CHAPTER 12: EFFECTS OF QIGONG HEALING
"Dao Yin" is loosely translated as "Dynamic Patterns". "Carrying the Moon" is one of these dynamic patterns or "dao yin" exercises.
(This chapter is selected from Hou Ying Lin, The Miracles and Practice of Qigong, Books of Beautiful Arts, Hong Kong, 1981. Published in Chinese.)
Brief History of Qigong Healing
Qigong is a beautiful, radiant pearl of the legacy of the Chinese people. It has a very long history.
Periods of Spring-Autumn and of Warring States
The Inner Classic of Chinese Medicine is considered as the most authoritative as well as the oldest text of traditional Chinese medicine. It was written during the times of the Spring-Autumn Period (779-475 BCE) and Warring States Period (475-221 BCE). It was a classic of more than 2000 years. In it were recorded rich accounts of qigong. There were three main functions of qigong.
Preventing Illness. “Evils of emptiness and winds of thieves. It is possible to prevent them. Talking of falseness and emptiness. It is real qi. Internally cultivate the spirit. Wherefore can illness occur.”
(Editorial Note: The above quotation is translated literally from the classics. In simple language it means that it is possible to prevent illness (figuratively described as evils and thieves). It is vital qi, or energy, that prevents illness. When we cultivate our spirit (and also the body, as qigong, which means energy art, is a triple cultivation of body, energy and spirit), illness cannot occur.)
Curing Illness: “Those with long kidney illness. Can ren-period face south. Spirit not thinking wildly. Close qi no breathing seven times. Direct qi to neck smoothly. Swallow like hard object. Like this seven times. Arrive tongue swallow. No limit.”
(Editorial Note: The meaning of the above quotation is as follows. Those suffering from long illness of the kidneys, can face south during the time from 3.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m. They should cultivate their spirit by relaxing and not thinking of any thoughts. Gently hold the breath 7 times to keep their vital energy. Then using their intention, they direct their vital energy to the back of their mouth, and with the help of their tongue, swallow it seven times as if they swallow some solid material. In other words, each time they gently hold their breath, they swallow it once. Repeat the process seven times in total. They can perform this exercise as long as they like.)
Promote longevity. “Nourish life of sages. Smooth four seasons and suitable for cold and hot. Harmonize happiness and anger, live peacefully. Moderate yin-yang and harmonize gang-rou. Thus evil and problem not born. Long life and long observation.“ Also there is a description as follows: “Wise people say, eat heavenly qi and through glorious spirit.”
(Editorial Note: The explanation is as follows. This is the method used by sages to nourish their lives. The practice should be carried out in a suitable season of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and at a suitable time with comfortable weather. It should be carried out when a practitioner is in a good emotion and he is living peacefully. He should be moderate in his sex life, and harmonious in his daily activities, irrespective of whether his activities are demanding or gentle. In this way, illness and health problems will not occur. He will live to a ripe old age and have good eyesight.)
(Editorial Note: The explanation of the other quotation is as follows. Wise people say that by taking in cosmic energy from the sky in the practice of qigong, a practitioner can have marvellous results.)
Although the above quotations are not about qigong techniques, they explain the principles of qigong.
In the past, qigong was called “dao yin”, or “direct and lead energy”, and “tu na”, or “breathing out and breathing in”.
(Editorial Note: “Dao yin” is pronounced as /t’ao yin/ because the Romanized Chinese d is pronounced like t’ in English spelling.)
Qigong was practiced alongside acupuncture, massage therapy and herbalism in traditional Chinese medicine. Its written evidence can be found in the Inner Classic of Chinese Medicine: “Or any one of dao yin circulating qi, massaging meridians, burning, ironing, piercing, heating, drinking medicine?’
(Editorial Note: The meaning of the quotation is as follows. The patient can use any one of the following therapeutic methods: qigong therapy to circulate energy flow, massage therapy, moxibustion, using heated medicine to go over a patient’s body like ironing some clothing, acupuncture, energy point therapy using heated needles, and taking medical concoction.)
It is also recorded that “In the centre, land is mostly flat and obvious. So the diseases are mainly restriction, soft, cold and hot. Suitable therapeutics are dao yin and massaging meridians.”
(Editorial Note: The meaning of the quotation is as follows. In the central area of the country, the land is flat and clear. Diseases suffered by people in this region are mainly restriction of energy flow, fatigue, and infection caused by micro-organisms (symbolized by cold and hot). Suitable therapeutic methods are qigong therapy and massage therapy.)
