Traditional Qigong is a Chinese cultural treasure that has a proven record, over millennia (!) for health promotion, curing and preventing disease, resisting premature aging, and longevity. Beyond health and fitness, it develops “human potential”, and can be considered high-level spiritual training. In China, there are even government-sponsored Qigong scientific research centers (testing effects of Qigong in athletic/ sports, military, educational, and psychic fields), and there are actual Qigong hospitals. There are copious official documented case histories of illnesses cured using Qigong alone, including, but not limited to, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary emphysema, coronary heart disease, hypertension, hypotension, neurasthenia, digestive disorders, ulcer, hepatitis, arthritis, and even cancer. Qigong is a modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), alongside herbs, acupuncture, massage, and moxibustion. Of them all, Qigong is regarded by the medical classics, as the highest level of TCM, because the patient takes an active role in the process, and learns to heal and maintain himself, independent of the need for a doctor to administer treatment and dependence upon external medicines. My Sigong, Grandmaster Yang Meijun, past inheritor of the Kunlun Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong system, lived past 104 years of age, in sound health and strong mind/ spirit. She was living testimony to her family’s Qigong as a longevity skill, and even became known as “Yang the Immortal”.
Practicing Qigong produces many quantifiable positive effects from practice, the most common of which include feelings of warmth and fullness in the extremities, and lumbar region, slight perspiration, increased appetite, tingling, an electricity-like flow within the body, heightened awareness and senses, clear-headed and high-spirited sensations, deep tranquility and sense of well-being, a lighter, more agile body, and a quantifiable increase in energy levels, or vitality. All these effects may not necessarily be experienced simultaneously, by everyone, every time, during or following practice, and depend upon the individual’s internal condition. If you do not achieve these effects from practice, you should not actively seek them, and if you do experience certain phenomena, you should not pay too much attention to them.
In rare instances, however, practitioners may experience negative or side effects, which is not natural, for a variety of reasons. Side effects may include dizziness, headache or pressure within the head, nausea, chills and shivers in the body, or hot flushes, internal wind, migrating pain, soreness in muscles, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or hearing voices, visions, bloating and distention at the Dantian or chest, gas, diarrhea, backache, shortness of breath, numbness of limbs, trembling hands, spasms, shortage of breath, palpitation or accelerated heartbeat, and restlessness, swelling at the vertebrae, upward surge of Qi, swaying, increased or unrestrained libido, leakage of Qi and emission. Other unnatural reactions include drowsiness, insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns, or wild dreams, mood swings, and depression, and irritability.
Feelings of warmth, hotness, and warm flow, are an indication of sound, healthy Qi, while feelings of coldness, numbness, and prickling pain, are caused by sick or turbid Qi. Numbness and soreness indicate dispelling serious sick Qi. With diseases caused by stagnation of Qi and blood stasis, including tumors, the practitioner may feel pains, some even severe, in the location of the illness. This is all quite normal, as the result of internal Qi being mobilized to combat the disease, and dispel the virus. This is the healing process, not to be confused with side effects from unsound methods, or incorrect practice that cause Qi to flow disorderly/ chaotically, the wrong direction, become blocked or to leak out of the body.
If side effects are experienced, and the method is known to be safe, and teacher qualified, then practice should continue unabated, with greater attention to the movement principles. Any unpleasant reactions should gradually subside, bringing forth positive sensations, as the Qi becomes balanced, and the channels are opened and cleared. If the method is not proven, instruction questionable, and side effects occur, then practice should desist, until a more suitable method and teacher is found. Generally, Qi transmission from a master, or acupuncture treatment, will restore balance.
