Qi & The Breath of Life

Qi & The Breath of Life

076Qigong is a Chinese form of both exercise and meditation. Because it is practiced slowly and mindfully there is little chance for injury and almost anyone can do it. Did you know that 75% of the toxicity in the blood is removed through the exhalation? It is true. Did you ever notice that when you are stressed you hold your breath? Holding your breath increases stress and can also lead to disease (if “unconsciously practiced” over extended periods of time).

Poor breath means poor exhalation and poor exhalation means toxic blood. If the blood becomes too toxic other systems in the body like the lymphatic system can become toxic as well, this can lead to cancer amongst other things. Is it possible that through Qigong practices we can detoxify our blood? Yes, during Qigong practices we place a tremendous amount of attention on the breath. In certain practices we emphasize the exhale and in other practices we will emphasize the exhale followed by a slow and mindful inhale all the way to capacity.

If you have held back your breath (due to stress) and your breath is not full and not regularly reaching your lower lungs then taking a deep breath is actually difficult. A lot of people will give the advice to a stressed out person, “just take a few deep breaths” but the person cannot. The better advice would actually be “take a few minutes and blow out that stress.”  In “blowing out,” essentially exhaling you are creating new space for new breath to live. In Chinese philosophy and medicine it is believed that “Chi” a universal life force actually rides on the breath. In India this essence of life is called “Prana.”

Chi is essentially subtle energy that gives rise to bodily functions and bodily systems. Electricity runs the functions of our cells, organs and tissues. Chi may just be the subtle life force that gives rise to all of those electrical forces. In Traditional Oriental Medicine theory the body – being is healthy and vital when the life force is flowing through it abundantly and unobstructed. It is said that if the Chi flow is blocked then disease is bound to follow. Chi can be a hard concept for westerners to grasp but there is no need to get hung up on that. Whether we want to think in terms of Chi, or breath, or both the Qigong practices get the job done.

I have seen many people who have said they believe in Chi but they cannot feel it. I have had others say they do not believe in Chi but they feel fantastic after practicing Qigong.
There are two paths in life we have to follow, one is intellectual the other is experiential, I prefer the latter. If intellectual knowledge can help others come to the experiential then I think it is worth its weight in gold. If not, then I believe the intellectual should be set aside. Qigong means “the skilled cultivation of universal life force,” and awareness is defined as the state or ability to perceive or feel, or be conscious of events, objects or sensory patterns. So Qigong Awareness is the idea of using awareness to perceive or feel Chi, energy, blood flow, lymph etc. in, around and throughout the body.

As time goes on one can learn to control their mind, their body and things like body temperature, blood pressure, levels of stress, affect white blood cell counts, red blood cell counts and internally turn on and amp up various healing agents. ​There are Qigong masters who can break brick with their heads, have sticks broken across their bodies at 100+ MPH, there are masters who can pull cars with their teeth, lie on extremely sharp blades and then have concrete blocks placed on their bodies and then have them smashed by a sledge hammer. Most of the time these masters are not injured! There are masters of Medical Qigong who have been measured in China to emit 100 times the level of electrical current from their hands then the average person. There are masters who are known for dissolving tumors and other blockages without even touching the body. There are many amazing feats that can be demonstrated from extensive practice.

In China about eight million people a day practice Qigong. To them it is both a form of preventative medicine and for some it is their only cure. ​There are many in the parks of China telling stories of having been diagnosed with cancer and having been given a death sentence. They were told by their doctors that they would not live for even two weeks and there they are three years later practicing in the park. In my own journey my doctors diagnosed me with severe scoliosis and told me that I would be mostly crippled by the time I was thirty years old. Ten years of Qigong and my back did not seem to improve in the least. Then one day I had an experience where so much energy surged through me I thought I was going to burst. It was quite interesting and something I had never experienced before. After several follow up experiences just like the first my spinal disease disappeared!

Not only did my spinal disease disappear but my level of awareness was significantly expanded and much more spacious. With that spaciousness came, a greater sense of peace and well being, a new direction, many healing gifts and sense of deep responsibility. I would not say I have arrived anywhere but I am clearer and more connected to nature, existence and all living things much more often than I ever was. I often wonder what might happen if I practice Qigong for another thirty years, especially now that I am better at it? I am not sure but I am looking forward to what happens next.

The New Year has arrived. Many of you will be thinking about getting healthy, losing weight, gaining weight, getting stronger, detoxifying the body etc. Qigong actually does it all and it does it from the inside out. In Chinese Medicine it is believed that the abdomen and the associated organs are at the core of the entire system. If there is anything going wrong anywhere in the body there is something going wrong in the organs themselves. Blood and Lymph are key fluids that move through the entire body and just filling the body up with more herbs, or more medicines, or more of this, or that, at some point may no longer be helpful. Instead one might need to actually detoxify on the level of the breath, the level of the Chi and the organs themselves.

​In order to do this we need to tap into our greatest resource and you can think of that as oxygen and/ or Chi. Without food you can live for a few weeks and you can live a few days without water. Without breath people die in minutes. Maybe this year would be a good time to take a closer look at your breath and see how it affects your psyche, your weight, your emotional state, your stress levels, your levels of physical strength, your levels of awareness etc.  And not just look at it from our chair in a research building but through experiential practice, I have found that to be the best medicine and provide the best kind of evidence that Qigong works.
by David J. Coon

January 2014 Issue

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