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What is Qi Gong?

An Introduction to Qi Gong
By Christine Gervais and Master Philip Lai
© Philip Lai Qi Gong Association

Energy healing system
Qi Gong is a powerful energy healing system that connects the body, mind and spirit. Some believe it originated in China over 5000 years ago and is the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It was developed within the vast realm of TCM and is responsible for a multitude of health benefits. The word literally means “energy work” but the actual practice is far deeper than its description. Qi Gong is the art and science of cultivating and manipulating one’s inner vital life force with the intentions of healing. Practitioners can gain control of and direct the healthy flow of their Qi, or life force, for self-healing. There are thousands of qi gong systems now in existence and it is practiced worldwide.

Woman Practicing Qi Gong

Today, qi gong is most often referred to as any set of breathing and qi circulation techniques that are capable of improving health, preventing illness, and strengthening the body. Generally speaking, qi is a Chinese term used to refer to all types of energy. It is the intrinsic substance or the vital life energy that animates everything in the universe. It is the medium between and within all material substances. The term Gong refers to the power to produce an effect, cultivation, an attainment of, or an accomplishment that is achieved with steady practice. Loosely, qi gong can be translated as the cultivation, manipulation and attainment of qi.

Flow of energy
The practice of qi gong aims at balancing and strengthening qi in the human body. Qi Gong promotes the free flow of energy throughout the body, breaking down energy blockages within the meridians, the invisible pathways through which qi flows. Under normal conditions, the energy in the human body is a balanced state that is capable of maintaining the physiological functions and can adjust to changes in the environment. All the body’s connections are based on qi. Its myriad structures, from organs to neurons, rely on continual communications delivered by qi. This force travels with its inseparable companion, blood, to every area of the body. If qi in the human body is strong, then it will be difficult for the pathogenic influences to adversely affect it. Even if the pathogenic influences do attack the body, the abundance of qi increases the immunity of the body and prevents disease from occurring.

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), when the flow of qi is blocked, the conditions for disease are created. In order to stay healthy, people need to practice qi gong to keep the qi flowing smoothly in the body so that each cell gets a constant supply of vital energy. Once the supply of qi to the cells becomes blocked, blood flow to that area will change, the cells and their related organs may start to malfunction, and disease or pain may occur. Increasing the strength of the qi flow to the blocked area will increase the blood flow, which supports a more efficient delivery of oxygen and healthy healing nutrients to the affected area. Qi Gong activates and increases the body’s innate self-healing ability.

Benefits from daily practice
The daily practice of qi gong balances the body’s qi and raises it to a higher level. It stimulates and nourishes the body’s internal organs, making the energetic communication between the organs more efficient, consequently restoring vitality and replacing depleted energy where reserves have been lost through illness or physical or emotional exertion. Qi Gong’s benefits are nothing short of legendary and has proved its efficacy for treating physical ailments such as hypertension, dysfunctional metabolic rate, asthma, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, depression, high or low blood pressure, coronary heart disease, glandular fever, cancer (it reduces the often debilitating effects of radiation and chemotherapy), strengthening the immune system and prolonging life.

Qi Gong practice opens up a new way to perceive reality and helps one discover a different understanding of the human body—another way to see its unique connectedness. It is invigorating and elating to think about the potential that lies beyond the physical. Qi Gong is one ancient practice that opens up the gateway to a peaceful mind. Confucius says: "peacefulness enables a quiet mind to aid the thought process to produce good results."