More than 5000 years ago, Chinese physicians came to understand that everything is composed of the same energetic substance called Qi (pronounced //chee/,). These ancient masters concluded that there is a oneness and wholeness in all existence, and that energetically everything is interconnected as one body, although energy may appear to take on many different forms. All things in nature and, in fact, all things in the universe are woven together so that are, quite literally, all symbiotically one with the universe through the system of Qi. Qi is always in motion within all things, and is the catalyst for everything to re- late and interrelate within the universe.
In modern times, the laws of physics have demonstrated that matter and energy are interchangeable, and that matter is simply another form of energy. Matter is constantly vibrating in the form of tangible solids and intangible gases, and is constantly altering, being affected by, or in- teracting with energy. Energy is inherent in the living human body, and the human body is sustained by energy (Figure 1.1).
The ancients mastered techniques to balance the body’s energy (Qi) in order to live in harmony with the environmental (Earthly) Qi as well as the universal (Heavenly) Qi. Traditional Chinese Medicine maintains that when living things start to lose their Qi, they lose their vitality. An ancient Chinese saying states, "Life comes into beginning because Qi is amassed; when Qi is scattered, the person dies.”
Qi is stored within the body in the form of pools, creating the structures of the internal organs. From these internal pools, the body’s life- force energy flows in the form of rivers and streams. These energetic rivers and streams form the body’s vessels, channels, and collateral systems.
The Five Dominions of Energy
The ancient masters observed that Qi can be divided into five manifestations of matter and energy: mineral, plant, animal, human, and divine. Each form draws on the energy of the next, resonating and interacting with the divine through the form's relationship in Wuji (infinite space). The five manifestations of matter and energy are explained as follows.
- The mineral’s energetic field is considered the densest (i.e., the slowest) or lowest form of energetic vibration. The disintegration or division of the minerars particles combine with the elements of air and water to form the Earth's soil. Every particle in the soil still retains the original primordial energy force of the mineral, whicR interacts with the energy of the divine.
- The plant's energetic field is considered the next higher form of energetic vibration. All of
the Earth's vegetation (trees, bushes, flowers, herbs, etc.) absorbs a part of its life-energy from the mineral’s energetic field, increasing and multiplying its energetic potential. The plant's energetic field is considered the next higher step in energetic evolution towards the divine energetic field.
The animars energetic field is considered the next higher form of energetic vibration. The animal consumes and absorbs the energy from the plant's energetic field, further increasing and multiplying its energetic potential, bringing it one step closer towards the divine energetic field. Within each higher frequency of vibration there is also an increase in consciousness and level of awareness.
- The divine energetic field is the highest vibrational expression of energy known. As it envelops and becomes active within the human body, it further increases and multiplies the body’s energetic potential, allowing man to attain divine consciousness.
All these energetic fields originate from one source, and all contain the vibrations of the one divine life-force. Likewise, with an attitude of deep respect for plants and animals that give up their life-force energy for our consumption, it is possible to enhance the nutritional value of the substances they provide us with. The blessing of food, and food prepared with a loving attitude, allows for the absorption of not only the vitamins and minerals contained therein, but also the absorption of the higher vibrations of the one divine energy inherent in all things. This is why many ancient cultures, often referred to as "primitive," prayed before hunting so that the animal spirit would willing give itself for sacrifice. Prayers were also given after the kill to free the animal‘s spirit so that it could return back to the divine.
Once individuals becomes aware of the divine energetic field, they begin to experience the refined vibrational energy fields of minerals, plants, animals and human beings. This increased awareness of the divine life-force energy strengthens the awareness of one’s own energetic fields and that of others. This in turn can deepen the conscious and unconscious energetic connections between ourselves and others, be they human, animal, plant or mineral.
Defining the Energy of Yin and Yang
Each of the five energetic fields can be further divided into Yin and Yang aspects. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the theory of Yin and Yang energy represents the duality of balance and harmony wit|iin the body, as well as within the universe (Figure 1.2). Earth energy is Yin, while Heaven energy is Yang.
Yin exists within Yang, and Yang within Yin. Yang manifests as active, creative, masculine, hot, hard, light, and bright. Yin manifests as passive, receptive, feminine, cold, soft, and dark. The dynamic balance of Yin and Yang always changes and transforms the body's life-force energy. (See Chapter 3 for more on Yin and Yang energy.)
Successful practitioners in balancing the body's Yin-Yang energies were considered masters or //immortals// able to harmonize the body with the mind, the mind with the will, the will with the breath, the breath with the spirit, the spirit with motion, and finally, motion with the surrounding environment (Earth), the universe (Heaven), and the divine (Dao).
