Exercise Is The Perfect Complement To Traditional Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Being told to exercise is likely one of the most common treatments ‘prescribed’ by contemporary doctors. It’s not without merit, and there are a multitude of benefits to be gained from exercise that are discovered every day. For example, medical researchers have recently found that 10% of advanced lung cancer patients benefited from exercise.

What role does exercise have to play in traditional medicine? The likes of tai chi and tui na already have a physical aspect and the benefits of those practices are well known. Both within Chinese medicine and other non-western medicines, physical activity has been shown to have a positive contribution to overall health when used in conjunction with other methods.

Tai Chi, Yoga, and The In Between


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Coming from different corners of the continent, tai chi and yoga have remarkable similarities despite their differences. Both rely on stretching movements, but yoga is more energetic and pushes into stillness; whereas tai chi relies on fluid movements to relax the muscles in preparation for stretching later. Recently, they have ‘combined’ in a way to create yin yoga. Early studies have suggested that this particular type of yoga, when conducted safely and with the proper equipment, can have a strong positive influence on health. One study, conducted by Lund University, Sweden, found that yin yoga could significantly reduce physiological and psychological risk factors. The study found that those taking part in yin yoga had reduced levels of ADM, a marker often found in those developing non-communicable disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

Is Vigorous Physical Activity Possible?

Vigorous activity is not part and parcel of Chinese medicine. As the Traditional Chinese Medicine foundation have noted, sweat is the fluid of the heart, and vigorous activity will unbalance your Qi creating a deficiency. What’s the solution?

One potential is swimming. Swimming can be moderately vigorous, requiring every muscle in the body to work in tandem to stay float and propel. However, it can be moderated, and sweat is greatly reduced when in a colder pool. There is also evidence to show swimming can work well in tandem with traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers from Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai, China, found that songyou yin and swimming aided liver immunity when used in conjunction. Ultimately, this reduced the levels of liver cancer in the study group.

The Bottom Line


Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Bringing in more energetic forms of traditional exercise, and more mainstream methods, such as swimming, have an overall contributory effect to your health. However, multiple studies have shown the well established link between traditional Chinese exercises, like tai chi, and good health. As this South China Morning Post article clearly outlines, the holistic use of traditional Chinese exercises, good diet and mindfulness (or meditation) mitigate many cardiovascular ailments, regardless of country; the study cited pointed out that over 2,000 people across 10 countries reported on.

Traditional medicine has shown its effectiveness when paired with exercise. There are ways to augment this in order to provide the maximum benefits for your health. However, while these have been shown to help, the best way to stay fit is through traditional routines.

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Beautiful featured image photo by Emily Sea on Unsplash

The Most Important Qigong – III (Standing Post Zhan Zhuang)

By John Voigt

This is the third and concluding article about Standing Post, a qigong pose of stillness, complete relaxation, and no observable movement. It features two versions of Standing Post, the latter version attributed to the legendary qigong master, Dr. Yan Xin http://www.yanxinqigong.net/aboutdryan/index.htm .

A list of books, online articles, and videos about Standing Post – Zhan Zhuang will be given at the end at the end of this article.

Many masters of Chinese health, martial arts, and spiritual practices say this type standing meditation is the most important of all exercises to do. The previous two articles about Standing Post appeared in the January and February 2018 issues of Chinese Medical Living. The Most Important Qigong - Standing Post Zhan Zhuang & The Most Important Qigong - Standing Post Zhan Zhuang II

Standing Post With Seven Imaginary Beach Balls, complied by
John Voigt

This image from https://sciencekungfu.wordpress.com/tag/zhan-zhuang/

First and most important: Have the entire body and mind complexly relaxed ignoring any discomfort—but if there is any pain immediately stop doing this exercise.

The feet stand straight ahead at approximately a shoulder’s width. The knees are slightly bent and never protrude past the toes. The spine is straight. The chin is slightly tucked in. Imagine that the crown of the head is gently being pulled up by a thread to the heavens.

The tongue rests on the palate. The eyes are half closed (as the Chinese say, “Look but don’t look). Breathe softly, slowly, deeply through the nose in a natural rhythmic way down into the lower abdomen. Don’t think, but do be silently aware of what is happening internally in the body; in other words keep the mental focus on your posture and especially on how it feels.

Hold an imaginary beach ball. The picture shows a typical way, at the upper chest, but the ball can be held at a higher or lower position. The hands and wrists are relaxed with the fingers pointing at each other; the thumbs point to the upward. The shoulders and elbows are also relaxed.

Next imagine that your elbows are resting on smaller beach balls, and that you are holding a smaller ball in each of your underarms, and one between your upper thighs.

Now imagine a super-sized beach ball and sit back on it (like sitting on the edge of a bar stool). Be careful—seriously, don’t fall over, this is imaginary after all. We want the weight of the trunk, head and upper limbs to rest on the thighs; and the weight of the body to be evenly distributed on both feet.

At the end of doing the Standing Post pose do some mild stretches, and it’s also good to take a walk.

Dr. Yan Xin on Zhan Zhuang

Image from www.china.com

The legendary Qigong master Dr. Yan Xin (born 1950 - ) http://www.yanxinqigong.net/aboutdryan/index.htm (pronounced “Yan Shen”) wrote the following: Now we talk about Standing Post (Zhan Zhuang). You always need to stand in the correct and relaxed way, then the movement is very easily learned; with just one "stand" you'll get it. But if you stand in your old incorrect way, that will easily produce or make you feel irritable and bored. Then you will loose any interest in learning it or doing Standing Post. It will be difficult to get started and gain any significant progress or results that way. Therefore, for those who say that they want to do this practice, we must nurture and cultivate their interest, and their desire to learn. How is this done? By having them recognize the importance of qigong and become aware of its many benefits. [From Eighty Characters: The Essentials of Qigong Practice. http://www.yanxinqigong.cn/fali/temp_lifa_yaoling_80zi_01.htm ].

[John Voigt speaking:] In the early 1990s my Chinese language tutor, Ms. Sheng Xue, learned Standing Post in Beijing from Dr. Yan Xin, or at times from his teaching assistants. (Dr. Yan moved to California in 1990, but made many trips back to China to do healings sessions with the then Premier.) She kindly gave me the following description of what he taught :

Preparation: “In the morning face east; during the night face north. Relax and the energy comes. [Note: In the profound words of Ms. Sheng, “You don't ‘have it,’ (if you think that) the qi-energy (will) go away.”] Have fingers not too tight—just a little bit open. Arms go up horizontally at sides to palms over the head to guide qi into the crown of the head (baihui). Then have palms gently and slowly come down in front of you which by itself—and without any word directions or mental will power—will cause the qi to flow inside through the face, eyes, lungs, into the dantian. Don't direct qi after its entrance in the baihui; just mentally focus on being aware of your dantian[the life energy storage center in the lower abdomen] and allow the qi to flow naturally down into the dantian. End by placing the hands over the dantian; then palms face the ground; drop hands slowly—that way the qi that has been built up is not lost.” [Note: this preparation is an example of the widely practiced Daoist qigong form, “Drawing (or “Pulling”) Down the Heavens.”]

Ball Holding Stance: More from Ms. Sheng: “Next slowly go into ‘Ball Holding Stance.’ Take three deep breaths, then [sit] down on the horse. Just standing you feel qi in the arms and hands—then it going into the bones. Then into shoulders; then upper legs, lower legs and feet; then shoulders and neck. Feet [pointed slightly in] helps keep knees from overlapping the toes. Think happy thoughts like family, [or being in beautiful] nature. Slowly go into ‘Ball Holding Stance.’ Take three deep breaths, then [sit] down on the horse. Feel hot qi in the arms. Do not go to thighs parallel with ground [i.e., extreme deep knee bends] unless [under the direction of a experienced] teacher. Expect to get hot [because of qi buildup] as well as working up a good sweat—this is a muscle exercise after all. Stand Pole [sic] has large quantities of life energy—qi power arms, legs and body.” End the same as beginning [with Drawing Down the Heavens] . . . then slowly place hands above dantian; then hands slowly return to the sides.

Concluding Odds and Ends

Zhan Zhuang in Chinese characters is站 ,and pronounced Jan [sinking tone] Jwong [high tone].

About Dr. Yan Xin. See: Yan Xin Qigong at http://yanxinqigong.net/
Many believe him to be one of the most outstanding qigong masters of all times in both in scientific experimentation, teaching, healing, and exhibiting paranormal abilities.

