Qigong is an ancient Chinese art used for healing and strengthening body, mind, and spirit. Qigong combines movement, mediation, and breathing as a means of cultivating and enhancing the body's natural internal energy (qi) while increasing awareness of its flow throughout the body.
Qi is "Iifeforce" or "vital energy." It's the fuel that powers the universe, the energy in us and all around us. Gong means "work." Qigong then is "energy work." Qigong patterns (and there are literally thousands) are typically stationary, legs staying in place. Tai Chi Chuan is actually a form of Qigong, a type of moving energy work.
Qigong is a 5,000 year old Chinese health care modality, a powerful healing system. Millions of people practice Qigong in China and around the world each day to successfully treat diseases ranging from hypertension to cancer.
In Chinese the word "Qigong" has two characters, Qi (Chi) and Gong. "Qi or chi" means life energy and "Gong" means daily effort. In short, Qigong is a practice to use chi for different purposes including self-healing. Everyone is born with chi and everyone has the potential to use chi for many purposes. It is the same way as swimming, we are born with the potential to swim but only when we acquire the skill to swim then we can enjoy different water activities such as scuba diving, water polo, free style, butterfly swimming, etc. In the same manner, the skill to use chi is trained not born. Once a person is trained how to use chi, he or she then can use chi for martial arts, dancing, weight lifting (yes, weight lifting as the Chinese trained weight lifters using qigong!) and of course, medical, self-healing.
Is Qi "Real?1
Qi (chi) is usually defined as "vital energy", in other words, the energy of life. The word qi in Chinese combines metaphorically with many other words to give a dynamic, living quality. For example, sky qi means "weather." In the literal sense, dead things have no qi, but all living things do have some qi, no matter how weak or how little. A finite amount of qi is inherited at birth from one's parents, and Qi is supplemented throughout life through food and breath. Qi nourishes the all the organs of the body, and all the body's living processes develop qi.
Qi is generally invisible, although it may be what's photographed in Kirlian photography. Also halos and the aura may be related to qi. At any rate, thus far qi is definitely unquantifiable, which is why Western medical science has not incorporated it. So, is it real, or is it simply a symbolic way of thinking about energy?
The answer in Chinese thought is a resounding: Yes, qi is real! The evidence of the existence of qi is not that it can be seen (at least, not usually) but that it can be felt. Acupuncturists treat all manner of diseases and ailments by determining blockages and irregularities in the natural flow of qi throughout the body. An acupuncturist requires his patient to be able feel when his qi has been intercepted by the needle as essential feedback in the treatment. Some experts believe qi is electromagnetic in nature, relating to the minute ionic exchanges between cells.
After centuries of elitism where qigong "secrets" were closely guarded and passed down to select few, and brutal suppression of traditional Chinese medicine, taiji and qigong during the Cultural Revolution, qigong is being learned and taught everywhere throughout China today. Extensive scientific research is being conducted, and certain hospitals overflow with reports of cures attributed to qigong. Estimates are that 200 million people practice some form of qigong regularly, making qigong far and away the most popular approach to exercise in the world.
Simple Qi Exercises for the Curious
Here are a few simple exercises which may be able to help you feel your qi.
1. Stand naturally, with your side about a foot from a wall. Raise your arm on that side straight out, until your wrist touches the wall. Press hard with your wrist against the wall for about thirty seconds. Bring your arm down to your side, take a step away from the wall, and relax your arm completely. It will rise, probably higher than it was before. Your qi has been directing your arm to rise outward and upward against resistance, so without the use of voluntary muscles, it will still tend to rise when the resistance is removed.
Do this a few times and remember the sensation of the qi directing your arm to rise. Try standing in a relaxed position, and by remembering the feeling of your qi, make it raise your arm.
2. Hold your arms in front of you, elbows very loosely bent. Your palms should face each other, shoulder width apart. Imagine you are slowly squeezing an accordion as you exhale, ending with your palms just a few inches apart, inhale slowly as you let the accordion fill up and push your palms apart. As you practice, you should be able to feel the qi pushing against your palms.
3. Still standing as before, bring your palms close together, almost, but not quite touching. Move your hands so that the centers of your palms are making ^-inch circles. A warm, or sometimes "magnetic" sensation should be felt after a few seconds.
4. Walk slowly, and imagine that you're walking through water, instead of air. Feel the qi moving into your hands and feet, as you gently swing them through the "water."
True force starts from true softness
True softness starts from your mind
Within stillness there is movement
Within movement there is stillness
Concern yourself with energy not the opponent
Show your enemy nothing
In defense become unknown Attack with a thousand faces
Dan Tao Qigong: Yi Jing Ching
Sinew Ligament Transformation Work:
According to several oral traditions, the Yi Jing Ching was originally transmitted by the Indian monk, Bodhidharma. Upon his banishment from the Liang empire, he arrived at the Shaolin temple to find that the monks there were weak and could not even sit through the tiring Ch'an meditation sessions. He instituted the practice of Yi Jing Ching--the meaning and content of which is quite similar to that of the Yogic stretches and Asanas.
It is a historical fact that Bodhidharma came to China and brought with him the direct heart to heart transmission of Chan Buddhism. ( Japanese Zen).
The practice of Yi Jing Ching improves the overall strength of body ligaments and connective tissue through vigorous breathing and slapping of the body along the meridian pathways, the energy routes of the body.
The Qigong Stance "Drawing the Bow as if shooting a hawk "
This particular Qigong movement, Drawing the Bow, stimulates the flow of lung Qi/energy.
One tunes the lungs by gently stretching open the arms and gazing at the fingertips. This motion creates a gentle lengthening of the spine, thus reducing the pressure on the neck vertebrae.
Dan Tao Qigong derives its principles from the meridian system found in Traditional Chinese Medicine combined with the Theory of the Five Elements. By holding the body gently in various positions, one can enhance the flow of Qi and blood to the different areas of the body.
Since the lungs have the protective function in TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine, the martial-like postures suggest to the brain a fighting spirit of the lungs as a defense against invading infections.
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