Qigong can trace its history back over 3000 years. How can exercises formulated so long ago still have a place in the modern world in which we live?
Today, Qigong is recognised by many as an effective means of maintaining good health and curing disease. Even in the time of the Spring and Autumn, and Warring states (770-221 BC), Qigong had a high level of importance. The Yellow Emperors Manual of Internal Medicine written in the fourth century BC refers to Qigong. Qigong exercises were already being practiced when Greece was holding its first Olympic Games (776 BC), whilst the Celts were invading Britain (800 BC) and even before the birth of Confucius (551 BC). Developed by the early Taoists, Qigong evolved through careful study of the natural surroundings and wildlife. The gait of the bear the tiger prowling ,the bird stretching its wings etc.
The Ancient Taoists observed that the animals were able to keep themselves healthy. This observation coupled with a knowledge of internal energy (qi), they devised exercises to regulate breathing in co-ordination with the movements of the body. It was found that exercise alone could not bring about balance and harmony within the body. Following the principal of Yin and Yang, if movement is Yang, then stillness being Yin is necessary to achieve the balance. Stillness in the form of meditation.
Gaunzi, a book, written in 300 BC notes:
“achievement ofineditation will improve the general fitness of the four limbs, and this in turn accumulate abundant energy and vigour in the body. “
What role if any, can exercises formulated in these ancient times play in our world, steeped in science and technology? Is there a place for ancient healing exercises or have they been overtaken by the wonders of modern medicine?
For those who are healthy, modern medicine offers little or nothing to maintain a healthy balance. Without some form of maintenance the body will eventually become weak and’unhealthy. It is only when we are ill that we go and see a doctor. We never go when we are healthy! With the wide spectrum of drugs and medicine available today, there are still many conditions and illnesses that are incurable. Many drugs have side effects, so whilst curing one problem create another. Better not fall ill in the first place.
Daily practice of the Qigong exercises and meditation build up the qi and can keep the body in balance and prevent illness. Our modern lifestyle creates stress and tension. Coronary heart disease is common in this country. The effects of Qigong have been proven to be beneficial to patients suffering from angina and also those suffering from Hypertension (high blood pressure).
There are even optimistic reports that the condition of some cancer patients can be improved! Insomnia, Lumbago, Hepatitis and other conditions have been eased and alleviated by performing Qigong exercises. Qigong is an excellent way of keeping fit and improving ones health. It is suitable for all, young, old, weak or strong all can benefit. It has been described as a process of “self rejuvenation”. Now, as much as any other time in our history we need to turn to the healing art of Qigong. In order to go forward, we must first go backwards. By using this ancient skill we may prepare ourselves for the stresses of living now and in the future.