A brief introduction.
Qìgōng (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese practice and a component of the Chinese Medical system that involves specific rhythmic physical movements, stillness – meditation – and purposeful controlled breathing.
Although there are many different forms and styles of Qìgōng, they all use specific exercises or physical movements involving the Acupuncture Meridian System, the intention of the mind, and controlled breathing with the sole purpose of enhancing the flow and level of Qi (pronounced chee) in the body to prevent illnesses, promote healing, and optimal health, as well as cultivate spirituality and prompt happiness.
The word Qìgōng has two characters; the first is Qì (chee) translated into “vital energy,” “breath,” “spirit,” and even “information,” being the vital energy, the most used one. The second character, gōng, means “cultivation” or “mastery.” Therefore, the word Qìgōng implies the “cultivation of the vital energy,” or the “mastery of the vital energy.”
There are many different forms or styles of Qìgōng, the majority of those following a specific system of practice associated with a particular Qìgōng lineage or a traditional context, for example, Buddhist Qìgōng, Qìgōng as a martial art, Daoist Qìgōng, Medical Qìgōng, etc. However, more contemporary forms of Qìgōng have and continue to emerge.
Individual Qìgōng practice encompasses a body-mind or mindfulness practice. The individual will first master the physical movements with an attentive state of mind and move to initiate and finally direct with the mind. To develop and achieve this connection, some stiles of Qìgōng recommend using imagery when performing the physical movements. In contrast, others emphasize the use of perception to achieve embodiment awareness.
Numerous scientific articles are corroborating the association of a daily and diligent practice of Qìgōng with many health benefits:
- Psychological benefits are associated with an increase of self-reliance and auto-esteem with the improvement of depression and anxiety.
- Improvement of physical functioning, strength, flexibility, decreased pain, improvement of balance, and reduced body weight and BMI.
- Increase in bone mineralization and improvement of bone health.
- Significant impact on cardiovascular and pulmonary functioning, including a decrease in heart rate, heart rate variability, decrease and normalization of blood pressure, and improvement of respiratory function.
- Improvement of immunity, sleep, and digestive processes.
On the other hand, it is essential to know that the benefits you receive from the practice of Qìgōng mainly depend on the type and nature of the Qìgōng you are practicing.
Some misconceptions about Qìgōng.
- Qìgōng is easy to practice.
Like any other skill that you want to attain, Qìgōng follows the same principles: what is the reason (s) you have decided to practice Qìgōng, what are your goals, and how much you want to achieve, how deep would you like to go in your practice.
If you are looking for: an in-depth practice to enhance your health level, prevent and treat a condition (s)or trauma, and truly transform yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually with the proper support, you should practice with dedication and diligence. That is the only way to harvest all the benefits the Qìgōng practice has to offer.
- Qìgōng is the same as Tàijíquán.
Tàijíquán is primarily a martial arts practice, and although Qìgōng, as we mentioned before, has a similar application, it is not specifically a martial art.
The majority of people are confused about the distinction between these two different practices. Although there are overlaps, influences, and similarities, they remain fundamentally different.
How to learn Qìgōng?
One of the first things is recognizing the reason (s) for practicing Qìgōng; spirituality, preventing health issues, improving your health, healing a condition or an injury, and reducing stress and anxiety. Once you know what you want from Qìgōng, the next step is finding the right person to learn from, a good instructor who will help you create a good foundation from the beginning.
Also, educate yourself, read and search for information about Qìgōng and familiarize yourself with different practices that will help you make an informed decision.
With the growing popularity of online and distance learning, a good rule of thumb is to find a program that also encourages in-person teachings.
Any decision on your practice is significant; this will pave your encouragement and create a solid foundation that will result in a healthy and profound practice.
Remember, when everything is taking into consideration, this is an investment in your wellbeing.
Qìgōng and Chinese Medicine
As we mentioned above, Qìgōng and Traditional Chinese Medicine including Acupuncture, medicinals, Tuīná massage, and dietary treatment, all share the same energetic foundation. They all emerge from the understanding of the Qi principle and its applications.
Applying a therapeutic method of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a Qìgōng practice enhances and advances the healing process.
Any time a person presents with a complex condition, the combination of TCM plus the individual practice of Qìgōng should be considered; this will take the healing process to a different level.