How Acupuncture Can Relieve Swimmer’s Shoulder

By Sally Perkins

Swimming is a popular activity that is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, but it can have disadvantages one of which is shoulder impingement affecting 40-91% of competitive participants. Swimmer’s shoulder is a painful condition that has an impact on your daily activities. In addition to therapy and pain-relieving medications, acupuncture can also relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder. By targeting central pressure points, acupuncture is a safe and convenient method of dealing with shoulder impingement.

Swimming and Certain Risks

Swimming is a life skill that everyone should learn. It does not only save your life when you are in the water but is also an effective form of cardio exercise as it requires every muscle in your body to move. Swimming helps you keep fit and even lowers the risk of early death by 28% boosting life expectancy. Unfortunately, overdoing it can also have negative repercussions on your body such as the swimmer’s shoulder.

The condition which is common in swimmers and people who use their shoulders a lot is characterized by a sudden pain in the shoulder when the arm is lifted overhead or backward. Other signs of swimmer’s shoulder is mild to constant arm pain and shoulder or arm weakness. Its diagnosis involves a physical exam to exclude a pinched nerve condition. An x-ray may also be ordered to rule out arthritis or spur. For serious rotator cuff injuries, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered.

Acupuncture for Pain Relief

Acupuncture works by releasing chemical compounds in the body to relieve pain or by overriding pain signals. It also allows Qi or energy to flow through the body. A study by Rueda and Lopez indicates that the use of acupuncture to treat the symptoms of shoulder impingement is safe. It is a reliable technique to achieve significant results and can be considered as a therapy option.

Depending on the severity of swimmer’s shoulder, the most common treatments include physical therapy and exercise, the use of an ice pack, and medication. Another alternative and effective treatment is acupuncture. Supraspinatus tendon inflammation is a common symptom of swimmer’s shoulder which can be caused by overtraining or even by poor stroke techniques. The supraspinatus muscle, one of the 4 muscles in the rotator cuff, is a common source of shoulder tendonitis.

Precise acupuncture treatment is focused on the belly of the muscle and the tendon where local needling can occur. Treatment to the infraspinatus — an adjacent muscle — also helps. The belly of the muscle is in the suprascapular fossa, which is in area of the acupuncture point small intestine (SI) 12. It is also the site of the trigger point and the motor point 3. Active trigger points in the muscle belly contribute to the pain. On the other hand, the muscle-tendon junction is in the area of the large intestine (LI) 16. Since the supraspinatus tendon must pass under the acromion which is a narrow fossa, a swollen tendon gets impinged which causes the sudden sharp pain. Pain from impingement is difficult to locate but is between LI 16 and LI 15. Hence, acupuncture is performed at the sites SI12 and between LI16 and LI15.

Swimmer’s shoulder can be uncomfortable and may prevent you from doing daily activities including swimming and sports. In many cases, you might just need to rest and do some physical therapy. The good news is acupuncture, as an alternative therapy, can assist in relieving symptoms of impingement.

 

Featured image photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash



Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


A Simple Qi Gong for Healing

By John Voigt
(previously published on Qi-Encyclopedia)

This a simple Qigong for healing that I do for myself and occasionally teach. I hope some of you might enjoy some of it--especially the clip of Afro-Cuban conga drummer Potato Valdez with whom I had the honor of playing. His touch is focused Qi used with controlled muscular strength. It is music of power and joy that for me is full of the same combination of controlled muscular strength and focused Qi as the Fa-Jin of Kung Fu and Taijiquan.

It only takes five  to ten minutes to complete. Do it in the Morning, and before going to bed at night, or when you feel a problem or discomfort forming anywhere in the body. If any pain appears, or discomfort increases when practicing STOP DOING THE QIGONG! And see a medical professional if the pain or discomfort continues.

Here is the Practice:
Be Seated. Relax. Breathe softly, fully, deeply, gently, silently into the lower abdomen.
No forcing. Relax, empty your mind - [don't force, be natural.]

Feel yourself as a physical being.

Feel yourself as an energy being—and/or be aware of your breathing. Qi means life force energy and also breath/breathing.
Be aware of just being aware. Like Zen Mind. No words in the mind, when the words pop up, just let them pass and float away; or keep silently repeating 1-2-3-4-5.

Smile like the Mona Lisa.

Smile to the places that may need it. Do this 3 to 15 minutes once or twice a day. Visualize yourself as totally young, healthy and strong. An Amazon Angel perhaps? Or a Daoist Warrior-Scholar? Or you could just imagine a calm body of water, or beautiful mountains. Or a night time sky. Use whatever works to bring you to a place of silent but alert peacefulness.

