Most already have prior medical advice, but want second opinions, or additional advice regarding nutritional, complementary and Qigong therapies. My approach is always holistic ( see previous article Promoting Holistic Health ) – that is, every aspect of life that affects health must be looked into. However, the full discussions will require very long replies, which are not practical, considering the many requests. So, for the benefit of those who sought my advice, especially those whose queries I have not answered, I share some of the answers here. I hope it will benefit everyone else too.
HOW BENEFICIAL IS QIGONG?
Many wrote in asking if Qigong is beneficial for all sorts of diseases. Since Qigong heals through increasing the healing life-force (qi) and unblocking its flow through the energy channels (meridians), it is not disease or organ-specific. Although there are exercises that are aimed at helping certain organs or reversing certain diseases, there is possibility of recovering from any ailment.
Once the cells’ own repair mechanisms are able to function with the availability of this qi-energy, healing starts. But the healing will not be complete if whatever causative toxin, infection or nutritional deficiency are also not tackled. Qigong is one important health practice, together with a good diet and healthy lifestyle, which includes other exercises and not smoking ( say “Tak Nak” to cigarettes! ).
The healing achieved through Qigong is more notable where modern medicine has yet to discover effective treatments, such as for cancers, arthritis, other chronic degenerative diseases, neuromuscular diseases, and even the chronic auto-immune diseases.
When practised correctly, and sufficiently, Qigong can be very effective. As I have often mentioned, if many terminal cancer patients have recovered from their cancers through Qigong, then it is definitely possible to recover from other less serious health problems. Even if full recovery is not achieved, there will definitely be some improvement.
Whilst sceptics will continue to look at Qigong as a gimmick or pseudo-science, there are other scientists and physicians, even in the West, who are sufficiently impressed by what Qigong can achieve.
One of them is Dr Neil Kay, M.D. of the famous Mayo Clinic in USA. He is the former Medical Director of the David Hickok Memorial Cancer Research Laboratory, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, Minneapolis ( Minnesota, USA ) and has witnessed the beneficial effects of Qigong on his patients, the least of which is the improvement in their quality of life. He recommends it to all cancer patients: “This is a simple and yet easily applied alternative medicine for cancer patients”.
Another case that impressed the Mayo Clinic doctors was that of Sue Sivula. She had a bleeding on the brain-stem which was serious, and the neurosurgeon wanted to operate on her. However, she refused operation and opted to see a Qigong master for treatment.
After two visits with the Master, the problem was completely gone. The repeat MRI ( magnetic resonance imaging ) showed only a tiny residue and her doctors were stunned.
She has since recovered, and Sue practices Qigong on most days for two thirty-minute sessions. “The ongoing benefits I receive far exceed any effort I must do in practising Qigong,” she says.
So many Westerners are turning to Qigong lately, helped by the fact that many Qigong masters left China and started teaching and healing people in their newly-adopted homes, especially in the USA.
Donna Applebaum is an American nurse who suffered from fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by aching, stiffness and fatigue in muscles and soft tissues. The condition caused muscle pain in her upper back.
She said, “Western medicine did not have a lot to offer. I searched for ways to mobilize my own inner healing resources. That’s when colleagues told me about (Qigong)”. After practising Qigong, she immediately found that the flare-ups were less frequent, less intense, and did not last as long.
It is a pity that while the Westerners are embracing Qigong, the people who grow up inheriting this great healing art do not appreciate it enough. Already Western Qigong practitioners are mastering the art, and some have become good Masters. One day, they will go to China to teach the Chinese about Qigong, just as you have here a Malay teaching the local Chinese about Qigong!
CAN QIGONG BE HARMFUL?
Qigong is generally safe. However, it is very important to learn from a knowledgeable and experienced teacher. Although it is rare for beginners to have problems while learning, you can get unnecessarily tired and end up with aches, pains and other problems if instructions are not correctly followed. You will also not get the full desired benefits. This is why you must learn from a teacher, and not from books. Even if you learn from a video, you must get your movements checked by a teacher. It is always best to learn from a teacher first and then refer to books or videos for revision.
For example, gentle movements are required for proper qi-flow and improper movements may stifle the flow. Failure to open the channels can lead to Qi stagnation and blockage. Improper posture can cause chronic pain in any part of the body. Improper breathing can inappropriately raise or lower the blood pressure or even stress the heart. Improper arm and hand positions can cause soreness, and also affect blood pressure. People with arthritis or injured joints should not practise certain postures. Hard Qigong that is stressful and creates heat is not suitable for everyone. Strenuous Qigong exercises and low postures should be avoided in pregnancy and during menstruation.
There have also been instances where unscrupulous Qigong teachers and masters abuse the trust given by their students or patients by promising incredible powers and healing miracles. Although “miracles” do happen, these masters sometimes give false hopes merely for monetary gain. There have been many who have been disappointed by such masters, who also give a bad name to all other Qigong masters. Not only do the victims lose money, they are also prevented from seeking proper treatment elsewhere.
I was surprised to find out that Qigong can be addictive to some, and this can be harmful. Dr. Zhang Tongling (she runs a clinic for obsessive Qigong practitioners) of Beijing Medical University found that fanatical Qigong practice could bring out latent psychiatric problems and cause hallucinations!
Addiction or obsession to Qigong practice, just like obsession with other things, can also cause practitioners to become dysfunctional and neglect necessary daily tasks or duties at work.
Recently, the medical term “Qigong psychotic reaction” was officially listed in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association.
One of the simplest ways to prevent all this from happening is to make sure that the major qi-channels circuits are at all times complete, that is, by putting the tongue on the roof of the mouth to connect the Du and Ren channels so that any excess energy can be beneficially channeled, and not get “stuck”. If this is done, then the practitioner can accumulate a lot of qi without any harm. Unfortunately, some novices who practise a lot may forget this important point and suffer the consequences.
At more advanced levels, Qigong involves intense concentration/meditation, and the discipline required is not unlike that of spiritual practices. Thus there are masters who naturally combine spirituality with Qigong ( Falun Gong is one such example ). Whilst the spiritual discipline accelerates the achievement of Qigong abilities, improper practices or the wrong kind of spiritual teachings can cause many psychological, emotional and physical problems ( and for some, political problems ).
Even without any spiritual considerations, advanced Qigong requires a lot of preparation. It is important that the master selects only the students who have the dedication, discipline and right temperament to progress to the higher levels as the “inner” training may be much more difficult and demanding than the “external” physical exercises. Some masters refer to Qigong as “Inner Kung Fu”. It is about controlling the energy within to manifest healing ( and other effects ) within and without.