Understanding the Concept of Qi
While the concept of Qi may seem complicated, it is actually very simple. Matter progresses to energy and energy to spirit. Qi is the medium, or bridge, between matter and spirit Once we become aware of the reality of Qi, it becomes easily recognized.
Through observation and study, Chinese Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) masters discovered that each organ in the human body has a different function and a different speed of energetic vibration. By tracing the pathways (channels) Qi takes through each organ and observing the effects on bodily functions, the Chinese developed the basic theories upon which Qigong practice is founded. For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has successfully cured serious illnesses by stimulating the body's energy in very specific ways.
Through the study of Qigong, anyone wishing to cultivate awareness of the energy vibrations and their own individual pathways can learn to influence and even control them. Qigong practitioners use these skills to heal and strengthen the immune system, and to improve the functioning of various organ systems within the body. China Healthways International estimates that in Beijing alone more than 1.3 million people practice some form of Qigong every day, whereas, in China as a whole, around 80 million people practice Qigong.
Different Schools of Qigong
Qi means "life-force energy" and gong means "skill," so Qigong is the skillful practice of gathering, circulating, and applying life-force energy. In China today, Qigong practice is divided into three main schools: medical, martial, and spiritual. The three schools are all based on the same philosophical system and share many of the same meditations and techniques. The schools differ primarily in focus. Students choose a school based on the use to which they want to put their Qigong training. Briefly, each school focuses on one of the following specialties:
- The medical school trains doctors and healers in special Qigong methods for health maintenance and longevity, disease prevention, and the diagnosis and treatment of dis_ eases and disorders. The three primary techniques of Medical Qigong therapy include the following.
- Purging to detoxify the body of pathogens,
- tonifying to strengthen the body’s internal organs and systems, and
- Regulating to balance the body's internal energy.
The martial school trains martial artists to build their strength and power for performing martial arts applications. The three primary techniques of martial Qigong training include the following.
- Obvious Power (Ming Jing) techniques emphasize the training and conditioning of the muscles, strengthening the bone structure, and increasing the individual’s overall stamina. This school also includes such techniques as pounding the body (arms, hands, legs, and torso) to strengthen and toughen the tissues.
- Hidden Power (An Jing) techniques emphasize stretching and twisting the tendons and ligaments (known as Reeling and Pulling the Silk) to cultivate resonant vibration within the body for striking and issuing power.
- Mysterious Power (Hua Jing) techniques emphasize the training and con- ditioning the mind's imagination and intention, to project and utilize the power of the individuals’ Shen (Spirit).
- The spiritual school trains practitioners who seek spiritual transformation and enlightenment (Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism each have their own unique techniques). Their techniques include meditations for fusing, as well as releasing the Three Ethereal Souls (Hun). These souls can best be understood as personifications of moral qualities (or archetypes). When the Hun are fully developed, the practitioner acquires certain extraordinary powers and abilities, such as soul travel. The goal however, is to achieve transformation and a state of enlightenment, and not be led astray by the glamor of extra powers. The three primary techniques of spiritual Qigong training include the following:
- Nourishing the Spirit (Shen), to strengthen and refine the power of the individual’s Shen,
- Housing the Shen by disciplining both thoughts and emotions, to relax and tranquilize the individual’s Shen, and to become more receptive to divine energy and guidance, and Combining the Shen with the Qi, to coordinate the breath and intention for directing the spirit to guide the body's life-force energy.
Qigong training involves all of the individuals’ physical senses. The concentration is focused on breathing, hearing, visualizing, and muscle relaxation. Massage, and movement are also used to develop and control the body's intrinsic energy. Studying Qigong requires not only comprehending the immeasurable wisdom gathered for medical, martial, or spiritual development but also studying the ancient Chinese culture in- hetent within these systems.
Medical Qigong Defined
All living bodies generate an external field of energy called Wei Qi (pronounced 7/whey chee,,)/ which translates as "protective energy." The definition of Wei Qi in Medical Qigong is slightly dif- ferent than that of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In classical TCM texts, the Wei Qi field is seen to be limited to the surface of the body, circulating within the tendon and muscle tissues. In Medical Qigong, however, the Wei Qi field also includes the three external layers of the body’s auric and subtle energy fields. This energy originates from each of the internal organs and radi- ates through the external tissues. There the Wei Qi forms an energy field that radiates from the entire physical body. This field of Qi protects the body from the invasion of external pathogens and communicates with, as well as interacts with, the surrounding universal and environmental energy fields.
Both internal and external pathogenic factors affect the structural formation of the Wei Qi. The internal factors include suppressed emotional influences (such as anger and grief from emotional traumas); The external factors include environmental influences when they are too severe or chronic, such as Cold, Damp, Heat, or Wind, etc. Physical traumas also affect the Wei Qi field.