Highlights as a Healer: After a three year exile to the United States, he returned to Beijing to help heal the Chinese premier Deng Zhou Ping, who was dying of advanced metastasized cancer. Both Eastern and Western medical doctors had given up on Deng's survival, and the enemies of Qigong brought Dr. Yan back to China in the hopes of discrediting him and Medical Qigong. Deng Zhou Ping did not practice the qigong that Yan Xin asked of him, but at least Yan Xin was able to keep the Premier alive for another year and a half, essentially by his living off of Dr. Yan's bioenergy (Qi). This precipitated the "legalization" of Qigong in China under the [auspices of the] government controlled Chinese "Sports Authority."
http://www.michaelshaman.com/dr-yan-xin.html

He also went to the U.S. White House eight times to give energy treatments to President Bush, Sr., which gives some explanation to Bush’s paratroop jump in his 80s!
https://www.mind-energy.net/archives/246-the-highest-technology-of-all-technologies-the-yan-xin-secret.html

Since the 1990s, Yan Xin's main activities of teaching, writing, and participating in scientific research on external qi used for healing have been in the United States, and Canada.

A short biography exists on the Encyclopedia of Chinese Culture. https://contemporary_chinese_culture.academic.ru/907/Yan_Xin

As an example of his qigong superstardom, including some improvisational spontaneous standing meditation go to严新气功功理功法精选 1 [Yan Xin Qigong power law selection 1] on YouTube - [only in Chinese].
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvdet8nmSOw

For Further Study: Books – Articles – Essays - Videos
Kenneth S. Cohen. The Way of Qigong; pp. 133-143. Ballantine Books, 1997.

Michael P. Garofalo. “Standing Meditation," research by Michael P. Garofalo [at]
http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/wuji.htm

Karel Koskuba. Zhan Zhuang. [at] http://www.yiquan.org.uk/art-zz.html

Master Lam Kam Chuen. The Way of Energy. Simon & Schuster, 1991.

John Voigt. “The Ultimate Energy Exercise: Zhan Zhuang – Standing (Like A) Post. Qi Journal, vol. 23/n.2; Summer 2013. https://www.qi-journal.com/store.asp?-token.S=qi&ID=3319

“Wang Xiangzhai.” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Xiangzhai

Wang Xiangzhai: Entering the Quiet State; [at] http://mitqigong.blogspot.com/2011/03/wang-xiangzhai-entering-quiet-state.html

Wang Xiangzhai. “Seek Fullness of Spirit and Intention.” [at] http://mitqigong.blogspot.com/2011/04/wang-xiangzhai-seek-fullness-of-spirit.html .

Wang Xuanjie & John Moffett. Traditional Chinese Therapeutic Exercises: Standing Pole; [text in English]. Foreign Languages Press, 1994. [Has seven standing forms, five seated postures, four lying postures, and three moving postures. Master Wang said that Zhan Zhuang can even be adapted and used by people without arms or legs.]

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit. Stance Training and becoming a Scholar-Warrior
[at] http://shaolin.org/general-2/stance-training.html .

Yiquan: Collection of Essays 1996-2010, (e-book); published by Andrzej Kalisz. Yiquan Academy International Network. [at] http://www.scribd.com/doc/44719012/Yiquan-essays .

Yu Yong Nian. “Still Life,” Metro Beijing, March 23, 2011. https://www.scribd.com/doc/145816955/Still-Life-Yu-Yong-Nian-on-Zhan-Zhuang .

Videos on the Internet
Ken Gullette. Zhan Zhuang: Standing Stake Tai Chi Lesson. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnckgTx3-rE .

Standing Meditation Basics - Yiquan Masters Demonstrate. YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtUKTd2WKsc&feature=related .

Zhan Zhuang Lineage and Memorial. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OIcCTrLsCA

Sources of Pictures
Holding The Ball. https://sciencekungfu.wordpress.com/tag/zhan-zhuang/
Dr. Yan Xin. http://news.china.com/history/all/11025807/20161226/30114727_all.html


The Most Important Qigong II - (Standing Post - Zhan Zhuang)

by John Voigt

In silence there must be movement, and in motion, there must be silence.

A small movement is better than a large movement,

no movement is better than a small.

Silence is the mother of all movement..

In movement you should be like a dragon or a tiger.

In non-movement you should be like a Buddha.

--Wang Xiangzhai, the Father of Standing Post Qigong

This is a continuation of the article - The Most Important Qigong - that appeared in Chinese Medical Living, January 2018.

A Quick Summary.

Stand straight and relaxed with chin slightly tucked back. Raise your arms and pretend to hug an imaginary large tree (or large ball). Breathe slowly, deeply, and smoothly. Hold the pose as long as possible. Relax into any discomfort you experience. If you experience any pain then stop immediately. With an empty mind be aware (feel) your posture; and gently correct it if necessary.

How Long to Practice.

Even a few minutes of serious practice each day should bring about some positive results.  As long as there is no pain, slowly extend the length of the practice. With an accomplished teacher several hours—even more—are theoretically possible.  However, for those who need more specific instructions: “Start by doing the standing exercises  for five minutes a day.  After three weeks, increase this to ten minutes.  Three weeks later, aim for 15 minutes, and 20 minutes after a further three weeks.  You can stand longer if you wish, but 20 minutes will refresh your whole system.”  Master Lam Kam Chuen.  The Way of Energy, pg. 25.

The important thing is to practice as relaxed, as long, and as often as you can.

MANAGING THE DISCOMFORT:

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/519532506985622303/

Discomfort is to be expected and dealt with by relaxing and breathing into the strained area.

Ignore any itches, tingling, even minor quick flashing pains which often are signs that energy blockages are being opened.  If it gets to be too much just stop doing the standing posture for a few seconds, then return to it with the arms not held so high, or the knees not bent so much. To alleviate some discomfort in the arms, imagine they are suspended up by strings from the elbows and wrists.  Or lower the hands down to in front of the belly.  Or imagine the arms are made of cotton.

Other ways to reduce discomfort are more fanciful, but perhaps more effective:  imagine you are floating in a pool of warm water; or you are a feather floating in the air.  For those that are more spiritually aggressive, imagine you are an angelic being of light floating in the heavens.

The simplest remedy is paradoxical: with the hint of a smile on your lips, just disregard the discomfort and sink into it as if it weren’t there—something like getting a “second wind” for a long distance runner.

However if sharp or intense pain occurs anywhere, especially in the knees or other joints, STOP!   If pain continues to occur during future practice, discontinue all practice until you receive professional advice from someone experienced in these matters.   

TECHNIQUES TO BETTER THE PRACTICE:

A Straight Back.

Be aware of the alignment and symmetry of your pose, and gently adjust and correct it as needed.

Although they may think that they are standing straight, most people lean slightly backwards or forwards when doing Standing Post. To experience what a straight back really feels like, lie on the floor in a supine position, or stand against a wall.  Or do it with a full length mirror to check your stance; or have someone look at you and tell you when are not straight.  Or imagine you are hanging from the limb of a tree by the hair on the top of your head.

Do not “tuck the tailbone under.”  Do not put that kind of force on your spine.  If you “sit back” on an imaginary high stool, the coccyx will properly straighten by itself.

Note:

Many people need to feel that they are leaning forward to get a correct straight posture.

Look at Grand Master Yu Yong-Nian with his students in the next picture.  For most (and especially with Master Yu) a theoretical plumb line could be dropped from the crown of the head through the center of the abdomen down to the perineum area.  Not only that: the Kidney-1 points (behind the balls of the feet) also line up, and all this is done so effortlessly!

Grand Master Yu Yong Nian with his students, Beijing, circa 1985.
Image source: http://www.yiquan78.org/postures.htm

MIND:

This is a mental as well as physical exercise, overcoming random thoughts is an important aspect …. Only [by] being completely relaxed and natural, not trying to control, just letting thoughts come and go Without  Attachment, can one really stabilize and liberate the consciousness. Wang Xiangzhai: Entering the Quiet State.

Other methods to clear the mind to gain that needed “quiescence”:  listen to the breath - make it silent - listen to the silence of the breath.  If that is too difficult, count each inhalation up to ten, then go back to one and repeat the counting.

Superstar martial artist Bruce Lee may have said it best in the movie, Enter The Dragon” with his “Don’t think, feel” … [that way you won’t miss ] … “All that heavenly glory.”

EYES:

Gaze in an absent minded way at the hands. As the Chinese say, “Look but don’t look.” This helps to more deeply relax into the static standing posture.

SHOULDERS:

If you have trouble keeping the shoulders loose, inhale and squeeze the shoulders up; then quickly exhale and drop the shoulders.

FINGERS-HANDS-ARMS: 

The fingers are slightly spread apart, and the thumbs are slightly bent—(imagine each hand is catching a ball).  Or, sometimes I tell my students, “think tiger claws.”  And keep the wrists loose.

Hands and arms are normally just below shoulder level, but they may be at the level of the lower abdomen (dantian), or the forehead, or the palms may face the ground;  there are many possible options.


The Eight Zhan Zhuang Posts of Yiquan
Image source: http://mitqigong.blogspot.com/2011/06/eight-zhan-zhuang-posts-of-yiquan.html

KNEES:

The knees should never go past the toes; doing that can harm the knees.