Years ago, I encountered a Chinese practitioner of Taijiquan who recounted an uncontrollable and terrifying out-of-body experience that he endured from practicing “Qigong”. The ordeal left him altogether fearful, mistrustful and averse to any mention of the skill. But, it soon transpired that he had never studied with an actual teacher, and had only followed instructions from a book. It is irresponsible and dangerous to impart certain advanced or esoteric skills (especially in book form or video) to those not trained physically and mentally or mature enough in the skill to understand them. The problem in following a book, without a teacher’s guidance, is that the book cannot correct student errors, or advise the remedial steps to take when side effects occur. Words in print can be taken too literally. For example, some books may instruct to “Press the tongue to the roof of the mouth”, in order to connect Ren and Du channels. In some individuals, in extreme cases, this can cause the tongue to become rigid, and lead to trismus (lockjaw) and speech impediment. With the mouth closed, the tongue should, naturally, touch the upper palate, just behind the upper front teeth. This does not really even need to be emphasized. Certain books may give instructions to “Lift the perineum”, in order to close the Huiyin point (between the legs) and prevent Qi leaking. Closing Huiyin, in principle, is correct, but the method of lifting the perineum is not recommended, and can lead to bowel and bladder problems, such as constipation or incontinence. The preferred method would be to gently squeeze the toes, tightening the thighs and buttocks, which closes Huiyin safely. Some methods of practice found in books are so complicated and tedious, most likely even the author himself would not practice them.
One major attainment in Qigong is the formation of Xiao Zhou Tian (Small Heavenly Circulation). This occurs when Ren channel (front midline) and Du channel (back midline) reconnect to form one channel that orbits the body, just as it was in the womb, whereby breathing is achieved through the Dantian and skin. When we are born, upon leaving the womb, the breathing pattern changes, as the lungs are employed to breathe, and the one channel separates to form two. When the Xiao Zhou Tian re-forms it is because Qi is strong, flowing smoothly through the twelve major channels, and the body has achieved a state of balance and harmony, existing in perfect health. Through steady consistent practice this should form naturally, and it is most important that it is allowed to form naturally! It should not be forced to happen, and, despite “sales pitches” to the contrary, there are no shortcuts!
The Du Mai is completed at the Yinjiao point, located at the center of the upper gum and lip. The Ren Mai is completed at the Chengjiang point, in the hollow below the lower lip. With the mouth closed, the tongue rests naturally against the upper palate and acts as a bridge for Qi between these two points, making a complete circuit. This is the main reason why we practice Qigong with the mouth closed. When the mouth is open, through breathing incorrectly and talking, mainly, but also the manner in which some chew gum or food, Qi is lost, as the connection is always broken, and the Xiao Zhou Tian cannot form. When the Xiao Zhou Tian is formed, breathing becomes so deep it becomes imperceptible, and the nose and lungs are no longer needed solely to breathe, as the whole body breathes through the entire skin surface, and Qi is exchanged through the acupuncture points. You will feel Qi flowing throughout the body, and no energy is wasted in the exchange of oxygen. You begin to breathe like a tortoise that breathes through its skin. Tortoises live 100-150 years. Compare this with dogs that breathe through their mouths, puffing and panting, and live, on overage, only 10-12 years in the process – one-tenth the lifespan of the tortoise! This is part of the secret to longevity.
Some Qigong styles encourage Xiao Zhou Tian to form by having the student mentally guide Qi along the Du channel, from the Huiyin point (between the legs) up the spine to the Baihui (crown of the head), and down to the upper palate. Then, from the tip of the tongue down the centre front of the body along the Ren channel, to the Huiyin point. When Xiao Zhou Tian forms naturally, Qi can actually move in either direction spontaneously, and naturally, but when using the mind to move Qi, it only flows along the path it is directed. Guiding Qi in this fashion can cause Qi to become stuck within various parts of the body, or to flow slower or faster than what is normal or natural. While this method may work satisfactorily for some, it will not work well for everyone, and if taught improperly, or the understanding and application is not right, it can lead to feelings of nausea, pressure at the back of the head, nervousness, or coldness in the lumbar region.
