- QIGONG is the Mandarin Chinese term used to describe various Chinese systems of physical and mental training for health, martial arts and self-enlightenment.
- The origin of Qigong practice, according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine community, is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow Emperor and the classic Book of Internal Medicine. Verifiable archeological evidence suggests the first forms of Qigong can be linked to shamanic meditative practice and gymnastic exercises. Archaeological evidence such as the Mawangdui Silk Texts (168 BC) shows a series of Tao Yin exercises that bears physical resemblance to some of the health exercises being practiced today. Shamanic rituals and ideas eventually evolved and formalized into Taoist beliefs and continued to be developed into Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- In the Taoist tradition, the writings of Laozi (400 BC) and Zhuangzi (300 BC) both describe meditative training and physical exercises to increase longevity and as means of accessing higher realms of existence.
- Although not proven conclusively from a Western medical standpoint, Qigong is an accepted treatment option in the field of complementary and alternative medicine. Qigong treatment is also used extensively in China as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qigong practice serves both a preventive and curative function. It is considered to be effective in improving the effects of many chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, cancer, depression, anxiety and addiction.
COLETTE SHERIDAN talks energy flow
with Qigong expert Eileen Murray
Reproduced with permission from the Evening Echo
Let your mind heal your bodyA TWO-DAY workshop in an ancient Chinese health exercise, Qigong, is being given by psychiatric nurse Eileen Murray at the Bru Columbanas Centre in Wilton this weekend.
Eileen, who works at St Stephen’s Hospital in Glanmire, doesn’t practise Qigong in her capacity as a psychiatric nurse but says she has always been interested in the connection between mind and body.
Through the practice of gentle, flowing movements, Qigong optimises the flow of energy around the body, reaching the heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys to help keep everything in the correct order.
As Eileen explains, Qigong is one of the four pillars of Chinese medicine; the others are acupuncture, massage and herbs. People who adopt a regular Qigong practice often report suffering from fewer illnesses. It can help arthritis, colds and flu and can also be beneficial to people recovering from depression, stress and cancer.
One of the off-shoots of Qigong is more restful sleep, increased energy levels and a sense of emotional well-being.
Eileen was drawn to Qigong when she learned that this exercise, applied outside of the body, can affect the state of internal organs. “I decided to study Qigong, not initially to teach it but to learn it for myself,” she says. “The relationship between body and mind needs to be continually rebalanced and rejuvenated. Otherwise, illness can occur. I’m also interested in how we can learn to access more of our latent potential, whether that be our healing or creative potential. “Coming from a psychiatric nursing background, I’m interested in the idea of going inside ourselves for answers rather than always seeking answers from the outside.”
Eileen trained under Chinese academic Professor Huixian Chen. “Twenty years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer travelled to her lymph system. She was given a 20% chance of survival. One day, while in a doctor’s surgery, a man suggested that she try Qigong.” The Chinese professor, who lives in San Francisco, survived cancer. But Eileen points out that Qigong is more of a support than a cure to illness. It is a discipline “that cultivates energy”. The form that she teaches is not suitable for people with psychosis. “I hold weekly practice classes and have had people from all walks of life; people with serious illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. They want to learn Qigong because it has a calming effect on the nervous system. It can also be good for people with anxiety. It’s great for enhancing health and well-being.”
Central to the understanding of Qigong is the concept of Chi which the Chinese describe as the vital energy of a human being. “We need to build a sensitivity to Chi and be open to directly experiencing it in the body. The Chi can then be used for maintaining and strengthening our health and equilibrium.” Qigong can be practised standing up or sitting down. “It involves hand movements. You move your hands as if you’re swimming through thick air using scooping and gathering movements. You move up and down the body. This circulates the energy in the body. The energy is preserved in an area measuring the width of two fingers below the navel. That’s your storehouse.” Certain Qigong exercises are done with eyes open and others with eyes closed, so therefore it is a very suitable for the blind and visually impaired.
As well as being a gathering of energy, Qigong also claims
to discharge disease. It is at its most effective when the mind has slowed down to thinking of just one thing such as an acupuncture point. “The mind and the movements work together,” says Eileen.
The workshop takes place from June 26-27. It costs €200, which includes an instructive CD.
Eileen Murray can be contacted at 086 1732473 www.qigongireland.com