Every morning, millions of people gather in parks throughout the world to practise a self-healing art called Qi Gong an ancient Chinese system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations.
Qi Gong is translated from the Chinese to mean energy cultivation or working with the life energy. It has been practised for thousands of years and is considered the foundation of all the martial arts, though Qi Gong itself is not used for fighting.
One of the major purposes of practising Qi Gong is to accumulate qi in our body. According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, qi is the universal life force, or energy, which is circulated throughout the body along invisible energy channels, known as meridians.
When qi flows smoothly, we feel healthy and invigorated, both mentally and physically. Illness results when the flow is impeded, causing disease, distress and conflict.
Developed over 5000 years ago, Qi Gong techniques were passed down in secrecy amongst monks and teachers for many generations. Its only in the past 30 to 40 years that worldwide acceptance has emerged for this simple, practical and beneficial healing program.
Qi Gong may be practised individually or in groups. Its slow and graceful movements, performed in a standing or sitting position, are combined with mental visualisation so that the qi surrounding us and within us is accessed and mobilised.
Hold your hand over the area just below your navel and above the pubic bone. Called the dan tien, this area is the centre of the bodys qi. Qi Gongs deep breathing and slow, deliberate movements focus attention on this centre, bringing about a heightened awareness of qi movement and gathering energy from the universe, breathing it in with your whole body, renewing and refreshing your resources.
When the level of qi in our body is high enough it can clear the blockages in our meridians, thus we will be free from pain and other problems.
While it may take many years of practice to completely self-heal all the blockages, you can also seek help from Qi Gong masters who have developed their gifts of gathering and directing qi to heal others.
There are many styles of Qi Gong, ranging from the martial to the meditative. For example, Tai Chi is a martial art that applies the principle of Qi Gong. Buddhists practise Qi Gong as a path towards enlightenment. Some practise individually, quietly among the trees. Others practise in large groups of hundreds or even thousands.
Finding the style that is right for you depends on what you want to achieve to reduce stress, increase fitness, still the mind, learn self-defence, or to heal yourself. If it’s self-defence skills you want, then a seated meditation class probably isn’t the answer.
However, you may simply have to accept what is available locally. Although the various styles have different intentions, all qigong styles will have some benefit to overall health, reduce stress, and bring you into a deeper relationship with yourself.
There is a saying that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. So enrol in a class or get a video, breathe deeply, move slowly and focus your mind. Simply start somewhere and follow your instincts.
CJ – Fitness