The term “dao yin” first appeared in the writings of Zhuang Tzu. It mentions, “In breathing, breathe out stale energy and breathe in fresh energy. Bears’ way and birds’ stretching for longevity. Thus, practitioners of dao yin; people who nourish lives. People who study Peng Zu are interested in.”
(Editorial Note: Zhuang Tzu was a great Taoist philosopher living in the t4h century Before the Common Era during the Warring States Period. Peng Zu was reputed to live for over 800 years during the Shang Dynasty.)
Some later people explained Zhuang Tzu’s quotation as follows. Seng Yuan Yin said, “Coolly breathe out stale energy, and warmly breathe in fresh energy. It is like bears climbing trees, and hanging down on the trees. It is like birds flying in the empty sky and stretching their legs. Direct and lead the spirit and energy so as to nourish the body and the spirit. This is the way of longevity, and the art of healthy body.”
Suma Piao said, “The way of bears refers to how bears climb trees as a guideline as how to direct vital energy. Birds stretching refers to how birds express themselves.”
Referring to Zhuang Tzu.s quotation, Li Hsien said, “Direct energy to be harmonious. Lead body to be gentle.”
It can be seen from the above descriptions that “dao yin” of ancient China included exercising the limbs, exercising the breathing (including qigong) and self-massage. Due to different development, later versions of “dao yin” may have different emphasis.
The “Song of Jade Pendant”, an archaeological treasure which was created about the same time as the Inner Classic of Chinese Medicine during the early Warring States Period (475-221 BCE), had 45 words recorded on 12 pieces of jade pendants. The words were engraved in ancient Chinese. Translated into English, they were as follows. “Circulate energy. Deep thus focused. Focused thus expand. Expand thus sink. Sink thus stable. Stable thus solid. Solid thus glorious. Glorious thus long. Long thus retreat. Retreat thus heaven. Heaven is foundation on top. Earth is foundation at bottom. Harmonious thus life. Against thus death.”.
The general meaning of the engraved writing is as follows. Breathe in a lot of energy and let it sink down. When the energy has sunk down, it is stabilized. Then it grows, like a seed germinating. It grows upwards which is in the opposite direction when it sinks, thus there is growth and retreat. When it has retreated to the extreme top, it is like heaven moving above, while earth is moving downwards below. Following this harmonious movement is life. Going against this movement is death.”
This is what modern people refer to as qigong. Herein is a description of a complete programme of qigong and its functions. Thus, it can be seen that as early as the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE), “dao yin xing qi”, or directing and leading energy flow had become an art of maintaining health loved by many people. It is the same in every stage as modern qigong in growth and development of the physiology of life. It is the same as the energy flow along the meridians round the body in the art of Small Universe.
(Editorial Note: The Small Universe is an advanced qigong art where a practitioner directs and leads his energy flow round his body along the ren mai and the du mai, or the conceptual meridian and the governing meridian. The conceptual meridian starts from the lower lip down the front part of the body to the anus. The governing meridian continues from the anus, up the back of the body to the crown of the head, then down the front of the face to the upper lip to continue with the conceptual meridian.)
Periods of Qin and Han (221 BCE to 220 CE)
“Dao yin” could continue to develop after the periods of Qin and Han was due to the credit of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty who ruled from 260-210 BCE. When he ordered all books to be burnt, he exempted books on Chinese medicine. Thus “dao yin” literature could continue to today.
(Editorial Note: Qin Shi Huang was notorious for building the Great Wall of China. As the Qin Dynasty was the first time China was unified, Qin Shi Huang was also regarded as the first emperor of China. He was more widely known in English as Shi Huang Ti.)
Two of the archaeological items unearthed from Chang Sa in Hunan Province concerned “dao yin”. One of them was “Discussion on Eating Qi”. It described the circulation of qi, or energy, in “dao yin”, which is qigong. It was the earliest and the most complete archaeological evidence we now have on qigong.
Its content was even richer than the “Song of Jade Pendant”. Irrespective of the conditions qigong was being practiced, it described different weather conditions in different seasons. It prescribed different number of repetitions in breathing for practitioners of different age, as well as mentioned what breathing exercises should not be performed under four different weather conditions.
