Today's fast paced, stress filled lifestyle has brought the health consciousness of people to a very high level. The value of good health has increased with the lengthening of the life expectancy, and the ever-growing crisis in the Health Care profession is motivating us to educate ourselves and expand our thinking about ways to maintain good health. We are learning that we need to practice good health. Energy medicine is an important aspect of that practice.
Twice a year a group of 65 people meets together under the Redwoods of Sonoma County for a retreat to practice energy medicine in the form of Tai Chi/Qigong. The participants travel from all parts of the country and Europe to attend these intensives and they are of all ages and backgrounds. Attending are doctors and nurses and psychiatrists, physical therapists and counselors. Standing beside them are teachers, students, farmers, waitresses, builders, engineers, scientists, mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, on & on &on. All these people come to practice to increase their vitality and maintain good health.
Energy level is a direct reflection of health. We often measure the quality of our health by the measure of our vitality. The quality of health in a person is in direct proportion to the quality of circulation. The healthy heart is pumping oxygen-carrying blood, through the network of vessels, nourishing the internal organs including the brain. The skin is rich with the color of it, or poor from the lack of circulation of blood, circulation of oxygen, circulation of chi.
The Chinese character for Qi (Chi) is directly translated as energy. The character for Gong is translated as cultivation or development. Qigong practice teaches us about the energy within ourselves. We begin our practice in stillness. We study ourselves in that stillness. The better we know ourselves, the more clear we become about how and where we need to direct our energy. We learn to lead and we learn to follow. We move in ways that lead the energy to where it is needed. We follow energy to self-knowledge, self-trust, and good health.
Qigong practice also helps us to develop a relationship to the energy around us. It is recommended that we practice in Nature, around trees and water. Living things have chi or energy, which they emit. We learn to "inhale" energy from our environment and to circulate it in very specific ways inside ourselves to increase our own vitality.
A Qigong doctor develops his own internal chi and directs that chi through his own body and into another to increase and circulate that person's chi energy. Tai Chi Chuan practiced along with Qiqong, develops our connection to our inner energy or "Spirit".
Tai Chi Chuan is the art of moving energy. The characters are translated as "Supreme Ultimate Fist". The roots of Tai Chi Chuan are in the Martial Arts and it is most widely practiced for its health benefits. Martial Arts in China arose from the same roots as medicine. Martial artists were trained in medicine; doctors were trained in martial arts. The priests and the monks were doctors and martial artists. They were practitioners of energy medicine. They passed down this energy medicine to us. Qigong-energy medicine...Tai Chi- the supreme ultimate way to health!!
Fundamental to the practice of Tai Chi is finding our center. This center is called the "Dantian" and is translated as the reservoir. We tap into that source of energy deep inside and practice moving it throughout our bodies to heal and nourish the internal organs, and to balance the immune system, the endocrine system etc..
When we move, energy moves. When we consciously direct our movements, then we can consciously direct our energy. This way we can have a profound effect on our health. We do this in the practice of Tai Chi, and the fact that this practice is multi-dimensional makes it such a good form of energy medicine.
Posture and shape define the space through which we direct chi energy in the body. We learn about our minds by practicing intention in our postures. Intending to maintain and promote health, we circulate the chi energy through the acupuncture meridians and into the internal organs.
Intending to defend ourselves, we redirect adversarial energy directed at us by applying the Martial arts application of the postures. The meditative aspects of Tai Chi lead us to our "Spirit". Putting us in touch with our deepest nature. This practice of cultivating physical, mental, and spiritual energy is medicine.
At the Qiqong/Tai Chi retreat, the participants wake up with the sun, opening their hearts before opening their eyes. They walk quietly in the meadow imitating nature and consciously breathing in its life force and shaping the energy within their bodies by moving like the deer and breathing like the wind.
The day continues with some good wholesome food, lots of self-massage and now they are ready for the Tai Chi forms. The practice of these forms goes on all day and into the night for the strongest, while others tailor the hours according to their own abilities. This intense and focused practice increases stamina and strength and the rewards of this practice are evident and inspiring. The individual moves through many levels of improvement quickly and the whole group is affected and uplifted.
There is no lack of laughter and joy here. All of the participants recognize laughter as medicine for the Spirit, and everyone recognizes that Spirit is energy and it is necessary to nurture it along with the mind and the body.
The days pass in timelessness and when the end of the retreat comes each person returns to his or her own environment. For all, this includes weekly classes and daily practice. All of them are students of Tai Chi/Qigong, many of them are teachers of these forms of energy medicine, and none of them can live without it.
"Tai Chi Energy is like smoldering embers. One does not realize its existence until the slightest breath awakens the inferno. Once awakened the need for Tai Chi energy is as insatiable as the inferno's need of air.
Until Energy is found there is
With Energy comes
Warmth, desire, elasticity, fitness
Direction, hope, vigor, movement
Insight, promise, effervescence, rhythm
Vibrance, mystery, infinity
Article by Jane Golden August 2001
(poem by Judy Reid.)