Extracted from The Essence of Chi-Gung, by Daniel P Reid
(Shambala ISBN 978-1-59030-962-9) – Amazon – http://amzn.to/2oOF1Bl
The great chi-gung master of Taiwan, Master Hung Yi-hsiang, often told his students, “You can live sixty days without eating food and two weeks without drinking water, but you’ll live only a few minutes without
Yet despite this basic and indisputable fact of life, most people today who take measures to protect their health and prolong their lives focus their attention entirely on diet and nutrition.
Some also try to improve the quality of their drinking water, but few pay any attention to the way they breathe and move their bodies, which are far more fundamental to life than food or water.
Chi-gung is the fastest, most effective, and most convenient way to correct this widespread deficiency in human health and healing.
An ancient Chinese text states, “Flowing water never stagnates; active hinges never rust.”
This illustrates two fundamental benefits of daily chi-gung practice:
maintaining the purity, balance, and flow of blood and other vital bodily fluids that constitute nearly 80 percent of the human body and keeping the joints and sinews active and limber.
Chi-gung is an internal form of exercise that combines deep diaphragmatic breathing with soft, slow, smooth movements that stimulate the circulation of all the vital fluids throughout the body, particularly blood and lymph.
Because the lymph doesn’t have its own pump, in the manner that the blood has the heart, it depends entirely on breath and body movement to stimulate drainage and circulation.
When bodily fluids stagnate due to lack of proper breathing and body movement, toxic residues and acid wastes quickly accumulate in the tissues and cells, causing disease, degeneration, and discomfort.
When bodily fluids flow freely, wastes are continuously excreted, fresh oxygen and nutrients are fully distributed, and a balanced state of health is maintained, thereby prolonging the life of the entire organism. Similarly, when the joints are kept loose and limber by rhythmic movements of the limbs, the body’s hinges never rust with residual waste, toxic deposits, and arthritic tissue.
The key to obtaining maximum benefit for health and longevity from daily chi-gung practice is to establish perfect synchronicity between the movement of the body and the movement of the breath, with the body following the pace set by the breat. Slow, rhythmical breathing precisely synchronized with slow, rhythmic physical movements immediately switches the autonomic nervous system into the healing mode of the parasympathetic branch. This is the rest-and-recuperation circuit of the parasympathetic branch. This is the rest-and-recuperation circuit of the nervous system, the antidote to the fight-or-flight stress response triggered by the sympathetic branch (or the action circuit) in which most people remain perpetually locked, day and night, by chronic stress.
Synchronized breath and body movement activates internal healing responses by establishing positive biofeedback between the nervous system and the immune system. In this mode, the brain secretes specific neurotransmitters called neuropeptides that travel through the bloodstream and communicate biochemically with the glands of the immune system, signalling them to release specific hormones and enzymes required to neutralize toxins, excrete cellular waste, repair damaged tissues, and restore vital body functions to a healthy state of balance. The healing hormones secreted by the endocrine system in turn stimulate the brain and nervous system to continue releasing the neuropeptides that activate the immune system’s healing responses.
Chi-gung thus establishes a continuous cycle of positive biofeedback that allows the body to repair and regenerate itself naturally, not only for the duration of the actual practice session, but also for as long after each session as a calm state of relaxation and balance is maintained.
Once you’ve shifted the nervous and immune systems into the regenerative healing mode with a round of chi-gung practice in the morning, they will continue to function that way until something provokes you into a stress response, which immediately switches the nervous system over to the fight-or-flight mode and shuts down immune response. Whenever that happens, you can easily shift the system back into the calm, healing mode by doing a few minutes of slow, deep breathing
Proper chi-gung breathing requires the engagement of the diaphragm to drive the breath in and out of the lungs and produce the rhythmic internal pressures in the chest and abdomen that generate so many therapeutic benefits throughout the body. A single breath driven by the diaphragm provides as much pumping power to blood circulation as four beats of the heart, and the cumulative benefits of this sort of diaphragmatic breathing extend life span by taking a big load off the heart.