About Knee Bends. 

Many martial arts teachers say that with the legs wider apart than shoulder width, you can gain a lower crouching stance which will enable more vital energy (qi) to be packed into your body.  This certainly has validity.  However in the standard practice of Zhan Zhuang, it is only an advanced option, and is best done only under the supervision of an experienced master teacher.

Normally the knees are bent about an inch—but it is standard to bend them as

much as you can without experiencing pain.

The knees should slightly push outward. To accomplish this, imagine a large ball expanding against, but simultaneously being held in place (isometric-like) by your knees. Guide your body weight to—and slightly lift up—the yongquan (Kidney-1) acupuncture points directly behind the balls of the feet.  This lifts the arches and distributes the weight between the heels, toes, and sides of the feet.  This will help you feel lighter and more agile.  It also keeps the knees from pointing inward.

Be a TREE. 

Zhan Zhuang sometimes is translated as “Standing Like a Tree.”  It may be helpful to bring the concept of  Tree into the practice.  For example, do the exercise outdoors among large healthy trees—You can imagine that you too are a tree standing straight and powerful; drawing up earth-yin energy and drawing down sun-yang energy.

Or visualize you are squeezing a tree and making it smaller; not only with your hands and arms, but also with your knees and legs.  Or imagine that you are pulling it out by its roots. All of these are done without any external movement.

To Prevent Energy Leakage.

Very gently tighten the muscles in the anal and perineum area.

What Not To Do. 

Master Wang Xiangzhai taught that Conscious Awareness and Physical Form working together is the basis of this work: In his words, “Mind activity is born from the posture; posture follows mind activity.”  What this means is that although he did teach using certain visualizations, he rejected thought controlled qigong practices such as orbiting qi in the meridians, working with specific acupuncture points, or Daoist or Buddhist breathing techniques.  I think he wanted us to be without any words in a place of Oneness (the “Flow” or  what athletes call, “In the Zone”).

BENEFITS FROM DOING THE PRACTICE:

“I do Zhan Zhuang and I’m happy! I do Zhan Zhuang and I’m healthy! I do Zhan Zhuang and I have a long life!”  - Grand Master Yu Yong-Nian https://munndialarts.com/english/master-yu-yong-nian/  (he lived 93 years).

Standing Post strengthens the muscles, and increases qi (life energy) in the body. It grants an awareness of the self—which may lead to profound psychological and spiritual experiences. Relaxing and being able to ignore discomfort is a skill that may be used in dealing with many of the difficult situations we may face in life.

Health: 

A basic premise of traditional Chinese health practices is that illness is caused when qi (vital life energy) is deficient, stagnant, excessive or blocked.  Properly done, Standing Post helps correct these problems.

Psychological:

Standing Post trains the mind to be still and concentrated, thereby gaining alertness, self discipline and will power.  The mind does not lose itself so easily in the daily stresses of modern life which often trigger a variety of psychological problems.

Spiritual Growth:

“In Zhan Zhuang Chi Kung one learns to return to the source of all power, to enter back into the very womb of universal energy and to experience the truth of the power of the void, the still point, the wuji" [i.e., the empty potential for infinite creation], (from Internal Arts Journal. http://www.qigonghealer.com/zhan_zhuang.html . Standing Post, occasionally called “Standing Meditation,” can bring the Body, Life Energy, and the Mind into an experienced state of Unity.  A place of Oneness: first with the self, then with nature, then the world, then the universe.  And finally perhaps with what some might call the “Dao.”

WARNINGS: 

If you have substantial [qi-energy] blockage in your body, the accumulated energy derived from Zhan Zhuang would cause internal injuries.” Wong Kiew Kit.  The Shaolin Arts. p. 150.   Do not practice when sick, instead go see a doctor!  Some sources say do not practice if you have high blood pressure, or excessive blood flow during menstruation or menopause, or if pregnant or right after childbirth.  As always, consult with professional health providers before doing any exercise or qigong; especially if you have any medical problems or health issues. As mentioned throughout this article: if there is pain stop. If the pain continues consult with a professional healer.

Notes

(Zhan Zhuang is translated many ways: “Standing Post” is accurate but without meaning for most English speakers.  Other terms are “Standing Stake,” “Standing Meditation,” “Standing Pole,” “Standing Like a Tree,” or “Stance Training.” Even its most important teacher in the 20th century, Master Wang Xiangzhai, near the end of his life called it Health Nourishing Postures,” and “Postures of Primeval Unity.”

This article is a summation of  “The Ultimate Energy Exercise: Zhan Zhuang – Standing (Like A) Post. Qi Journal, vol. 23/n.2; Summer 2013.  https://www.qi-journal.com/store.asp?-token.S=qi&ID=3319

The next issue of Chinese Medicine Living for March, 2018 will have the concluding The Most Important Qigong – III:  (Standing Post - Zhan Zhuang). It  features

Dr. Yan Xin’s http://www.yanxinqigong.net/aboutdryan/index.htm version of Standing Post, as well as a list of books, online articles, and videos for further study.

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Featured image source: http://www.yiquan78.org/postures.htm


External Qi Healing - Part 3

By John Voigt

**Disclaimer. This article is written for educational purposes only.  It is not offered for the healing of any serious illnesses. If a person is sick he or she must see a proper professional, in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine.**

E - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

Is it necessary to ask permission before doing a Sending?

Absolutely yes.  The practitioner must ask permission from the receiver before emanating qi.  To send without gaining approval is insulting, offensive and invasive.

Is it “your” qi that you are sending? Or does it come from somewhere else?

Well, yes and no to both questions.  At one level qi is the energy you have brought into your body by breathing and eating; and have built up and preserved through qigong practices, as well as by reducing or eliminating physical and emotional problems.  Additionally it is important to reduce or stop the loss of Jing (often thought of as being sperm or ovum, which is only partially true.)  Jing is better understood as being a highly perfected subtle energetic potentiality: in other words the essence of life.  So from this perspective, you are not the one sending your qi, but rather only being a conduit for a universal force that is flowing its jing-essence-qi down and through you.

The Chinese character for "Qi"

Where does this essence come from? Many healers cannot, or refuse to, answer that question.  Others simply say it comes from nature, or the sun, or the direction of certain stars.  There isn’t enough space here, nor do I have the wisdom, to explore this much further, except to point out that throughout the ages mystics when in visionary states perceive all and everything as a unity in a universal consciousness.  So much so that each of our individual consciousnesses appear as being joined together within a larger and more profound reality.  Personally I call this reality the Dao (Tao), but here definitions are not that important; rather it is about experiencing, manifesting and using this Power.  A number of quantum scientists have reached a similar understanding in believing that such things are beyond rational verbal definitions, but nevertheless do offer entrances into practical applications in the use of energy.  Likewise EQH offers practical applications in the use of Life Energy (Qi).  Whatever your specific beliefs, this more speculative approach offers possibilities to help prevent a basic problem in sending healing qi: the depletion of the healer’s personal qi.  It no longer is just “your” qi.  It comes from the outside and through you.  However, there are different schools of though about whose qi is it anyway.

Can Healing Energy be Sent from a Distance? 

Yes.  But the sender and recipient should agree on a specific time; and make sure the client understands that at that chosen time he or she is not to be driving a car, or using anything (machinery, tools, etc.), or doing anything where an accident could take place.  Once on the telephone just before doing a distance external qi healing, I half-joked to a client “not to be on a roof repairing leaks” – which was just what she was about to do!

This lovely image from thoughtco.com

About the Sending: How Often and for How Long?

Paul Dong offers this advice: Depending on the severity of the condition, a send is required every day or every other day.  Concerning the health of the healer he writes, the more internal qi you give out the weaker you become, therefore: “One to three healings a day are about the right number…  A young healer with strong power can do as many as six healings in one day… One session usually takes 10 or 15 to 20 minutes, or up to 30 minutes in more serious cases.  The first healing session for a new client should be no longer than 10 minutes.” [Paul Dong, Healing Force, pp. 84; 90-91].

This beautiful image from deborahking.com

How Long Does EQH Take to Learn? 

Two of the preeminent masters of External Qi offer slightly deferring suggestions: “People should at least go on doing Qigong exercises for 2 – 3 years in order to be able to emit the “external Qi” without doing any harm to his own health.” [Lin Housheng, p. 332].  By practicing [‘healing chi kung’] an hour a day, one can master it in nine months to a year.” [Paul Dong, p. 24].  Slowly and steadily practice your sending qi skills.  First send to qi sensitive family members and friends.  Then begin the healing practice with those afflicted with minor conditions such as a sprained ankle, a cold, a sore muscle, then slowly go to more serious conditions.  And never approach this as a silly party game; it’s unlikely, but people could get hurt that way.

Sure it seems to work sometimes but isn’t it just psychosomatic or a placebo?

