Traditional Chinese Medicine: Qigong

by karen on June 4, 2013

by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist

Balance. Energy. Simplicity. Calmness. Oneness. Relaxation. Wholeness. Harmony.

Any of these words could describe the effect the application of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can have on the typical stressed-out American.  TCM is rooted in a distinctive, inclusive and systematic theoretical structure and is based on the flow of energy, or chi, throughout the body. Chi flows through the body via pathways which are called meridians.  There are a total of twelve meridians in the body which correspond to specific organs, organ systems, or functions.  This flow of energy is responsible for controlling the functions of the human mind and body.  An imbalance of chi causes illness and a correction to this flow restores the body’s balances, and therefore, health.

TCM is based, in part, on the Taoist belief that humankind is part of the universe and we, and the universe, are interconnected.  Chinese medicine teaches us that what happens to one part of the body has an influence on all other parts of the body.  Similarly, the mind and body are viewed as being one where the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind. Because Chinese medical philosophy and theory make up the base of TCM, many of these concepts have no true counterpart in Western medicine.  TCM is a systematic and holistic approach that links the mind, body, and spirit to identify imbalance in the body.

There are eight “branches” of Chinese medicine. This system of practice coordinates a variety of therapeutic techniques: meditation, qigong or breathing exercises, nutrition, tai chi or mindful movement, Fengshui, herbology, bodywork and acupuncture.  A practitioner will systematically move through these branches with you, depending upon your unique needs, in order to restore your health.

There are eight “branches” of Chinese medicine. This system of practice coordinates a variety of therapeutic techniques: meditation, qigong or breathing exercises, nutrition, tai chi or mindful movement, Fengshui, herbology, bodywork and acupuncture.  A practitioner will systematically move through these branches with you, depending upon your unique needs, in order to restore your health.

What is Qigong, or breath awareness?
Qigong is actually made up of two Chinese words. Qi (chee) is translated to mean “the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.”  The second word, gong (gung) means skill attained through practice.  Qigong integrates breathing, physicality, and focus.  Its techniques are designed to improve and enhance the body’s qi.   Breath is life, and life is breath.  But to say that qigong is “just breathing” is far too simplistic.  It underscores the importance of controlled breathing and mindful intent to complement physical movement.  When physical movement is combined with proper breathing and focus, the benefit of exercise is increased significantly.

People who regularly practice qigong do so to maintain their health, clear their minds, and reunite with their spirit.  It is an essential part of the mind, body, and spirit’s connection.  Qigong promotes better health regardless of a person’s age, life circumstance, disability, or spiritual beliefs.  It can be practiced anywhere and needs no special equipment.  Practiced regularly it will help to: channel energy, improve physical balance, develop better concentration, reduce stress, and bring to one’s life an overall sense of calm.

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