Qigong - My Experience
Chinese scholars knew 5000 years ago that everything in the universe is energy. In the 20th century Albert Einstein came to the same conclusion. We know that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transformed. In China this universal energy is called qi ('chee'). Qigong means 'to cultivate energy'. You really can transform your own energy.
About 5 years ago I read a book, Born A Healer, by Chunyi Lin, about a specific kind of qigong - Spring Forest Qigong. It impressed me so much that I started doing three of the exercises. I felt better doing them. But as often happens, I stopped. Things went back to the same-old. A few months ago I picked it up again and absolutely loved (again) what Master Lin had to say. Now I do these same three exercises daily and I know that they're working.
Blocked Energy = Illness
A healthy person's energy flows smoothly. However, when her energy is blocked, illness results. Practicing qigong causes the blockages to lessen and eventually disappear. Compare the visual of stagnant water to that of a clear, free-running brook. I find that one of the most exciting thing about qigong is that you can really feel something happening when you do the exercises. Usually my right leg and foot tingles and sometimes gets goose bumps. The deep, slow breathing that is part of the practice makes you calm and more centered. I do qigong lying down, but you can do it standing or sitting as well. Ideally you'd practice barefoot on the earth, but standing on your bedroom carpet is just fine.
To many people (including myself 20 years ago), this energy talk sounds hard to believe. So in order to feel for yourself that it's the real deal, you....do the exercises. Daily. And you will feel stuff happening inside.
The book has also helped me with runaway emotions, like anger. I knew that negative feelings can cause illness - this concept just makes sense to me. But here are Master Lin's words on this:
Our feelings, thoughts and emotions are all energy. Each has its own energy frequency and vibration, as all things do. When that frequency and vibration meets the frequency and vibration of an organ in the body they will produce resonance. When this resonance of "negative" feelings happens too often or is too strong, it can cause damage to the organ. The resonance created by positive, balanced thoughts and emotions can help to strengthen and heal the organ.
Putting it into Practice
When I feel myself getting upset, I breathe in energy and let go of the anger. It is actually quite doable believe it or not, and it gets easier to do as I keep practicing. I can see the pointlessness of getting all riled up. Chunyi Lin also talks about the vibration of love energy, and how it's the most powerful in healing. I try to remember to bring love in during the exercises. It can feel quite strong and good.
The first exercise in Spring Forest Qigong is called the Beginning of the Universe, and you can be lying or sitting for this. You put a smile on your face to relax your body and stimulate your brain to produce endorphins. Open your hands so that those energy channels are open. Say to yourself: "I am in the universe. The universe is in my body. The universe and I combine together." Breathe in, with your stomach held in a little (this feels counter-intuitive but you quickly get used to it). See the energy coming into every part of your body and collecting in your Dantian (located behind your belly button). On the slow exhale, visualize any part that hurts or any illness changing into smoke and shooting out from every part of your body to the end of the universe. Continue for at least 3 minutes. It feels very relaxing but it is waking up your internal energy in preparation for the next two (or however many) exercises. I do this and the other two exercises in bed, right before falling asleep.
Born A Healer
The cover of this book says "I was born a healer. You were born a healer too!" Which is what I'm learning as I continue on my health journey. Any of us can be healers. We need to be healthy to be healers. What you learn about in this book is how to do both. There's an exercise called Sword Fingers that is very easy to do when you want to take someone's pain away. It requires practice, and I must admit I've not done very much of it, as I'm more focused on the three exercises that I already do. But it's there for me to practice when I'm ready.
Chunyi Lin developed the Spring Forest variation of qigong, in large part because he wanted to simplify what others have made unnecessarily complicated and exclusive. It's easy to do and you can really feel things moving inside.