Health, from the Daoist perspective of balance, requires the body to move, and all its working parts (muscles, joints, bones, tendons), to be used and exercised, or else they atrophy and wither through lack of use (“Use It or Lose It”), while the mind needs to be calm (balanced emotionally) for the Qi to flow smoothly and orderly, and return to the Dantian. Today’s Western lifestyle is the antithesis of this. For many, work is spent, mostly, all day physically inactive, in poor posture in front of computer terminals, and in leisure, spent slouching for extended periods in front of television or computer screens, watching movies or playing video games. With the body still, the mind is hyperactive, and the nervous system is over-stimulated, leading to restlessness, impatience, anxiety and is one of the main reasons for insomnia. Today’s society is mentally/ emotionally unbalanced and physically unhealthy because it has lost the natural way, and lives contrary to Dao (Nature). Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”.
Mentally guiding Qi, and using visualizations, by itself, is simply not enough to prevent most common chronic conditions, like arthritis, lumbago, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease etc. It is not sufficient to cultivate true vitality and a light body. When injured, the acupuncture channels become blocked, and the sufferer will experience pain as a result. While the mind is integral to pain management and the healing process, it is only relaxed and gentle movement that will fix the problem quicker and most effectively. Movement Is Medicine! Also, Qigong should act like a massage for the internal organs, not only from physical act of the breathing, which produces the internal vibration and frequency, but also through bending and stretching, Qi bathes and purifies the entire body. Movement also opens and closes the vertebrae, maintaining the health of the spine, which mentally guiding Qi and visualization will not accomplish alone.
Some teachers, or styles of Qigong, emphasize visualization during meditation. There are innumerable visualizations, some of which may include imagining a perfect reflection of the full moon on the surface of a placid lake, or the sun within the heart centre (Middle Dantian), or drawing cosmic energy from the stars and astral bodies into the upturned palms, or bringing a ball of light into the Dantian, or mentally projecting various colors around the body, or standing under a waterfall, washing away negative emotions etc. Understand that visualization uses mental energy, which can be taxing on Qi resources. Remember the last time you took a written exam, or attended a lecture, and had to take copious notes, trying to listen and pay attention, while scribbling furiously. Using mental energy can even be more exhausting than physical labor. Using the mind, regardless of the gentle images conjured, is not true relaxation, and is holding on (to the images) instead of letting go and forgetting everything. This method will not achieve true “Emptiness”, which is the ultimate aim of meditation. This is only possible when the mind is still, receptive, and passively observing, maintaining a state of heightened awareness, without thought, attachment and grasping. As visualization becomes a habit, the practitioner will not be able to close his eyes without using the mind to form mental images. Thus, an attachment is created in the same way some need distractions such as music or recorded sounds of nature to fill the silence in order to relax. Attachment, according to Buddhist thought, is an affliction, a source of suffering, and instead of reducing and eliminating attachments, visualization is just adding to them. The practitioner cannot simply just “be”, and passively observe internally, as his mind is always occupied conjuring images, no matter how pleasing or wondrous they may be.
Images, pictures, or live scenes may come to the Sky Eye, when the mind is empty, passive and receptive, truly open, during meditation, and this is very different, as it is natural, and you are just passively observing what passes, and not clinging to them. Seeing specific colors relates to the energy of the different internal organs, which may be more active from practice, or the emotions tied to memories, or just the time of day, as the path of Qi in the body follows the 24-hour clock. The mind, in reality, is like an antenna, picking up information and messages that others may not be able to receive or decode. When the mind is completely empty and free of desires, preferences and aversions, unresolved issues, and emotions, we can pick up messages with greater clarity. When the Sky-Eye opens naturally, at the right time, there are no consequences, no side effects.
