Medical Qigong - Chinese Energetic Medicine
The open, non-judgmental and curious nature of a mindfulness practice has opened me up to the existence of the energy body – a reality that I was not aware of prior to breaking my back and becoming paralyzed. It was only after working with dozens of clinicians who had the ability to work with my energetic and emotional body that I started to wonder about this life force energy that I never learned about growing up in Canada.
Influenced by Western medicine and Newtonian ways of thinking I actually judged the existence of an unseen energy that was seldom discussed in academia. I myself was an anatomy lab instructor at the University of Toronto for ten years and not once did we acknowledge the existence of life force energy and its relationship to human living. But how could we learn about life force energy from cadavers? For in dead tissue we cannot see the flow of life, the flow of fluids, breath nor life force energy!
When I first moved to Vancouver in 2015 my main goal was to explore the affects of bringing my personal rehabilitation directly into the natural environment; the ocean, beaches, forests, and mountains. One day while walking out of a café my gaze was drawn towards a flyer that said: “Medical Qigong with John Weiss.” There was a picture of a white male doing what looked like tai chi. I was intrigued and took note of his next medical qigong workshop. It is interesting to note here that my judgmental mind (conditioned by colonial and Newtonian thinking) would not have entertained that flyer if it did not have the word “medical” and instead of a white man had a photo of an Asian woman.
After attending John Weiss’ weekly 1.5 hour group sessions for one month I noticed the consistency in the benefits I experienced. After each class, I felt as if I had just came from a massage and chiropractic session with my chronic pain significantly reduced and my posture and gait feeling more efficient. I also felt like I had a cup of coffee with my energy levels being higher. The best part for me however was the emotional and spiritual improvements. Whenever I started a class feeling stressed, anxious or depressed I always left feeling more calm, connected, clear, confident and compassionate.
I committed to joining John’s weekly medical qigong sessions for one year after which I decided to pursue professional training in Medical Qigong myself. I began my training at the Empty Mountain Institute in the fall of 2016 and am now certified as a Medical Qigong Practitioner and will be a Medical Qigong Therapist by June 2019. My hopes are to continue with training and complete the Masters level by 2020.
So what exactly is Medical Qigong and why am I passionate about sharing it with others? To understand what medical qigong is let’s break down the word “qigong”. Qi (pronounced “chi” or “ki”) stands for the breath of life, the vital life force energy that flows through all things in the universe; in yoga many refer to this qi as prana. Gong stands for skill, practice, study, work or cultivation. So, qigong refers to the skill of studying, cultivating, or working with life force energy. In short, qigong means energy work and is known to many as Chinese Energetic Medicine. It is one of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the other three branches being: Acupuncture, Chinese Massage and Herbal Therapies.
There are three main schools of qigong:
- Martial Qigong, which trains to build speed, endurance, strength and power for martial applications
- Spiritual Qigong, which trains for spiritual transformation and enlightenment
- Medical Qigong, which trains for health maintenance and longevity by purging, tonifying, bringing balance to and regulating the flow of qi through the body.
Medical qigong practice involves the use of breathing techniques, posture, movement, focused concentration, intention, as well the use of creative visualization and healing sounds. Through practice we can develop awareness of the movement of energy, both inside and outside of the body providing a safe and effective way to release toxic pathogens, trapped emotions and other negative influences that can cause both physical and mental/emotional illness.
Over 5000 years old medical qigong has a growing number of scientific evidence demonstrating its ability to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Breast and ovarian cysts and tumors
- Brain tumors
- Migraine headaches
- Acute abdominal pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
To better appreciate how medical qigong works one may need to integrate new ways of understanding the body. For instance, unlike Western Medicine which views the human body as a machine TCM views the body as a garden with its organs corresponding to elements of the earth. Furthermore, TCM acknowledges that the life force energy flowing all around us and through the body is either yin or yang and so to experience health we need to have a harmonious balance of these energies.
One of the most commonly practised medical qigong exercises is the “Daoist Five Yin Organ” exercise which comprises of gentle movement, breathing practice, and focused concentration. During this exercise we focus on purging, tonifying and bringing balanced flow to the lungs, kidneys, the liver, the heart and the spleen – the main organs that store life fore energy.
The lungs, which are of the metal element processes both the qi associated with integrity and grief. The kidneys, which are of the water element processes both wisdom and fear. The liver, which is of the wood element, processes both anger and compassion. The heart, which is of the fire element processes both anxiety and peace. And finally the spleen, which is of the earth element processes the qi of both worry and trust.
Specific benefits of practising the “Daoist Five Yin Organ” exercise daily include:
- Stretching and loosening of the spine
- Stimulation of the brain and spinal cord and movement of the cerebral spinal fluid
- Stimulation of the movement receptors in our ligaments and fascia
- Stretching of connective tissue and enhancing the elasticity of ligaments
- Healing for diseases of the digestive system i.e., constipation, spastic colon, chronic diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome
For me personally I find great meaning in creating and maintaining a healthy energy body because where there’s flow of energy there can be flow of spirit – the spirit of creativity, insight, compassion and healing. No energy – no spirit! I’ve explored numerous healing modalities since becoming paralyzed in 2010 and nothing has brought the body, mind and spirit together so clearly for me the way Medical Qigong has.
If you are interested in learning more about Medical Qigong consider coming out to one or both of these upcoming sessions being held in Toronto:
- Sunday, July 29th, 2018 at Revive and Thrive Integrative Massage at 1700 Eglinton Avenue East (inside The Retreat) Toronto, Ontario M4A 2X4
- 1.25 hour small group sessions will be held throughout the day between 10-5:30 for only $25. During these sessions participants will be introduced to the “Daoist Five Yin Organ” exercise
- 1.25 hour private sessions will also be offered for $75. This will be your chance to experience a Medical Qigong Healing Treatment where you get to lie on a massage table while Jaisa purges, tonifies and regulates the qi flowing through your body
- Saturday, August 11, 2018 at the Proactive Pelvic Health Centre at 235 Danforth Ave #405, Toronto, ON M4K 1N2
- This will be a 3 hour group workshop from 9am-12pm, during which participants will be introduced to the foundations of Medical Qigong, the “Daoist Five Yin Organ” exercise, and the use of healing sounds, colour therapy and the five elements to process the energy of our emotions. Cost = $75.
Please do connect with me if you’d like to register or enquire about any of the above sessions. I look forward to hearing from you : )