By now most of you would have been aware of the return of the famous Shaolin Kung Fu troupe from China who will be performing for charity next month. The amazing, often life-threatening stunts, they perform are the result of many years of arduous and stringent training that involves strengthening their physical bodies, and more importantly, conditioning their minds to be in total control of their intentions, feelings, and actions. What you will see in them is the best example of mind-body co-operation, co-ordination and discipline.

By their own admission, it is their Qigong training that enables them to do all these feats. The “hard” Qigong training that turns their bodies into invincible vessels capable of executing mind-boggling martial arts movements is combined with the “soft” Qigong component which gives them health, inner strength and inner peace. Tranquility of mind is necessary for the body to execute the precision stunts. A slight imperfection can mean serious injury or even death.

The body is only a machine which responds to commands. Thus it is the mind that is the more important component that needs to be trained to perfection. That is the rule in Qigong. The breath, the posture, and the movements are only the servants of the mind. A focused mind, relaxed conscious breathing, being aware of the posture, and co-ordinated movements are the essential ingredients of the Qigong exercise. The tranquil, trained mind is able to effortlessly orchestrate all these parts of the Qigong exercise to achieve the maximum effects. In healing Qigong, what begin as cumbersome, impossible movements will turn out to be graceful, enjoyable healing exercises after sufficient practice. Those who have tried to learn the Amazing Qigong Walk will certainly agree.

When the movements are not possible due to paralysis or injury, these movements can be just imagined, and the benefits can be still achieved ( though much less ).

Whilst most Qigong exercises are easy to learn and perform, the healing effects are better felt by those who are most able to “tune” their minds into the “Qigong state” of mindful tranquility.


That the mind plays an important part in our lives in general need no elaboration, as a sound mind is a prerequisite to having a meaningful life; and that a reasonable level of intelligence is necessary to function as a responsible member of the community.

The mind’s direct influence on the physical body, however, has been better appreciated in the Eastern traditions than in the West. The Yogis, for example, have for millennia demonstrated that mastery of the mind ( through their spiritual discipline ) enabled them to make their bodies endure extra-ordinary stress and perform otherwise impossible feats. They can live without food and water for many days ( often being buried alive to prove this is possible ). They can poke and pierce their bodies with impunity ( as also done by devotees during Thaipusam, and during similar religious festivals in Thailand and elsewhere ). They can even regulate their heartbeats and their body temperatures, on many occasions under the scrutiny of skeptical investigators and their scientific instruments.

As related in earlier articles, Qigong masters also have demonstrated similar “super-natural” abilities, like creating fire, performing “miraculous” cures, and many more.

Perhaps the most famous and most investigated exponent of mind-power is Uri Geller, the spoon-bending psychic who brought interest into the phenomenon to an unprecedented level as he was being showcased repeatedly in the era that TV first came to our homes. Although his speciality was the external effects ( telekinesis ) of mind-power, he proved repeatedly under rigorous scientific experiments that the mind is capable of executing direct physical effects. He was definitely the star of the “mind over matter” phenomenon.

At the same time, the Soviets ( of the USSR then ) were busy studying and harnessing the special talents of their own psychics and savants, with the possibility of using them in some form of a psychic war, radar-scrambling, or counter-intelligence being part of their agenda. Records of the exploits of these superhumans make interesting reading indeed.

The psychic energy responsible for telekinesis ( eg. Making objects move or change in shape or character ) is one form of external “hard” qi. It requires a lot of training and practice ( even for the gifted ) to be able to cause effects on external inanimate physical objects. Healing qi, however, is easily transmitted and received by living organisms which already have qi sustaining them.


The scientific and medical communities have slowly but surely embraced this mind-body phenomenon, and the volume of research and literature on the health aspects is now immense. There are many medical schools that have incorporated the subject in their syllabi, and the US government has even set up a department to look into its importance and contribution to the national healthcare.

The mind is the arena of thoughts and feelings, ideas and emotions, and beliefs and desires. The brain is the hardware that makes up the entire central command centre of everything that goes on inside the body, including the systems that determine our health, and our healing capacity. The mind, on the other hand, is the software – the programs, and the combined output of the billions of signals criss-crossing the neuronal synapses that make up our nerve-wired CPU ( as in the computer central processing unit ).

Most of us are aware of the “placebo” effect of drugs ( or of anything at all ), that is, the positive results seen in patients given “dud” drugs ( looking exactly the same as the real drug but without any active ingredient ) which should only be expected to be seen in those given the real stuff. This phenomenon demonstrates that the mind’s expectation of healing can itself cause some healing to occur. In some studies in China, especially on sex-enhancing drugs, up to 40% of those given the dud drugs reported improvements or even complete cure! No wonder all kinds of medicines and concoctions with all sorts of fantastic claims and promises sell like hotcakes there, especially those that promise beauty, slimming and better sex. I don’t think our people are any different, if we look at the thriving market for these unregistered and untested products. And so often we hear of those who suffer or even die from the side-effects.

So it is natural that the scientific/medical community began earnestly investigating the role of the mind and the various ways it affects our lives and our bodies. In the subject of health, the main focus has been on its effect on the immune system, which is the backbone of our defence against invaders and cancers ( and also the cause of the so-called “auto-immune diseases” when it goes haywire ).

The science of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) studies the relationship between the mind, the nervous system, and the immune system. We now know enough to appreciate the immense connections between them. The mind consciously and subconsciously communicates with the immune system through the brain/nervous system, through sending chemicals ( neuro-transmitters ) that affect the immune system.

Two other factors also play very important roles in this complex scenario. The endocrine system, through the hormones that the glands produce, also intimately influences the immune system, as it also does to the other systems. Finally, the availability of qi or life-force is vital for the immune cells to survive and do their work efficiently. Thus the mind influences your immune system in more than one ways, that is, through initiating the signals that send messengers ( chemicals or hormones ) to the immune cells, and by influencing the availability and flow of qi that feeds these cells with their fighting and healing energy.


Those who are interested in the subject can attend the 2nd Mind Science Congress on “Mind-Body Medicine : Wellness from Within” organized by the Mind Science Association of Malaysia (website: on 28th November 2004. The Association has been at the forefront of promoting the study, understanding and useful application of the powers of the mind, and the mind-body connection. Its motto is “Change your Thinking – Change your Life”. I am privileged to be one of the invited speakers.

Practitioners of mind science know that we are creators of our own destinies as our thoughts are the templates of the events that will unfold in our lives in the future. So powerful is our mind that many do believe that “What the mind conceives and believes, can be achieved”.


Dr Amir Farid Isahak
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