Practicing Qi Gong is just as much about how you view the world as it is about simply exercising. It is about understanding our connection to the Earth and the Universe, and also to ones self. As one of the main branches of Chinese Medicine, the practice of Qi Gong is based on the philosophy of Qi: the movement of Qi and how it affects our health, mentally and physically. So, over the next few weeks I will be exploring what this actually means.
Qi is everything
Everything affects our Qi. What you eat, who you speak to, the air you breathe. In Qi Gong philosophy (there are many schools but it is all basically Chinese Medicine) we say there are five aspects of life that need to be balanced for optimal health (but not in any particular order):
Exercise – how we move our Qi
Environment – where we live/work
Breath – how we breathe and what we breathe
Diet – what we eat and how we eat
Mind – what we think and how we think
Qi Gong is not just exercise.
Unlike sport, which is often ultimately about competing (against others or the clock), Qi gong is about finding balance within, but with your health in mind. It is about being able to tune in to what you need. Let’s take exercise as an example – how many of us really know how much we need? We usually only stop when we’re exhausted or we’ve run out of time. And if you recall from my previous blog, we’re riddled with guilt if we dare to take a day off!
So, do you need to move your Qi? Or do you need to rest? Most of us sleep when we need rest, but simply sleeping doesn’t address the real problems underlying tiredness. Tiredness is often the result of years of working too hard, or poor diet, or worrying. Take your pick. Some people get no rest when they sleep. They toss and turn all night and wake up feeling just as exhausted as they were when they got into bed. We take drugs to relax, or watch TV or the internet, but this is not resting, it’s escaping. They do not help you connect to your inner self. They take you somewhere else, anywhere but within.
Chinese Medicine says that our health is affected by either internal or external factors. Let us first look at some of the external factors. I’ve written a lot about exercise over my last few blogs, so this week I’ll look at how our environment affects our Qi and health.
Qi is affected by your Environment.
What I mean by environment is:
- Where you live and who you live with
- What job you do where you do it
- Where you practice Qi Gong.
Where you live
Where we live is hugely important to our health, so it’s crucial that we care not just for the planet, but also for our immediate surroundings. The two go hand in hand I guess. Its no surprise that the health of the planet is suffering when you think how easy it is to neglect your own personal environment.
Living in a room on the High Street will affect your energy in a different way to living next to a gently running brook in a forest. The urban environment takes us further and further away from nature, which ultimately means further away from ones self. It’s good practice to avoid pollution, including noise, traffic and mobile masts, all of which affect our Qi. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to avoid any of these things nowadays, but practicing Qi Gong will help protect you by strengthen your Qi. Who you live with will also affect your Qi. Living in a state of fear, stress or misery, or even boredom, will slowly wear you down.
Where you work
This applies equally to the job you do and where you work. If the job you do is stressing you out, this will have an impact on your health. I worked in the City for 17 years and it was the boredom that nearly did me in! There is a lot to be said for the old adage ‘do a job you love and you will never have to work again’.
Where you practice Qi Gong
Just as where you live and work is important to your health, It’s important where you practice your Qi Gong. Finding somewhere to practice outdoors is preferable but this is not always practical. If you can’t get out into the countryside or your back garden, maybe then find a quiet space in your home. Avoid rooms where there is a lot of people traffic. Don’t do it in a busy living room or while listening to the radio or watching the tv. If you live with other people let them know you are practicing and don’t want to be disturbed…‘No, I don’t want a cup of tea!’