Monday, May 30, 2011

Qi Gong

Today Todd Stewart, practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, returns with some new thoughts on an ancient tradition.

Perhaps you've heard of it. I assume you've heard of tai chi, which is actually said tai ji (translated: "supreme ultimate"). Tai chi means "very, or supremely, late." Well, qi gong is, essentially, tai ji's older brother.

Much older. Say, by 5000 or so years.

Tai ji (essentially a linear sequence of slow movements performed in time with your breath) is most widely known in our society as a means of health improvement - enhancing things such as bone density, muscular strength and flexibility, circulation, energy levels, balance and coordination. But it's also very martial. Think: self-defense styles. As well as a tool of spiritual cultivation. Helps you understand yourself, transcend yourself, or something. I'm not sure, I'm still working on that one myself.

Qi gong. It's similar. Hmmm. Very similar. But also very different. Literally translated, it means "energy work," which can be taken and explained in a few different ways.

I know, everything is energy, just different vibrations or levels or frequencies. So, essentially, everything is qi gong. Acupuncture is qi gong. Massage is qi gong. Even dialogue is qi gong. Tricky. This is generating more questions than answers.

OK. Try this . . .

Sometimes, qi gong is physical movements (sometimes the movements are fast, sometimes they're slow, sometimes they're incredibly slow - think: "are they even moving at all?"), and sometimes you don't actually move at all - well, not physically, anyway. They're sometimes seated, although usually standing (they can even be down lying down, especially the body-stays-still ones). Usually they're learnt in a group of class, or one on one. Sometimes they're used in a treatment, where the practitioner does qi gong and the client/patient/recipient lies there or sits there and receives it. In this instance, it's a bit like Reiki, except without the symbols, and a bit more directed.

See, it's pretty tricky to define and explain in 500 words when it's so broad. Thanks for sticking with it.

Qi gong. It's good for health. Any old health thing. Can be something specific, like a frozen shoulder or a slipped disc or asthma or insomnia or stress. Can be something generic, like energy levels or just overall well-being (here we begin to touch lightly on cultivation again).

Doing qi gong, you start to notice stuff you didn't notice before. I'm talking about sensations in your body. Sensations around your body. Sometimes you might feel full, fuzzy, tingly, buzzy, pulsing, heavy or magnety. It's different (and similar) for all of us.

There are many, many forms and schools or styles of qi gong (5000 years or so worth). What's important (in my opinion) is to find someone you like receiving tutelage from, doing qi gongs that you enjoy and doing them as frequently as YOU feel is appropriate for you.

I guess I should say you could also consider it to be a moving meditation. Although . . . meditation is such a loaded word. But this post is about qi gong, not meditation.

One of the thing that I like about qi gong is that it's something you can do for yourself, rather than having someone do it to you.

How's that?

Qi gong.

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