What is Qi Gong? “Gong” means “practice” or “discipline,” and “Qi,” also spelled “Chi,” or, in Japanese, “Ki,” translates roughly as bio-energy.
The Chinese character for Qi means the steam that comes from cooking rice.
Qi Gong traces its origins to Da Mo, an Indian Monk who came to the Shaolin Temple in China in 567 CE and discovered that all the monks were ailing and under constant attack by marauding bands that invariably got the better of them. Distressed, Da Mo retreated to a cave to meditate. He emerged nine years later to teach Qi Gong, the Shaolin martial arts, and Chan (Zen) Buddhism to the monks. Da Mo is also known as Bodhidharma.
Many people experience Qi as a feeling of warmth. Some experience it as a pleasant coolness. Others feel direction, a subtle movement along the body. Still others feel texture, a sense of smoothness or roughness, or sometimes a feeling of pins and needles. Many people do not feel Qi at all the first several times they practice or receive Qi Gong. It sometimes takes weeks, months, or even years to develop sensitivity to Qi. One’s sensitivity or insensitivity to Qi at the kinesthetic level does not testify to the effectiveness of the Qi Gong; people who do not feel Qi at all can still benefit greatly from Qi Gong.
There are two kinds of Qi gong: “outgoing” Qi Gong
and “self” Qi Gong.
“Self” Qi Gong, usually just called “Qi Gong,” is the practice of using movement, posture, breath, meditation, and self-massage to direct Qi to or along particular meridians, acupoints, and body parts for self-treatment. There are Qi Gung meditations that involve little or no movement, and there Qi Gong exercises involving challenging movements that resemble calisthenics, yoga, or aerobics. In fact, calisthenics was originally based on Qi Gong.
I teach my students and clients specific Qi Gong exercises and techniques based on their individual conditions. This kind of Qi Gong can: build a stronger immune system, increase stamina, increase energy, facilitate detoxification, improve breathing, strengthen the heart, support and strengthen the internal organs, and treat chronic illness.
While most of my clients prefer to receive shiatsu and / or outgoing Qi Gong as well, I have students who come for individualized Qi Gong instruction; I also offer Qi Gong classes. We select the particular forms of Qi Gong based on the individual needs of each client. We also adapt our Qi Gong exercises to the needs and abilities of our clients; most of the standing forms and meditations can also be done sitting up or lying down, and we develop other adaptations as appropriate.
Outgoing Qi Gong is the Qi Gong that practitioners use to treat clients. Outgoing Qi Gong includes projecting Qi into a particular acupoint or larger area of the receiver’s body, directing Qi along a meridian (energetic pathway) or around a particular body area, or using the practitioner’s Qi to direct excess, stagnant, or harmful Qi out of a point or area in the receiver’s body. In other words, Qi Gong is a form of energy work based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Unlike shiatsu/acupressure, Qi Gong often does not involve physical contact.
Outgoing Qi Gong may be used to: treat an acupoint (i.e, provide a treatment roughly equivalent to shiatsu or acupuncture) relieve pain from a general area reduce or remove an energetic blockage from an area (with a corresponding reduction in physical or emotional symptoms from that blockage) reduce swelling increase energy Qi Gong may be used as an independent treatment modality, or to complement a shiatsu (or acupuncture) treatment. For most of my clients, I use a combination of shiatsu and Qi Gong, but I have clients whom I treat using Qi Gong exclusively. It is often particularly appropriate when other forms of treatment cannot be used, as for treating a client with burns who cannot endure touch because it causes too much pain.
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