Tap with love or at least send compassion to the situation muscles. Try tapping like Patato Valdez on your body, Notice how he is drawing the power out of the drum, not beating it. Do not tap on the top of the head. Or eyes, etc. This is a demonstration how to tap: (knifepoint qi sent in – explosive sound released out) Even though it is Afro-Cuban, I suggest the tapping techniques resemble certain ancient Asian trance-shaman percussionists. And in light of that, carefully experiment with your own dance free-form improvisations using the qigong and taijiquan moves you know and like to the video clip given here.

BATACUMBELE CON PATATO VALDEZ. "MI GUAGUANCO"


The Anti-Cancer Walk: An Introduction to Guo Lin New Qigong Therapy

by John Voigt

From a Chinese clinical treatment standpoint, Guo Lin Walking Qigong became the most popular and effective form of Qigong for cancer.  qigonginstitute.org

Guo Lin’s New Qigong Therapy is composed of many different gestures, breathing patterns, meditations, mantra-like sound utterances, all used by varying social groups within various physical settings. Space limitations, as well as the limited abilities of its author, force this article to focus on the main part of its practice known as Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong.

Guo Lin Biography.

The Walking Qi Gong to cure cancer was created by a Chinese woman named Guo Lin. In 1949 when she was forty years old she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and a hysterectomy was performed. In ten years the cancer returned, and had metastasized to her bladder. After six more unsuccessful operations, she refused a seventh and was told that she would die within six months. She began to practice several Shaolin qigong forms that her grandfather had taught her when she was a child, but they didn’t seem to help.

Always known for her strong will, she now increased her studies, reading traditional Chinese and western medicine text books; as well as experimenting with various historical qigong exercises, and Daoist breathing and relaxation meditations. She practiced for many hours a day, seven days a week. The result was that she created her own qigong and within six months, even to her own surprise, the cancer went into remission and her health returned.

Guo Lin publicly unveiled what she called her “New Qigong” therapy on September 4, 1971 in Dongdan Park in Beijing. This was the time of the Cultural Revolution when anyone doing anything related to China’s pre-communist past such as qigong, or traditional Chinese medicine put themselves in danger, for at that time such practices were called “anti-revolutionary fake and fraudulent," and were politically and culturally unacceptable. Guo Lin, along with those who helped her, could be incarcerated for political indoctrination and re-education. Additionally, she and anyone practicing qigong with her were in constant danger of being physically attacked by the teen-aged thugs collectively known as the Red Guards and being beaten, or even murdered, by them.


Red Guards in Beijing, June 1966, at the beginning of China's Cultural Revolution. More than one million people
are believed to have died during its ten years of social chaos.

Source: Jean Vincent/AFP/Getty Images.

In 1976 the Cultural Revolution ended with Chairman Mao Zedong’s death. “By 1977 [Guo Lin] had achieved such tremendous results that she publicly announced that qigong could heal cancer, and thus her classes grew to 300-400 students a day.”  http://www.orientalhealing.net/qigong/

“Since then, thousands of cancer patients have taken part in her Qigong therapy classes at various coaching centers, located over twenty cities and provinces in China, and have attained remissions from this life-threatening disease.” http://guolinqigongpuchong.blogspot.com/2007/

Caring more for others than herself, and by being over-committed to her work—(her husband said that “she had her patients in her heart and mind and not herself.)—at the age of seventy-five she suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage, and died on December 14, 1984.

By the mid-1980s it was estimated that there were more than one million people practicing her Walking Qigong in China. There also were many Walking Qigong institutions, associations, health resorts and hospitals established. http://www.qigongchinesehealth.com/walking_qigong

In 1998 after extensive examinations by the Chinese government, Guo Lin Qigong was approved of as being effective for the health of the masses. [David A. Palmer. Qigong Fever. p. 181-2 https://books.google.com/books?id=RXeuibmD2dsC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=there+were+no+officially+sanctioned+qigong+activities+in+China&source=bl&ots=aNIlwjgoL2&sig=zUv9AUh_SUsoK4_vQagmuXSr5dQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2osrW3bnfAhUI01kKHV__CSsQ6AEwCXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=there%20were%20no%20officially%20sanctioned%20qigong%20activities%20in%20China&f=false

More than two million copies of books by Guo Lin and her “New Qigong” have been published in China, making her the author of the largest number of books about qigong ever to appear in that country. [http://www.ed2kers.net/资料/体育健身/130644.html.] Presently [May, 2019] there is no available translation in English or  in another western language, of any book ever written by or about Guo Lin.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Disclaimer: Before commencing this or any other exercise program consult your physician, or appropriate medical professional. This entry is not offered as a cure for cancer or for any other disease. It is not intended to replace any cancer therapy prescribed by a physician.

