What will make us take care of what we have been given?
Qigong is a tool to help us care for the gift given to us by nature. It won’t necessarily make you look like the latest cover model, but it is clinically proven to help us toward better health. Recently I had to change doctors due to a change in health insurance. My new doctor asked me if I exercised and I said I practiced qigong and taiji. She smiled saying, “These are great forms of exercise AND clinically proven to benefit health.” I was surprised by her emphatic response.
The above question appeared after my first class in the park following the long winter. I saw that some students had been practicing and as a result their flexibility, coordination, stamina, and balance had improved tremendously. I was so happy to see them so strong! Others who slacked off during the hiatus were less able and they knew it. Why did they stop? Could they not recognize how qigong was benefiting their physical bodies?
The answer may be more complicated than sheer laziness. For certain the exercises that most people usually engage in (gym workouts, jogging or power yoga), give one an immediate physical sensation associated with the exercise. If one feels the effort, pain/discomfort, or the rush of adrenaline then it must be having a good effect, right? This is not necessarily so and in some cases I might be doing more harm than good. With qigong we don’t always experience tangible effects immediately and in some cases it seems so easy (and feels so good) that we doubt its capacity to have any impact whatsoever. Much like the effects of wind and water, it slowly but surely influences the physical organism.
So, you won’t feel the heart thumping rush of running, the burn of lifting weights, or the searing stretches of power yoga, but qigong can help heal the body if done correctly and it has a verifiable impact on the immune system. We might experience a little of each of these exercises—all gathered together with a Taoist-like balance. I have secretly toyed with the idea of advertising my class as “Exercise for Lazy People” or maybe “Exercise for the Unambitious”. It might appeal to those who hate pain and sweat. But these taglines imply a kind of uncaring attitude. So I am considering “Exercise for the Guardians of Nature's Endowment”. It sounds kind of Chinese, but to the point. Our bodies will not last forever, but the longer we live, and the healthier we are, will allow us more time to cultivate even something more precious… but that might be the subject of another post.
has studied qigong and taiji with Sat Chuen Hon, a Taoist and native of China for several years. Mr. Hon has asked her to carry on this Taoist healing tradition to help benefit others. Ms. Fox received her MFA in painting from Yale University in 1997. Her studio practice, writing as well as her study of dance and movement have been woven together over many years into a rich exploration and inner search. She is a published poet and has recently helped prepare and edit Sat Hon's writings on Qigong and Taoist stories for publication.