Any negative interchange affects the Wei Qi by literally creating holes within the matrix of the individual’s external energetic fields. When left unattended, these holes leave the body vulnerable to penetration, and disease begins to take root in the body. Strong emotions, in the form of toxic energy, become trapped within the body’s tissues when we hold back or do not integrate our feelings. These unprocessed emotions block the natu - ral flow of Qi, thus creating stagnant pools of toxic energy within the body.
Medical Qigong consists of specific tech- niques that use the knowledge of tRe body’s internal and external energy fields to purge, tonify, and balance these energies. Medical Qigong therapy offers patients a safe and effective way to rid themselves of toxic pathogens and years of painful emotions that otherwise, can cause mental and physical illness. This therapy combines breathing techniques with movement, creative visualization, and spiritual intent to improve health, personal power, and control over one's own life.
Medical. Qigong Training in China
There are numerous colleges of Traditional Chinese Medicine throughout China today that focus on Medical Qigong training. The majority support the scientific study and expansion of Medical Qigong applications and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments.
According to Qigong master and doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Professor Zhou Qianchuan, all of the most famous Chinese doctors of acupuncture and moxibustion, herbal medicine, bone setting, and massage therapy, either practiced Qigong or incorporated Qigong into their clinical practices.
Major traditional Chinese medical colleges in China offer comprehensive, government-sponsored, three-year programs in Medical Qigong therapy. Programs include classes, labs, and seminars on traditional Chinese medical theory. These studies include: The foundations of Chinese medicine for internal diseases according to the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, Spiritual Axis, Essential Questions, and the Canon of Perplexities. The Medical Qigong classes also include energetic anatomy
and physiology, diagnosis and symptomatology, energetic psychology, Qigong pathology, Medical Qigong tlierapy, as well as a survey oi other related medical modalities. The other related mo- dalities include: a comprehensive understanding of herbal medicine, acupuncture therapy, and Chinese massage. Classes of Western anatomy and physiology, Western internal diseases, and health and recovery, are also required.
During the certification program, three to five training hours a day accompany the standard six- day-a-week classroom curriculum. Course content, personal mastery of energy extension, and diagnosis techniques are rigorously tested each week. Upon completing the required courses and passing the final exams, the student receives a certifi- cate of completion. Next, a six-month to one-year internship is required at a program-affiliated hospital or clinic. Upon successful completion of this internship, the new doctor is licensed as a doctor of Medical Qigong therapy by the People's Republic of China's Bureau of Scientific Technology.
Each internship program is assigned a separate wing in the selected Chinese hospitals. Both inpatient and outpatient facilities are available to the public. Each branch has specific approaches to healing a patient, with its own unique set of ground rules for diagnosis and treatment.
There are three distinct supervisory levels working within each clinical branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. The first and lowest position is that of a "doctor of Medical Qigong,” who is responsible for the treatment of all clinical patients (including patients in both the inpatient and outpatient clinics). The positions of Medical Qigong doctor are generally filled by the medical college graduates who have spent four to five years in clinical study and practice. The next level is called a "'physician or doctor in-charge/' and denotes a senior position within the clinic. This individual is responsible for the supervision of all the Qigong doctors7 clinical procedures. This position is usually obtained after spending a minimum of five years as a Qigong doctor. The final and highest level is called a "director or professor;’’ this position requires overseeing the doctors in-charge, as well as teaching, treating, and training of other doctors to pass on Qigong clinical knowledge to future generations. This position is usually obtained after spending a minimum of five to six years as a doctor in-charge.
The licensing is reviewed and issued by ei- ther the People’s Republic of China’s Bureau of Scientific Technology (that issues a license in local city hospitals) or by the Ministry of Scientific Technology (that licenses to practice in any clinic or hospital throughout China). The Qigong doctor's skills are tested through oral, written and practical examinations, and a license is issued accordingly. In China today, there are five positions available for a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These five positions are described as follows.
- A Doctor of Acupuncture Therapy (D.Ac.) specializes in the five main modalities of Chi- nese acupuncture.
- A Doctor of Herbal Medicine (D.H.M.) specializes in the five main modalities of Chinese herbology.
- A Doctor of Massage Therapy (D.M.T.) specializes in the five main modalities of Chinese massage and tissue regulation.
- A Doctor of Medical Qigong Therapy (D.M.Q.) specializes in the five main modalities of Chinese Medical Qigong.
- A Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (D.T.C.M.) is a doctor who has trained in all four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, massage, and Medical Qigong).