Guo Lin wrote, To achieve a reasonable treatment, organically combine Chinese and Western medicine, qigong, diet, and psychology. Adopt their respective strengths and avoid their shortcomings. This will make us more likely to recover, live longer, and live a better quantity of life. Guolin New Qigong: An Introduction, p. 20.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong: The Preparatory Exercises.

1. Stand in a Relaxed Fashion.

The eyes are closed. The shoulders are loose. The knees are slightly bent. The tongue is on the upper palate. If necessary, silently count to sixty to still the mind. Cancer patients generally stand this way for two to three minutes. Those with chronic diseases generally stand from three to five minutes. The direction you face in depends on the location of the disease. 1. East: liver, gallbladder. 2. South: heart, small intestine, brain, tongue. 3. West: lung, large intestine, nose, skin. 4. North: kidney, bladder, ear, bone, reproductive organs, endocrine. 5. Southwest: spleen, sarcoma. 6. Northeast: stomach, esophagus. 7. If not sure of the location of the disease face North. From: “Guolin Qigong: Preparatory Exercise” beginning at 1:40.


2. Three Special Breaths.

Place the hands on the lower abdomen just below the navel. Men place the right hand above the left; woman place the left hand above the right. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Then one normal breath in and out through the nose. Do this same pattern for a total of three times. See: “Cancer – We Can Beat It” - from 23:56 to 27:35.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRAuzeVEwns

3. Opening and Closing Hand Movements

(Also called “Opening and Closing the Dantian”). The body, shoulders, arms, and hands are relaxed. The eyes are closed, and the tongue is on the pallet. The palms face each at the level of the waist. Gather in (close) the hands as you inhale through the nose. Open the hands with the palms facing downward as you exhale through the nose. Do this three times. See the video “Cancer – We Can Beat It.” (posted above) from  27:40 to 29:20.

Note: the Dantian is the major location for the storage and cultivation of vital life energy [Qi] located slightly beneath and under the navel, in the center of the lower torso.

Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong: The Main Exercise.

Women take two quick inhalations and swing both hands to the left and step forward with the right foot by first lifting the toes up from the ground and then having their right heel step down on the ground. As the heel touches the ground, exhale through the nose and swing both hands to the right, and step forward with the left foot.

Take two more inhalations, and again swing both hands to the left, and step forward with the right foot. As the right heel touches the ground exhale and swing the hands to the right and step out with the left foot; but now (with loose shoulders and waist) turn the head to look to the right.

If the woman’s health and level of comfort allow for it, continue this pattern for fifteen to twenty minutes, then reverse sides (right becomes left and left becomes right) and continue for another fifteen to twenty minutes.

Men do the opposite. Take two quick inhalations and swing both hands to the right and step forward with the left foot by first lifting the toes up from the ground and then having the left heel step down on the ground. As the heel touches the ground, exhale through the nose and swing both hands to the left, and step forward with the right foot.

Take two more inhalations, and again swing both hands to the right, and step forward with the left foot. As the left heel touches the ground exhale and swing the hands to the left and step out with the right foot; but now (with loose shoulders and waist) turn the head to the left.

If the man’s health and level of comfort allow for it, continue this pattern for fifteen to twenty minutes, then reverse sides (left becomes right and right becomes left) and continue for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes.

After completing one of these 30-to-40 minute sessions, and before commencing another such session, both men and women should do  the Opening and Closing Hand Movement for three times. This helps settle the newly activated qi-life energy into the lower dantian.

The question of how many and for how long such a 30-to-40 minute session should be repeated will be addressed directly below.

The  Concluding Exercise in Three Parts.

When coming to the end of a completed Walking Qigong practice, perform the Preparatory Exercises again, but now in an inverted order. First do the Opening and Closing Hand Movements: Inhale and close the palms hands towards the belly, and exhale and open the hands with the palms facing downward; do this three times. Next do the Three Special Breaths: Place the hands on the lower abdomen. Women left hand on top of right. Men right hand on top of left. Inhale through nose, exhale through mouth. Then take one breath in and out through nose. Do this for a total of three times. Next Stand Relaxed For two or three minutes. This brings the practice to a close. Return to your normal day’s activities.

How fast and for how long should a person or a group of people spend in practicing Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong? Properly speaking, the length, speed, and nature of the exercise should be determined by a skilled and experienced instructor based on observations of the health and stamina of the practitioner.