The opening of the Sky-Eye, (known in some circles as Third Eye), or what the Daoists call “The Precious Square Inch”, which relates to the pineal gland, and pituitary gland, is considered another attainment of Qigong practice. This is linked to Extra Sensory Perception – precognition/ clairvoyance (a mundane example may be knowing who is calling on the phone before answering or seeing caller ID), telepathy (a common example may be knowing what your partner or close friend is about to say, or completing the other’s sentence), psychokinesis/ telekinesis and healing abilities. There are training methods expressly for this “human potential”, but these should not be taught before a level of Qi, maturity and responsibility is developed and shown by the student. Those that focus on this attainment, and over-stimulate the area in an attempt to force it to open, and develop psychic abilities prematurely, may find their Sky-Eye does indeed open, but then they may not be able to close it so easily, or at will. They may experience seeing visions, or seeing through objects that they really may not want to see, and are unable to control the situation. (Careful what you wish for!) Using the Sky-Eye expends Qi, and if it does not close, then Qi is wasted, like water from a faucet that never shuts off, or a switch left on that either burns out the light bulb, or extinguishes the battery’s life, except this is your energy and your life! When the Sky-Eye opens naturally, unless you are born with this ability, it is because your Qi within the channels is full, and pure Qi rises to the Upper Dantian and brain. When the Qi is abundant, and full, the energy expended in using the Sky-Eye is marginal, and easily replaced through Qigong practice, so it is not a liability. If Postnatal Energy is weak, not having been trained sufficiently, then using Sky-Eye will tap into Prenatal Energy resources, which results in lifespan shortened!
The Kunlun Wild Goose Qigong system, for example, does not use visualization and the mind alone to guide Qi. It employs natural (correct) movement synchronized with conscious breath work and a relaxed mind, concentrating only on the movements, with the eyes following the motion of the hands. This is proven more effective for generating internal Qi than remaining inert and consciously guiding Qi, and safer because it follows Dao. It is one of only a dozen Qigong systems that the Chinese government, in 1998, deemed a “safe method”, after exhaustive research, and finding no reported side effects whatsoever. As we age, our balance and coordination diminish rapidly with age, if not trained. Wild Goose contains many ways to challenge and train the loss of sensory and motor functions and to integrate body and mind and strengthen this connection. This is why it is so successful in preventing premature aging.
It is also advisable to exercise control over Qi instead of allowing Qi to control the body. Some types of Qigong encourage the student to surrender to the energy, and the body to move spontaneously, swaying and shaking, and laughing or crying etc. to release the negative Qi and balance the body. This is not so risky under supervision from a qualified and experienced teacher, or if your body is relatively balanced (healthy), and you have sensitivity to the internal body and energy, but with inferior instruction and if emotionally or energetically imbalanced, the odds of Qi behaving erratically, and chaotically, are increased.
One cause of side effects may lie with the style. There are thousands to choose from, with new ones emerging every day! The Chinese say, “Time proves everything”, so an ancient system, that has endured for centuries is generally more dependable and trustworthy than a style that was created more recently. That said, a style or method created by a legitimate master, from respected lineage, is more certain to be “safe” than one created by a novice with big ideas and little skill, and no authority to teach. According to the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine (Nov. 4 2016), “there were 25,590 yoga-related injuries seen in hospital departments from 2001 to 2014”. To be fair, yoga itself is not the problem. The answer lies with the instructor lacking sufficient training and experience to be able to see problems within students’ postures, or the sensitivity to know the student’s condition. It is the same with Qigong. Even with a style that boasts a good reputation there may be rogue unqualified/ unauthorized teachers that are incapable of imparting skill in a clear, safe and sensible manner.