The second item was “Pictures of Dao Yin”. It was described in “Brief Notes on Medicine” which was unearthed at the same time, that “Those who are good at energy therapy enable used energy to disperse at night, and obtain fresh energy in the morning. Let the energy enter nine openings to strengthen six transformational organs.”
(Editorial Note: The nine openings are two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, a mouth, an external sex organ, and an anus. The six transformational organs are the intestines, gall bladder, stomach, colon, urinary bladder and triple-warmer. The triple-warmer, which is considered an important internal organ in traditional Chinese medicine, consists of the three cavities of the body, which are from the neck to the chest, from the chest to the navel, and from the navel to the anus, that are respectively called the upper warmer, the middle warmer and the lower warmer. Chinese is a concise language. The mention here of “liu fu”, which means “six transformational organs”, also includes “wu zang”, which means “five storage organs”, and they are the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys.)
This shows that even at that early time, traditional Chinese medicine already noticed the effect of breathing on the internal organs.
“Five-Animal Play”, which is well known amongst the public, was invented by the famous doctor, Hua Tuo, of the later Han period by observing the movements of five different animals (which are the bird, the deer, the monkey, the tiger and the bear) for the purpose of “dao yin”, i.e. directing and leading energy flow. “Five-Animal Play” greatly contributed to the development of “dao yin”.
(Editorial Note: Later archaeological evidence suggested that it was not Hua Tuo imitating the five animals to formulate Five-animal Play, but Hua Tuo taught qigong techniques to his patients whose external manifested movements were symbolized by the five animals. Whatever the perspective, it is without any doubt that Hua Tuo’s Five-Animal Play is very effective for overcoming illness maintaining health and promoting longevity.:
Periods of Wei, Jin and North-South Dynasties (220-589 CE)
During this time “dao yin” was widely employed by Taoist practitioners. The Taoist master, Ge Hong (281-341 CE) of the Jin Dynasty, was an outstanding representative. His classic, “Bao Pu Zi” or “Embracing Simplicity”, extensively recorded the art of “dao yin”.
Ge Hong was strongly against external forms, and paid much attention to its application and results. He emphasized “overcoming illness that has not occurred”, and his medical philosophy of “movement can enable energy to flow widely, but if energy flow is blocked, blood will stagnate” was invaluable.
Periods of Sui and Tang (581-906 CE)
“Dao Yin” was widely used in medical treatment during this period. The classics, “Pillow Medical Formulae of Nurturing and Nourishing” and “Urgently Prepared Medical Formulae of Thousand Pieces of Gold“, both by the great medical doctor of the Tang Dynasty, Sun Si Miao, contained a lot of literature on “dao yin”.
For example, it was mentioned that “In the way of harmonizing spirit and directing energy, get a private chamber, close the door and prepare a matted bed, the height of the pillow is about 2.5 inches, lie down with face upwards, close the eyes, hold the breath and store the energy at the chest, raise the nose but do not move. Repeat 300 times. Do not hear anything with the ears. Do not think of anything in the heart.”
Periods of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing (960-1911 CE)
Zhu Hui Weng of the Song Dynasty mentioned that, “When white vapour emits from my nostrils, I observe it. Every time I do It is marvellous. Extreme silence like emptiness. Like fish in spring. When it moves, I breathe in. It’s like hundreds of silkworms. Gently it opens. It’s marvellous without end.” This passage described energy and blood flowing through meridians.
In “Discussions on Various Things”, Zhu Zhen Xiang (also called Zhu Dan Xi) of the Yuan Dynasty described the effects of qigong on various diseases.
In “Miscellaneous Collection of Purple Peaches Pavilion”, Jun Shi of the Ming Dynasty mentioned that “In a little town in West China, a man called Chen Hui Fu was 62 years old. He had a face full of beard. He met a marvellous teacher who taught him the art of nourishing life. He learned diligently. In three or four years, he became youthful, and his hair and beard was brilliant black.”
There was a story In “Records of Circular Saintly Pavilion” as follows. “Wang Zi Xian was a trustworthy customer who lived in Jiang Nan. After middle age, he had a lot of illness. He could not sleep at night. He could not eat in the day. The whole day he was unhappy. Being sick, he was miserable. Mr Xiong taught him silent sitting. Each sitting lasted the burning of one joss stick.”