Qigong Master John Dolic writes, [Gou Lin] Walking Qigong should be practiced for two to five hours a day. The practice is done in 15-minute intervals with plenty of breaks in between. In other words, it is not a solid two to five hours’ worth of practice. Those who cannot walk for even 5 minutes can take a few steps, then stop and rest, then another few steps and so on (to start with). Gradually, as their stamina improves and they become able to walk for two hours, they should keep that as their daily minimum. Qigong Chinese Health
http://www.qigongchinesehealth.com/walking_qigong

Guo Lin said it depends on the person and the state of their health, and if the person feels exhausted the next day, they should reduce the extent of their practice. She also said the entire practice with its repeating sessions can take up to four to five hours a day. Guo Lin would often advise that, “Patients suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic diseases should use a weak wind-breathing [two inhalations, one exhalation] or perhaps just normal breathing, and their rate of walking should be slower. Those with poor physical weakness can walk in less than twenty minutes intervals.” Source: Guolin (Guo Lin) Qigong .pdf in English [sic] & Other Language.
http://cancer-qigong.blogspot.com/2012/04/guolin-guo-lin-qigong-pdf-in-enhlish.html

Very Important Note About Heart Disease

Throughout information on the internet, it often is advised not to practice Guo Lin’s Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Qigong if the person suffers from heart disease, or hypertension (high blood pressure). Here again it is absolutely necessary to consult with your physician or professional medical consultant.

Additional Comments.

For cancer of the liver, gallbladder, both male or female patients begin by first stepping forward with their right foot.

The practice is called “Wind-Breathing” because the air coming into the nose should feel like wind blowing through a small passage, and sound as if you are sniffing a flower. To accomplish this, you should quickly inhale twice and exhale once through the nose. To keep track of this breathing and its required movements, think—or have someone say—in-in out; in-in turn. On some Chinese videos you might hear something like, she-she, ho; she-she, dwahn. Which means, inhale-inhale, exhale; inhale-inhale, turn [the head].

Any saliva generated in the mouth is to be thought of as healing Qi. Swallow it in three mouthfuls down into the (lower) Dantian.  

Conclusion.

This entry is no more than a short introduction to Guo Lin’s anti-cancer walking qigong meant only to introduce it to an English-speaking audience. As already mentioned, her complete “New Qigong” Therapy is composed of much more than what is presented in this article. A future article in Chinese Medicine Living will briefly explore her theories on how and why her qigong works through the use of breathing, psychology, meditation, bioelectricity and social gatherings—and even by the use of singing and dancing as successful healing modalities. There will also be more about the powerful creative personality of Guo Lin. Also additional videos and internet resources will be listed—(mainly in Chinese because there is so little available in English). And we will finish by listing various worldwide Guo Lin Associations.

And as always, consult your physician—trained in western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, or preferably both—before commencing this or any other exercise program.

Sources Consulted for this Entry - Books:

郭林氣功 - 簡介.(Guolin New Qigong: An Introduction); [in Traditional Chinese script]. http://www.cllam.com/contents/contenthtml/SSW-Doc/0804kuolin.pdf.

郭林新气功什么能治病抗癌. (Why Can Guo Lin New Qigong Cure Diseases and Fight Cancer?). ISBN-13: 978-7-5009-3889-7. People's Sports Publishing House, 2016. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003SRJE4A/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

郭林新氣功治癌功法.(Guo Lin New Qigong Cancer Treatment); [in Traditional Chinese script].  ISBN 9579263140. Taipei City: Lin Yu Culture, 1995.

Websites:

John Dolic. Qigong Chinese Health: “Walking Qigong: The Anti-Cancer Qigong.

“Guolin (Guo Lin) Qigong .pdf in English [sic] & Other Language.” http://cancer-qigong.blogspot.com/2012/04/guolin-guo-lin-qigong-pdf-in-enhlish.html

Videos:

Jack Lim. “Cancer – We Can Beat It.” © Jack Lim. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRAuzeVEwns.

Guolin Qigong, Natural Walk, Walking Qigong, Anti-Cancer Qigong. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12RSk3BkCFw

Guolin Qigong: Concluding Exercise. YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt-QSno0-dI.

Guo Lin Book (in Chinese)

 Guo Lin New Qigong: Therapeutic Exercises.
(The book is in Chinese. Its title is 郭林新气功:治功法挖掘功法中高功法.)
See Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Guo-Lin-Qigong-treatment-Paperback/dp/7500917813

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Featured image

Guo Lin Teaching New Qigong Walking

from http://ftpguolinxqg.cl543.4everdns.com/index.php?r=pages/category/index&cid=55 51La


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.

Beautiful featured image photo by Emily Sea on Unsplash


Download Our Sheets - Nutrition

Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

   


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!



The Qigong Corner - 1: The Basics

By John Voigt

Qi.

A general meaning of this word is “life energy,” and the meaning of Gong relates
to “work,” “cultivation,” and “accomplishment.” Qi is pronounced chee with a fast
descending soft (close to she ) sound. In Cantonese, a language often spoken by
more older people from southern China, it sounds like “hay,” so we have hay gong.
The older English spelling is “chi kung.”

Feel the Qi.