To do controlled scientific experiments on the “validity” of EQH there would have to be Healing Qi Emissions done without a qi-energy component.  But that by definition would not an External Qi Send:  you cannot have a healing life energy transmission of qi without the qi.  Even if possible, if the psychological suggestions of EQH were removed then the qi energy and the information it contains would be compromised or blocked.  Nevertheless, the energetic components of qi have often been measured.  If interested see the scientific study done by Kevin Chen Ph.D. MPH, An Analytic Review of Studies on Measuring Effects of External Qi in China.  An abstract is available on the internet.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15285273

A personal anecdote about someone being unable to accept the validity of EQH. I am sure the reader will draw his or her own conclusions.  I was offering a qigong class at a local senior center.  No one came and I was about to leave when a middle-aged man entered who had great difficulty walking. We spoke and he told me his story: he was a Vietnam veteran who had gone through several operations for a war injury in his right hip and there had possibly been some botched surgeries.  He was in continual pain, but because he was frightened about becoming addicted he took no prescribed painkillers.  I offered to send him healing qi and he agreed.  As the qi was pouring through me into him, we both could feel it.  After a send of ten minutes I stopped.  He looked stunned.  I asked what was happening and how did he feel?  He answered that the pain was gone.  He continued to silently mull over the experience.  Finally he said to me, ”But what happened, that is only psychosomatic.” I was taken aback but answered him, “But it seemed to have worked.” He shrugged, and seemingly continued to do his best to reject what just had taken place.  I told him when I would again be at the senior center and if he wanted another send I would do it.  And at no cost—perhaps that was my biggest mistake—but whatever the case I never saw him again.  I deeply hope he is better.

There is another thing that causes many people to disregard and discredit External Qi Healings: the phony internet healers and quacks.  As a rule of thumb stay away from anyone who claims he or she can heal terminal illnesses, and who charges exorbitant fees for their services.  If a so-called healer has many cancer clients and all except a few die, the charlatan can point to ones who are still alive as proof of their healing “powers and abilities.”  In all of this both seller and buyer beware!

Isn’t it the same as Reiki or Therapeutic Touch? 

There are obvious similarities, but EQH comes from and uses Traditional Chinese Medical concepts of the inter-relationships of Energy-Body-Mind-Breath to bring about well-being.  Generally speaking in Reiki and Therapeutic Touch the practitioner touches the client, but in EQH generally this does not happen. Also unlike Therapeutic Touch, and other so called “Energy Healing”—and even much of contemporary Medical Qi Gong—EQH does not deal with Western medical belief systems, although many today, especially in China, are trying to scientifically justify EQH. (This is not necessarily a bad thing for it may lead to a better understanding and more productive use of this exciting healing modality.)

Conclusion. 

Remember there is a difference between healing and being healthy: there are situations where even the most accomplished energy healer cannot “cure” their patient; but with energy healing there is an opportunity of bringing someone who is terminally ill to a place of mental and spiritual health which can make the process of dying be no more than a passing from one sphere of existence to another higher one.

This beautiful image from spiritualunite.com

The author may be contacted at john.voigt@comcast.net

------------------------

F - Bibliography.

Bi Yongsheng. Chinese Qigong Outgoing-Qi Therapy. Shandong Science and Technology Press, 1997. https://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Qigong-Outgoing-Qi-Therapy-Yongsheng/dp/7533110412

Kevin Chen, Ph.D. MPH.  “An Analytic Review of Studies on Measuring Effects of External Qi in China” [abstract]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15285273

ibid. “A Criticism of Qigong with Pseudoscience Method--Book Review of Qigong: Chinese Medicine or Pseudoscience?https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242424421_A_Review_of_Lin_Zixin's_Book_Qigong_Chinese_Medicine_or_Pseudoscience

Paul Dong & Thomas Raffill. Empty Force: The Power of Chi for Self-Defense and Energy Healing. Blue Snake Books, 2006. https://books.google.com/books/about/Empty_Force.html?id=zHwoS80noVoC

Roger Jahnke. The Healing Promise of Qi. Contemporary Books, 2002. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Healing_Promise_of_Qi_Creating_Extra.html?id=Y3FcaF4V6AIC&source=kp_cover

Professor Jerry Alan Johnson.  The Secret Teachings of Chinese Energetic Medicine [in five volumes]. http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?author=Professor-Jerry-Alan-Johnson

Lin Housheng. 300 Questions on Qigong Exercises. Guangdong Science and Technology Press, 1994. https://www.amazon.com/300-Questions-Qigong-Exercises-Housheng/dp/7535912699

Shou-Yu Liang & Wen-Ching Wu. Qigong Empowerment. Way of the Dragon, 1997. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1889659029/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Tianjun Liu, and Xiao Mei Qiang, editors. Chinese Medical Qigong. Singing Dragon. 2013. https://books.google.com/books/about/Chinese_Medical_Qigong.html?id=anlyarISmyAC

Bryn Orr. Wai Qi Liao Fa – Healing By External Qi Projection. VitalityLink Finder. http://www.vitalitylink.com/article-qi-gong-1132-wai-liao-healing-external-projection-energy

John Voigt. External Qi for Healing. Qi Journal, vol. 24/no.1, Spring 2014.  http://www.qi-journal.com/store.asp?-token.S=qi&ID=3187

Ibid. Taiji Qigong … Lin Housheng. https://www.qi-journal.com/Qigong.asp?Name=Taiji%20Qigong%20%E2%80%93%20Shibashi%20and%20Lin%20Housheng&-token.D=Article

Yijin Jing [see:]  “Muscle/Tendon Change Classic.”

http://www.egreenway.com/qigong/yijinjing.htm#Biblio

Zhan Zhuang [see:]  “Zhang Zhuang: Standing (like a wooden) Post.” Qi Journal vol. 23, no. 2:  Summer 2013.  Also Mark Cohen. “Zhan Zhuang.” Qi Journal vol. 23, no. 4:  Winter 2013-2014.

LINKS - YouTube

“New John Chang video.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aos0hnwiHt8

Sifu Kelly Kwan. “Qi Energy Projection - Chi (Qi) Healing 布氣.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9fGiPSBUUA

“Qi Gong Powerful Qi Emission.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVNvzZ24JmE


External Qi Healing - Part 1

by John Voigt

**Disclaimer. This article is written for educational purposes only.  It is not offered for the healing of any serious illnesses.  If  a person is sick he or she must see a proper professional, in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine.**

Although External Qi Healing has certain general principles, it is an art as well as a science.  Consequently it has many differing yet valid methods and techniques.  Hopefully the information in this article—gathered from primary texts, personal teachers, the internet, and the limited personal experiences of the author—may prove instructive. For thousands of years the Chinese have been projecting vital life energy to heal illnesses.  It was first called Bu qi (布氣)  “Spreading the Qi.”  Now it is called “External Qi Healing Therapy,”  (Wai qi liaofa  - 外气疗法).  The basic technique has the practitioner emitting Qi [vital life energy] into the appropriate acupuncture points on the client’s body.  There are different methods, but most often the healer emits qi through the fingers and palms.  Traditionally there is no direct physical contact or touching and the client is fully clothed. However today, and especially in China, energy sending may be added into other Traditional Chinese Medicine methods such as qigong movements and meditations, acupuncture, acupressure, tuina-massage, moxibustion; even used in modern psychotherapy, and western medicine. In External Qi Healing (EQH), the qi-energy is transmitted from an experienced sender to an ill client, thereby regenerating depleted qi, opening blockages in the meridians, and bringing about the removal of pathogenic qi.  The cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic and nervous systems are all stimulated and vitalized.  This strengthens immunity to diseases, resulting in better health.  There are numerous reports of External Qi curing life threatening diseases of all kinds. EQH works best on resolving chronic health problems.  However the general belief is that it “cannot help in cases of purely physical damage, such as broken limbs … and it certainly cannot cure mental-illness.”  [Paul Dong, Empty Force, 2006, p. 84.]

How to Do It:  A - The Preliminaries.

The beginning student of EQH should be able to sense qi; and then be able consciously to lead and guide it in his or her body—the common standard being the “Microcosmic Orbit” (xiǎo zhōu tiān - also translated as “Small Heavenly Circuit”) where the qi is cycled up the back and down the front of the body.  It is also important that the healer be in good physical and mental health.  The stronger the qi of the healer, the more effective he or she will be.  There are several qigong exercises that help to accomplish this.  “Standing Post” and “Muscle/Tendon Change Classic” are often cited as superior methods to increase and strengthen a person’s qi.  See Zhan Zhuang and Yijin Jing in the Bibliography below.

Diagram of the Microcosmic Orbit

Learning to Move the Qi.

