The Chi in Air Water and Food

Whatever enhances health nurtures chi, and whatever weakens health dissipates chi - even though these processes and behaviors may seem only remotely related to traditional chigong practices. At every moment of our lives, whatever we are doing is either actively augmenting or diminishing our energy field, be it what we are eating, breathing, reading, thinking, feeling or doing (or what we are not eating, breathing, reading, thinking, feeling or doing). Some of these activities are obvious and need no pointing out; others are subtle and require keen perceptiveness. A number of each has been included as a means of encouraging students to undertake a review of the full spectrum of their daily lives, with an eye toward bringing them into alignment with an energy-enhancing lifestyle. Only in this way can we even begin to set foot upon the path of cultivating a chi-sensitivity beyond that slender fraction of the day in which we may perform our formal Zhineng Qigong practice.

This may come to comprise a sustained practice in itself: the dynamic moment-to-moment sensitivity to - and search for - purity, energy and balance in one's individual journey. How we stand, how we breathe, whether there is poise or agitation in our movement, a soft smile or a tight grimace on our visage, a sense of care or impatience in our spirit, a spontaneous affection for our fellows, or a defensive mistrust, a deep-running reverence for life, or a profound cynicism - all these may well be as crucial and indispensable to our well-being, our internal energy-flow, the openness of our channels - physiological and psychospiritual - as any chigong practice we may ever encounter.

We have all seen dedicated, even slavish devotees of various esoteric disciplines whose humanity has been severely compromised by the extremity and imbalance of their immersion in various refuges of self-development. In the presence of such people - full of heroic ascetic agendas, and complex transcendental transmutational theories, we cannot escape the poignant impression of sacrificed selfhood which characterizes those who have mistaken obsessive discipline for true living.

We wish to point out that, among the myriad of energy-enhancing modalities discussed here, there has been no attempt to censor or otherwise adulterate valuable and time-proven practices or substances in order to make them conform to the protocols of this or that particular system, be it Western or Eastern in origin. While the reader will doubtless recognize modalities drawn from various healing traditions, such as hydrotherapy, enzyme nutrition or macrobiotics, few of which take advantage of the revelations and considerable benefits of the best in systems outside their own traditions, we feel that it would be tragic to omit genuinely life-renewing resources purely because of the provincialism endemic to such conceptually exclusive philosophies of practice.

Likewise, despite the national dietary and therapeutic traditions - and at times, prejudices - of Zhineng Qigong's country of origin, no attempt has been made to limit this overview to the traditional health practices native to that land. Indeed, when an empirical examination of the benefits or weaknesses of any given practice was ultimately made, irrespective of which country or tradition it happened to emerge from, the only criterion which was applied was a particular modality's relevance and effectiveness in freeing the body of stagnation, toxicity and blockage and re-establishing the free flow of energy and vitality throughout the system.

A simple example of how common practice can inadvertently dictate tradition - which then comes to assume the position of authority and dogma - is the widespread third world dependence upon grains as the basic staple food. While relatively healthful from one viewpoint, and cleansing when taken in balanced proportion with vegetable foods, a deep study of the anthropological evidence from numerous cultures over many centuries does not confirm that grains, as such, constitute either the ideal staple food for mankind then or now.

It is true that a grain-based diet can and does relieve many of the dietary sufferings of particularly those who have been conditioned into the denatured Western diet of processed, chemicalized foods, hormonalized meats and sugar addictions. It achieves this effect primarily through the cessation of the ingestion of the offending disease-producing substances such as dairy foods, meats, canned, processed and denatured foods, junk foods and white sugar products), which allows the body to gradually discharge its collected toxins, replacing them with the relative cleanliness of such substances as organic grains, vegetables and sea vegetables. The diet cannot, however, be said to provide a truly superior set of building with which to reconstruct new tissue, nor to provide optimal energy for the various life-processes. An objective exploration of the Weston Price's stunning anthropological survey, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration will more than bear this out.

Yet, it remains the unspoken caveat that, seemingly from time immemorial, rice and vegetables, with perhaps some occasional fish or meat, is the truly balanced archetypal meal, when in reality, it is only what millions of Asians have habitually had recourse to, given their populations, economic situations, and available resources

An equally unfortunate example of such enshrined misinformation has been the macrobiotic bio-philosophy's denial of and deprivation of water as an aliment needed in great abundance by all living creatures, a clearly vital fact as proven by many empirical scientific studies, but conveniently theorized away by esoteric conceptual legerdemain.

However, it is not a phenomenon alone limited to the macrobiotic diet, and it can be seen amidst those who cling narrowly to any dietary "ism", including raw foodism, vegetarianism, veganism, and many other similar approaches; each carries its own perils. One risks not only one's health but one's inner balance. In becoming so psychospiritually invested in any protocol of eating, a person may become incapable of developing and trusting their own intuitive wisdom, thus sacrificing the ability to flexibly adjust and be creative with regard to diet and nutrition, and in all areas of life.

Further reading:

Colbin, Annemarie, Food and Healing, Ballantine Books, NY, 1986. Kushi, Aveline and Monte, Tom, Thirty Days (Macrobiotic regimen),

Japan Pub., Inc., 1991. Schmid, Ronald F., N.D. Native Nutrition, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 1994.

Heal Yourself With Qi Gong

Heal Yourself With Qi Gong

Qigong also spelled Ch'i Kung is a potent system of healing and energy medicine from China. It's the art and science of utilizing breathing methods, gentle movement, and meditation to clean, fortify, and circulate the life energy qi.

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