Perhaps, one of the most misunderstood of all New Age practices is Qi Gong. First of all, not a lot of people know how to pronounce the name correctly (it’s Chee Kung). Second, some people claim it is a martial art technique while others consider it a form relaxation technique (it is both). And finally, a lot of people believe it is outlawed in China (that’s Falun Gong, not Qi Gong).
Qi Gong is a set of exercises that involves concentration, relaxation, and breathing that’s meant to restore balance and bring the qi or energy of the body, in harmony with itself. To the uninitiated, qi gong a bit like Tai Chi and yoga rolled into one, and its fundamental dogma is to instruct people on how to make best use of their qi and harness it to maintain its smooth flow all over the body.
Those who promote this healing exercise believe that any person can improve their health and benefit from it, whatever their expertise or background in the area.
People become ill when the flow of qi becomes unbalanced or stagnates in the body; conversely, when this flow is in balance or without hindrance, the person can live a happy healthy life. This can best be demonstrated with water. Which water source would you rather drink from: a stream of rapid flowing water or a pond with stagnant water?
The History and Uses of Qi Gong
Historians have allegedly found the practice of Qi Gong to be at least 5,000 years old although most followers believe it was 2,500 years ago when it was first introduced. While no one knows exactly how it began, most people believe it dates to Shamanist practices in ancient China, and then gradually progressed incorporating both Taoist and Buddhist methods for use in the martial arts or to prevent or treat illness.
In the US, Qi Gong is now offered in many fitness centers and health clubs, where followers focus on their concentration and breathing, and as well as their points of concentration as they perform a set series of controlled, careful, and slow movements. These people mostly concentrate on the flow of qi within their bodies, and in certain instances they focus on specific body parts that require healing.
Today, there are thousands of forms of Qi Gong that are in practice all over the world, with each school having its own unique style. Qi Gong has four main areas of application or concentration that include:
Qi Gong has ideas that have gradually developed through the practice of Buddhism and Taoism, spiritual Qi Gong brings practitioners in harmony with nature and allows them to gain better self-awareness and calmness to reduce their stress. Besides allowing them to get in touch with themselves, Qi Gong has also been shown to help people get in touch with a divine presence.
This is quite commonsensical since Qi Gong also entails the use of techniques developed and perfected through its use in martial arts and sports. In general, martial arts can help boost flexibility, balance, coordination, stamina, etc., factors that can all be applied to different sports from ping pong, to tennis, to golf.
This is basically connected to stress. Those who promote Chinese medicine state that keeping our stress levels low is crucial in the control and prevention of certain medical conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure. They also believe that Qi Gong helps strengthen the immune system of the body which gives the body a better ability to heal itself.
4. External Healing:
A little more like the above, but with extra therapies such as acupuncture and osteopathy included. The point is that Qi Gong practitioners can harness the energy that is overflowing in nature and channel it through into their bodies, thus allowing the healing qualities to wash over them and cleanse the body. The external healing is a bit similar to Reiki which is not a hands-on technique and is done away from the body, leaving it open to skepticism.
It’s important to remember that Qi Gong can also be used on other areas of human endeavor as well, like in business and art. In theory, Qi Gong can be extremely useful, for a condition known as “hurry sickness” – as practitioners believe it can help reverse heart disease related to this, as well as the aging process.
Qi Gong Health Benefits
Those who promote Qi Gong believe that any person can improve their health by exercising Qi gong regardless of their expertise or background in the area. Its aim is to free up the flow of energy when the qi has been blocked by stress, injury, disease, etc.
While only a few studies about Qi Gong have been conducted, in the West, it is widely used in a lot of clinics and hospitals in Asia, where it is considered as an exercise to that can actually help reverse signs of aging and one that can alleviate stress. But this practice is very seldom used in as a replacement for conventional medicine although it is sometimes used as an adjunct to it. Some people believe it can help strengthen the immune system and help also reverse the effects of heart disease, and stroke and certain other medical conditions.
Qi Gong can provide people with the following health benefits:
? Bigger bowel movements
? Relief of stress
? Lowering of blood pressure
? Increase in sex hormone levels
? Extended longevity
? Treatment of diabetes
? Elimination of allergies
? Curing ulcers
? Relief of asthma symptoms
? Helping in the battle against cancer
Qi Gong can bring back a sense of calmness throughout the body and can help keep the mind focus. However, there is no proof that it can help cure cancer even while it definitely is a very good way to boost flexibility and coordination and lower the levels of stress in the body. Qi Gong should be used mainly as a meditation and relaxation exercise and as a form of gentle workout for people who are not looking for anything more strenuous.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.