The following exercises have been loosely adapted from the book Qigong Empowerment. Stand with loose shoulders, spine comfortably erect, and breathe smoothly, softly, deeply, and silently.  Arms are in a half circle with palms facing.  Gently, playfully—but making sure the hands do not touch—use a push-pull technique squeezing the palms back and forth as if playing a small accordion.  Inhale as the hands go out, and exhale when the hands go in.  Sense the activity of qi in the palms.  When the hands go out open the palms.  This will open the Pericardium-8 acupressure points, the laogong.  When the hands come back in, relax the palms which will automatically relax the laogong.  This should increase the sensations of the presence of qi.  Now without any more “accordion playing” movements, have the arms return to a “hugging a tree” pose.  Continue breathing gently but firmly into the lower abdomen.  Sense the qi in the hands and with mental will and intention have the qi emanate out from your right hand into your left hand.  It helps to make very slight pushing forward movements with the right hand. When the sensation of qi has become stronger, and continuing the right-to-left send,  move the qi up to the left elbow.  After success with that maneuver, send the qi from the right hand palm into the left palm and continue up the left arm into the left shoulder, then across the upper torso into the right shoulder, down the right arm and into the right hand.  Continue with this circling of qi for two to five minutes.  Then reverse the direction by sending qi out from the left hand palm into the right palm, then up to the right elbow, right shoulder, then through the upper torso and shoulder back down the left arm into the left hand.  Practice the entire circling for two to five minutes.

Kirlian Photograph Of A Human Hand by Garion Hutchings found at fineartamerica.com

Small Circulation:

Send qi from the right palm to left palm, then send the qi to the left elbow, then to the upper central chest, then lead the qi down into the dantian, then to the perineum (CV-1) then to the tip of the spine.  Then lead the qi up the spine to the head, then down the body’s center line to the chest, then over to the right arm to the right sending palm.  For a moment allow the energy to radiate in the space between the palms.  Next again do the entire circulation, but in reverse by sending qi-energy from the left palm to right palm.

Grand Circulation:

Begin with the same procedure as in the Small Circulation:  lead qi from the right palm to the left palm, then to the left elbow, then chest, then to the dantian, then to the perineum (CV-1) then to the tip of the spine, then up the spine to the head.  Then lead the qi back down to the chest, then to the dantian, to the perineum, where it divides into two columns down both legs to the Kidney-1 acupuncture points behind the balls of the feet.  Allow it to remain there for several seconds; then lead it back up the legs, to the perineum, to the spine, then to head, back to chest and back down the sending arm to between the palms.  Reverse directions by sending qi from the left palm into the right palm.  Continually emit qi from the sending palm to the receiving palm as you guide and lead the qi in your body. Once you have built up your personal qi supply and have had some experience in leading and guiding the qi you are ready to proceed to the next step of the process.

Ancient Drawings of Medical Qi Gong : Image from qigong.net.nz

B - Diagnosis.

In interviewing the client about their ailments, it is important to spend more time listening than talking.  When you actively listen, the client will tell you things you need to know, for both of you this can take place consciously and unconsciously.  By actively listening, you will gain more knowledge and intuition on how best to do this energy work by finding out what is wrong and where to send the qi to correct it. Here is an intuitive technique to find where to direct the healing energy:  Using an open flat hand, scan and spiral around and over the client’s body to sense the location of any pathogenic disease triggering elements.  These pathogenic elements are called xié qì (pronounced something like shay chee.  A similar Chinese term is bìng meaning “diseased energy.”) Your scanning should be done in what is called a “Mindful” way:  by turning off the thinking mind and without touching just  feel  for the afflicted area.  The healer—now “reader”—may sense places of excesses (heat) or deficiencies (cold)  or turbidness  (befouled);  even sensations which could be described as “demonic” such as biting, itching and sticking.  It is to these places—be they acupressure points, energy meridians, organs, or any other part of the client’s physical or energetic body—that the practitioner should direct the healing qi. Here is an even more abstract diagnostic method:  Using both eyes and what is called the third eye, allow yourself to gaze into the body of the client.  This will seem both literal and imaginative.  Be prepared to witness unpleasant sights.  Once after being requested to do so by a client, I began looking at the major organ groups to find problem areas where to direct healing qi. (The client was suffering from a medically supervised withdrawal from a doctor prescribed mood altering drug.)  As I looked into his Heart Center in the upper chest,  I saw something that resembled a darkly lit cavern of black stalactites and stalagmites covered with foul black tar.  Even though this dealt with the heart there was no red to be seen.  During the course of weeks of EQH treatment the black foulness began to dissipate and a healthy organic pink-to-rose color began to appear.  The thought processes of the client became more rational and positive. (This is not offered as anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of External Qi for Healing, but only as part of a discussion on diagnosis in EQH.)

**This article originally appeared in Qi Journal, Spring 2014, Vol.24/n.1.  http://www.qi-journal.com/store.asp?-token.S=qi&ID=3187 and was used with permission of the author.**

**Also this article's subsequent parts - The Sending, Method to Remove Harmful Qi, Correcting Yin-Yang Imbalances, After the Send, FAQs, Bibliography and Links - will appear in future segments of External Qi Healing in Chinese Medicine Living, stay tuned!**

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**Featured Image of amazing Kirlian photography of 2 hands. To learn more about Kirlian photography, see this article.


Spirituality and Traditional Chinese Medicine

By John Voigt

The key character in the Chinese word “spiritual” is shen ().

Shen Spirit in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from West Learns East

From the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine: If you have shen, you will progress towards health. If you lose your shen, you will lose your life. [1]

The modern standard reference book for Chinese characters, the Hanyu Da Zidian (2006) defines shen this way: Celestial gods/spirits of stories/legends, namely, the creator of the myriad things in heaven and earth and the supreme being. Spirit-mind-consciousness. Magical, supernatural, miraculous; mysterious, ability to divine the unknown, amazing foresight. And—(especially telling for our purposes)—a highly skilled doctor.

Shen can show itself as something good or something evil.  The word shen may be easily applied to such entities as ghosts, goblins, devils, monsters, and demons, all of whom (historically at least) have been said to bring about illnesses. [2]

The goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that by effecting a healthy flow of qi-life energy in the meridians, and gaining a correct balance of yin and yang energies in the organs, the body and mind gain health and wellbeing.  A goal of the spiritual path is turning away from the myriad attractions and distractions around us and returning to a union with the Infinite, the Absolute, the Divine.

Both these health and spiritual goals are alluded to in the opening of chapter 42 of the Dao De Jing.

Dao De Jing/Tao Te Ching

Chapter 42 (excerpt) - Genesis

(Before the beginning was)

Dao from which is born One (unmanifested Qi).

One which gives birth to Two (the static polarities of yin and yang).
Three - a dynamic Qi appears opening Yin and Yang into a harmony of interaction.

And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born.

All things carry yin on their backs and embrace yang in their arms.

When female-yin and male-yang mix and blend their Qi (breath/life energy), harmony is obtained. And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born.

The author, Laozi (Lao Tzu) purposefully has used the seemingly vague open-ended words: Dao-One-Two-Three-All Things. But their lack of specificity enables the thoughtful reader to creatively interpret each word.

The Dao (the “Way”) as an archetypal Mother giving birth to the One, its alter-image, the Hidden Qi: the potential for time, space and consciousness to exist.  From the Hidden Qi there appears Two, the separate as yet non-interacting Yin and Yang [3] - therefore there is no movement and so there is nothing to be seen.

From the Two comes Three, a manifesting  Qi generating interaction and movement between the previously static yin and yang.  And so is born all the myriad things and thoughts possible throughout the entire universe. [4]

The key to spirituality in TCM, as well as in certain mystical religious practices, is to walk the walk of this cosmological emanation in reverse. That is to say from the All (“ten thousand things” of the original text) to Three (Heaven, Earth and Humans), then Two (yin-yang), then One (unmanifested Qi) as the traveler maintains her connections to the commonplace ordinary world of others,  thus safely returning into the harmony, purity, power and compassion of the Way.

The Five Elemental Energies in Nature and in Man

5 Elements : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from wikipedia

There is another Daoist concept of creation that places Five after Three - (perhaps four is missing because, like our thirteen, it is a bad luck number in Asia).

From a primordial infinite nothingness (wuji) comes the One Supreme Ultimate (taiji), a source of creation but without any human personality of a Judaic-Christian God. Then appears Two as the always connected interacting polarities of yin-yang. Then Three as the Heavens above, Man in between, Earth below. [5]

Yin Yang : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from wikipedia

From Three comes Five: the “Five Phases of Universal Energy” - or more commonly but not more accurately called, “The Five Elements.” [6] These are the energies of Wood [actually the energies of growing trees, even all the green leafed flora that grows up from the earth],  burning Fire, fertile Earth, cutting Metal, and washing Water. They represent the changing conditions of all phenomena. Each of the Five has a specific correspondence with a season, direction, color, taste, and internal organ; which helps to explain how the body functions and how qi-energy changes during disease and during healing. Each of the Five has been deified into a god, or could be thought of as a god.