“Wang Zi Xian said that after one month he would practice silent sitting every night without fail. It was easy and natural. He slept soundly. Whenever he was hungry, he realized it, and ate well. Then his meals became regular. There was dessert in the tray. There was also soup. He ate all with relish. After his meals he stroke his stomach, and told others that he never realized food was so delicious.” This was a description of qigong healing overcoming insomnia and loss of appetite.
1958 was a golden year of qigong. A qigong research centre was established in Shanghai. A qigong healing centre was set up in Beidaihe. Qigong clinics appeared in Beijing and various other places. Qigong practitioners were found in parks and community centres. Books and magazines on qigong were published.
Qigong research has become popular in recent years. There will be great development in qigong. Not only many qigong books are being published again, but also many research scientists have started to investigate into qigong. Qigong is becoming important in the eyes of the public.
Qigong Can Maintain Health and Overcoming Illness
It is easy to emphasize the clinical evidence of qigong in overcoming illness. Some people are ignorant of the self-cure aspect of qigong. Actually, curing diseases and self-cure are closely related. Whatever recovery from illness is the result of providing favourable conditions for patients to undergo their self-cure abilities.
Using antibiotics to overcome lung infection is an effective demonstration of curing disease. But without the ability of the body cells to swallow up harmful micro-organisms, or without the ability of the diseased parts to repair and regenerate, even when all harmful micro-organisms have been killed, the illness will still remain.
Surgical operations can locally remove diseased parts. But if the diseased parts cannot repair and re-generate themselves, or other organs and systems cannot cope with changing conditions, not only the patient cannot recover, he may face more serious results.
As the number of diseases increases every day, and because we have the natural abilities of self-cure and self-regeneration, practicing qigong without the use of medication to recover from illness and maintain good health, has become very important in the eyes of the public.
There are no side effects of medication in qigong healing. Qigong healing is also excellent for overcoming chronic diseases. These advantages of qigong healing exactly compensate for the disadvantages of modern medical treatment.
In many countries today, there arises a new science called “medicine for the body and spirit”. It investigates the effect of the spirit on the body in health care and medicine. It means that facts have shown that spiritual health and bodily health are closely related.
Research in many countries have proven that 50% to 80% of illness are due to emotional stress. It is sometimes called “social illness”, or sometimes called “civilized illness”. It is because a person is a biological creature as well as social creature. A person may live in a natural environment or a social environment.
Social factors include economics, activities, residence, hygiene and style of living. Unfavourable social conditions include polluted environment, traffic congestion, and stressful living. These unfavourable social conditions may cause emotional stress, resulting in illness.
The special requirements in qigong practice like being relaxed, entering silence, and deep breathing exactly overcome these unfavourable social conditions that modern medicine may not overcome. The material aspects and surgical operation in modern medicine are quite helpless regarding these unfavourable social conditions.
Why qigong can overcome illness can be medically explained in two main ways.
From the Perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Why is qigong able to cure illness and promote longevity? Qigong can nurture “yuan qi”, or original energy, clear meridian blockage, regulate energy and blood flow, and harmonize yin-yang.
Qigong employs a peaceful and ideal condition to nurture back original energy that has been injured, so as to improve the immune system of the body, and to enable disturbed mechanism to return to their normal functioning. As qigong is practiced under the intention to regulate self-cure abilities, it can enable body systems to restore their normal functions. This is to harmonize yin-yang.
Using the principle of “restoring good and eliminating evil”, qigong healing restores vital energy, enabling the body systems to harmonize their natural functions towards good health.
(Editorial Note: When a person’s vital energy is strong and plentiful, besides restoring good, i.e. maintaining health, it will also eliminate evil, i.e. overcome illness.)
Meridians are the pathways of a person’s energy and blood flow. They must be clear without blockage at all times. This is accomplished by the strength of energy flow. During qigong practice, the resultant internal energy will have this ability. Advanced qigong practitioners can often feel their energy circulating in their body.
In his classic, “Study of the Marvellous Eight Meridians”, the famous Chinese doctor, Li Shi Zhen, said,” The internal scenery of pathways can be observed by those who can reflect on them.” The meaning is that only those who have practiced qigong can feel the existence of meridians. This shows that qigong has close relationship with “clearing meridians of blockage”.
Scientific instruments have shown that during qigong training the electricity at energy points is much reduced. Those who are advanced in the art can reduce the electricity to 1%. On the other hand, the electricity at the part where intention is focused, is increased.
