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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 involved.


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 disease.

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 palpation.

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 nervous system.

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 medicine.

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 functions.

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.

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