Overview about Qigong and the benefits of practicing Qigong
Practicing Qigong has a long-time history in China and been spread to other countries for ages. People can find easily many benefits of practicing Qigong for their body and mind. By this ancient type of cultivating the body, breath, and mind, the humanity can witness the great significant changes in both physical and mental lives.
An Overview about Qigong’s The History
About more than 5,000 years ago in China, Qigong appeared in China. The most popular evidence about its appearance is the color pottery pot of the Majiayao culture of the Neolithic period that was discovered in 1975 in Qinghai Province, China. The surface of the painted vessel pottery pot was decorated by a human portrait which looked like the standing posture in Qigong practice. Then, it was also mentioned in the “one of the four greatest book of internal medicine” Huangdi Neijing.
According to Peter Deadman in “A Brief History of Qigong” in June 2014, “At the height of its popularity in China in the 1980s, it is estimated that one hundred million people were practicing qigong in parks and public spaces. Crowds flocked to hear great masters speak and to be healed simply by being in their presence or hearing their words. Prime-time television showed miraculous acts being performed by the power of qi while China’s top scientists and politicians were caught up in an extraordinary vision of qigong releasing the supernormal powers latent in human beings.”
Throughout the history, it has spread to the USA, Singapore, Thailand, German, Italy, England, Switzerland, Vietnam, etc. In these countries, China and the United States of America are two nations that have researched and practices greatly and deeply.
What is Qigong?
It is derived from “Qi”/“Chi” and “Gong”. Literally, “Qi”/“Chi” means “air” or “breath”. In the extension of meaning, we can understand itas “airforce”, “lifeforce”, or “the breath of life”. And “Gong” refers to “working” or “cultivating”. Generally, it means “life energy cultivation” or the practices of cultivating the breath in order to harmonize with the body’s movement and the mind.
Along the history of Chinese, people witness the development in the philosophy of cultivating and integrating of the body, breath, and mind. Whatever in the martial arts, meditation, or medical treatment, we can easily find that the harmony between the body, mind, and breath have played the main role in the doctrines and practices. In the relationship of ancient Chinese’s philosophies and practices, Qigong looks like the oldest brother in the family that is extremely well-known for the tradition of cultivating of the body, breath, and mind.
Let Us Discover More about Qigong
In reality, the popular aspects that apply the doctrines and practices of Qigong are the martial arts and medicine. Some well-known martial arts such as Judo, Karatedo, Aikido, Kendo have the same suffixes –“Do”. In the world of martial arts, in order to achieve “Do” or “Dharma”, the main point they must cultivate successfully is the Hara (Japanese). In fact, Hara (Chinese: Dantian) is the center of the body which places in the lower belly about 3 centimeters.
For most of the practitioners, the Dantian is the center of cultivation because by paying attention to this position, they can feel all kinds of feelings that are related to their body. Besides that, they can also sense the whole body. Moreover, when “Qi” condenses at the Hara, the practitioners will spread that energy into the system of nadis, or a specific area in the body. That is the reason why cultivating the Hara/Dantian successfully can strengthen their power. In fact, the practitioners can show magical performances such as bending the iron rod or dragging the heavy car by the bell. This is totally practical because they achieve a strong power from Hara to do this.
The Fundamental Principles of Qigong
Its principles are based on the Yi King’s philosophy about Yin & Yang, and the theory of the Five Elements.
First of all, we need to understand the general rule of Chinese’s worldview. According to Yi King, the Supreme Ultimate divided into Yin and Yang. Then, the Yin and Yang created the sky and the earth, followed by the five materials or the Five Elements. After that, five factors associated with various elements in the universe under the rule of generating and overcoming each other. Finally, the form and transformation of everything are stimulated perpetually.
Based on the above rule, Qigong created the practical methods to cultivate the breath, body, and mind. In overall, people believe that “Qi” is in everywhere, in the sky, on the ground. Especially, people can attract the “Qi” from the universe to strengthen the “Qi” inside the body. This “Qi” is helpful for their strength, improve their health and can cure the diseases. Thus, the practitioners must practice to cultivate “Qi” and spread the “Qi” exactly.
To some extent, it was affected by the Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism. It is related to Yoga and the practices of chakra. We can say that Indian Yoga, Buddhism Zen, and Chinese Qigong share the same spirit that concentrates on the role of breath in the harmony with the body and mind.
In a simple manner, we can consider it as the art of transforming the pure energy from the universe into the center of your body – Hara. From Hara, this energy will spread into various nadis and make you stronger and healthier.
The Basic Methods of Qigong
This method of practicing takes the harmony of Yin & Yang as the basic. In Qigong, the internal workforce is the main point of practicing. Then, at a higher level, people will practice advanced Qigong.
There are two methods of cultivating “Qi”. They are internal Qigong and external Qigong.
In the external Qigong perspective, the practitioners move the Qi to the muscles. This is such a strong power that nothing can harm the body, regardless of a sharp object like a knife or a sword. Now, you can remember again the martial arts performance. In fact, the martial arts Masters can suffer from pain surprisingly or have an amazing power. He or she can use the head to break the hard objects like stones or can walk through the pikes. They are really the professional internal practitioners. In Chinse films, they usually come from the sect of Bodhidharma or Shaolin Temple.
