Western medicine is based on a Disease model of health. When you are sick, you see a doctor. When you have signs and symptoms, you take something to decrease or remove the signs and symptoms. Like when police arrive at the scene of a crime... it is after the crime is committed.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), on the other hand, is based on a Wellness model of health. It prescribes a lifestyle of preventing illness, which means a daily doing of what is good for you. The practice of qigong is one of the treasures of TCM that helps millions of people around the world remain healthy, by maintaining homeostasis (balance) in their body.
Qigong refers to specific health exercises or techniques for regulating the body, the mind and the breath. They involve visualization, movement, posture and self-massage to effect interior balance and thus positive changes in health.
The nucleus of qigong is the exercise of consciousness and vital energy. The goal of qigong, therefore, is to circulate, build and balance qi (vital life-force energy) throughout the body to promote physical and mental well-being.
Regular practice of qigong exercises aids in regulating the functions of the central nervous system. Along with exercising and controlling one's mind and body, qigong influences one's physical states and pathological conditions. Concurrently, the practice of qigong emits latent energy within the human body, enabling the practitioner to use them to their fullest potential. Regular practice increases the body's ability to adapt to and defend against the natural/physical environment in which we live.
Specifically, the practice of qigong exercises combines the practice of the "three regulations," -- body posture, intention, and vital energy. Controlling the three regulations through various qigong practices helps regulate the body's constitution, consciousness and respiration. Such regulations are the primary constituents to good health.
The variety of qigong forms or methods is astounding. There are Taoist and Buddhist methods, medical methods, martial arts methods, psychological methods, Confucian methods... but all with the same aim of regulating the mind and spirit by creating balance in the body. In other words, great health and quality of life.
The primary use of qigong today is to improve one's health, thus extending life. This is known as medical or healing qigong, of which there are three subdivisions:
1) Applied clinical therapy, whereby a Chinese doctor would emit (project) his own qi into a patient's body to effect a cure;
2) Self-regulating exercises, whereby a person would choose a qigong program and practice the exercises over a period of at least 100 days to improve his or her own health;
3) A combination of clinical qigong treatments from a doctor and an individual's personal self-regulating qigong training program. Within the self-practice method, exercises are done in any combination of three ways: static postures, slow movements, meditation and breathing exercises.
There are innumerable ways in which one can benefit from the practice of qigong. As it induces the relaxation response, stress is reduced and emotions are calmed. This reduces the unhealthy on-going "fight or flight" response many of us deal with in our daily stressful lives. This on-going stresss-response damages the liver, and releases unwanted levels of the hormone cortisol... which is a cause of excessive belly fat... which can lead to heart disease.
A deep and full rest at night is another fine condition that can be attained with qigong practice. Actually, a person will find they need less sleep than usual. He or she will awaken a new person, replenished and ready to face each new day.
After a qigong practice session, one will feel stronger and more energetic and the mind will feel clear and tranquil. After prolonged training, one will feel light yet strong.
The practice of qigong improves blood circulation and enriches the blood with more red blood cells. This increases the supply of oxygen to the tissues, thereby promoting healthier tissues and organs. The greater supply of oxygen enables the heart to pump slower, while still providing enough oxygen to the body. Imbalances such as high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat are made normal with prolonged, proper practice of qigong.
Qigong serves the whole body rather than one specific area -- although this is also possible through specific exercises. Qigong is therefore a way of attaining good health and peace of mind. As it calls on no external means, introduces nothing and depends only on the body to create antibodies, qigong is among the most natural and direct methods of wellness and revitalization know to man.
Give it a try... and see how your life can change in so many positive ways.
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