FAQ: Medical Qigong
I incorporate Medical Qigong therapy into Sacred Healing Tree Therapy. Sacred Healing Tree has a unique from of Qigong associated with it that I have developed over the years. I get questions about Medical Qigong frequently enough to have written this article years ago. I think it is still relevant.
If you have any questions, do some independent research or feel free to contact me. Good reading!
What is Medical Qigong?
Medical Qigong is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It provides the energetic foundation from which acupuncture, herbal therapy, and Chinese massage therapy emerged. Medical Qigong employs specific methods to purge, tonify and otherwise balance the body’s energy, or Qi for therapeutic benefit. In Chinese Medicine, where there is energetic imbalance within the body, illness will develop. Effective Medical Qigong therapy relies on a practitioner’s ability to detect imbalances of Qi and correct them by directing Qi with the mind, the hands, or perhaps a ritual object, without necessarily touching the body. Qigong exercises are often prescribed to clients to further enhance the healing process. Qigong exercises combine breathing techniques, movement, creative visualization and intent to improve physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What is Qi?
Qi or Chi, (pronounced “chee”), does not translate well into one English word. Qi is a concept. Chinese philosophy does not distinguish between matter and energy, but Qi is considered matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the point of materializing into matter. Herein lies the concept of Yin and Yang. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, it is often referred to as the “energy” present in the Meridians and the organs of the body. It is the fundamental life force or energy that is found in all living things and is formed from the interaction of Yin and Yang energies.
Qi serves 5 main functions in the human body. Some sources describe the functions slightly differently but I think all basic functions are included here:
1. Nourish growth and development
2. Warm and maintain appropriate temperature
3. Defend against external pathogens
4. Control blood and vital fluids
5. Transform Yin and Yang; transform blood and vital fluids
How is Qigong different from “Medical” Qigong?
There are many facets to Qigong and every practitioner has his or her own style and traditions. The absolute most concise differentiations are as follows:
Qigong is a self-help modality, much like tai chi. Qigong exercises combine breathing techniques, movement, and visualization to improve physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Medical Qigong involves the balancing of a person’s Qi to alleviate illness and restore health by a person trained and experienced in feeling and moving Qi. Medical Qigong involves the balancing of a person’s Qi to alleviate illness and restore health by a person trained and experienced in feeling and moving Qi.
Who can benefit from Medical Qigong?
In Chinese Medicine, any illness is caused by an imbalance of Qi in the body. Western medicine does not ascribe to this concept, making many diseases difficult or impossible to diagnose or cure. Medical Qigong therapy has been used successfully, often in addition to other therapies, to safely and painlessly addressdifficult or chronic conditions as well as aid in preventive care. This form of therapy can help alleviate most ailments and, at the hands of a seasoned professional Qigong practitioner, has the intrinsic ability to adress psychologically and emotionally rooted diseases.
In other words, anyone can benefit from Medical Qigong therapy.
Medical Qigong may be used for some of these most common ailments: high blood pressure, mihgraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia, cysts and tumors, stress disorders and stroke.
I’ve heard of Qigong massage. Is it different from Tuina or other forms of Asian Bodywork?
Qigong “massage” is not a form of manual manipulation per se. It is a term ascribed to a particular technique exclusive to the practice of Medical Qigong. Therefore, it is not the same as Tuina, Shiatsu or any other form of Asian Bodywork Therapy. When Qigong massage is performed, the practitioner’s hands lightly skim the surface of a client’s body. The light skimming action is used to dredge Qi from the channels and eliminate pathogens. It is not unusual for a highly trained practitioner to combine therapy methods.
A Medical Qigong practitioner is going to “move my Qi” to make me feel better. What is that experience like?
I always recommend that clients lie down in a comfortable position. The more relaxed a person is the easier it is to achieve the desired results. After an assessment is made by the practitioner the session begins. Some clients may actually feel nothing in early sessions especially those with conditions of deficient Qi. Some common sensations may be best described as areas of numbness or tingling, changes in temperature, sensations of heaviness or lightness. The sensation of stagnant or disease causing Qi prior to therapy manifests as a dull ache or pain. The gentle movement of Qi will often induce a deep sense of relaxation, to the point of falling asleep. It is not unusual for someone to momentarily and involuntarily twitch as channels become unblocked and flow more freely with Qi. I think that 30 minutes per session will usually provide adequate relief for most complaints.
How do I choose a qualified Medical Qigong practitioner?
First, you’ll have to find a practitioner. Finding a practitioner may prove difficult via conventional avenues. You may start your search on the internet, of course, or your local acupuncture school.
No regulatory body operates to accurately assess a practitioner’s qualifications or competency, largely because of the esoteric nature of this healing modality and the difficulty presented by attempting to quantify results of an energetic therapy. Various certifications are awarded through schools that teach Medical Qigong, however, no licensure or certification is required to practice.Because Medical Qigong remains unregulated in the United States, skill level cannot be ascertained by obtaining individual certification or professional licensure information.
Since no conveniently available assessments exist to ensure significant health benefits from any Medical Qigong practitioner, I have listed a few things I find most important when choosing one.
1.) There is no substitute for intuition. By this statement, I am referring to the intuition of both client and practitioner.
As a client, ask yourself,”Does this person feel right for me? Is he or she confident and compassionate? Smiling? Do I feel comfortable with the presence and demeanor of this person?” A spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye are clues to a healthy constitution; essential for guiding Qi. Does this describe your practitioner? There’s no problem with trying a number of practitioners. Every individual is unique, so a practitioner who would appeal to one person might not necessarily appeal to another.
As far as practitioner intuition, not all practitioners have the same skill level, education and training. Some people are “naturally” more sensitive to Qi and it’s movement and can detect very subtle changes and may be able to tell you what symptoms you may be experiencing even before inquiring. For others, intuition must be developed with time and closely supervised training.
2.) Good communication skills. There’s nothing more aggravating than a health care professional that doesn’t understand what you need help with. Good listening and observation skills are a must and valuable aids in diagnosis. Mastery of the art of subtle observation leads to keen intuitive skills.
3.) It is important for Medical Qigong practitioners to have knowledge of all four branches of Traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, medical qigong therapy, and Chinese bodywork therapy) and knowledge of Western medicine, in order to understand the relative strengths and limitations of various therapies and be able to select the most effective and appropriate treatment modality for each client. This knowledge will enable the practitioner to make appropriate referrals for additional treatment or medical assessment.
4.) Of course, check references whatever they may be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. An experienced practitioner won’t have any problem answering questions and should be able to provide thorough explanations. Some good questions:
“How long have you been practicing Medical Qigong?”
“Where did you receive your training?”
“What certificates or credentials do you hold?”
Most commonly, control, sensitivity, and experience making assessments are developed with practice over a long period of time. Some, truly gifted individuals are the exception.
5.) If you’ve had a Medical Qigong therapy session before, ask yourself if the last session you had was beneficial to your physical, spiritual, or emotional health. Did you feel good about it? Did it meet or exceed your expectations? Would you seek treatment from the same practitioner or refer friends and family to him or her?