Qigong- Ancient Chinese Healing For The 21st Century
Qigong is the Chinese term used to describe various Chinese systems of physical and mental training for health, martial artsand self-enlightenment. It is a form of moving meditation and one of the most profound health practices ever invented by mankind.
Qigong or Chi kung is an English Romanization of two Chinese characters: Qì and Gōng. The dictionary definition for the word “qi” usually involved the meaning of “breathing”, “air”, “gas” and “vapor” but it can also be used in the context of describing the relationship between matter, energy and spirit. The dictionary definition for the word “Gong" is that of achievement or results. The two words are combined to describe systems and methods of “energy cultivation” and the manipulation of intrinsic energy within living organisms.
Qigong is a combination of gentle movement, deep abdominal breathing, and clearing the mind puts your autonomic nervous system into the relaxation response (regeneration, relaxation) mode. A primary outcome of the practice is a reduction in stress, increase in the size of blood vessels, and enhanced immune system.
Qigong is not just a set of breathing exercises as it encompasses a large variety of both physical and mental training methods designed to help the body and the mind based on Chinese philosophy. The implementation details vary between teachers, schools and the objective of the practitioner. A qigong system consists of one or more of the following types of training; dynamic, static, meditative and activities requiring external aids. Each type of training originated from different elements within Chinese society and emphasizes different aspects of qigong theory.
Dynamic qigong can be easily recognized as a series of carefully-choreographed movements or gestures that are designed to promote and manipulate the flow of qi within the practitioner’s body. Tai Chi Ch’uan, a Chinese martial art, is one well-known representation of dynamic qigong. Other examples include Five animal frolics or White Crane Qigong,Wild Goose (Dayan) Qigong where the practitioner performs movements to mimic motions of animals. To an external observer, the series of movements are similar to calisthenics or other types of athletic endeavor. To the qigong practitioner, the practice requires a unity of mind, body and spirit with the aim of promoting and controlling the flow of qi.
Static qigong is performed by holding a certain posture, position or stance for a period of time. In some cases, static qigong bears some similarities to the practice of Yoga and its continuation in the Buddhist tradition. Yiquan, a Chinese martial art derived from xingyiquan, is a strong proponent of stance training.Eight pieces of brocade (Baduanjin qigong), a well known set of health exercises, is also based on a series of postures. To the external observer, the practitioner appears to be fixed in space. To the qigong practitioner, the physical and mental effort required to keep the posture results in the appropriate manipulation of qi.
Most qigong training will involve some form of meditation. Meditation is a popular method of mind body training and can be found in many different cultures. The details of qigong practice will differ depending on the origins of the meditation tradition. In Confucius scholar tradition, the meditation is focused on humanity and virtue with the aim of self-enlightenment. In one of the Buddhist methods, the aim is perhaps to still the mind, either through a focus outward such as a place, inwards such as the breath, a mantra, a koan, emptiness or the idea of the eternal as represented by a Buddha. In Daoist and TCM tradition, meditative qigong seeks to lead qi through the proper meridian pathways with the aim of completing a smooth continuous flow of qi through the practitioner.
Qigong with external agents
Many systems of qigong training include the use of external agents. In Medical and Daoist methods, specialized food and drinks are prescribed to aid in the manipulation of qi. In martial arts qigong, the use of massage and various other forms of body conditioning are used to promote qi flow. In some qigong systems, a qigong master can emit qi or manipulate the flow of qi within the practitioner as a form of treatment or to guide the flow of qi.
Although not proven conclusively from a Western Medical stand point, qigong is an accepted treatment option in the fields of complementary and alternative medicine. Qigong treatment is also used extensively in China as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been included in the curriculum of Chinese universities. Qigong practice serves both a preventive and curative function. It is considered to be effective in improving the effects of many chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, degenerative disk disease, cancer, depression, anxiety and addiction. Qigong works by improving the practitioners’ immunity response, increasing a person’s self-healing and self-recovery capabilities and enhancing one’s self-regeneration potential.
The major uses of qigong therapy are:
General health maintenance
Stress management and associated ailments such as hypertension