Qi manifests in many ways, one is the flow of bio-electricity in our body.
It is relatively easy to physically experience this by doing the following exercise: Rub
your hands together, then stretch and wiggle your fingers. Tap your fingertips
together, and tap them on each palm. Wiggle your fingers again. Now pretend you
are holding a ball approximately a foot and a half in circumference. Inhale and feel
this imaginary ball expand. As you exhale squeeze it back to its original size.  Do this
for a few minutes or until you feel your palms and fingertips grow warm—or even
better hot—with the energy of life. You are experiencing a manifestation of the
reality of qi, of life force, of bio-energy.

Qigong.

Its origins are Chinese and many millions of Chinese people practice it daily
throughout the world in any number of ways; most often with gentle physical
movements, stretches, meditations, and mentally focused visualizations. The term
actually relates to the harmonious interplay of yin and yang energies in the body:
specifically in the way we hold our bodies and move, the way we breathe which
effects internal energy, and what we have in our minds. Its repeated practice helps
bring about mental, physical, and spiritual well-being and healing.
Stretching is a good example of body work, and you don’t need a park in Beijing to
see thousands of people doing it, just go to a baseball park during a game and take
part in the seventh inning stretch. If there is space for it after the stretching walk
about some. It all helps get the qi moving.

Or do as so many people do, upon awakening in the morning get out of bed and take
several deep breaths—(one definition of qigong is “breath work”)—as you stretch
your hands and arms upwards and pay attention to the way it feels. As with most
qigong this is best done in the morning in a park with people all about doing various
qigong or tai chi (actually the word is taijiquan) or other forms of physical health
regimes.

It is a simple step to see the resemblance of this kind of stretching to a qigong
master doing the first movement of the most popular worldwide qigong form, the
Standing Eight Pieces of Brocade” (Baduanjin). The stretch is called “Holding Up
The Heavens” and it is said to regulate the passage of qi in the body and mind, and
tone and promote healing in the functions of the body’s inner organs.

Take a look at a grandmaster doing it on YouTube:
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. Standing Eight Pieces of Brocade. [it runs from 0:17 to 3:26].
More about Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming here

I suggest after you see Dr. Yang in action, you do some similar stretches
immediately. Five of them is enough. And take it easy: as you can see from the video,
qigong does not subscribe to the “No Pain No Gain” school of thought. If fact if there
is any pain stop doing it immediately and go see a health professional.
You now have an idea, and more importantly a physical experience, of what qi and
qigong are. Practice these or any gentle stretches in the morning as you breathe
calmly, smoothly, fully and gently into the lower abdomen.

Don’t do any qigong as if were a forced prison exercise drill, but rather as if you are
a young child having fun playing. And very important: keep noticing how the energy
feels inside of you. That way you become cognizant of the movement of the qi. And
don’t forget to smile. Smiling always helps increase the flow of this vital qi.

For the next issue of Chinese Medical Living we will go to a park near Boston’s
Chinatown and join the elders in the great healing exercise of social walking, and
learn about a simple walking regime that helps in the healing of cancer. If you wish
to learn something about that right now, on your browser explore this name, Guo
Lin and her walking qigong.

Qi has many appearances and definitions. One is “universal
consciousness.” Here is a painting by visionary artist and distance viewer
Ingo Swann titled “Cosmic Intelligence” which is an artistic depiction of such Qi.

Author with painting at the American Visionary Art Museum,
http://www.avam.org/ Baltimore, June 2018

Note: For more about Qi and Qigong go to qi-encyclopedia.com

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

John Voigt is a regular contributor to Chinese Medicine Living - you may read his bio here.


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 3

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

Laughter.

Learn to laugh deep inside, feel that the laughter is vibrating tremendously inside you. When you do this, the blood, the chi [qi], the energy are all moving. So the stagnant chi is gone, and the most important pump, the heart, can work with less effort. Mantak Chia. Wisdom Chi Kung. Destiny Books, 2008. pg. 64.

 

With a big smile and without saying what you are about to do, go up to people in the group and slowly and softly start making “Ha” sounds. When someone joins in, show your approval with grinning nods and thumbs up gestures. Wave your hands inviting others to join in. When you have as many folks conscripted into this as you practically can get, increase the tempo and volume. Once they catch on they have been tricked into laughing, they will laugh even harder. After a minute or so of this stealth hilarity, signal them to stop. Some should still be giggling or at least smiling. Most of them should be feeling good all over. Now you may want to give a mini-lecture along these lines: “As an old great qigong master of the past said, Laughter is not only the best medicine, sometimes it can be the best qigong. [Note to reader: actually I made that one up, but I like the way it sounds and anyway it isn’t totally wrong.] I continue with, “Much of the so-called “civilized” world that surrounds us is just plain nutty, and has the ability to creep behind our eyes into our minds with its worries, fears and negative judgments—and that can mess us up. Laughter helps prevent that from happening.”

this joyous image from thegospelcoalition.org

 

Five Organ Laughter for Emotional Wellbeing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five major organs, but these organs are not exactly like the body organs of western medicine. Rather than being like something seen in a display case at a butcher shop, the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney are interrelated profound energetic forces. That is why they are capitalized and not written as plurals. Even though understood as being in part physical, in traditional Chinese thought these organs are more like active verbs than stationary nouns. The way they function is the basis for all life, including physical and mental health or sick- ness. For our purposes sending laughter into any organ enhances its well-being.

