;
- Maintaining the energy properties of qi and blood, including the balances between heat and cold, dryness and dampness, and stillness and movement.
How Does Energy Affect Your Health?
As energetic beings, we are extremely sensitive and vulnerable to our environment and people around us.
For instance, if a person wants to attack you physically, he or she has to touch your muscles or bones in order to hurt you.
However, if a person wants to hurt you in terms of energy, he or she doesn’t need to touch you at all. He or she just needs to say a vicious sentence to you, give you an indifferent look, or give you an attitude, all of which can in effect make you feel physically and/or mentally sick.
Then, if one stays in an emotionally unhealthy environment for a long time, it can cause energy blockage and imbalance, consequently physical and mental dysfunction. It is why a person with past trauma can have persistent health issues.
On the other hand, when a person is calm, and the qi and blood both flow very well, the body will be healthy. This is why traditional Chinese medicine practitioners say that peace of mind is the secret to longevity. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners especially emphasize the need for a peace of mind and the importance of breathing regulation and calmness–the foundation needed for traditional Chinese medicine to produce good results.
However, it is easier said than done, because there are many things in this world that can affect our mind, and it takes practice to achieve a peace of mind.
A person’s emotions are reactions and judgment to what is happening around him or her. If it is something bad, he or she may be angry; if it is something good, he or she will be happy.
So, what determines our judgment? It’s our values. It’s a matter of one’s worldview and beliefs. Therefore, beliefs are very important.
Traditional Chinese medicine also places special emphasis on “virtue,” which is actually a very healthy eternal energy. Since qi is very unstable, it will be constantly consumed; and since qi is very sensitive, it is easily affected by emotions and by external factors. As a result, qi will often move in the wrong direction or lose balance. People say that if there is qi, there are illnesses. Many people have a lifetime of hustle and bustle, and in the end, they end up with only qi. All the emotions are qi, including anger, joy, and many others.
Say I have never paid much attention to my beliefs, emotions, lifestyle, or interpersonal relationships, and I only paid attention to my own body. Now I am locking the stable door after the horse has already been stolen. This is because ultimately, people do not live for their bodies. Even a healthy body will eventually come to an end, and the maintenance of the body alone will eventually make people feel empty and fearful.
However, the essence of human life, or in terms of traditional Chinese medicine, the human soul, can be nourished by virtue and morality. In fact, the Western and Eastern concepts of benevolent thoughts and meditation are the same, and in modern medicine they’re called positive energy psychology.
Virtue is a wonderful type of energy produced when humans act benevolently, and it has an eternal effect on our souls. This virtue is also called gong de.
In other words, besides exercises, gong actually refers to an eternal energy generated when a person cultivates and tempers his or her heart, and this is directly related to the future of one’s soul.
Therefore, true qigong practice is both internal and external: not just moving your body’s energy, but also cultivating your spiritual health.
How to Choose a Better Qigong Practice
We know that the West has many forms of exercise, such as yoga; in Asia, there are also many schools of qigong, some of which require a lot of tuition to learn. In this case, how do we find the right qigong practice for ourselves?
Currently, among yoga practices, meditation methods, and other regimens, many are based on the concepts of earliest traditional cultivation practices. As the later generations didn’t understand the true nature of cultivation practices, they dismembered these systems of practice, took out some of the contents that met their own ideas and needs, thus turning cultivation practices into various methods with newly created terminology. Therefore, all these different types of yoga that we see today have become a kind of therapy for people, and naturally they have to charge for it.
However, the original cultivation practices were free of charge. In the past, Jesus didn’t charge people tuition for teaching his own cultivation practice. He only told people what to do and what not to do. The Buddha and Lao Tzu, the founder of Buddhism and Taoism, respectively, didn’t charge their followers, either.
The purpose of these true traditional cultivation practices is to save people’s souls, and the physical benefits they bring are only a by-product, not the main focus.
Therefore, I personally recommend that you choose an original, authentic, and complete cultivation practice, rather than a modified, improved, and mutated method. This is because the true qigong cultivation practices are free of charge, as their purpose is not to make money off you, nor are they entirely for your health and fitness.
The importance of an excellent cultivation practice system is that it enables you to benefit at all levels, including the biochemical level, energy level, and your soul. It is an integrated, complete, and comprehensive system.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.