Qigong - Finding Balance In Life.
Most people have heard of Tai Chi and may associate it with images of oriental people practising fluid, slow movements in parks. As well as being a martial art, Tai Chi is also practised as a way of cultivating good health and relieving stress. The art initially came to the west in the 1960's and has continued to grow in popularity whilst becoming well known for it's health and related benefits. The closely related art of Qigong is just as popular in the East and like Tai Chi is now becoming recognised as a highly effective method of improving well being.
Unlike Tai Chi, Qigong (which means "working with vitality") is more readily accessible as it does not generally contain the complex movements of Tai Chi, yet delivers the benefits in abundance. The theory behind Qigong is based on Chinese Medicine and the idea of Qi (subtle energy). The basic idea is that the body can heal itself when the Qi is flowing well through the many meridians in the body, which serve and support each internal organ to stay healthy.
Qigong, along with acupuncture, shiatsu and herbal medicine can help blockages in the Qi system to dissolve and return the body to harmony again. Of course not everyone may believe the theories of Chinese Medicine, however clinical studies in the West have linked Qigong practise to improved oxygenation of the blood, improved balance and even reducing high blood pressure.
Qigong is practised in many forms across the world from the fairly simple '8 Brocades' to the more advanced 'Wild Goose' versions. One of the easiest systems is called Shi Ba Shi - which originally came from Shanghai and Hong Kong and was developed by a Tai Chi Master. Sometimes this set of 18 exercises is known as "Tai Chi Qigong" - as many of its movements are based on Tai Chi Forms.
The Shi Ba Shi set is a comprehensive way to exercise gently whilst improving health 'from the inside' - as the fluid, smooth movements massage the body and bring a sense of serenity and relaxation to body and mind.
It's well worth trying and is suitable for all ages and levels of mobility.
Utilising relaxation techniques, coordinated movements and harmonisation of the breath, Tai Chi Qigong can help us find a certain amount of inner peace very readily. Somehow the movements, which become a meditation can calm the nervous system and help us take a 'mental holiday' from the busy-ness of life. We can then return to our day with renewed energy and vigour.
Through regular practise we can learn to fell more centred and less affected by the normal pressures of life - which often means we can more easily appreciate the good things and enjoy them more. A famous Master once said the regular practise means that when we develop the wisdom our later years can bring we will also have the health to enjoy them. From a personal perspective, after 20 years of regular practise I can safely say that Qigong and Tai Chi have universally had a positive effect on my life and often brought results in unexpected ways.
Often when I have been mulling over a problem of feeling stressed by some situation in life I have practised and found my problems somehow disappearing - where worries had built up I have experienced more trust and where problems once existed new and unexpected solutions seem to come by themselves.
From a philosophical perspective this may be down to what is known by the ancient Taoists as "cultivating the way of non-ado" an idea that guides us to allow solutions rather than grasp at them and basically just relax.
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