Lastly, the fault may lie with the student himself. Not all are entirely suited to learning Chinese skills. Some have eyes, but cannot “see”, and some have ears, but cannot “hear”, and are incapable of following instruction. Some have “wrong thinking” or “wrong heart”, in terms of their personal direction and goals. Some Qigong practitioners possess the wrong ideas about Qigong, and their concept of gathering energy can border on the “vampiric”, meaning they only consider taking energy, from nature, trees, and sky and even people, instead of giving back. We have to breathe out in order to breathe in. The more you give, the more your gain. This is a universal law. This is Dao. Too many human beings think only of themselves and taking advantage of situations. They only consider conquering nature, instead of harmonizing with it. This is erroneous thinking, and, ultimately, self-destructive, as we are all part of nature, and not separate. Most ancient cultures knew this and possessed wisdom. Wild Goose Qigong forms, for example, include movements that transmit Qi to the sky etc, to give back to nature, as well as gathering. This is an example of high-level understanding.
Some students may not trust or have the good sense to follow teacher’s recommendations and advice on how to practice, and form their own ideas, which may be unsound. Despite lacking the experience of the teacher, they think they know better. Some possess no sensitivity and awareness of their internal bodies, and cannot detect discomfort when Qi is blocked, through incorrect posture. The greater the postural defects, the more blocked the Qi, then the greater chances of creating side effects. Visualization and mentally guiding Qi along the channels will not make Qi flow smoothly if the channels are blocked through deformed posture. Qigong works on the body the same as acupuncture. Acupuncture is a science. To be most effective, a combination of selecting the right acupuncture point, knowing the precise location of the point along the channel, choosing the right width of needle, and knowing the right angle and depth of insertion is necessary. The greater the accuracy, the better the result. Many students of Qigong throughout the world believe that some random movement, performed in a relaxed way, is sufficient for health. This is no different than an acupuncturist randomly sticking needles into a patient. They do not consider the goal to make Qigong more effective lies in constantly improving the form, to be more accurate. The more precise, the bettter the Qi flows.
How/ why does Qigong fail to be effective? There are many reasons for this. The most common reason comes down to practice, which can be insufficient or inconsistent. Some students are just lazy. The more you put in the more you get out, or, as they say, “Nothing comes from nothing”. Fifteen or even twenty minutes per day total (including meditation with the Qigong movement) is not really sufficient to cultivate vitality, internal strength, and balance, and prevent disease, but it is better than nothing at all. Daily practice is very important for good results. Twice daily is even better, as morning gathers Yang Qi, and evening gathers Yin Qi. The effect is cumulative, building on the success of the previous day’s effort. Like an investment, you keep adding. But, if you deposit, and then withdraw to spend every other day you will have nothing saved. If seriously ill, and opting to use Qigong as a primary healing modality, then four or more times a day, just like the Qigong hospitals prescribe, becomes necessary. (Some of these can include shorter practice sessions or meditations.) Some students are not lazy people; on the contrary, they are highly energetic and active. They may lack self-discipline for solo practice and need a group so class time becomes practice, or else indulge in too many other group activities that conflict with Qigong. This only diffuses or dilutes the effect of Qigong. They may feel that Qigong is incomplete, and they need other kinds of training to “cover all bases”. For the physical, they try combinations of running, weights, aerobic/ cardio exercise, core training, Pilates, yoga, kettle bells, TRX suspension training for physical training, among others. For mind and spirit development, they seek other meditation practices, certain religious/ spiritual disciplines, and philosophical studies. While some more modern simplistic Qigong forms are somewhat limited in scope, a traditional system will offer a complete set of skills, covering all physical and mental/ spiritual aspects. Certain forms of exercise expend too much Qi and exhaust the body, and/ or cause Qi to become chaotic, and/or cause the physical body to become stiffer, which only blocks the flow of Qi, and/or increase risk of injury. So, with the effect of Qigong practice continually nullified, true progress in the art is severely hampered, and Qigong is never really allowed to work.
