What is Qigong?
There has been a recent surge of interest in the ancient Chinese mind-body practice of Qigong. Modern people have discovered that western medicine has its limitations and risks. We are now looking for ways to enhance our health. Qigong, with a 2000 year history of research and development, offers viable methods for accessing our natural healing powers.
Qi means “energy”, and gong means “to cultivate with time and effort”. Qi is the vital energy that keeps you alive. It comes from what you eat, the air you breathe, and the natural environment. Gong has the meaning of dedicated work that leads to fruitful results. Because the quality of human life depends on the abundance, purity and circulation of Qi it is critically important that we learn how to cultivate it.
Qigong is a method for developing vital energy with persistent practice using body movements, mental visualization and breathing techniques. These three main components of Qigong will have varying degrees of emphasis throughout the spectrum of Qigong exercises.
The movements can range from simple hand gestures to vigorous kung fu. Mental intention is used to guide the Qi through specific energy centers and pathways of the body. Breathing techniques are used to enhance and circulate the Qi in synchrony with body movements and postures.
The degree of physical movement in a Qigong exercise is related to the goal. More movement will have a direct effect on body function, less movement will allow greater focus on the inner flow of Qi. “External” Qigong exercises like the 8 Brocades, Animal Frolics and Daoist Yoga have been used for hundreds of years to keep the body strong and flexible. This type of Qigong is excellent for addressing the physical decline that often comes with aging. It is also used by athletes to develop better coordination and balance. The movements of “Internal” Qigong like the Sacred Sounds use hand gestures and placement to direct the Qi to specific regions of the body. In this case, the movements are secondary to breathing and visualization. The goal is to tap into our deepest reservoirs of energy.
Breathing is the most important thing we do moment to moment. An ancient meaning for the word “Qi” is “vital breath”. There are many methods of breathing associated with Qigong but the mainstay is to focus on the four phases of respiration: inhale, short pause, exhale, long pause. Healing Sounds Qigong is a method where the practitioner makes specific vocalizations that will resonate with certain internal organs for a healing benefit. Qigong can be very effective for many respiratory problems. The emphasis on proper breathing also helps with anxiety disorders and other stress related conditions in which there is dysfunctional breathing.
Mental intention is the hallmark of Qigong. Even if a person is physically incapacitated they can still gain the benefits of freely flowing energy by using their mind. The ultimate Internal Qigong practice is Daoist meditation where imagery is used sequentially to move Qi through the body.
We can direct Qi through our body by using hand placement, breath regulation, and/or mental focus. This promotes the replete and unobstructed circulation of Qi that will give us a genuine sense of peace and well being. In this way, Qigong can be used to treat the imbalance and dis-ease that is the root cause of most human maladies.
“Qigong has been an integral part of Chinese culture since ancient times. High level qigong masters have always been respected and held in great esteem in Chinese society. They studied qigong not merely for the health of the body, but as an attempt to understand human nature and its interactions with the environment and the universe.
Realizing that humans are part of nature, they knew that any attempt to understand human physiology inevitably involved the study of the universe. These qigong masters were the pillars of Chinese society and included healers, philosophers, teachers, astrologers, scientists, martial artists, and government leaders. Their study resulted in the formation of the Yin-Yang and the Five Phase theories that have guided, and still guide, the development and research of all fields of study, from medicine to government to the understanding of our greater existence.”
Master Liang Shou-yu, in his book, Qigong Empowerment
Dr. Davis presents a variety of classes that explore different aspects of qigong. All classes have the same goal of teaching the students how they can have a better life through the practice of qigong.
QIGONG THROUGH THE SEASONS
As the energy in nature goes through cyclical transformations, the energy in our bodies does as well. To have naturally good physical and mental health we need to stay in balance with seasonal changes. Qigong for the Seasons is a series of classes that will teach you how to be healthy throughout the year.
Based on Chinese medicine’s law of the Five Phases, each class will consist of qigong exercises, meditations and dietary advice that pertains to each season and its related organ network: winter-kidneys, spring-liver, summer-heart, autumn-lungs. There are additional body structures, emotions, and energetic concerns related to each network. Students learn how to live with each season in a fully integrated way.
These classes are held on a Saturday near the solstice or equinox of the current season. It is a full program of practice and discussion with a short midway break. Participants receive an extensive handout that will reinforce what they learned in class and help them develop a personal training program.
For those with specific health concerns, Dr. Davis offers medical qigong sessions at his private studio. In this setting, he can teach individuals particular exercises that focus on their problem and offer external Qi healing if they wish. This type of self-care is compatible with all other treatment methods.