People know when they are sick; they also know how they feel when they are well. This is a matter of awareness of what the Chinese call “Qi.” The practice of Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) focuses on refining this awareness. Which part of the body is sick? What is wrong with the Qi? Is it stuck? Is there too much or too little? Through the meditations and exercises of Qigong, we can answer these questions—and learn how to remedy problems. By practicing them, we can experience and create vibrant health.
Just as we know in our bodies when something is not quite right, we can also feel differences in the weather, as well as in people, even before they speak. All of this awareness involves energy. The ancient Chinese devised a universal system to describe the various forms of energy, not only in the human body and in the weather, but also in space (in landscape and geography) and over time (in history and astrology). By understanding that everything in the cosmos is an expression of Qi, from the material to the insubstantial, one can glimpse the ultimate truth of the universe and come to a deep understanding for and appreciation of the natural world, including one’s own true nature.
The core text of Chinese philosophy is the I Ching, or the Book of Changes. Its basic premise is that energy evolves from the unmanifested to the manifested realm. These manifestations may be broadly described as Yin and Yang. Beyond Yin and Yang, all manifestations may be more precisely (but still generally) described in terms of the Five Elements. Beyond that, there are the “ten thousand things,” all of which are permutations of these broader concepts.
Health is an expression of the smooth flow of life-giving Qi in the body. Disease manifests when the flow of Qi is blocked or stagnant, or when there is too much or too little. Physical and mental exercise can clear blockages, dissolve stagnation, reduce excess, and supplement deficiency. I will use these terms “excess” and “deficient” often throughout this text because these are the terms used in Chinese medical theory. They describe conditions in which there is too much of something, i.e., when an organ is hyperactive, or when there is too little, i.e., the organ is weak or hypoactive.
In these chapters, we will learn how to interpret the signs and signals of the body in terms of these patterns and how to correct and improve the flow of Qi. That is the practice and purpose of Qigong. It can benefit you as well as your clients or patients if you are a health practitioner.