Qi Gong is generally translated as ‘breath\energy work’ though it connotes much more owing to the usage, breadth and depth of meaning associated with the Chinese word Qi.
Qi Gong generally pertains to any form of energy work or practice which has the specific aim of ‘nourishing, conserving , harmonizing and transforming’ ‘internal’ energy to promote health, spiritual development and even martial ability or extraordinary powers.
There are many common forms of Qi Gong in China some of which date back hundreds of years and some of which are relatively recent or new. Many have roots in Taoism, Confucianism or Buddhism. Some have evolved from martial arts to promote power and skill and some have evolved from traditional Chinese medicine to promote health and self healing. All share the idea of self cultivation and all seek to promote and cultivate a healthy body and mind whether it aims at martial, health or spiritual goals.
Within the paradigm of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the practice of Qi Gong activates and restores the physiological, mental and energetic sytems of the body. Practice benefits the posture, balance and co-ordination, strengthens the bones and joints, dissolves stress, promotes circulation and efficient respiration, promotes detoxification and stimulates the immune system. Qi Gong maximises the efficiency and workings of the self regulating systems of the body. To bring this about all Qi Gong regulates physical posture and movement, breath and mental activity.
According to Qi Gong theory, Qi Gong practice seeks to restores and blend our original pre-birth essence, energy and spirit (inherited, genetic and embryonic influences) with post birth acquired ‘Essences’(Ching) ‘Energy (Qi) and ‘Spirit’(Shen). Post Birth Essence and Energy are typically acquired from food and air and are conditioned by our environment both physical and energetic, social and lifestyle. Pre birth ‘Spirit’ or Shen is the bare undifferentiated consciousness field we are born with and Post birth Spirit, simply put, is how that consciousness is filled and with what as we grow to maturity and old age. By harnessing and protecting our ‘given’ physical and mental predisposition and ‘adding-on’ and ‘blending’ acquired essence and energy from food, air, external energy sources and lifestyle, we are able to maintain a physiological and mental balance. Qi Gong seeks to optimize that process. Beyond good health and rejuvenation perhaps the highest goal of Qi Gong is the achievement of the ‘original’ clear undifferentiated field of awareness where the unity of all things is intuited. This is considered a spiritual or wisdom path.
Therapeutic/Medical Qi Gong
Qi Gong is the precursor to Traditional Chinese Medicine as we understand it today. It probably evolved from Neolithic shamanic practices and the emulating of animal behaviour and movement to acquire specific skills and qualities as well as to heal and achieve spiritual/ancestoral and temporal goals. Qi Gong can generally be divided in three main categories: Religious/Spiritual, Martial and Therapeutic.
There are many crossovers between the three and similar systems and methods may be used by all three but the objective and consequently the emphasis may be quite different. There are also many, many qi gong sets and methods and varying strategies to achieve those Qi Gong objectives.
At the UK Wu Shi Taiji and Qi Gong Assoc. we teach predominantly Daoist derived Therapeutic Qi Gong. As a modality of Chinese Medicine Qi Gong is considered primarily a preventative practice though it is also prescribed by Traditional Chinese Doctors as a treatment for a variety of conditions ranging from superficial to serious to terminal. As such it can be tailored to individual medical and personal needs. Qi Gong can be considered as a prescriptive therapeutic approach that typically might comprise movements and meditational practices that can be taught to a patient.
Another form of Therapeutic Qi Gong practice is when a Qi Gong adept is able to emit ‘Qi” to a receptive patient. Known as Wei Qi, this emitted Qi is said to bring a ‘sick’ person into a harmonious state (resonance) with the ‘healer’ and as such stimulates a healing response. Generally this method of Qi Gong in its modern manifestation, is underpinned theoretically by the Chinese Traditional Medical System of Meridians and Accupoints etc. This is a form of non invasive ‘healing’ .
Qi Gong is not just a ‘folk system’ in China though its roots may be in Folk lore. It was elevated along time ago to a sophisticated and respectable main stream system of healing and health maintenance. Generally employed as one aspect of a healing regimen that might comprise, accupuncture, massage and more recently Western medicine, it has a reputation not only as a powerful tool in the medical field but also a traditional ‘anti aging’ strategy for‘prolonging’ life and maintaining good health and mental acuity into old age.
Anecdotal and experimental evidence show qi gong benefits the following physiological systems: Cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, immune, digestive, musculoskeletal, brain function and Mental Health.