Many people are familiar with tai chi and have seen the graceful movements of that martial art which has been adapted for use in promoting health and balance. Although I have never studied tai chi, people who do say that the basic movements often take up to two years to perfect. Qigong, on the other hand, is much simpler to learn and can produce health benefits in one lesson.
One of the key aspects of qigong is that it focuses on the message system, unlike other exercise that may focus on cardiovascular health, muscle strength, flexibility or coordination.
The message system is ideas, messages and thoughts that influence how we feel, posture ourselves to the world and color our attitudes. A book written by Masaru Emoto, Messages in Water, describes how various words, sounds and images can affect the formation of crystals in water. The more positive the message, the more beautiful the crystal formation. Negative messages do not produce crystals. Since our bodies are primarily water, this book shows the power of positive or negative thinking.
I tell my qigong students to think positive messages telling the body to be healthier, happier, smarter and more beautiful. The body does listen to these messages. Eliminating or reducing negative messages improves one’s outlook. The “News” on television is 80% negative, which can negatively impact each cell of the body. Think about how talking to different people makes you feel. Who lifts your spirits? Who brings it down? Who are the people you prefer to be around? Think about times when you didn’t want to do something. How did your body feel? Can you remember your attitude? What about a time when you were excited about something – how did you feel then? Can you remember the way your body felt? An instructor of mine once said that a simple touch can produce a cascade of sensation in the body, an indication of many different physiological processes happening. He reminded us of how sitting in a dark movie theater at age 13 next to the boy or girl you had a crush on, arms just barely touching, could make the whole body respond with strong sensation and emotion. Hormones are message senders, after all.
Qigong is a discipline that can systematically change the way you send messages to yourself and thereby can improve your health. It’s an easy practice that only requires you to do it.