Scientific instruments also show that the energy points of patients are moved to the left or to the right. But after qigong training their energy points are shifted back to their rightful positions. This further shows that qigong training can harmonize energy flow in meridians.
Qigong clinics have proven that qigong training has the ability to clear meridian blockage and generate energy flow. During training, practitioners may feel internal energy circulating. This is what most practitioners publicly admit.
Among 80 patients suffering from high blood pressure, 27 of them felt their energy circulation before qigong training. After qigong training, the number increased to 34. In another survey, out of 100 patients who suffered from high blood pressure, 27% felt their energy circulation, in contrast to 11% of a controlled group of patients who did not train qigong. This shows the difference of energy flow in their meridians between before and after qigong training, and between those who train qigong and those who do not.
What is the relationship between energy and blood? According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, “energy is the master of blood, and blood is the mother of energy”. A qigong saying mentions that “when intention arrives, energy arrives. When energy arrives, strength arrives.” “Strength arrives” means “blood arrives”.
Research has shown that during qigong training, blood supply to the upper limbs increases by about 30%. This is why practitioners feel warmth at their palms during qigong training. Research showed that there was an increase of ultra red rays in practitioners’ palms, turning them from pale to red, and radiating an aura. Research also showed that a spot below the practitioners’ navel radiated light. The practitioners also felt warm at this spot. There was not much change in the controlled group.
An interesting aspect was that advanced practitioners could control the light radiated from their palms with their intention, as if there was a switch at their wrists. Measurement showed that the temperature of the practitioners’ palms generally increased by 1.5 degrees Celsius, and some increased by 3 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the palms in the controlled group did not increase beyond 0.8 degrees Celsius. These three experiments showed that qigong had the ability to regulate energy and blood flow.
From the Perspective of Modern Medicine
From the perspective of modern medicine, what is the relationship between qigong and vital internal organs?
According to modern medical philosophy, internal organs are controlled by the nervous system. When breathing in, impulses are sent along the sympathetic nervous system. When breathing out, impulses are sent along the parasympathetic nervous system. In qigong there is much emphasis on using intention for breathing. Intension is the manifestation of the central nervous system. When intention is employed in breathing, it influences the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves.
Most of the organs are controlled by the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves. Their functions are complementary, both controlling the excitement and the relaxation of the organs to ensure their harmony.
Using deep breathing out, practitioners can influence the function of parasympathetic nerves, causing heart beats to slow down. By deep breathing in, they can influence the function of sympathetic nerves, causing heart beats to speed up. Hence, there is a good reason why in qigong breathing out is generally longer than breathing in.
As qigong breathing can influence the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, therefore qigong training can overcome diseases caused by malfunction of the nervous systems, like insomnia, chronic liver infection, high bold pressure, heart problems, especially those problems related to fast heart beat and distorted heart functioning, stomach and duodenum ulcers, prolapse of the spleen, indigestion and weakening of the nervous system. According to surveys, about 50% to 80% of illness are due to stress. All these health problems can be overcome by the main features of qigong training, which are being relaxed, entering silence and deep breathing.
In recent years, researchers in many countries investigated into the psychology and chemistry of qigong practitioners. In April 1975 a university in Switzerland invited experts from mathematics, physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology, and sociology to conduct unified experiments on transcendental meditation, which is similar to qigong. Amongst the discoveries, the most illustrative was the change observed in neurography.
The neuron performances of people were different at various places, but in general its measurement was less than 50 units. But after qigong training it increased to 150-180 units. The increase of neuron performances happened in all areas. This showed that qigong training could increase the neuron performances of practitioners.
Hence, qigong training can improve the functioning of the commander of a person, i.e. his nervous system. This is a possible explanation of the many incredible feats performed by qigong masters.
What interests us most is physiological transformation due to qigong practice. Advanced qigong practitioners can reduce their metabolic processes by 16%. In contrast, ordinary people may reduce their metabolic processes by only 10% while sleeping.
The metabolic process of neurons in the nervous system of qigong practitioners is higher than that of ordinary people by 2 to 3 times. On the other hand, the production of adrenaline (the hormone that causes fight or flight) is reduced by 60%! This may explain why practitioners feel comfortable and relaxed during qigong practice.
Research also shows that practicing qigong reduces the production of many other hormones, with the many favourable results for good health, like strengthening of the immune system, reduction of carbohydrate level in the body, and prevention of hardening of blood vessels. It is obvious that qigong practice contributes much to the physiological functioning of the body resulting in good health, vitality and longevity.
