Qigong as a Healing Art
Qigong (pronounced chee gung) is the art or science of using, working with and cultivating Qi (Chi) “life energy” to enrich ones life by controlling and strengthening the flow of qi throughout the body.
This information is written from the point of view of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Please do not be put off by the terminology of Water/Metal imbalances, as these are only ways of describing the illness from a TCM perspective.
Qigong is an art, which is steeped in history, legend and myth, has its roots in ancient China, growing as a healing art over thousands of years. It is the forerunner of, and is therefore based on the same principles as, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Tuina, and Shiatsu. At present it is still being developed and researched as a cure, and preventative of illness by Qigong masters and by medical establishments and universities in China, America, Russia and Japan. In China, Qigong is often used in conjunction with Traditional Chinese and Allopathic Medicine to increase the healing power/rate – This wonderful system can also be utilised to enhance any of the Complimentary Healing systems as well as being used as a self-development and self-healing system.
Often after giving a treatment we ask ourselves if we could have done more. We often see people who need frequent/regular treatment but who cannot afford the cost. One way we can deal with this dilemma is to recommend some form of self-help such as diet, exercise etc. However one of the most powerful self-help systems is often overlooked, primarily because of lack of experience – Qigong.
It is my intention to outline two Qigong exercises which can be used to treat imbalances in Metal, but which also treat other chronic ailments. My intention is to show the basic exercise listing pathogenic factors it may be used to treat, then show a modification to the exercise that will enhance it, making it more potent in treating Metal disorders/imbalances. The beauty of these exercises lies in their simplicity and strength.
Qigong promotes the smooth flow of Qi within the meridian system, bringing harmony and balance to the Whole (Body/Mind/Spirit). Each exercise has both a tonifying and sedating quality (i.e. It can either increase or decrease the amount of qi within the meridian) and can be prescribed using Five Element Theory or Kyo/Jitsu, as would be done in Shiatsu, etc.
The stances for both exercises are the same; feet are shoulder width apart with the weight evenly distributed, the knees are slightly bent, the coccyx is tucked in slightly, and the head is held upright as though suspended from above.
The breathing should be natural and it is important that the movement follows the breathing and not vice versa. Breathing should be through the nose and concentrated on the Tan Tien (a point 2 – 3 inches below the navel). Throughout the exercise, the tongue should touch the palate just behind the front teeth.
BROADENING THE CHEST:
a) Inhalation – Turn the palms to face each other as though holding a balloon, raise them to chest height while simultaneously raising the stance, then move them laterally/horizontally as though the balloon was expanding.
b) Exhalation – Move the arms medially/horizontally to the original distance apart, lower the stance/arms while turning the palms obliquely downward.
N.B. Make sure that the shoulders are relaxed and that the elbows are pointed down so that the arms are not “locked”. There should be a harmonious co-ordination between the raising and lowering of the arms/stance and the breathing. Repeat six times.
This is good for dealing with insomnia, hypertension, relieving mental fatigue, and when used in conjunction with “Commencement” it can be used to treat asthma.
The exercise can be enhanced to focus more on Metal by adopting the alternative hand position shown, and turning the palms outward as the arms are moved laterally/horizontally.
PRESSING PALMS IN CALMNESS:
Following on from the last exhalation:
a) Inhalation – Turn the palms upward with the fingers pointing at each other, and lift the hands to eye level.
b) Exhalation – Turn the palms down, again with the fingers pointing at each other, and press down until the hands are level with the hips. Repeat six times.
This is good for regulating the breathing and balancing the blood pressure. It strengthens the function of the Kidney, calms the nerves, can alleviate tinnitus and dizziness, and also has an effect on arthritis of the knee.
The basic exercise is primarily used to treat Water imbalances, however by forming a triangle between the index fingers and thumbs as you press down; it then becomes more potent for treating Water.
As stated, each exercise should be repeated six times and should be carried out twice a day – morning and early evening.
Excellent results are achievable but are entirely dependent on the client practising diligently. One example of how potent Qigong is, is that of a 13-year-old boy with severe asthma. When he first came for treatment (Shiatsu) he was dependent on daily medication involving three different inhalers. His treatment consisted of three Shiatsu sessions, which started to stabilise his condition, and he was then prescribed two qigong exercises. Eight months later, his mother telephoned me with the news that he had been off medication completely for the previous five months and that he had only had one asthmatic attack in this time. He had remained calm during this incident and used qigong to overcome it in a controlled manner.
His mother had viewed this as almost miraculous, but the real miracle was that her son had the discipline to practice his qigong each and every day – he had been empowered with the ability to heal himself.