Animal gods have also been assigned to each of the Five. [7]

5 Elements : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from wikipedia

Five Animal Frolics

The Chinese physician, Hua Tuo (circa 140-208 CE) was famous for his abilities in acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal medicine, and medical qigong exercises.

Hua Tuo : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from wikipedia

Similar to the earlier Shamans and WuYi, Hua Tuo developed his “Five Animal Gymnastics” (Wu qin xi) from studying the movements of animals and birds. What exactly were the creatures and movements is now unclear,  but what is obvious is that the Five Elemental Energies, and their ability to heal, are in play here.

The Body heals with play. The Mind heals with laughter. The Spirit heals with joy, [Chinese Proverb].

Often in my qigong classes we do a free form interpretation of some the five creatures. It may be done alone, but it is especially fun with others or in groups. Not surprisingly little kids get it right away; we should be more like them.

Tiger. Walk in a slinky way like a tiger. Growl, and make clawing gestures.

The Tiger represents the elementary energy of growing trees. It relates to the Liver, anger and its opposite,  peacefulness. The grasping motions may help open the acupuncture points at the tips of the fingers and in the palms.

Phoenix. The Phoenix is a mythological creature that reincarnates itself by rising up from the ashes of the fires of its past.  With this qigong there is an implied rebirthing of the self. The Elemental Energy is Fire, the organ is the Heart.

The Gymnastic: In a wide stance, turn to the right, inhale and lift the arms up by your sides.  The heel of the left foot should rise up as you do this. When the hands are level with the ears, open and unfold the hands and arms as if you were a beautiful Phoenix unfolding your wings.  Pause then slowly exhale and float your arms (as wings) back down and return to facing forward with arms hanging down by your sides. Then turn to the left and repeat the gesture, now with the right heel lifting off the ground. Do six times or for as long it feels good to do. It may be viewed on YouTube done by its originator, Lin Housheng. Go to 32:47 of  “…18 Motions of TaiJi Qigong, Disk 2.”

Cat and Cow. The Yoga Cat and Cow pose is normally done on the floor by first arching the back up like an angry cat, then letting the belly loosen and drop down like an old cow. As with most hatha yoga these are static  positions. It becomes more of a qigong gymnastic if you make smooth, gentle and continuous cat and cow movements. The Elemental Energy here is Earth, the organs are Spleen and Stomach.  But this gymnastic also massages the spine, shoulders and all the organs of the lower torso.

An advanced way is to stand and with the chin and hips gently make vertical circles; first forwards then backwards,  the shoulders are kept loose. Go easy with this one: even a hint of pain and you should immediately stop. [8]

Gorilla. Be like Tarzan and tap around your collarbone area. You might make his “King Gorilla of the Jungle” call. (His girlfriend Jane did it as well). It’s great for the important thymus gland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus .This qigong gymnastic relates to Metal, and the Lung area.

Peacock. Peacock Spreads Tail To Show Beautiful Feathers.  Pretend you are a peacock and raise your hands straight up. As they go above your head spread your arms open.  From the sides of your eyes using peripheral vision imagine your beautiful feathers.  With your arms uplifted and palms facing out, slightly bend the elbows and slowly sway to the left and right like audiences at a rock concert. The Energy is Water, relating to the Kidney area.

Healing Prayers

The Ultimate Absolute within Buddhism, Hinduism, and Daoism is devoid of any human qualities. But in the way that the Abrahamic God gained anthropomorphic qualities, the Asians added many buddhas, bodhisattvas, avatars,  gods, and immortals as a gateway into experiencing the divine Absolute. In both the East and West prayer to the Divine or to divine human-like forms, personifications, icons, etc. has had many instances of miraculous healing take place. Even if no cures happen, prayer can lighten the pain and travail of the passage from life to death.

For Buddhists, the traditional god of healing is Bhaisajyaguru who is also called Yao Shih Fwo. He sometimes functions rather like an Asian “patron saint of healers.” The Medicine Buddha Mantra

Bhaisajyaguru The Medicine Buddha : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from wikipedia

NAMO (I take refuge in) BHAGAVATE (the World-Honored One) BHAISAJYA-GURU (the Master of Medicine) VAIDURYA (the lapis-lazuli colored ) PRABHA (light) RAJA YA (the king) TATHAGATA YA ARHATE (the Thus-Come-One, the One-Worthy-of-Offering) SAMYAK-SAMBUDDHAYA (the equal and correctly enlightened), TADYATHA (and I speak thus): OM (Hail!) BHAISAJYE (Healer) BHAISAJYE (Healer) MAHA-BHAISAJYA (Great Healer) RAJA (king), SAMUDGATE (the path to enlightenment) SVAHA! (So be it!).

Guan Yin / Kwan Yin

Guanyin/Kwan Yin is the goddess of Compassion. Her name literally means “Hearing the Cries of the World.” Although originally a Buddhist god, she is now honored by Daoists, Confucians, Hindus—She has gained the love of the masses in the East, and many in the west. As with Mary or Jesus, angels or saints she is often prayed to for healing.

Quan Yin : Chinese Medicine Living

This beautiful image from wikipedia

Her mantra/prayer is Namo Guan shi yin Pusa, meaning

“Salutations to the most compassionate and merciful Bodhisattva Guanyin who hears the cries of those who suffer.”  Here is a link: Kuan Yin Mantra - Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa.

There are many more mantra prayers in the religions of the world that may be used for healing. Perhaps search on YouTube for one that captures your heart.  I typed “healing prayers OR mantra” on my browser and came up with this URL.

Of course with a clean and pure heart, you could compose your own prayer or mantra.

A Few Simplified Spiritual Techniques

Disclaimer:

This article is for educational purposes only. It is not offered for the healing of any illnesses.  If  a person is sick they should see a proper professional in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine. If doing anything in this article is physically or mentally uncomfortable, painful, or feels strange or weird immediately stop doing it.

1. Since the harmony of the Dao is reflected in nature - take a pleasant walk by the ocean or in the country. Or have fresh cut flowers in your home.

2. Daoist and Buddhist rituals include lighting incense and candles, singing prayers, and ceremonial dances.  If at home alone feeling glum, why not light incense and/or candles, sing and/or dance?

Qi Breathing Exercise

Qigong (chi kung) is a basic modality of TCM. It often is defined as “breath work.”

A person can sit comfortably with a straight back, and focus their mental attention on their breathing. Then calmly breathe more slowly and deeply. If the mind wanders simply count the breaths up to five (or any other number) and repeat the counting, or use a mantra like “peace,” or “relax,”  or “I am calm,” etc.  More Advanced: next be aware of the coolness on the nostrils. Then move that awareness to the qi-breath entering the lungs, from there be aware (or just imagine) the oxygen–qi in the blood entering all parts of your body, helping healing and refreshing you.  Having a simple smile seems to help this qi breathing exercise along. A really easy version of this exercise is to slowly, calmly and fully breathe into your lower lungs, only paying attention to how it feels.

Get a massage; I recommend Chinese Therapeutic Massage (Tuina). But massage can be done at home with a partner or by one’s self: rub and squeeze the body - especially the arms, legs, belly and kidney areas and feel energy blockages open up inside. Again keep your attention on how if feels, what the qi flow is doing. That may aid in making this a spiritual healing experience

Amulets are often used for healing.  An interesting way to do this is keeping on your person a mini-sized Daode Jing. Shambhala Publications has a 3 x 1/4  x 4.5 inch size copy.  

At night when the sky is clear and the moon is full, with open eyes look up to the moon and see it smiling down on you then smile back at it. The advanced Daoist qigong version of this is in the Endnotes, see [9].

One Last Thought

The belief systems of a non-spiritual TCM practitioner and a practicing Daoist healer may differ; nevertheless a raison d'être of each is similar: the goal is the gaining of wellbeing. One might say the absence of illness while the other says being in harmony with the Dao. However putting the best of both together offers the possibilities of a long, healthy, and happy life.

Endnotes

[1] Zhang Yu Huan & Ken Rose. Who Can Ride the Dragon? pg. 211. Paradigm, 1999.

[2] Illness are said to be produced by xie qi: bad, evil, pathogenic, demonic, devilish, evil life energy. See “Turbid Qi” http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=TurbidQi by Jerry Alan Johnson

[3] Yin originally meant dark and shaded. Yang originally meant sunny, full of light.

As mentioned above, these are not hard and fast static concepts.  As time (night and day) moves forward each continually folds into and becomes the other. So by extension we have light-positive-masculine qi and dark-negative-female qi (no sexual value judgment is implied). Everything in the universe has both aspects of interchanging yin and yang.

[4] When this emanating process is balanced and in harmony all is as it should be. When disharmony happens (as in much of our modern civilization) there can be a harmful damaging chaos; things are no longer with the Dao. Examples are global climate change, widespread mental and physical illness, and continual killing warfare.