There is also much evidence to show the benefit of qigong to body chemistry. In May 1979 Wang Jia Lin of the Physics Department of Yunan University discovered that qigong training can increase the production of gall bladder secretions, thus improving digestion. Wang Jia Lin discovered that before qigong training his production of gall bladder secretions was about 2 mm. But with qigong training his production of gall bladder secretions increased to 6 mm. This showed that qigong training could increase the production of gall bladder secretions about 2 to 3 times.
How did qigong training increase the production of gall bladder secretions? This was mainly due to focus of intention. When intention was focused, it influenced the nervous system, which in turn controlled the production of gall bladder secretions.
In recent years, medical professionals recognized that the functions of the lungs are of a great variety. Many researchers paid much attention to the non-respiratory functions of the lungs. A person’s metabolic processes as well as his immune system are closely related to the lungs. A lot of substances that harmonize various activities of our body are produced in our lungs. We believe that this new discovery will explain many favourable qigong effects in our metabolic processes.
Qigong, especially the Art of Internal Nourishment, which uses abdominal breathing increases the diaphragm by 3 to 4 times. This is due to the long process of respiration. The breathing process also provides massage to the organs at the abdomen.
This improves the movements and functions of the stomach, colon and intestines, and reduces blood clotting in the abdomen, and enhances the functions of digestion and absorption. After qigong training, both the appetite and the amount of food eaten, increase noticeably. Herein lies the reason why qigong can overcome stomach and duodenum ulcers and indigestion.
As intention is focused on breathing during qigong training, this provides the brain a special condition of protection and control. This enables practitioners to manifest their natural ability of their mind harmonizing and repairing various internal organs, and providing the various organs an opportunity to rest and nurture.
According to research in physiology, the condition of entering silence is the same as the condition of the brain in control. This enables agitated brain cells to rest and recover. It also enables chronic diseases of over-excitement to enter a phrase of rest, creating a favourable condition for the patient to regain good health. This also enables qigong healing to overcome stomach and duodenum ulcers.
The Reasons Why Qigong Promotes Longevity
How long is a person’s potential life span? There is a Chinese saying that “When a person reaches 70, he is old”. Actually this is not a person’s potential life span. His potential life span is 5 times his maturity period, which is about 25-30 years. Hence the natural life span of a person is 125-150 years.
How does this 5-time number come about? People discover some marvellous principles in nature. The life span of primitive creatures is very short. Some insects live for only a few nights. Snails live for 7 years. Earthworms live for 10 years. Prawns in a river live for 20 years. Electric ells and some fish can live to 100 years.
Land tortoises can live to 200-300 years., sea turtles 800 years, and birds like swans and rocs can live beyond 100 years. Elephants can live to 300 years.
According to records, in 1802 at the Cape of Good Hope an Englishman caught an old eagle with a shining gold ring on top of its head with the words: “His Majesty the King of England; 1601”. This meant the old eagle lived more than 200 years.
(Editorial Note: In 1601 the ruling monarch of England was Queen Elizabeth 1.).
It is not difficult to see that these animals progress from low level to high, and their maturity period and life span increase. If we take their life span to divide by their maturity period, the number will be 5-7.
There are two reasons why humans cannot reach their potential life span. One reason is social, and the other is natural. Social factors cause humans to be tensed, resulting in a drop of their immunity. Hence, humans are attacked by diseases. The authoritative “Inner Classic of Chinese Medicine” says, “Live life simply. Vital energy is abundant. Focus the spirit inward. Wherefore can illness occur?”
Traditional Chinese medicine advises that if sex is not moderate, it may injure “original energy”. Animals have sex only once a year, in spring or autumn. But human sex life is complex. This is an incomparable difference between the life span of humans and of animals.
Qigong practice requires practitioners to be relaxed, thus it eliminates stress. Being moderate in sex preserves “original energy”. In this way, humans can “approach their potential life span, and leave after attaining a hundred years.”
According to a survey of old people in Guangdong Province in 1977, firstly the spiritual health of the old people was very noticeable by other people. The 25 old people were all mentally alert. Apart from 4 persons whose character was strong, for the remaining 21 old people, from small until old they were amiable everyday of their life. Their memory was good.