 

Have the group begin with some deep belly laughs. A minute or so is enough. This should bring qi into the dan tian located in the center of the lower abdomen; this is the place where qi is gathered and stored for future use. Carefully monitor the group so that no one laughs too hard. At times you may need to lower the volume to a quiet or medium laughter so no one hurts themselves. Finish with a clockwise rub- bing of the lower belly. Cats and dogs like their dan tians rubbed this why. Why shouldn’t we?

 

Next laugh gently into each of the organs in the order given below. Silent laughter and even humming into the chosen organ seems to help break up negative emotions. Simply smiling into an organ might even produce good results, as long as a full but comfortable abdominal breathing is maintained throughout this gymnastic.

Liver (on the central right side of the torso).

When the qi flow is harmonious in the Liver a person feels empowered. When the flow is disturbed a person may suffer from personal frustration and feelings of being too vulnerable. Laughing into the Liver can function as a way to change feelings of anger into a sense of relaxed self-assurance.

Heart.

The Chinese traditionally conceive the Heart as being the center of both mind and emotions. It is located in the upper center of the torso, in much the same place as the heart chakra, or the Middle Dantian. When the flow of Qi is disturbed or if there is an excess of qi in the Heart, a person may become mentally hyperactive, even hysterical. Laughing into the heart will not only increase the healthy circulation of blood in the arteries, veins, and capillaries, it is said to smooth out and reduce excessive emotions; and the over-thinking of what the Chinese call, “too many monkeys in the head.”

Spleen.

This organ is on the lower left side of the torso and governs digestion. In TCM it often includes the pancreas and stomach. (Mantak Chia tells his students the importance of owning an anatomy book and study at its pictures so you know where to look inside yourself when doing qigong). Disharmony here triggers worry. Harmony here helps create a state of clear calm mindfulness. Laughing aloud or silently into your lower left abdomen seems to drive away worrisome thoughts and replace them with feelings of clear happy confidence.

Lung. (upper torso).

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic functions, and not simply a physical organ on both sides of the chest. Here disharmony, stagnation, and depletion of qi can create - or be created by - feelings of isolation, grief, and depression. (It’s the same in all the organs: the emotion effects the qi and the qi effects the emotion.) The Chinese saw that when a person was in a state of intense grief and or depression they would seem to stop breathing, and often bend over so much that they could hardly breathe at all. If we understand the word “qi” can also mean “breath” it makes sense that laughing into the Lung can bring about feelings of courage and victory. I like using the image of the Tarot card The Chariot, as a visual metaphor of this positive state of being, with the breastplate of the Charioteer signifying the ribs of the chest.

Kidney.

As mentioned above, the Kidney is a singular term in Chinese traditional thought. When a person is very frightened they may “pee themselves.” Therefore the Chinese posited that the Kidney relates to the energy element Water, and when the qi is not right in the Kidney the bad emotion most likely to appear is fear. To create harmony in the Kidney, access it by laughing into both sides of the lower back, and into both sides of the lower front of the body just below the belly. Breathe in, and with short staccato repeating exhalations, laugh into the Kidney. As with all Happy Fun practices be relaxed and don’t force anything. A minute or so of this inner laughter can help in dissolving the emotions of fear into feelings of joyful personal power.

If the group would be comfortable with it, here is a way to close the Laughter gymnastics. It comes from http://www.laughteronlineuni- versity.com/150-laughter-exercises/64. Heart to Heart Laughter: (Intimacy Laughter) Hug each other and laugh by feeling the vibrations in each others’ bodies; alternatively, you can hold hands and laugh. The participants come closer and hold each other's hands and laugh with compassionate eye contact. One can shake hands and hug each other while laughing if convenient.

Ending The Happy Fun Qigong Session.

1. Total Body Shaking, Twitching and Wiggling.

This is a quick gymnastic to cleanse and refresh the organs and meridians. It should be done quickly and loosely. It should feel good and be fun to do. We start twitching, shaking and wiggling the toes, then the feet, and continuing these nervous wiggle twitching movements in the feet, we move it up the legs, waist, body, head, and still continuing this wiggle twitching in all those places, we move it into the shoulders and down the arms and into the fingers. Now your entire body, legs, arms, and head should be twitching and wiggling like a rag doll in a wind storm. Now reverse the process. As quickly as you can, stop the wiggling in the fingers, then stop it in the lower arms, upper arms, shoulders. Then stop in the head, upper body, lower body, hips, upper legs, lower legs, feet, finally the toes. End by taking a deep breath and carefully jumping up and coming down with a shouted “HA!” Next, pretend you are a collie dog coming out of the ocean after a swim and shake the water off your fur.

2. Flicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, we do some outer gymnastics I have often seen people doing early in the morning in parks around the country. It is a way to get rid of any remaining xié qì! meaning “bad qi.” (For any Mandarin purists out there it is pronounced shay chee. The arrows indicate pitch direction of the words.) Schmutz is a German word, and the similar“ shmuts” is Yiddish; both mean “nasty, filthy, yucky, or xié qì.

The Gymnastic. Bring your hands up and out to your sides and as if they were covered with dirty dish water shake and flick the schmutz off - especially from the fingers. I instruct those in my groups to do it this way. Shake off the bad stuff. Wipe it off yourself, wipe your arms, hands, legs and toss it on the ground. Don’t worry about ecology, this stuff goes right down into the earth like compost.

3. Kicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, I lead the group in kicking their feet forward as if we were getting rid of dog poop on our shoes. Then we kick the heels back. Then we kick the feet out sideways. Having the group move about kicking this way is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to yell out, “Don’t kick that stuff on me!” to really enhance the experience, (and I seriously don’t want that stuff on me anyway.)

This all may seem silly, but nevertheless, it is a valid Chinese technique to get rid of xié qì. If you are doing this gymnastic outdoors and there is sidewalk close by, go to it and wipe the bottoms of your shoes on the curb, the area between the sidewalk and the road. We don’t want to be tracking any bad qi into the house, now do we?

4. Close the session.

You can close the session with any standard smoothing and centering the qi exercises that you might normally perform.

Disclaimer.

Happy Fun Qigong is practiced to gain feelings of health and well-being. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment for physical or psychological illnesses. Consult your doctor or an appropriate medical professional before beginning this or any other exercise regimen. Otherwise, Fun Happy Qigong is not suitable for people who have physical or mental health problems. This is even more so for anyone who may suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, metastasized cancer, epilepsy, hernia, serious backaches, or psychiatric disorders. If discomfort or pain is felt when doing this or similar exercises consult a doctor immediately. The author and the publisher disclaim any liability or loss, personal or otherwise, resulting from any of the procedures and information presented in this article.

Concluding Comments.

Even though I used the word “visualization” in this article, I really do not like the term; it puts too much of a distance between the individual and what she or he is imagining. “Visualization” carries the idea of internally seeing something, and not actually being it or doing it. As in: You are here. It is there. You are watching it. It is being watched.

Instead of “visualizing” I prefer the terms “active imagination” or even better “inner-imaging.” But most people do not know what they mean. I want the practitioner to internally create an imaginative reality and then actively merge with and become it. However, this is advanced inner-energy work and therefore best studied with an advanced master. I am not saying don’t do it by yourself. What I am saying is that it is mandatory you are able to leave this “inner imaging” state whenever you wish and return to a more normal everyday reality. Otherwise, it could begin to resemble insanity. After all, you are not really Tarzan, Jane, or the ape.

In summary, Happy Fun Qigong uses inner-imagining yourself to become some or all of these formidable characters: Franz Liszt, a hula dancer, LeBron James, Tarzan (or Jane), a tiger, phoenix, peacock, a car lube air dancer. In this qigong you talk and listen to your smiley heart, laugh into your organs, shake twitch wiggle and jump, then flick and kick off the schumtz.

After all that I hope we all return to our everyday lives happier, healthier, and full of radiant healthy qi. BTW: Feel free to keep Tarzan and any of the other creatures alive inside yourself and ready to bring out of hiding and use whenever you wish - as long as you can put them back whenever you want to.

Endnotes

  1. If you are going to send qi-energy to anyone first always ask and get their permission; not to ask is impolite, improper, and invasive. The same with touching anyone to correct a posture or to show them an acupressure point: always first ask permission.
  2. Wiggling Fingers A personal note. This practice has helped me heal, or at least eliminate, the pain of arthritis in my fingers. Some of the joints are still gnarled, but now I can move my fingers easily.
  3. See “T-cell Modulation Group” at http://www.tcells.org/beginners/tcells/.
  4. “Five Animals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Animals.
  5. “Phoenix (mythology)” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).
  6. “Fenghuang” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenghuang.
  7. The “Phoenix Spreads its Wings” gymnastic presented in this article is a simplification of number 15 of the second set of Taijiqigong- Shibashi created by Lin Houshung, See “Lin Housheng’s Qigong” [at] http://www.lin-housheng.com/products.php.
  8. After these techniques are learned there is the potential of adding to them other Asian healing modalities such as using mantras, hand mudras, qigong gestures, ritual movements, affirmations and tuina massage. And adding some love into all this increases its effectiveness. Only the safety and security of the group and the presenter limit what may be done. Nevertheless laughing into the organs creates a foundation for any such future work.

