Every aspect of Chinese medicine ultimately affects the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Everything is integral and the state of one aspect influences the other. Qigong can be seen as the part of this system that taps directly into the more soulful and spiritual parts of ones being. It is rumored among those in China that certain Qigong masters, through the use of the various practices involved in cultivating ones awareness, have lived in between 150-200 years old. Modern scientific ways of measuring these practices is validating what those that employ these practices have known for thousands of years. These ways enhance the quality of life on every level, maintaining constant balance of life-giving energy and longevity.
What is Qigong?
The name Qigong is actually composed of two words, Qi (Chi) meaning vital life energy or life force and Gong, which translates as practice and includes the idea of accomplishment or achievement. So it is the practice of achieving maximum life force energy. Truly understanding this idea is much more than can be summarized in a few words. It is like trying to explain prayer. Prayer is simple, yet infinitely complex and multifaceted. Qigong is the cultivation, manipulation, understanding and study of Qi and how it can be used to benefit and balance the body.
What are the various parts of Qigong?
It must be understood that it is not just a training of various breathing exercises, but encompasses a wide variety of physical and mental exercises that are consistent with the system of Chinese philosophy and medicine. In general terms, Qigong can be grouped together under the ideas of meditation and Tai Chi.
1. Meditation – This is part of many ancient cultures spanning thousands of years. Meditation can be described as focusing on breathing, developing ones personal awareness, as is used as a central tool for relaxation and controlling thoughts, which ultimately leads to cultivation of spiritual development. Practices of meditation, of which there are many forms, has been recently shown in scientific studied to increase energy, removes blockages in the body, strengthen the bones and joints and increase overall vitality in the body. Many other benefits have been reported throughout history that are now being verified through research.
One of the most fundamental aspects of living in breathing. It is amazing how even knowing how fundamental this is, many of us do not do it right for the cultivation of vital life energy. Most people breath from the chest and take shorter breaths. To practice meditation and promote health, focusing on the breath is one of the first things you can do. While lying down or sitting in good posture, simply focus the attention of your mind upon the inhaling and exhaling of your breath. Breath deeply using your diaphragm. If your attention wanders to something other than your breath, simply bring your attention back to each breath. Do this for 10-15 minutes two times per day and you will see wonderful results. Breathing deeply like this floods the body with oxygen and benefits the whole body.
2. Tai Chi. In the system of Indian or ancient Ayurvedic Medicine, the equivalent of Tai Chi would be Yoga. They share many similarities and yet also many differences. Tai Chi is the normally translated as “supreme balancing”. It is said that Tai Chi was the foundation of the beginning of what developed into the martial arts. It is seen as an internal form of martial arts, which strengthens the body, creates awareness, improves immune system function, and eliminates toxins through increased lymphatic function. Tai Chi involves rhythmic fluid movements with the body that are carefully choreographed with breathing. Many styles of Tai Chi exists and its popularity is spreading throughout the world as people everywhere are discovering the massive benefits that this practice can give to the body.
Many other levels of Qigong exist and its practice is something that literally takes years to develop. One doesn’t become a black belt in martial arts over night or even in a few years. The practice and mastery of qigong is somethings builds and continually must be practices in order to reap its benefits. Many wonderful resources exist for beginners that can help those who wish to discover the treasure of Qigong and its powerful health benefits physically, mentally and spiritually.