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Home > Self-Healing QiGong/Tuina > QiGong Primer

A Chi Kung (Qi Gong) Primer

By Bruce Eichelberger M.T.O.M., O.M.D. (China), L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)

Introduction

Chi Kung (Qi Gong) means literally, "Energy Cultivation," and refers to exercises which improve health and longevity as well as increase the sense of harmony within oneself and in the world. There are thousands of such exercises. In fact, anything you do with the intention of benefiting your energy can be considered Chi Kung. All Chi Kung contains common principles - mind, eyes, movement and breath. Another way to express this is - the mind is the presence of intention, the eyes are the focus of intention, the movement is the action of intention, the breath is the flow of intention. These are the "secrets" of Chi Kung - and they are often taught at the beginning of training. Of course it takes years of exploring these ideas in practice to begin to truly grasp their significance.

Kung Fu (Gung Fu) means "Progress Achieved through Discipline." Discipline means learning through action. The word discipline in English is related to the word disciple - one who learns. In the West the idea of Kung Fu is commonly thought of only in terms of martial arts. In fact the term applies to any activity in which paying attention and practicing to improve are important - in other words just about any worthwhile aspect of life.

Chi Kung is actually a specific example of a larger category of exercises called Nui Kung (Nei Gong) (literally - "Inner Cultivation"). Nui Kung encompasses a large variety of practices including standing, seated, moving, static and even dreaming exercises. "Internal" martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Ji Quan), Ba Kua (Pa Gua) and Hsing I (Xing Yi) are also included within this general category. In their advanced levels Nui Gong exercises cultivate access to energies commonly outside of the human experience. Obviously, if it is possible for humans to access these energies, they cannot truly be outside of human experience, perhaps only outside of commonly perceived consensual reality. Advanced sets of Nui Kung exercises focus on different specific aspects of experience, including altering states of consciousness, opening to universal energies, and manifesting unusual abilities and powers. Many of these advanced exercises included within Nui Kung are considered dangerous if taught to the unprepared and all of them must be treated with respect to avoid possible difficulties resulting from their practice.

Healing with Chi

Recent articles have emphasized the use of Chi energy for healing others. This is referred to as "External Chi Healing," (External Qi Kung) or Chi Sao. Chi energy is directed through the hands or eyes towards the patient. Often, "miraculous" improvements in health are cited as a result of a Chi Kung practitioner working with an ill person. External Chi healing is historically one of the main applications of Chi energy cultivation.

If you are going to cultivate Chi and apply it in healing work with others there are important precautions to heed. The most important of these is to remain clear of personal attachment to the process. Nothing will deplete energy faster than seeking ego gratification with the "power" of your healing work. Fortunately for most, these tendencies usually get worked out early in the process, particularly if they are working with a teacher who is themselves clear.

There are also numerous levels and depths of this healing ability. Certain healers using externally-directed Chi seem to have better effects with some illnesses than others. Ultimately it may be that to truly master the art of directing Chi in the healing process you must develop a wide spectrum of abilities and be able to apply them in a variety of types of imbalances in body, emotions, mind, soul and spirit.

The Path of Qi Gong

The ultimate goal of all Qi Gong is harmonious existence and action in all situations. This level of achievement approaches Mastery. The elements that characterize this level of experience include: curiosity, ease in action, clarity of focus and intention, perseverance, non-attachment, resilience, openness, creativity, responsiveness and fluid balance. Also, Mastery shows not in someone knowing everything, but rather someone willing to continue learning regardless of their level of achievement.

Finally, although you may find books or teachers professing to teach you the secrets of Chi Kung and the power of it's applications, it always comes down to what you, yourself are willing to practice and experience. The layers are there for you to explore when you make yourself available for the learning. At the same time, it doesn't hurt to learn whatever you can from those who have stepped through the doors before you. In the words of the Zen poet, Basho, "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old, seek what they sought."

(c) 1995 B. Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger, OMD has dedicated more than 30 years to working with people seeking natural alternatives for relieving pain, stress and other health problems. He specializes in individually personalized treatments, addressing each patient's unique health situation with a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, metabolic typing, therapeutic exercise and medical qigong. Licensed in the State of Nevada as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, he is also nationally certified in acupuncture and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). "Quality of Life is Everything." You can reach him at his practice in Reno, Nevada. (775) 827-6901.

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