In contrast, the internal Qigong let the Qi be in the Hara. Then, his mind will be responsible for moving the Qi to the system of nadis or a particular part in the body. This practice requires patience and effort as well as the calmness of mind and the well-trained Master. Tai Chi, Lao Tse’s Qigong are the sects of internal Qigong.
No matter which internal or external Qigong, Qi flow through the nadis system through three basic steps: Asana, Pranagana, and Ekagrata. Qi from the sky, the ground, the nutrition will enter the overall body. And the most helpful to get Qi is to breathe by the diaphragm and bell. This is also the basic rule of Qigong: the harmony between the breath (Pranagana), the body (Asana), and the mind (Ekagrata).
Some Popular Types of Qigong
In the Yin & Yang perspectives, there are also two types of practices. Yin Qigong is the practice of getting the Yin energy from the universe. The Qigong practices at night, or in the cave, or in the snow. On the contrary, Yang Qigong is the practice of attracting Yang energy in the environment. The practitioners are under the heat of the sunshine or beside the fire/hot objects in order to get the Yang energy.
In the function perspectives, there are two types of Qi. The first one is the Qi for nourishing. This Qi has the function like the oxygen. It nourishes the cells and flows in the nadis. Depending on the nutrition, the Qi can be strong or not. If a human does not have a balanced nutrition, the Qi will weaken gradually and vice versa.
The second one is the Qi for protection. Its responsibility is to protect the system of nadis. In this practice, they breathe in and breath out by diaphragm so as to blow the pure energy to all corners of the body. The protective Qi can prevent the body from the harmful energies in the environment. Besides that, it assists to protect the immune system. In sum, this Qi can lead the body to go against bad influence from the outside elements.
The last one is the combination of Qi for nourishing and Qi for protection. This great association can protect and improve the overall health very well.
In the categories perspectives, it can be divided into six types which consist of Daoist qigong, Confucianist qigong, Buddhist qigong, qigong martial arts, medical qigong and popular qigong.
The Benefits of Practicing Qigong
The practitioners can improve the overall health and strengthen their both internal and external power. Qian Xuesen, one of China’s pre-eminent scientists spoke at 1986 found of the China Qigong Research Society that “Qigong would be able to improve everything from agricultural productivity to the performance of astronauts and athletes.”
Beyond the health-promoting benefits, the practitioners can awake and control the supernatural powers. For examples, Zhang Baosheng – a Qigong master can set fire to clothes with his bare hands. We can also easily find the strange presentations like breaking or moving the objects without touching them. These skills, in fact, are from the transcendent Qigong practices.
In short, while we mention Qi’s power, we ought to remember this is the result of serious cultivating methods after such a long time. Qi that is used for curing the diseases or making great performance can be achieved by the Qi from the sky, the ground, the various materials in the environments. Especially, this Qi has cultivated successfully thanks to the great effort of harmonizing between Qi and the strength of the mind. Thanks to the significant boost from Qi and mind, they can show excellent performance.
Questions & Answers about Practicing Qigong
Is It Difficult to Practice?
- In reality, it is not difficult to practice Qigong. At the basic level, the practices are about the harmony between the breath and body’s movement, and the stimulating and compression to the viscera. In a simple manner, to practice Qigong is to be aware of the breath and the body’s movement as well as the viscera’s sense.
What is The Basic Practices For The Beginners?
- The basic practices conclude three aspects. The first aspect is to cultivate the body or physical strength, flexibility, structural integrity, balance, rootedness below and extension above. Now, you can understand clearly why the Qigong practitioners are always very strong.
- The second practice is the breath. In Qigong, it is very essential to take the slow, deep, and profound breath. They inhale and exhale consciously in order to nourish the cells and protect the nadis system. It can be said that the breath plays a vital role in transforming the outside of Qi into the power of inside Qi.
- The last practice is the mind. Like most of the other spiritual methods, the students must pay attention to the present, stillness, emptiness, and calmness. In associated with the breath and body, the mind is closely connected to the harmony in Qigong’s practice.
Lifelong Value of This Ancient Practice
Over the long history of China, it witnessed both the up and down times. However, Qigong itself has proven its endless value for human life. Definitely, many practitioners have witnessed and experienced the great benefits of practicing Qigong.
In Qigong, people can find their calm inner self and have a healthier, happier living. They can feel the movement of energy inside their body and lead the energy to cure or protect themselves.
More than that, they not only realize the harmony between their body, mind, and breath but also their beings with the universe. They absorb the paranormal energy from the universe, then, transform them into their own power. Yin &Yang philosophies claim everything contributes to a very sophisticated balance in the universe. And, each human is the small version of the great universe. Therefore, when each human practice Qigong up to the advanced level, they can absorb then unleash the “magical” power from the universe into “fantastic performance” and make impossible things possible.
It is no longer a secret practice for the monks in the temple, pagodas it used to be in the past. Nowadays, a huge number of people practice it around the world. And, there is no signal that this phenomenon will stop. This is because of its great value for people’s health, soul, and power. In conclusion, Qigong is really a helpful body and mind practice that people can rely on to discover the unlimited potential of human power and the harmony with this great universe.