Qigong: An Ancient Way to Balance Mind and Body
Qigong, also known as ch'i kung or ch'i gong, is an ancient Chinese discipline that involves the mind, breath, and movement to create a calm, natural balance of energy that can be used in work, recreation or self-defense.
Qigong exercises have a reputation in China for aiding in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, pulmonary emphysema, arthritis, digestive disorders, arteriosclerosis, skin diseases, depression, cancer, and many other illnesses.
For those seeking physical fitness, qigong loosens the joints and increases flexibility and suppleness, while strengthening the sinews and tendons. It has been known to improve the function of the internal organs, delay aging, and prolong life.
Qi, or ch'i, is an intrinsic energy in the body that travels along pathways in the body called meridians. At certain points along the pathways, acupuncture points, acupuncturists may place needles to cure or alleviate a patient's conditions. The purpose is to restore the flow of qi to a natural, healthy balance.
Qigong exercises are intended to achieve the same goal through use of the mind, breath movement. There are thousands of qigong exercises, some for specific purposes. One of the best kinds of qigong exercises is T'ai Chi Ch'uan, which can also be used for self-defense. Treating people with qigong can be traced back 2,500 years in China to the Warring States Period. People found out by accident that when a man with qigong released his energy on an injury, the affected part would heal quickly.
From then on, qigong was often used to treat war injuries. It was later extended to various diseases.
The book, "Wonders of Qigong,"compiled by China Sports Magazine and published by Wayfarer Publications, describes the discovery of ancient documents about ch'i kung and another related fitness exercise called daoyin.
Daoyin exercises are a method that combines regulated breathing with body movements and it is good for all the joints in the body, particularly the shoulders, waist, knees and the respiratory organs. The daoyin exercises were merged into ch'i kung methods to form a body of techniques practiced today.
Qi is most often defined as life-breath, a vital force, or spirit. When used in connection with neo-confucianist Li (the eternal principle), qi means matter-energy.
Ch'i is said to come out of the Tao (a source that is itself inexpressible) to create Yin and Yang, which create Yin and Yang energies.
Qi is inherent in everyone and everything. It is a Chinese word for something that really is universal. So long as a person breathes, he or she has vital qi.