The internal pumping action of the diaphragm also facilitates the free flow of lymphatic fluid, helping the body drain the lymph channels and circulate lymph throughout the system. As it descends into the abdominal cavity on each inhalation, the diaphragm, which is one of the strongest muscles in the body—provides a deep, therapeutic massage to all of the internal organs, particularly the kidneys and liver, squeezing out stale blood from the organs with the downward pressure of each inhalation and allowing freshly oxygenated blood to pour in when the pressure is released on exhalation. Different movements of the body guide these internal pressures to specific organs, glands, and other tissues and induce the flow of energy through their related meridians. No other form of exercise provides such deeply restorative benefits to all the internal organs and glands and produces such balance and harmony throughout the system.
Chi-gung provides a wide range of other potent therapeutic actions that protect health and prolong life, and the benefits of daily practice increase cumulatively over time: the longer you practice, the deeper the roots of your practice grow, and the bigger the harvest becomes. The primary health benefits of daily chi-gung practice are briefly summarized here.
Brain and Central Nervous System
Chi-gung practice activates and energizes the 90 percent of the human brain that is normally not used, and it establishes the same key frequencies and wave patterns in the brains of adult and elderly practitioners that are normally found only in children. Chi-gung has been shown to stimulate secretions of vital neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine. and choline, as well as endorphins. Most important, chi-gung provides a huge boost to the microcirculation of blood and energy throughout the brain, thereby enhancing all cerebral functions.
Chi-gung stimulates the body to produce red and white blood cells, as well as T cells, thereby boosting overall immune response. It also inhibits the release of Cortisol and other stress hormones in the adrenal glands. The body’s protective shield of guardian energy (wei chi) grows stronger after each session of chi-gung practice, providing enhanced protection against invasion by abnormal environmental energies such as microwave radiation and abrasive electromagnetic fields
Heart and Circulatory System
Daily chi-gung practice reduces the workload on the heart by an average of 15 percent, the benefits of which are cumulative. Studies conducted in Shanghai have shown that chi-gung is more than 90 percent effective as a remedy for and preventive measure against high blood pressure in all persons tested and that this protection continues for as long as daily practice is maintained.
Regular practice of chi-gung expands lung capacity by about 50 percent and decreases the average number of breaths per minute from fifteen to five, an effect that greatly increases respiratory efficiency and conserves internal energy. After only a few months of practice, the diaphragm’s range of flex grows from about three centimetres to between six and nine centimetres, providing a big boost to the circulation of blood and energy and amplifying the power of every breath.
A session of chi-gung practice stimulates the secretion of pepsin and other digestive enzymes in the stomach, improving digestion and facilitating the assimilation of nutrients from food. The deep internal massage provided to all the digestive organs by chi-gung breathing and body movement improves their efficiency and prevents digestive stagnation.
Acid/Alkaline Balance (pH)
Chi-gung breathing swiftly alkalizes and oxygenates the bloodstream and cellular fluids throughout the body, correcting the excess acidity caused by an unbalanced diet and chronic stress, and increases the supply of oxygen to the cells. Excess acidity and insufficient oxygen are the two primary preconditions for all forms of cancer, which makes daily chi-gung practice a powerful preventive measure against cancer.
Chi-gung saturates the bloodstream with negative ions, providing strong antioxidant protection throughout the body. A round of chi-gung practice doubles the body’s production of superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is the body’s most powerful antioxidant enzyme. Daily practice thus provides continuous detoxification and regenerative benefits on the cellular level.
Chi-gung is easy to learn and easy to practice, but to gain its full potential benefits, you need to practice properly and regularly and to pay close attention to correct posture and precise movement. If your body just goes through the motions of each exercise while your mind wanders, you will gain only a small measure of chi-gung’s vast potential. But if you keep your attention focused on what your body is doing and use your breath as a bridge between body and mind, you will enter a dynamic state of balance and harmony that attunes your whole system with the Five Elemental Energies (wu shing) of nature, the vibrant pulse of the earth, the radiant power of the sun and moon and stars.
When you practice chi-gung properly, every breath resonates with the creative power of the universe to protect your health, boost your vitality, and prolong your life.
Daniel Reid was my first “Teacher” of Qigong. I owe him everything.
I have extracted this passage from his excellent handbook, because it encapsulates everything that he and I stand for.
Please purchase his excellent book from Amazon here.
With my deepest thanks to Daniel for the extended and excellent life I lead..