Some schools of meditation include such complicated methods that they entirely miss the point, which is to “let go” instead of accumulating, to find simplicity (Nothing/ Emptiness) instead of complexity (infinite phenomena). Certain “spiritual” teachers appeal to the intellectual mind that seeks knowledge for the sake of knowledge. This only serves to feed the ego, which, unrestrained, becomes a monster that separates the individual from spirit and Buddha nature. The intellectual mind seeks the complex, and considers the simple as unworthy of study. This is the greatest folly, for, as Laozi said, “The wise are not learned. The learned are not wise”. The true purpose of meditation is to “Forget Everything”! “Sitting Still and Doing Nothing” should be the simplest action (or non-action) in the world, and yet, for many, it can be the hardest, almost torturous, because thoughts and emotions are so unruly. Closing the eyes, with sight turned inwards, facing oneself, alone in the dark and silence, proves very disconcerting for some, and so various methods are introduced to fill the void, but as true Emptiness is held at bay, wisdom and enlightenment will never develop. So, some meditation and spiritual practices, instead of “complementing” Qigong, actually conflict with Qigong practice, and only succeed in leading the student further away from Dao, and health. Life is short and there is only finite time in any given day to devote to practice. So, as long as other pursuits compete for the student’s time and energy, it is impossible to ever attain a high standard, and deep enough insight into the depth of the skill. He may come to learn advanced forms (and acquire more knowledge), but these will offer no real value as there will be no quantifiable change to the internal condition, which means the student will never come to experience “super health”.
The positive effects of Qigong are dependent on practice in a natural environment with the best Qi available. The better the energy of the surroundings (sky, fresh air, tranquility, grass and trees etc.), the better the effect of practice upon the individual organism. Outdoors, immersed in nature, yields a far superior result to practice indoors, amongst dust, static electricity, stale air, low-level radiation, unnatural light, and, in some cases, even damp and mould. This student may come to develop good movement, but not healthy Qi. Qigong exchanges the stale Qi within the body for the fresh cosmic Qi outside so, if the Qi outside the body is stale, then the true health benefits are severely limited, and over time the health condition is not improved, and may even deteriorate. So, is Qigong itself really to blame?
There are students of Qigong that may have studied and practiced for years, only to see their vitality plummet, become chronically fatigued and weak, seriously ill, and age prematurely. Similarly, there are those that take up Qigong to help cure an existing illness, or chronic condition, only to find it does not improve the situation at all. Qigong, if practiced the right way with the right intention, does indeed cultivate and balance vital energy for health, and cures and prevents disease. Our regular daily lives consume energy – work, stress, confrontation, emotions, exercise, and even reading uses Qi. If we cultivate more than we expend we have a surplus. This is the Art of Living and what Qigong teaches us, but not everyone that studies has the wisdom to understand. If we use more than we gain we operate in a deficit. In this situation, first, we will become fatigued – the first “warning sign”. Then, we will become ill. Later still, if nothing is done to change the situation, we become seriously ill, possibly requiring hospitalization. Finally, if the situation passes the point of no return, we will die prematurely.
One of my students worked as a psychologist, counseling very emotionally disturbed individuals. She worked long hours, in a tiny room with no windows, working with one patient after another without a break, every single day. The amount of negative energy she was subjected to, on a daily basis, was “off-the-charts”, and far exceeded the amount of positive Qi she could possibly cultivate from her minimal Qigong practice. Upon arriving home from work, she would cook and clean up for her entire family, with little to no help with chores, and retire to bed each night exhausted. After so many years, naturally, this routine began to take its toll. She began to lose all vitality, became chronically fatigued, and lost a great deal of bodyweight. She could not comprehend how this had happened since she practiced Qigong, and fully assumed the skill would keep her healthy forever. But, as I told her, she was just treating her Qigong like a Bandaid. And, this Bandaid strip was not even being applied to a minor cut; it was being applied to a hemorrhaging artery! Expecting Qigong to work, under these conditions, is not sound thinking. Fortunately, she had the wisdom, trust, and courage, to follow recommendations, which were to quit her job, and concentrate solely on recovering her Qi. Like most students, though, she could not trust in Qigong one hundred percent, and “put all her eggs in one basket”, she took acupuncture and herbs in conjunction with practice. At least, these forms of medicine did not conflict with the Qigong effect. After a few months, she returned to complete health, living simply and naturally (returning to Dao). She found a different line of work, which fulfilled her creatively, and was able to enjoy her life once again, especially her new grandchild.