Alignment - Part 3

By Steven Lubka

Performing a Cranial-Spinal Reset

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.

The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture. The key points are as follows:

  1. You are lying on a firm surface
  2. The angle of your thighs to your spine is close to 90 degrees
  3. The angle of your shins to thighs is close to 90 degrees
  4. The ankles and feet are pointed
  5. The hips are positioned directly over each other, as well as all joints in the legs.
  6. The forehead is resting on the hands. It is very important that you are not resting the head on cheekbones or jaw joint. Resting the weight on one of these areas will be counter productive

Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.

After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.  

Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.

I clearly remember the first time I ever tried to make myself feel better. Such a normal and commonplace action yet it struck me even at the time. I was 8 years old and I was looking forward to going to a favorite store when I found out it was closed. In that moment my mind reached for something else I could do to cope with the disappointment, something that might bring me pleasure. This is something we often do, and we even raise our children in this way. When there is emotional upset we seek something external to change our experience of those feelings.

However this represents a turning away from Self, from the ever present ground of being. It was my first encounter with the aspect of the ego which is focused on how it feels and is always desiring to feel better. What a mechanism! This was the beginning of my later drug addiction, at 8 years old. Addiction could not possibly exist in a being who is not seeking to experience pleasure and push away pain. And yet this function of egoic consciousness exists in many forms besides that of drug addiction. I think if we look at ourselves with an honest sense of inquiry we will find that we are all seeking a better experience most of the time. If we look with an even more discerning gaze we will also see that in doing this we actually create more pain for ourselves than if we didn't try to do anything about our negative feelings.

It is an important step in our journeys to heal the state of our body-mind, indeed this whole article has dealt with the process of healing. However, it is important to be aware of our motivation for doing so. Are we attempting to run from pain, to push it away as unacceptable, or are we seeking to meet our pain with the redemptive force of our loving attention?  For the rare individuals who are after Truth and not simply a better experience this is of the utmost importance. The path of self-improvement and healing is an ENDLESS path. One never reaches an end point. The only thing left for those who’s goal is something beyond this is direct insight into the nature of the Self. The act of trying to heal oneself or feel better is a pointer and a path in of itself, however this path does not lead to the ultimate goal. It prepares the seeker to be able to recognize and accommodate the divine perspective which will emerge later.

For me remembering the first time I ever engaged in the act of turning away from my pain, also always reminded that there existed something outside of it. It indicated that there was another state of being which was not concerned with how it felt and never attempted to change what was.

As always, this is a fantastic teacher for me. In remembrance of the Great Self, we turn ourselves towards our source , with endless devotion, without ceasing. The true God is a silent one, and a small one. There is nothing other than this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living


Tai Chi - History & Health Benefits

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

China has a long tradition of using exercise techniques to promote health and longevity. Its roots go back to ancient times. In the 6th century BCE (Before the Common Era) Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, ‘Yield and overcome, bend and be straight.” From these origins of Taoism comes the central philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan – literally Supreme Ultimate Fist.

In 250 CE the physician Hua Tuo developed a system of exercise based on the movements of five animals. He believed that regular exercise was necessary for good digestion and circulation, and that this would assure a long and healthy life. These Five Animals Exercises form the basis of the modern systems of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong.

In the 6th century CE an Indian monk named Bodihdharma came to China to the Shaolin monastery. He noticed that the monks there were in poor physical condition from meditating too much and moving too little! He developed an exercise system called the Eighteen Form Lohan Exercise, from which came Kung Fu and all other external martial arts forms. Some of these exercises survive today in modern Tai Chi Chuan.

tai-chi-2

Today Tai Chi Chuan enjoys a world wide following of people with little or no interest in martial arts. They practice Tai Chi for its physical and mental health benefits. Concentrating on the movements of the forms and regulating the breathing brings about a state of mental calmness and clarity. The physical movements rotate the joints of the body to about 95% of their capability, keeping one limber and flexible. No other Western exercise comes close to this range of movement.

Researchers have found that Tai Chi practice improves balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Other health benefits include relief from pain, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and symptoms of diseases such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, ADHD in adolescents and many others.

Tai Chi’s gentle, low impact movements burn more calories than surfing, and nearly as many as downhill skiing! These many health benefits explain the huge popularity of Tai Chi Chuan world wide.

 

*Note - CE (common era) is the same as AD (anno domini). (ex: 1400 CE is same as 1400 AD)