What is QIGONG?
Qigong is a simple system composed of gentle movements, meditation and breathing techniques that cleanse and strengthen the immune system and Life Energy (Qi). It can be used as a daily routine to promote health and well-being, reduce stress and help cure or alleviate sickness. It is a powerful system of healing and one of the oldest methods of traditional health care in China.
Qigong is a combination of two words in the Chinese language. “Qi,” meaning “vital energy,” and “Gong” meaning “to achieve or cultivate.” So, therefore, Qigong essentially means “the art of cultivating energy.”
How is it pronounced?
Qi is pronounced “chee” and Gong is pronounce “gung”. So phonetically it is “Chee Gung”.
How old is it?
There are Qigong documents dating back 2,500 years, however there are references to Qigong-like techniques known as Dao Yin that reveal how members of ancient Taoist monasteries practiced energetic stretching exercises for health over 5,000 years ago.
THE FIVE MAJOR TRADITIONS OF QIGONG
Confucian Qigong: designed to attain higher moral character and intelligence.
Taoist Qigong: stresses the preservation of the physical body, and a higher level of virtue cultivation (3600 schools in history). Many Taoist Qigong masters lived a very long life.
Buddhist Qigong: aimed at liberating the mind, emphasized the cultivation of virtue and enlightening wisdom, and it considers the human body just a shell holding the honorable spirit. (5800 schools in history, most popular).
Medical Qigong: emphasizes the free flow and balance of vital energy in the body, helps practitioner to take control of illnesses or pains, and also helps to prevent them. Medical Qigong also trained medical practitioners how to use the inner Qi in a dynamic way for diagnosis and healing.
Martial Arts Qigong: trains protection of the body from sword cuts, blunt trauma from other than edged weapons, and safety from attacks by fist or foot. Such methods included Iron shirt, golden bell type methods. It also trains the body to deliver fatal blows that were enhanced with Qi, such as those found in the Burning Palm, or Iron Palm methods. Unfortunately, many martial art Qigong practitioners have died prematurely due to over exerting their body limits.
Qigong for Health
Most people nowadays practice Qigong for its health benefits. Often people want to learn to treat an illness, reduce stress, or to deepen their spiritual journey. That is why it is said Qigong heals body, mind and spirit. I began my own journey with Qigong to heal chronic stomach pains and depression due to experiencing multiple traumatic events in a short period of time.
I was tuned in enough to realize that my own mind was creating my problems, but did not have the knowledge to know how to stop what was happening. I don’t want you to think that Qigong only works by reducing stress though because there is much more to it than that.
Qigong heals by increasing the flow of Qi or energy so it can move freely through the entire body and restore balance. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, all illness is the result of either an area being blocked so energy cannot flow freely or as the result of an imbalance within the body. When you practice Qigong it naturally restores balance among the five essential organs (liver, heart, spleen/stomach, lungs, kidneys), and it works to remove any blockages so Qi will flow strongly.
The process of the energy finding a blocked area and trying to break through is sometimes called “Qi Striking Illness” phenomenon. Think of your Qi as being like water flowing through the body. When you increase the current it will naturally move to areas it may not have been able to easily go to previously. When this energy or water finds an area that is blocked it will naturally try to break through the blockage so it can continue to flow.
When this happens the student may feel different sensations such as pain, itching, warmth, cold, popping, release, or even outbursts of emotion such as anger, joy, or sadness. These different reactions should all be viewed as positive occurrences because it means the Qi located a problem area and is working to resolve it. The theory is that this type of healing can treat future, current, and past problems so you can see that is a wonderful form of natural healthcare and quite cost effective!
I mentioned briefly that I began to study Qigong in order to heal my own physical and emotional health concerns. I didn’t realize at the time just how much the practice of Qigong would change me. If I had been told in advance I’m quite sure I would not have believed it.
The truth is that Qigong is much more than just a system of healing. It creates new levels of awareness and perception about yourself, others, and the world around you. Certain things suddenly seem obvious when before you could not see them at all. The changes are often slow, but can be profound, especially the more willing and open you are to the idea of change. There is always another deeper level of practice for those who are committed to staying on the path.
The short-term benefits include an increased immune system, reduced stress, more awareness, deeper perceptions, better stamina, and healthier joints.
The long-term benefits include continued good health into old age, maintaining a youthful vitality, and the continued cultivation of mind, body and spirit.
A description of Qigong according to Wikipedia.