Sometimes, the reason for Qigong failure can be more complex, and lie far beneath the surface. Another student had been diagnosed with a debilitating degenerative disease, prior to beginning Qigong studies. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the root cause of this illness lies within the disharmony of Qi caused by ceaseless agitation of Mind/ Spirit, and emotions; in this case, chiefly fear and anxiety, as well as suppressed anger and depression. Even after years of studying, the student remained unable to relax the mind and breathe from the Dantian. Relaxation and Dantian breathing are not only most natural, they are amongst the most important principles of Qigong. One translation of Qigong is “Breathing Skill”, so without breath control one is simply not even practicing Qigong to begin with! A stressful job and a frenetically active lifestyle, with no quiet, stillness, and peace, to balance activity, used up all the Qi available and necessary for healing. A decade of this, and failing to follow advice, and heed warnings, led to an inevitable decline. Physical strength diminished, vitality plummeted, balance became impaired and mobility became hampered. Symptoms would always flare up and become exacerbated following instances of extreme worry and fear. Finally, facing the gravity of the situation, lifestyle changes were effected, with a renewed focus on Qigong studies and treatment. Instructions for strict daily meditation (to balance emotions and confused thinking), Horse Stance and Zhan Zhuang (for Bone Qi and leg strength), and One Leg Stance Training (for brain and balance) were administered. However, it soon became apparent that these were yet again not being adopted. When you take a course of medicine, such as antibiotics, you must follow the instructions, such as taking the required amount, at the required intervals, and follow the rules, such as avoiding alcohol, and taking with food or on an empty stomach etc. and you must complete the course of seven, or ten days, regardless of whether the problem clears up after only two days, if you want the medicine to work effectively. In the case of Qigong, you must trust and follow your teacher’s recommendations, and not deviate from them. None of this behavior was truly in accord with one looking to improve their situation, prompting a line of questioning into the matter, which was met with obfuscation. Pressed hard, the student was asked directly about whether she felt she deserved to be healthy, and happy, and the answer was instantaneous, “No!” The mind is all-powerful. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts our entire world takes its shape. If a tragically false belief system dictates our thoughts, then all our choices and decisions, and all our actions, in life, only serve to support and reinforce this belief system. Some literally choose to suffer, which only compounds actual physical handicaps and pain. The mind, as the major motivational force, ensures that, one way or another, in the end, we all get what we truly want subconsciously. If the source of the problem lies within the mind itself, then a shift in consciousness must occur, in order for any genuine healing to take place. Without this, all other changes, no matter how apparently major, are just cosmetic. Qigong practice, in this situation, for all intents and purposes, then becomes just a pretense, a façade, a charade, of going through the motions. When a student/ patient appears to use Qigong for healing, yet does not follow the principles, does not practice consistently, with the right intention, does not embrace and apply the philosophy, does not follow advice and heed warnings, cannot let go of, or transcend, the very emotions that are responsible for the condition, and seemingly does everything to undermine progress and sabotage himself, it is really not Qigong itself that has failed. No treatment on earth, whether proven and traditional, or revolutionary and radical, will ever truly work, if it is the individual’s will not to be healed!