[5] The Chinese have different terms to expound on the meaning of this Three. With San Cai (Three Powers) yang becomes the Heavens, yin becomes the Earth, and in between are we, Humanity. Or San Bao, (The Three Treasures) of Jing (Essence) Qi (Vital Energy), and Shen (Spirit). Those knowledgeable with TCM working principles will recognize fundamental terms here.

[6]  The Chinese name for Five Energetic Phases is Wuxing (wǔ xíng -五行) which is an abbreviation of wu zhong liu xing zhi qi — “five types of universal energy [qi or chi] dominating at different times.”

[7] The White Tiger rules Metal and the Lung. Black Tortoise rules Water and the Kidney. The Green Dragon rules Wood and the Liver. The Red Phoenix rules Fire and the Heart. The Gold Dragon rules Earth and the Spleen/Stomach.  http://realm-of-midgard.wikia.com/wiki/Five_Gods_of_Wu_Xing .

[8] Sorry, I have no video for this, but Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming’s “Simple Qigong for Back Pain Relief (YMAA)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BObNy_LBFRU from 0:04 to 0:41 offers some clues; it’s all about those concave – convex movements of the spine.

[9] Taking in Moon Cream Tonifies yin-essence. Gathering Sun Essence replenishes yang-qi. As the sun begins to rise at daybreak, with mostly drooped closed eyelids, breathe in one mouthful of soft gentle reddish sunlight (imagine it); hold the breath, then swallow it; then exhale and send it down to the dantian. Do ten times. At night when the skies are clear and the moon is full do the same swallowing with moonlight, six times.  Adapted from Chinese Qigong, Zhang Enqin, (1990) p.108.

A Daoist source of this exercise may be found on pg. 54 of Early Daoist Dietary Practices, by Shawn Arthur. https://books.google.com/books?id=idBrd_dKCkYC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=Early+Daoist+Dietary+Practices+%22solar+lord%22&source=bl&ots=9-fKlt71__&sig=UVFqKokBlpyKOz-1qk4wsF5L0Nc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwip4qzt24nMAhUFPj4KHYjTAakQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=Early%20Daoist%20Dietary%20Practices%20%22solar%20lord%22&f=false

Bibliography/Sources

“Chapter 1, What is Shen (Spirit)?” http://www.itmonline.org/shen/chap1.htm

http://www.yellowbridge.com/onlinelit/daodejing42.php

“The Chinese Cosmos: Basic Concepts.” http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos/bgov/cosmos.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_mythology

“Daoist Magic - a conversation with Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, Ph.D, D.T.C.M.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckpN8TWPbhE&nohtml5=False

Guan Yin Goddess of Healing. http://www.quanyinhealing.net/quan_yin.html

Timothy Leary. Psychedelic Prayers after the Tao Te Ching. http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Timothy-Leary-Psychedelic-Prayers.pdf

Lin Shi and Chenguang Zhang. “Spirituality in Traditional Chinese Medicine,” [in] Pastoral Psychology, October/December, 2012.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257635748_Spirituality_in_Traditional_Chinese_Medicine

Elizabeth Reninger. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Five Element Styles of Practice. http://taoism.about.com/od/qigongchinesemedicine/a/TCM.htm

Taoism and martial arts-Opening Dao. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SP0vS4hTJs

Terebess Asia Online (Tao). The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, [125 translations]. http://terebess.hu/english/tao/_index.html

John Voigt. “Happy Fun Qigong.” Qi Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3: Autumn 2015

Ibid. “Qi in the Daodejing—The Way and its Power.” Qi-Encyclopedia. com http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=Qi-in-the-Daodejing

Ibid. “Six Healing Sounds: Chinese Mantras for Purifying Body. Mind, and Soul. Qi Journal, http://www.qi-journal.com/Qigong.asp?Name=Six%20Healing%20Sounds&-token.D=Article

Wu Xing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing

Featured image from wikipedia.
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Spirituality and Traditional Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


What is Qi?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Qi is a huge and complex subject, and one that is central to Chinese medicine theory. Qi is a difficult concept to explain because it is difficult to measure, and impossible to see. To the Chinese, it is a given. It is the very force that governs life and all of its processes, but for us in the West, it is a little more difficult to wrap our minds around. In the West, we live in a culture that is largely ruled by science, and science is all about things that we can see and prove. Although science is now able to prove the efficacy of things like acupuncture, the HOW is still largely under debate. Qi is at the core of why all of the modalities in Chinese medicine - Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, gua sha, tuina, moxibustion, cupping, auricular, it is one of the main reasons that they are so effective, and have been for more than 5000 years.

Qi is a subtle energy that can be loosely translated as vital energy or life force. In India it is called Prana. In Japan, Ki. Many of the Eastern cultures know and understand this concept and its role in keeping the body healthy. In Chinese medicine, Qi is the force that animates all living things. Qi flows through energy pathways throughout the body called meridians or channels. There are 12 main meridians that correspond to specific organs and run bilaterally, mirroring each other. There are also extra pathways that run deeper in the body, but all are the channels through which Qi travels. Qi must move freely throughout the body for health to be maintained. A blockage of the Qi in the body usually results in pain (a main symptom of Qi stagnation) and if left untreated can cause a whole host of other, more serious problems. In addition to Qi running through the meridians, each organ also has its own unique Qi. Each organs’ Qi can become deficient, excess, or stuck, or stagnated. A stagnation of Qi starts energetically, but if left untreated, can manifest physically as things like tumors and other masses. This is why it is important to keep Qi flowing freely.

Acupuncture Meridians : Chinese Medicine LivingThis image from Acupuncture Media Works

The Qi in the body also flows in two hour intervals through each of the organ systems. This is used as a diagnostic tool by TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioners. If, for example, you are waking up consistently at a specific hour every night, it points to an imbalance in that specific organ. If there is a certain hour of the day when you feel particularly productive, then it would suggest that the organ that corresponds to that hour is strong. You can see the chart below for the organs and the corresponding times.

Qi Clock : Chinese Medicine Living

Because of the importance of Qi and its ability to flow freely through the body, the Chinese have developed many exercises to help build Qi, as well as keep it moving freely. The external martial arts, like Kung Fu are excellent for cultivating Qi and keeping it moving, and the internal martial arts like Tai Chi and Qi Gong are excellent ways of cultivating and strengthening Qi and keeping it flowing throughout the body so that health can be maintained.

Kung Fu : Chinese Medicine Living

There are many ways to build Qi. Good food, clean air, and participating in positive activities all build Qi. And many things diminish Qi, like stress, not getting enough sleep and having an unhealthy lifestyle. It is almost impossible to stay away from stress and other things that can deplete Qi, but the good news is that we are always able to rebuild it by simply doing things that give us energy. Keeping Qi moving is extremely important and the best way to do this is simply by moving your body. The act of walking (preferably in nature) is a wonderful way to keep Qi moving and stay a healthy, happy human being.

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This article also appears on the website Qi Encyclopedia at -
http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=WhatIsQi-3

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

What is Qi? : Chinese Medicine Living


History and Development of Internal Martial Arts in China

Watch this episode from CCTV English on the history and development of the internal martial arts in China, the most notable of which is Tai Chi Chuan and learn why martial arts are not just a fighting system, but an important part of healthy living for mind, body and spirit. Running time 25:53 mins

Original link here - Chinese Martial Arts - Internal Martial Arts


Contributor Vincent Pratchett's New Book The Raven's Warrior Chosen for 2014 World Book Night List

Chinese Medicine Living friend and contributor Vincent Pratchett - a full time firefighter, martial artist and new author, made the front page of the Toronto Star today as his first novel - The Raven's Warrior has been chosen for 2014's World Book Night. His new book has also won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for visionary fiction — handed out by USA Book News. Congratulations Vincent!!!

Vincent Pratchett - The Raven's Warrior

The Toronto Star Article is below...

By:   News reporter, Published on Sun Dec 29 2013
 

It may be fortunate that Vincent Pratchett knows his way around a fire hose.

His career as an author is liable to get red hot in 2014.

A veteran of 23 years with Toronto Fire Services, Pratchett’s first novel, The Raven’s Warrior, was selected as one of the works to be given out on World Book Night in April.

“Oh my God . . . it’s really mind blowing,” the 58-year-old smoke jumper says of his book’s selection and early success. “I would never have imagined that it would have gone the way it’s going. It’s fantastic really.”

Already a winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Award for visionary fiction — handed out by USA Book News — the novel is set in 10th-century China. Its protagonist, a Celtic warrior, is taken in battle by Vikings and dragged and sold across Europe and Asia until he ends up a slave to a Taoist priest and his daughter in the Middle Kingdom.

Under his masters’ Eastern tutelage, the Celtic slave becomes a king in a story Pratchett describes as a kind of Arthurian legend.

The World Book Night selection makes Pratchett’s novel one of 38 new and established works that will be handed out free to some 550,000 occasional or non-readers across the United States on April 23: Shakespeare’s birthday.

