Qigong (alternatively spelled chi gung or chi kung) is a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space.
When you practice and learn a qigong exercise movement, there are both external movements and internal movements. These internal movements or flows in China are called neigong or “internal power”. These internal neigong movements make qigong a superior health and wellness practice.
The internal movements also differentiate qigong from almost every other form of exercise in the West that often emphasizes prolonged cardiovascular movements (such as in running and biking) or that focus on muscular strength training (weight lifting).
The effectiveness of qigong has been proven in China by its beneficial impact on the health of millions of people over thousands of years. Developing the life force, or chi, is the focus of Taoism, China’s original religion/philosophy. The Taoists are the same people who brought acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bone setting, and the yin/yang concept to the world. Unfortunately, most of the speciﬁcs of these valuable contributions have until just recently been blocked from Western awareness by immense cultural and language barriers. These barriers are beginning to break down to an extent in acupuncture, but with regard to Qigong they are still very much in place.
For most people, the ﬁrst and foremost benefit of qigong lies in the relief or prevention of chronic health problems. The range of maladies that have been helped by qigong in China include cancer, internal organ ailments, poor circulation, nerve pain, back and joint problems and general physical disease. Many physical problems are at least partially due to, or aggravated by, mental or emotional stress, so the importance of the inner tranquility developed through chi gung cannot be overestimated. The practice of Qigong helps manage the stress, anger, depression, morbid thoughts, and general confusion that prey on your mind when your chi is not regulated and balanced. Strengthening and balancing the energy of your mind enhances your ability to detect subtle nuances and to perceive the world and its patterns at ever-increasing levels of complexity. People who do practice some form of energy development many never acquire these abilities.
Qigong is also useful on the spiritual level. The ultimate aim of all inner Taoist practices is the alchemical transformation of the body, mind, and spirit, leading to union with the Tao. Feeling the energy of your body makes it possible for you to understand the energy of your thoughts and emotions, and this leads to comprehending the energy of the spirit. From here it is possible to fully understand the energy of meditation or emptiness, and through emptiness it is possible to become one with the Tao.
Qigong can be practiced by individuals who only want to become physically healthy and do not care about psychological or spiritual matters. For generations, qigong has been used by martial artists, many of whom remained unconcerned with spiritual development. Nonetheless, all Taoist spiritual practice begins with qigong practice, no matter what level of attainment one wishes to ﬁnally achieve.
Many people involved with spiritual disciplines focus their attention on enlightenment, and in the process injure their bodies and agitate their minds. They attempt to train in the higher spiritual disciplines without ﬁrst clearing the energy blocks in their physical and emotional bodies. This way of proceeding can cause the equivalent of a short circuit in their systems, as spiritual practices may generate more power than their bodies or minds can handle.
Qigong represents a total system of energy work and personal development system. The exercises presented the Energy Arts Qigong Exercise Program are all that are necessary to maintain high-level health and increase overall awareness. This set of exercises can also serve as warm-up exercises for internal martial artists and energetic healers. These will give the average person at least as much internal beneﬁt as they would most likely obtain from the practice of tai chi with the vast majority of the tai chi teachers in the West, as most teachers either do not know or do not share information regarding the internal energy work of tai chi.
Qigong was primarily developed as an exercise to keep people healthy and reduce tension. Qigong is practiced by people of all spiritual and religious persuasions. Although the basis of qigong is Taoism, one of the primary Eastern religions, there is no necessity to learn or believe its philosophy to practice qigong.
In addition to their strong practice, Qigong healers understand Traditional Chinese Medicine theory (Qi, five-element, meridians, and other theory) and its applications. A healer uses this foundation knowledge in partnership with intuition to balance the patient’s Qi. However, if a Qigong healer relies too heavily on theory, or too much on intuition, he or she won’t become a great healer. Only those who find the balance do so.