My personal mission is not merely to teach Qigong; it is to prove that it works, and to prove that my teacher and his teachers are right. If I fail, then I have not just failed myself, I have failed them. Wild Goose Qigong inheritors of the past had to take a solemn oath not to begin to pass it on to anyone before the age of 70! This meant if the teacher could not reach 70 years in good health, then the skill had no real value for health and longevity, and was not worth passing on. Therefore, the individual had a great responsibility to remain healthy and pass it down to ensure that the skill did not die out with him. Any skill is only as good as the one holding it. However, the world today is very different than it was thirty years ago, when I began, and certainly very different from when Qigong was created thousands of years ago. In today’s world, our bodies and minds have to deal with increasing toxicity from electromagnetic frequency waves and radiation from our cell phones and computers, televisions, and smart meters, and the ubiquitous Wi-Fi, which surrounds us. World Health Organization, in 2011, classified radio frequency radiation as a possible carcinogen, which accounts for the overwhelming statistics today. The current 4G communications network outputs 8GHz, while the coming 5G network frequency band will be increasing to 300GHz! This all impacts our subtle energy fields, and even our DNA, affecting cell growth, brain function, cardiac stress, insomnia, and, of course, cancer rates. Our air contains heavy metals such as Barium, Strontium and Aluminum (linked to Alzheimer’s disease), and in rare cases, even Lithium (as NASA has admitted to spraying). Much food today in U.S. supermarkets not only offers little nutritional value, but much is unfit for human consumption, with many additives, preservatives and food colorings that are actually banned in other countries. Some genetically modified foods mean we consume pesticides and other harmful agents that cannot be rinsed off as they are within the cells of the product. The drinking water, in many major cities, contains arsenic, lead, Barium and other toxic chemicals, not to mention fluoride, and somehow (according to U.S. Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency) even trace amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anticoagulants, blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, and hormones from birth control pills, have all found their way into groundwater. Plastic water bottles, and every tin of canned food, all contain Bisphenol-A (an estrogen mimicker) that leaks into the food or water, and has been linked to endocrine diseases, breast cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The BPA-free products have been shown to contain far more harmful chemicals. Nevertheless, Qigong works to discharge negative Qi and toxicity accumulated within the body like no other form of physical exercise. I believe, despite the growing levels of toxicity we face, Qigong remains the great equalizer, and if anything can prevent illness, and extend life expectancy, in today’s increasingly unnatural world, it is still Qigong. We will always live a longer, healthier and balanced life with Qigong than without it, no matter the environment. But, for Qigong to be effective, certain conditions must be met, and certain principles need to be abided by. We need to find a good skill and a good teacher, and follow rules, recommendations and advice. It is vitally important to practice sincerely, with the right attitude and heart (moral integrity) and right intention. This means cultivating mental tranquility, and having realistic goals, not to be impatient for quick results or practice half-heartedly or sporadically.
In studying and practicing Kunlun Wild Goose Qigong for over 30 years, and Hard Qigong for over 20 years, personally, I have never experienced any side effects, and only the positive benefits of practice. When I have tested Qigong’s effectiveness, over the years, with occasional injuries and contagions, it has never failed, and works wonders. It is only through testing it, during difficult times, that you will ever know for real, whether Qigong works or not, and come to build greater trust of the skill, through direct personal experience. When people witness Hard Qigong demonstrations (that include withstanding bricks broken over heads and spears against throats) without understanding, they naturally assume it must be hazardous to health. But, all Qigong is for health and fitness, and the demonstrations do not constitute the actual training. Without the right training and meditation, to cultivate and balance Qi, the demonstrations would, no doubt, cause harm and injury, but there are also strict rules in place, for safe practice. Deviation, or neglect of these, can easily lead to side effects, such as aggressivity, hyperactivity, over stimulation of the central nervous system, and chronic fatigue, as well as actual physical injury.
Grandmaster Yang Meijun stated that the purpose of Qigong is not to open the Sky-Eye, or transmit Qi to heal others, but for health, and to understand and follow Dao (Nature). If the student sets his course, and uses this principle as his compass, then he cannot really fail. Then, as Qi develops and becomes purer and more refined, any “spiritual” or human potential abilities that reveal themselves are all a bonus, on top of health, and a natural progression. If the student’s primary aim of Qigong is for reasons aside from health, then, as health loses priority, the odds of side effects or Qigong fails become greatly increased.
– Adam Wallace