What is qi?
Qigong therapy works with your qi or inner life force. What is qi? Well in simple terms it is energy. It is heat, light, electricity, vibration and every other manifestation of energy as we would think of it from a western perspective, but in particular it is alive. Your body generates, takes in, circulates and emits energy moment to moment as part of its normal functioning. When energy becomes blocked, stagnant, deficient, excessive or in any way out of balance in your body it causes pain, weakness, discomfort and ill health. When energy flows freely in the body in the right amount and is balanced, the body is healthy, strong and comfortable.
A qigong therapist is someone who has spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the energy or qi that fills and flows through our bodies. They are able to identify areas where the qi may be blocked, weak, excessive, stagnant or otherwise out of balance. They have developed skills for influencing the flow of qi, clearing blockages, strengthening, channelling and redirecting as necessary.
During the session
A lot of this may be done with or without touching you, holding their hands above or directly touching different parts of your body to influence the energy. You may need to sit stand or lie down while this is going on depending on where the therapist needs to position their hands.
While the therapist may work directly on specific organs and muscles they may also work on aspects of your ‘energy anatomy’, chakras, meridians, acupuncture points (but without the needles) and energy fields.
The therapist may also use hands on massage, stretching, breathing awareness and guided visualization as part of your treatment to stimulate, direct and balance the qi.
Sensations you may feel as part of your treatment include: warmth, cool, a feeling like a breeze moving through you, vibration, tingling, aching, magnetic feelings. You may also see light and colours during parts of your treatment. If you feel uncomfortable at any point during your treatment, let your therapist know as this may give them further information about your situation and they may be able to make you more comfortable. Also if you have any questions at any stage ask your therapist and they should be able to explain it to you.
To support your treatment and ongoing health and wellbeing, your therapist may also teach you specific qigong exercises, breathing techniques and meditations to aid your progress. They may also make other lifestyle recommendations to you.
How does it work?
A couple of simple examples easily understood from a western perspective:
If you have a chronically spasmed muscle, this is a type of energy blockage. Nerve energy has gone into the area and become stuck; until the muscle releases more nerve energy will not be able to move through this area causing the muscle to lengthen and shorten due to the existing blockage. It is likely that other bodily structures near the muscle are also affected by the chronic spasm, this may cause pressure on nerves, reduced blood flow and so on to surrounding tissues and organs. Once the blockage is cleared the muscle will quickly resume normal functioning, and this will have a flow on effect to surrounding tissues.
If an area is too cold it has a deficiency of energy and will become stiff, weak and sore, generally blood flow will be poor and the rate of cellular metabolism will be low and the tissues will repair themselves slowly. If an area is too hot it has an excess of energy, there may be sufficient or excessive blood flow but the rate of cellular metabolism is too high and the cells burn up their resources too quickly creating pain (think ‘inflammation’) and weakness over time. By bringing the level of activity back to a balanced normal level the cells are best able to take care of themselves, make any repairs needed and pain and weakness goes away.
The energy and relationships dealt with in qigong therapy are often a lot more subtle than this, but these examples give an idea of how looking at and dealing with things from an ‘energy’ perspective can make real differences to your health and wellbeing. Qigong therapy can be effective in helping a broad range of conditions in the body from musculoskeletal to internal organs to emotional and stress issues and more. Qigong therapy can also act as an effective adjunct to other treatments you may be undergoing.