Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) encompasses several major therapeutic modalities, but the therapy that most directly applies not only to patients but also to health care practitioners themselves is Qi Gong. Qi Gong has always been part of the basic training of TCM-as a therapy for patients and as a preventive and self care strategy for both patients and physicians. The building blocks of Qi Gong are breathing, concentration and posture/movement exercises.
Breathing exercises are important because the breath is a major source of Qi (vital energy). Focusing on breathing facilitates one’s awareness of and control over the flow of Qi. The aim is to keep Qi circulating smoothly and harmoniously throughout the body. Such vital energetic equilibrium is the TCM definition of good health. Concentration exercises are a more disciplined form of breathing in order to gain more precise control over the flow of Qi. Posture/movement exercises are a more dynamic, complex and coordinated expression of breathing and concentration.
Spirituality is an important aspect of Qi Gong, which is why exercises such as the Inner Smile are practiced in conjunction with the offering of blessings to all sentient beings. Appreciation of nature is important, which is why the Hugging the Tree exercise is so important and serious students are encouraged to take part in Qi Gong retreats to wilderness areas to become more aware and, indeed, appreciative of the best of Mother Nature.
Qi Gong contributes to primary care by sharpening practitioner’s motorsensory skills, improving their concentration, building their endurance and relieving their stress. It also enhances awareness of vital energy and stimulates a sense of compassion, especially toward the more difficult patients, who come to be regarded as one’s best teachers. Qi Gong, above all, facilitates the transfer of positive energy from the practitioner to the patient, transforming mere medical technicians into genuine healers. Finally, of course, the patient can be taught to perform certain Qi Gong exercises, according to the specific pathology.