They did not complain of their past. Their heart was open, and they were very positive towards life. Their personality was fresh and upright, their temperament calm and peaceful. They thought of others before themselves, and never took advantage of other people. They did not crave for pleasures, and they liked to work. The survey also revealed that in all their long years, they slept soundly. There were no signs of insomnia.
A Japanese medical doctor did a survey on the longevity villages of Nicaragua, Pakistan and Russia. He found out that there was no such a thing as a longevity elixir. He found that the most important reason why the people there lived long lives was because they lived in an environment where there was little agitation..
A noticeable factor is that the mental condition of people with very long lives is similar to the condition of being relaxed and having entered into silence in qigong practice. The environment where people with longevity live is similar to ideal places where qigong practitioners choose to train. Thus, it can be seen that being relaxed and entering silence, and environments with little agitation contribute to longevity. This is also the reasons why practicing qigong enables its practitioners to live long lives.
Then, what is aging? General knowledge informs us that amongst old people, there are “old children”. These old people have lost the wisdom of the time when they were adults, and behaved like children, often fighting for food and drinks. They have no control over events happening. Why are they so? Modern medical knowledge has shown that this is directly related to their brain cells.
There are two types of body cells. One type, like skin cells, thin membranes and blood cells, has its one life span. When old cells die, new cells replace them. This type of body cells is replaceable and the cells do not affect the process of aging.
Another type is brain cells. These cells are not replaceable. During the time of the foetus in the mother’s womb in the first 18 weeks, these brain cells are already specialized in their functions. When a baby is born, these brain cells will not be regenerated. No matter why these brain cells die, they will not be replaced.
Scientists have discovered that there are 140 billion brain cells in a person. When he reaches 60 years of age, his brain cells start to die, at the rate of 100,000 a day. When the brain cells decrease to a certain number, there will be natural death. It is now a task of modern scientists to prevent the death of brain cells.
What relationship qigong has with these brain cells? The Art of Internal Nourishment specially focuses on breathing out, and not on breathing in. This is because during breathing out, mental impulses from the central nervous system are spread to parasympathetic nerves. What functions have these parasympathetic nerves? They reduce the rate of heart beat, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the production of digestive juices. This is very similar to what happen when a person is asleep at night.
At night the parasympathetic nerves are activated and perform their functions well. Actually practicing qigong is not the same as sleeping; it is much better than sleeping. This can be seen on the effect of oxygen. When a person is sound asleep, his oxygen level is lowered by 10%. When a practitioner has entered silence during qigong practice, his oxygen level is lowered by 16%.
As explained earlier, the activities of various parts of the brain are slowed down and their frequencies are raised high, with the result that brain cells are systematically activated. The deeper a practitioner has practiced qigong, the better is the result. This means qigong slow down the activity of the brain, and raise its performance. The metabolic process of brain cells of advanced qigong practitioners is higher than that of ordinary persons by 2 to 3 times, and the production of adrenaline (the hormones responsible for fight or flight) is only about 60% of that of ordinary people. Qigong training also reduces the production of other hormones. As qigong reduces the activity of brain cells, it lengthens their life span.
As early as 1936 a famous physicist proposed a concept of “systems” to explain the process of aging.
Using the study of heat to view life is a liberal and controversial system approach. Living things continuously absorb material and energy in a highly systematic way for its life processes which were initially chaotic but eventually become systematic. In this way living things maintain highly systematic life.
What is convincing is that qigong enables the brain to function systematically, the deeper the qigong, the more systematically the brain functions. The symptoms of aging process are reversed. This is the scientific foundation why qigong practitioners can prevent aging. The system concept in the study of heat as explained above, can be used to explain the attainment of longevity in qigong practice.
To clarify a point here, the methodology of qigong is to employ intention to control the involuntary functions of the nervous system. This is using psychology to influence physiology in healing. Thus, qigong healing is excellent for overcoming illness due to disharmony of the heart and the body, that is, illness due to stress and diseases caused by negative emotions, which constitute 50-80% of all illness.
(Editorial Note: In Chinese, the “heart’ refers to the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of a person.)
External injuries, motor accidents, and structural disorders which originated from functional disorders are not suitable for qigong healing. But after treatment by modern medicine, it is permissible to have qigong healing as a supplement for complete recovery. We must not be mistaken that “qigong can cure all diseases”. Just as all forms of medicine or healing method have their suitable areas, qigong also has its limitation.
A qigong healing class in 2008