Qigong (Chi Kung) is an ancient Chinese system of body and mind healing through working with energy (Qi/Chi). It combines breathing techniques, gentle body movement and focused intention to strengthen the body, to cleanse it and to support smooth flow of energy and blood circulating all around.
Qigong is known to be at least 2,500 years old, but there is evidence that indicates its roots as far back as 5,000 years ago.
The word Qigong is made up of two words; Qi is pronounced chee and means life force or vital-energy (that flows through all things in the universe). Gong is pronounced kung, means accomplishment or skill that is cultivated through practice. Thus, Qigong means Cultivating Life Force. It is a system that is practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
Qigong is looked at, and indeed is being called by some as Nurturing Life (Yang Sheng). Under the term Yang Sheng comes all that contributes to physical, emotional and spiritual balance, not only within ourselves as humans but between ourselves and all that’s around us; plants, animals, nature-the whole universe.
Some people consider Tai Chi as a form of Qigong. Tai Chi works as a whole-body whole-mind exercise, whereas Qigong, in parts, works more specifically on different systems or parts/organs of the body, such as the digestive system, the respiratory system, kidneys, lungs etc’. But, no doubt that Tai Chi and Qigong are closely related, and most teachers of Tai Chi combine Qigong sequences into their lessons.
Qigong develops both inner and outer body awareness. Through focused attention we become aware of our body – where we are relaxed, where there is tension or discomfort, or according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – where our body’s energy is imbalanced and blocked. With the help of focused intention and gentle breathing and movement we can then begin directing qi into these places and thus open the congested passages. We learn to communicate with our own body by sensing it correctly, listening to its needs and responding to them.
Qigong can contribute to the healing of our emotions as much as to our physical healing. According to TCM there is no separation between body-heart-mind, which are merely three different aspects of the human being. As such, experiencing fear, anger, sadness, frustration or jealousy can cause rigidity of body, exhaustion and pain, if unattended.
Barbara Brown, a counselor and a Qigong teacher, says: “ (when practicing Qigong) We do not need to analyse these states, but to bear witness to their presence in the body, breathing into them, bringing to them a state of balance, gentleness, and grounding “