Qigong (Chi Kung) is one of the great mysteries of the
Asia. It is the most profound of the aspects of Asian medicine. It is the root
of self-care, in the Chinese health care system. It is the essence of the how
"physician, heal thyself" operates in China. Qigong is the grand
overriding structure of the martial arts and is the central practice of the
"internal arts." It is the current link to the ancient source of Asian
shamanism and magic. And yet, with all of these qualities of the unusual and the
esoteric, Qigong has a very practical role in the maintenance of health and the
healing of disease.
The history of Qigong (Ch'i Kung) commences beyond the
era of written records, in the mists of prehistory. Earliest estimates suggest
that self enhancement and empowerment practices date into the time of Chinese
shamans -- thousands of year before Christ.
Qigong is one of the four pillars of traditional Chinese medicine:
Acupuncture, Massage, Herbal Medicines and Qigong. Of these, Qigong is the one
that can be most easily self initiated. Both massage and herbal remedies can
also be done as self care, however, Qigong is the mother of Chinese self
healing. Patients who use Qigong faithfully need less medication, less
acupuncture and heal faster.
The word Qigong breaks into Qi and Gong.
Qi means literally air, which represents a kind of energy flowing according
to certain routes in your body. This effects the human vitality or essential
functional energy of life. Bio-electrical breath, resonating bio-electrical
field and human bio-magnetic field are other translation attempts that give a
rich and graphic image for the Qi. It is the Qi or life force that maintains the
healthy and harmonious function of the human body's self regulating systems. It
is the Qi that the doctor of oriental medicine manipulates with acupuncture. It
is the Qi that binds the planets into a solar system, holds the electrons in
their orbital shells around the nucleus of the atom and drives the sprout
upward, against 14.7 pounds per square inch of gravity, to reach for the sun.
The character that gives us the word Gong means "to cultivate" or
"engage in". In every Asian community there is a wonderful place
called the cultural hall or institute of culture. Sometimes it is called the
school of physical culture. This idea of culture derives from the act of
cultivation, which requires time, discipline and intention. Gong means to
practice, train, enhance and refine but it also implies enjoyment, devotion and commitment.
If some one loves to cook, garden or meditate and if they are devoted to
practice and refinement, then, one's engagement in these practices is Gong.
Because one of the all time favorite pastimes in China is gong fu, which in many
historical periods has meant fighting or boxing, the idea of gong is often
associated with the martial arts. In fact, however, gong is applicable to any
practice, discipline or self development art in which a person is deeply
Qi Gong means practice, cultivate, refine; Qigong, therefore means to cultivate and refine through
practice one's vitality or life force. The Chinese believe that the primary
mechanism that is triggered by the practice of Qigong is a spontaneous balancing
and enhancing of the natural healing resources in the human system. Over
thousands of years millions of people have benefited from these practices
believing that improving the function of the Qi maintains health and heals
Qigong is the cultivation of the Qi or vital life energy by activating,
refining and circulating the human bio-electrical field. Because the
bioelectrical field maintains and supports the function of the organs and
tissues, Qigong can have a profound effect on health. Beyond this Qigong expands
into a discipline of mental and spiritual development. There are many systems
and traditions of Qigong ranging from simple callisthenic type movements with
breath coordination to complex auto regulatory type exercises where brain wave
frequency, heart rate and other organ functions are altered intentionally by the
practitioner. In extremely advanced levels of practice the Qigong practitioner
can transmit Qi or energy across distances and through substances. There are
cases where the practitioner can manipulate the limbs of a subject from a
distance and diagnose physiological disturbances without conversation or
While Qigong has strong roots into mystical and philosophical ground, the
practical healing and stress management applications are the most popular
aspects of the tradition in China today. Both the health and spiritual
applications are rapidly gaining in popularity in the Western world as people
realize that disease and stress are relieved by peace of mind.
In the paradigm of mechanistic Western science, the practice of Qigong
triggers a wide array of physiological mechanisms which have profound healing
benefits. It increases the delivery of oxygen to the tissues. It enhances the
elimination of waste products as well as the transportation of immune cells
through the lymph system. And it shifts the chemistry of the brain and the
Qigong has captured the imagination and the scientific attention of the
world. In China there is a multitude of Qigong research institutes. The need for
research in the rigorous scientific method of the West, with control groups and
ample statistical methodologies has shifted Qigong research out of the
traditional empirical model of the Asian sciences. A flurry of research was
presented at the historic First World Conference for the Academic Exchange of
Medical Qigong which was attended by representatives from 17 countries. In the
United States Qigong associations and institutes are proliferating rapidly.
There are various estimates for the number of varieties of Qigong. There are
at least a thousand. Some elaborate and complex, some mysterious and esoteric
and some simple and practical. If you adjust to a relaxed, upright posture, take
a deep breath and relax your mind - you are already doing Qigong. Try this: sit
up, relax your body, take a deep breath, rest your mind for just a moment.
Already you are stimulating an automatic self healing response.
On any morning in the parks throughout China you will find literally
thousands of people doing Qigong practices. Some practice individually quietly
among the trees. Others practice in large groups of hundreds or even thousands.
Often, one will see a patient, in hospital pajamas, doing a special form of
cancer recovery Qigong - ta form of slow and intentful walking. Or a group might
stand in a circle chatting as they do a simple form based on hand movements.
Like any other system of health care, Qigong is not a panacea, but it is
certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many health care
professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary
Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that
are not part of traditional exercise programs. Most exercises do not involve the
meridian system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the importance of
adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical movements. When these
dimensions are added, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially.
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina,
increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to
improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive
Qigong is one of the most powerful self healing traditions ever developed in
human history. It is literally a health wonder. It is gaining increased interest
from western medical science and individuals worldwide.