Chi Kung / Qigong

Translating words and phrases from Chinese into another language is not an exact science, and therefore open to much discussion and disagreements. So I will not endulge into what the correct spelling is nor the meaning.

I was already “free” of cancer in 2012 when I encountered the philosophy and practice of Qigong. It taught me two important lessons:

  • to approach body, mind and spirit as one system with all its subtle interactions and synergies; the benefits obtained from practicing Qigong (according to the masters) are 10% from physical movement, 30% from breathing and 60% from thoughts. No wonder that practices such as mindfulness are gaining wide acceptance;
  • to appreciate the distinction between external strength (physical muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments) and internal strength (nervous system, immune system, liver and other organs, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system). External strength is the harder “yang” and the internal system the softer “yin”. Two complementary principles of strength. Each cannot exist without the other. They have to be in balance with each other for good health.

Intuitively I had already done this back in 2010 when I decided to approach my cancer through nutrition, exercise and sleep.

So how can the two lessons above be applied in practice?

You are probably familiar with expressions such as “mind over matter” and “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right” and simply “body, mind and spirit.” Or is it “body, mind, heart and soul”? Our western way of thinking tends to focus on the separate parts and how they can interact with each other. Eastern medicine and healing practices such as Qigong focus more on the whole, with an awareness of how the individual parts can interact to affect the whole. Our thoughts and emotions can make us physically sick. They can also cure the body, help the body heal. Physical exercise, even relaxed walks in the forest, can help the heart and the soul to heal, by enabling thoughts and emotions to flow freely, to “find the rhythm in your body, chase the demons from your heart.”

“Looks can kill” and “smiles can melt hearts.”

What if I cannot walk?

You may be too weak to walk or suffering from joint pains or other impairments that prevent you from physical exercise. You may be confined to a wheelchair, or even lying down in bed. The good news about Qigong practice is that only 10% of the benefits come from the physical moves. You can focus on the other 90%, namely breathing 30% and thinking 60%. And the physical exercise can be resolved through simplified muscle tensioning and isometrics, and movement of limbs and joints whilst sitting or lying down, and externally assisted with massages, accupuncture, physical therapy etc.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The final decision to accept or reject the challenge rests with you. Discover what works for you.

Is Qi Gong only about exercise?

Youtube is filled with Qi Gong movements, so the impression is indeed that Qi Gong is only about exercise and movements. In reality it is much more. A Qi Gong practitioner in China was/is also skilled in other areas, in particular the use of herbs and the role of nutrition, as well as the importance of rest and sleep. In this way Qi Gong practice was an integral part of Chinese medicine, and my own simplified approach to nutrition, exercise and sleep a part of Qi Gong practice as it is meant to be. Who knows?

And there is so much more to explore e.g. the role of sound, music and pictures and smells, and the nature around us. The wind rustling through leaves and the rhythm of surf breaking on the shore.

What about Zhineng Qi Gong?

Nothing wrong with the exercise routines and moves. However, I do not feel comfortable with the manner in which these exercises are being packaged and marketed. Intuitively it feels oversimplified. Maybe westernised is a better word to describe my feeling. It feels like a quick fix. And when I now read that there are 3 levels and certification processes within a few weekends, then I can’t help associating with clever marketing formulas and unfounded claims. This does not fit with my understanding of what Qi Gong is and could be, and the role it could play in my search for health.

On the upside, clever marketing means that a wider general public becomes aware of the existance of Qi Gong. And that’s a good thing!

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