by Michael Hurley L.Ac.
Are you looking for a gentle, efficient practice to improve your health, clear your mind, improve your mood, and give you lasting energy throughout your day? If so, I invite you to learn about Qi Gong. Developed in China thousands of years ago, the people of China have practiced Qi Gong for its health benefits ranging from general relaxation to improving their martial arts practice.
Qi Gong is an integral part of my daily practice. It helps me stay both calm and energetic in my personal and professional life. In this article, we explore the benefits and practice of this ancient Chinese art.
Qi (“chee” ) is our life-force or vital energy. It is the energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong (“gung”) means accomplishment or skill through practice. If we put them together, we get Qi Gong or the cultivation of life-force through practice. This may seem esoteric but it is actually very practical. If we want to get better at something, we practice it. The same goes for being relaxed, breathing, and keeping ourselves in balance all of which can be easy to forget in our busy lives.
Qi Gong is used to unite the body, breath, and mind. Knowing that we can almost envision how a Qi Gong practice is done. It is a series of movements done in conjunction with our breath. The mind piece comes in when we talk about focus. We clear our minds and remain in the present moment. During the practice, we only think about the movements and the breath.
Qi Gong can be used for various purposes by adapting the speed and intention. For relaxation and general health, we may practice slowly and softly like in Tai Chi. If we are practicing Qi Gong for martial arts training, we may practice in a faster and harder manner like in Kung Fu. Both Tai Chi and Kung Fu are forms of Qi Gong.
Everyone can benefit from a Qi Gong practice regardless of age, spiritual belief, or physical differences. Children can increase focus in school. Office workers can reduce stress to avoid burnout. Seniors can promote balance and improve their quality of life. People with physical handicaps can increase strength and improve circulation regardless of limitations of movement. Medical professionals and caregivers can improve their ability to heal their patients.
When I was in school studying Chinese Medicine, two of the required courses were Qi Gong and Tai Chi. I took these during the first couple of trimesters and fell in Love. I was working 40-60 hours a week as a software engineer and maintaining a family while going to school most nights at a full-time status. These practices kept me strong, healthy, and peaceful (mostly) throughout the entire process, which lasted 5 years. I would like to emphasize that it is not required to keep a schedule like that in order to have Qi Gong be useful. In fact, I would highly recommend not doing that and simply making Qi Gong part of your everyday life.
It is very easy to start practicing Qi Gong. Many of us have access to the internet and can search for Qi Gong instructional videos. The local bookstores and libraries have books and DVDs about Qi Gong. You can search for local Qi Gong instructors or meet-up groups. Looking into these is a good way to start. Cup of Life Healing Center does not currently have an offering but we plan to begin a regular class or a series of classes sometime in 2018. Please inquire if you would be interested.
If you decide that Qi Gong is something that you want to continue, get more training. The best way to choose your instructor is to trust your intuition. Some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a qualified instructor would be: what is their background and experience; are they of good character; do they treat people fairly and with respect; do they live what they teach; do they refrain from making unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student’s highest potential?
- This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH.