Qigong and Tai Chi as Energy Medicine

Author: Golden J
Conference/Journal: Share Guide
Date published: 2001
Other: Issue ID: Nov-Dec , Pages: 37 , Word Count: 887

The value of good health has increased with the lengthening of life expectancy, and today's fast paced, stress-filled lifestyle has brought the health consciousness of people to a very high level. In addition, the ever-growing crisis in healthcare is motivating us to educate ourselves about health issues and expand our thinking regarding good health practices. Energy medicine is an important aspect of health and healing. The Chinese character for Qi (chi) is directly translated as energy. The character for Gong can be translated as 'cultivation' or 'development.' Qigong practice teaches us about the energy within ourselves. We begin our practice in stillness. We study ourselves in that stillness. The better we know ourselves, the more clear we become about how and where we need to direct our energy. We move in ways that lead the energy to where it is needed. We follow energy to self-knowledge, self-trust, and good health. Qigong practice also helps us to develop a relationship to the energy around us. It is recommended that we practice in nature, around trees and water. Living things have chi or energy which they emit. We can learn to 'inhale' energy from our environment and to circulate it in very specific ways inside ourselves to increase our own vitality. A Qigong healer develops his or her own internal chi and directs that chi through his or her own body and into another to increase and circulate that person's energy. Tai Chi Chuan practiced along with Qigong develops our connection to our inner energy or Spirit. Tai Chi is the art of moving energy. The Chinese characters are translated as 'Supreme Ultimate Fist.' The roots of Tai Chi are in the martial arts, which arose in China from the same roots as energy medicine. Martial artists were trained in medicine; doctors were trained in martial arts. The priests and the monks were doctors and martial artists--and practitioners of energy medicine. They passed down this ancient knowledge of energy medicine to us. When we move, energy moves. When we consciously direct our movements, then we can consciously direct our energy. This way we can have a profound effect on our health. We do this in the practice of Tai Chi, and the fact that this practice is multi-dimensional makes it a good form of energy medicine. We often measure the quality of our health by the measure of our vitality. This is in direct proportion to the quality of circulation. The healthy heart pumps oxygen-carrying blood through a network of vessels, nourishing the internal organs, including the brain. Fundamental to the practice of Tai Chi is finding our center. This center is called the Dantian and is translated as the 'reservoir.' With Tai Chi we tap into that source of energy deep inside, and practice moving it throughout our bodies to heal and nourish the internal organs, and to balance the immune system, the endocrine system and other bodily functions. Posture and shape define the space through which we direct chi energy in the body. We learn about our minds by practicing intention in our Tai Chi postures. Intending to maintain and promote health, we circulate the chi energy through the acupuncture meridians and into the internal organs. The meditative aspects of Tai Chi lead us to our Spirit, putting us in touch with our deepest nature. This practice of cultivating physical, mental, and spiritual energy is definitely 'medicine.' Twice a year, a group of about 65 people gather together under the redwoods of Sonoma County for a retreat that I lead to practice energy medicine in the form of Tai Chi and Qigong. The participants travel from all parts of the country and Europe to attend. They are of all ages and backgrounds, and include doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, physical therapists and counselors. There are also teachers, students, farmers, waitresses, builders, engineers, scientists, and many others. All of these people practice Tai Chi/Qigong to increase their vitality and maintain good health. At this retreat, the participants wake up with the sun, opening their hearts before opening their eyes. They walk quietly in the meadow, imitating nature and consciously breathing in its life force. They shape the energy within their bodies by 'moving like the deer and breathing like the wind.' The day continues with some good wholesome food, lots of self-massage and practice of the Tai Chi forms. This practice goes on all day and into the night for the strongest, while others tailor the hours according to their own abilities. This intense and focused practice increases stamina and strength and the rewards are evident and inspiring. Each individual moves through many levels of improvement quickly and the whole group is affected and uplifted. There is no lack of laughter and joy at these retreats. All of the participants recognize laughter as medicine for the Spirit, and everyone recognizes that Spirit is energy and it is necessary to nurture it along with the mind and the body. The days pass in timelessness. When the end of the retreat comes, each person returns to his or her own environment, winch includes weekly classes and daily practice. All of them are students of Tai Gin and Qigong, many of them are teachers of these forms of energy medicine, and none of them can live without it.