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Articles -- Qi Gong

In China, masses of people go out into the parks and shopping malls every day to practice Qi Gong (also spelled Chi Gung).

Qi Gong is all about the energy that flows through your body maintaining your health and vitality. When you hold tension in a part of your body, the energy gets stuck and you become susceptible to all kinds of disease ('dis-ease'). The Qi Gong practice helps you to let go of that tension and restore the normal flow of energy.

We may look at this and think it's like a calisthenics workout. But it's quite different. The exercises are slow and synchronized with the breathing, and the mind is focused on feeling the energy (the Qi or Chi). In addition, the practice involves your lifestyle, attitude and way of being throughout the day. The particular form of Qi Gong that I have studied includes additional practices, described below.

Hugs and Laughter
When you are doing things you love, you automatically feel a surge of energy. The following two practices are recommended:

  • Get at least eight hugs a day (big bear hugs!)
  • Get at least three belly-laughs a day (laugh 'til tears come to your eyes)

You can add things that you enjoy to this list. For example, dancing, painting, singing, etc. Make a list of things that renew and invigorate you and make these a frequent part of your life. Continue to modify this list, dropping any that have become boring and adding new things. The aim is to keep your energy fresh and flowing.

Positive, Peaceful and Loving
The next three recommendations deal with mental attitude and how you respond to yourself and others.

  • Maintain a positive mental attitude
  • Be at peace with yourself and others
  • Give and receive lots of love

Negativity creates blocks and shuts you down. Similarly, anger and hatred isolate and close you up. Your energy will only flow when you allow positive thoughts and feelings of love and compassion for yourself and others.

This does not mean blocking anger. On the contrary, work through it in whatever way is not harmful to yourself or others. Beat a pillow, change perspectives, exaggerate and find humor in it. Whenever I get angry at my husband, he has an amazing knack for turning the situation on its head and making me laugh. Sometimes he will just shake his head in a helpless way and say, "Well, you married it", and I just have to laugh. Stepping outside of the situation and seeing it from an objective perspective is a powerful way to diffuse a negative feeling.

Nutrition, Posture, Breathing
The next two practices are:

  • Good nutrition.
  • Maintain proper posture and breathing (from the diaphragm)

Nutrition is an obvious point that everyone knows but many don't follow. What you may not realize is that healthy food can taste fabulous. I suspect that many people have created an association between "healthy food" and "boring" or "tasteless". But do a Google search for "delicious healthy recipes" and turn a boring experience into a culinary delight.

Good posture is another important practice. Every system in your body depends on good communication along the nerve pathways in your spine. If your posture is poor, nerves will become compressed and transmission will decrease. Whenever you catch yourself slouching or leaning back in your chair, consciously straighten your back, drop your shoulders and gently stretch your neck keeping your head straight and chin back. Notice how your energy changes as you do this.

When I think of proper breathing, I remember an aunt telling my mother that the doctor had taught her how to breath. "Imagine," she said, "I'm 62 and I still don't know how to breathe!"

Most people take very shallow breaths from the chest area. Try taking deep breaths from your diaphragm, extending your abdomen (right below the rib cage) as you inhale, and then compress your abdomen as you exhale. This will transport the maximum amount of oxygen to your system, nourishing and maintaining health. When I first started doing this, I would start to yawn. That's a sign that your body loves this and is craving more. You've been suffocating your body!

Sitting straight and breathing from the diaphragm are the normal ways of being and with practice it will become your norm and will result in a healthier more energetic you.

Exercise and Meditation
As you can see, the practice of Qi Gong encompasses your physical, mental and emotional way of being throughout the day. The daily exercises and meditation add the final touch to this practice.

  • Daily exercises that engage body and mind
  • Daily meditatation

The Qi Gong exercises are done slowly and are synchronized with your breathing. Your mind is focused on the energy and this helps you learn to release any tension or blocks and allow energy to flow freely through your body.

Finally, your mind affects everything in your life, and therefore meditation is the most important practice of all. It will transform an inner state of chaos to one of calm. A focused mind is powerful beyond measure, and it will not only help you to maintain a state of peacefulness but will also help you move towards your goals without distraction.

The practice of Qi Gong is a lifestyle that aims at enhancing health and vitality of body and mind. I invite you to experiment with any or all of the practices described above and discover the benefits that may result for you.

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