I came upon Qi Gong quite late. I was in my 30’s by the time I discovered it. My background had been in youth work so I had developed an interest in counselling and in how our bodies are part of this. I then got interested in western massage which lead me to Zen shiatsu from where I moved on to learning acupuncture and it was then that I finally discovered Qi Gong. As you can see it was a bit of a journey and I arrived with quite a background in other health modalities by the time I came to Qi Gong.
What does ‘Qi Gong’ mean? These are two Chinese words, ‘Qi’ means energy (in this case the oxygen we breathe or our breath) and ‘Gong’ means work. So a rough translation would be ‘exercise’ or perhaps ‘aerobic exercise’.
However, Qi Gong doesn’t usually look anything like aerobics. The way the breath is worked is to co-ordinate our breathing with our movements and our attention. The focus in Qi Gong is for our movements to be smooth and even. When you see someone who is good at Qi Gong, their movement looks flowing and effortless. When we try and mimic their movement we find this is far from the case. To move evenly means we need to stay balanced at all times and to co-ordinate our breathing and movement means paying attention all the time. This is not easy! We tend to get caught up in what we are trying to do instead of being balanced and we tend to get distracted by thoughts instead of paying attention. To simply stay balanced and attentive is surprisingly demanding. The correct way to do any Qi Gong is summarised as: body, breath, and mind.
* Body means correct alignment of our standing, sitting or movement (a straight spine; hips, knees and ankles co-ordinated properly and so on). * Breath means an even breathing that our movement is co-ordinated with. * Mind means being attentive to what we are doing and not thinking about other things.
Why do I bother with Qi Gong if it is hard work? There are two reasons really - the pleasure of doing it and the benefits I get from it.
To do Qi Gong is a moving meditation for me - with static postures I find it harder to keep my mind from wandering. In this way Qi Gong is an easier way to relax and focus for me. It feels good too. When I’m moving well I have a sense of beauty and ease. While demanding, Qi Gong is a pleasure.
The benefits of Qi Gong are both immediate and long term. Immediately, it helps me to be less scattered and stressed. After doing some Qi Gong I feel more relaxed and focused. Longer term there are the general health benefits of less stress (and there is an incredible array of these) as well as feeling healthier and more resilient. There are thousands of Qi Gong routines which you can use to help with different aspects of your health if you need to focus on a particular health problem. If you have a problem choosing between the different styles that Qi Gong has to offer, my opinion is that it is best to choose the one you enjoy. This will make it easier to make it part of your life. It you want to change later you can always do this. But when adding something to our lives it is always easier if it is a pleasure.
I hope you can check out Qi Gong. I think you will find that it rapidly becomes a delightful and healthy part of your day.
About the Author: Evan Hadkins is a teacher, psychotherapist, acupuncturist and small business owner living in Sydney, Australia. His interests include: theology, sustainable living, writing, reading and ecology. Visit this blog at http://acupunctureiseasy.com/ .
P.S. If you want to rejuvenate and recharge after the long winter of hibernation, join us for the Spring Qi Gong & Tai Chi Workshop at the Days Inn in Minneapolis, MN on March 15-16, 2008. Receive a free lunch both days PLUS a free T-Shirt with beautiful Chinese calligraphy.
We will use Qi Gong and Tai Chi exercises and breathing movements to help relieve stress and strengthen your immune system. No experience is necessary because each form will be divided into separate exercises that are easy to learn. Using smooth flowing postures and deep breathing, Qi Gong and Tai Chi improves flexibility and strengthens joints to alleviate pain, improve posture, balance, and coordination. Presented by the Health Preservation Association.