And it puts the rookie author in some august company, with books by Joseph Heller, Agatha Christie, Garrison Keillor and Scott Turow also on the distribution list.

Pratchett — who works out of Station 135 in Forest Hill — is as surprised as anyone at his book’s award recognition. Indeed, he’s still shocked that he’s a professional author at all.

“I never imagined writing a novel, period,” says Pratchett, who has also been a martial arts instructor. “I just thought it was too impossible to get published, especially if you’re not a writer per se.”

But when he submitted a 12-page version of his tale to YMAA Publishing, a small U.S. house, editors demanded more.

“That’s when all the red lights you have in your mind for not writing a novel . . . just sort of fell away.”

Writing, Pratchett says, has helped sustain him since his boyhood days as a dedicated diary keeper.

“I was always writing things and when my daughter was young I wrote a (unpublished) children’s book for her,” the father of two says. “Writing has always been integral to what I do and who I am.”

He is working on a second novel.

But Pratchett, who has two years left in his “bread and butter” career, says he’s still a firefighter first.

“I do envision myself as being a full-time author, but I am a firefighter,” he says. “It’s so funny to say that, but it’s more than a regular job.”

Despite the long and often tedious stints between alarms that firefighters face, Pratchett says he could never use that down time to write.

“For the day job, I’m dealing with reality and functioning as a team member,” he says.

“But when I’m off duty, that’s when the writing thing kicks in and provides a beautiful balance where I’m dealing with imagination.”

The Raven's Warrior

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Want to read the book? Get it here. Buy The Raven's Warrior

 


I Know Kung Fu.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Ever since I can remember I have loved kung fu. It is hard to pinpoint where the love came from, but there are a couple of possibilities. I am a child of hippies, and grew up in a house filled with music, ethnic food and martial arts. My parents are martial artists - Aikidoists - and they tried, in vain, to get me into Aikido.

I remember going to class with them and watching the graceful interactions. Students running at each other and, being gracefully flung about and landing, silently rolling out to standing awaiting their next chance to politely attack. It was beautiful to watch, and it looked effortless. The thing that especially impressed me was that strength and size didn't seem to matter. This became even more impressive when I saw my mother, who is five foot four, throw my father who is more than six foot three over her head like he was made of cotton balls. This filled me with delight, and, I suspect, deeply frustrated my father.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. It is translated as "the way of unifying with life energy" or "the way of the harmonious spirit". One of the interesting things about Aikido is that it is purely defensive. There is no way to "attack" someone using Aikido in its true form. It is purely used and was developed as a way to defend oneself, but also to do so while protecting your attacker from harm. What a lovely philosophy. Because there is no way to attack someone using Aikido, what began to happen around our house was that my father, desperate to show me his new moves and joint locks (which hurt like hell) would ask me, in desperation, to grab his wrist. Only then could he throw me around and bend my joints into pretzels. If I was feeling generous I would oblige, but if I was feeling sassy I would refuse and taunt him. Grab my wrist became the most uttered phrase in our house for years.

Morihei Ueshiba

The other wonderful thing about Aikido is that you are using your attackers energy and inertia to either direct them out of the way, or, throw them into the next room depending on how much of their energy you want to use. For this reason, the Aikidoist is using very little of their own energy. It is also incredibly graceful, and does not have any of the hard edged movements of many of the Korean and Chinese martial arts. It is one of the most beautiful martial arts to watch. Here is a video so you can see what I mean.

I have an enormous respect for all the martial arts, and Aikido in particular is so elegant, refined, efficient and beautiful, but it wasn't the one that resonated with me. What I wanted to learn was kung fu. Perhaps it was all those years of kung fu movies, but I decided that this was what I was going to learn. It was my dream to be a doctor of Chinese medicine and a master of kung fu - 2 very complimentary pursuits, I thought.

For years I had been obsessed with kung fu movies and every Friday had gone to Kung Fu Friday's at the Royal cinema where a group of enthusiasts would sit and bask in each others euphoria at watching these ancient movies with elaborate fight scenes and terrible dubbing. The nerd level was through the roof, but it was the best hour and a half of my week. Once I finished college, I was excited to seek out a kung fu school and start my training. I went all over, looking for the right school that was teaching a style that felt right for me. It was a long search, but I knew the right place as soon as I walked in the door. It was a very traditional Chinese kung fu school in Chinatown. On the outside it looked like a small storefront painted red and black with the windows covered. The writing was in Chinese but in English it said Kung Fu. I walked in and it was dark and smelled of sweat. There was a Chinese guy sitting at an old counter reading a Chinese newspaper. He looked up at me surprised.

*Perhaps now is the time to explain something. I, at least on the outside, am not Chinese, but am a tall blonde girl. I do not blend in most places, least of all a kung fu school in the heart of Chinatown. If I thought I had been an outsider before, I was about to receive a rude awakening...

The man looked up and thought I was lost. I said no, I was there to inquire about kung fu. His surprised look remained as he slowly explained what styles the school taught, when their classes were and how much a year membership cost. I nodded and asked if I could return to watch a class. He said sure, the surprised look never leaving his face. I had a good feeling I had found the place. This was the real thing. Old school. I returned to watch a class and fell in love. I bought my uniform and showed up for my first class and managed to hold my own. It was tense, as I was one of a few girls and the only white girl. I could see the smirks on the faces of some of the guys. I found out later that the guys had a running bet on my first day to see how long I would last. Most said I wouldn't last longer than one class. A few said I might make it a week. I stayed 8 years. They all lost that bet.

kung fu

The school taught two styles - Choi Lee Fut  - created by Chan Heung, a disciple of the famed Shaolin Temple, and Do Pi - a Southern style . There are many styles of kung fu, and I think finding the one you like is just like anything else, you have to find the one that resonates with you. These styles really spoke to me because they had large sweeping movements which suited by tall body and long limbs. I later tried Wing Chun - a style that focuses on close range combat. I found it cramped and awkward, like watching a spider monkey fight another spider monkey nose to nose. You have to find the style that is right for you. Classes were 2 nights a week and one Sunday afternoon and were about 4 hours each. They consisted of stances, punches, kicks, stretching, callisthenics and finally, forms - a series of movements that you move through beginning to end. They were the most hard core workouts I had ever had and I had been an athlete all my life. I pushed through. Thankfully, in this case, my stubborn nature probably exceeded my physical abilities, at least at first. No one spoke to me for about 6 months. I think they were all waiting for me to drop out and were confused as to why that hadn't yet happened.

After the six month mark I got the occasional smile. I couldn't believe it. Finally, they were accepting me as part of the group. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I was determined to follow my dream of learning kung fu, and I loved it. I am happy to say that after the guys decided I wasn't leaving they accepted my presence and we all became friends. We went to class together and the ritual became to go out to eat Vietnamese afterwards. It became like a family and we had dinners for Chinese New Years and participated in parades through Chinatown in our uniforms, holding banners and doing Lion Dance. It seemed every time a new restaurant opened, our kung fu school would be called upon to do a Lion Dance (a good luck omen for any new business) and I felt like I was always at the school for class or some function. Hanging out with my classmates socially became a window into this culture which had always fascinated me and I felt so comfortable in. We would have big dinners together and spent way too many evenings doing karaoke. I don't think I will ever be able to listen to Hotel California without fondly remembering my tone deaf classmates.

Studying kung fu was an amazing experience. It was not just learning a martial art, but becoming part of a living breathing organism. The school was an integral part of the Chinese community and it was fascinating and wonderful to feel like a part of something that perhaps few people had been able to experience before. I learned so many things. I learned that a martial art is not about just training your body, but training your mind, understanding the mind of your opponent and honing internal skills like Qi Gong to develop your internal power. I was privileged to become immersed in a culture that I have so much respect for, and I think it made me a better person and a better acupuncturist. I learned discipline, and that usually things that are worth learning, take a lifetime to master. I also learned that I love Vietnamese food. I later dabbled in a few more martial arts - Wing Chun, Jeet Kun Do, Muay Thai, Escrima, Kali and Savate (French kick boxing), and although I loved them for what they had to offer, my heart will always belong to kung fu. <3

 

Here are some clips you can watch which demonstrate the awesomeness of kung fu. Many of my favourite movies are too old to find now (I have them all on VHS!!) but these are some of the masters. Enjoy.

Shaolin Kung Fu

Here is a National Geographic Episode on Shaolin Kung Fu which gives some history and shows some of the monks incredible skills.

Bruce Lee - The Chinese Connection

Bruce is, and will always be, my hero. <3

Ip Man - Donny Yuen - Kung Fu Fight Scene

Jet Li - Fist of Legend

Jackie Chan - Drunken Style Kung Fu - Drunken Master

Master Killer / The 36 Chambers of Shaolin - Trailer

My favourite kung fu movie of all time. :)

A clip from Master Killer detailing Kung Fu training at Shaolin.