Qigong exercises have been considered as an essential branch of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). With a history dating back thousands of years, Qigong is one of the vital elements of Chinese culture. Until today, most of its exercises are still used for treating illnesses and preventing diseases. Such effect draws attention from practitioners and scientists of modern medicine.
Since early 1990s, methods and theories of Qigong exercises have been thoroughly studied and organized. This paved way for Qigong to be seen as a unique discipline. After many years, Qigong exercises eventually became Chinese Medical Qigong or ‘Qigongology’.
History of Qigong Exercises
The concept of Chinese Medical Qigong is based on two things – Qigong and Chinese medicine. By definition, Qigong means energy (Qi) and skill (gong). It initially appeared in the book Jing Ming Zong Jiao Lu of the Taoist priest Xu Xun. In the book, it says that ‘to be a Taoist, it should begin with Taoist practice, cultivating internal Qi, and hone with an elixir.‘
Hence, from the very beginning, Qigong exercises have been related to Taoist practice and Qi cultivation. The term ‘Qigong’ had appeared in a few books during the Qin dynasty and was used in some medical books during 1900s. However, there were many schools that employ the practice of Qigong exercises, each having their own terms. These include Xian Zhai, Sitting and Forgetting in Confucian; Chan Ding, Mindfulness in Buddhism; Xin-Qi, Moving Qi Around in Medicine; Dao Yin, Conduction Exercises and Guiding Energy; and Nei Gong, Internal Skill in Martial Arts’. All the terms mentioned meant the same meaning, which is ‘inner cultivation’. It means cultivating your energy, awareness, health, spirit and character.
In 1955, the term ‘Qigong’ was officially adopted by the Tangshan Qigong Sanatorium in Hebei Province. From there, Qigong exercises have been used in both literature and practice of Chinese medicine and personal health care. During end of 70s, Qigong took the world by storm with the rise of Qigong Fever. Schools for spiritual and physical cultivation thrived, each claiming the term Qigong.
When you look back at the past, you will notice a big expansion on the meaning of ‘Qigong’. It is now a term employed by many schools offering Qigong practice.
With the diversity of schools, methods and theories of Qigong exercises, it is fairly not an easy term to define. Considering the schools of thought, different connotations and opinions contending over its meaning, it is certainly hard to give proper definition for qigong.
The current definitions of Qigong reveal the extent of its development, which emphasizes on organization, exploration and transmission of Qigong. The traditional discipline of Qigong has been generally focused on the transmission of skills, the applications and sequences of technique, for more than thousands of years.
In tai-qi-gong.com, we will advance the definition by incorporating important ideas from traditional Qigong with the modern aspects of knowledge:
Qigong is the practice of body-mind exercise, integrating the three adjustments of body, mind and breath in one.
This definition can be understood in four ways:
1. Qigong exercises are based on the 3 adjustments – body, mind and breath.
2. The goal of these three adjustments is to attain the state of harmonious unity, by integrating them into one.
3. It shows the place of Qigong in modern times – that it consists of both mental and physical training – psychology and physiology, which means mind-body medicine.
4. It categorizes Qigong as a discipline concerned with practicing and mastering skills and technique.
Practicing Qigong Exercises
To practice qigong exercises, you need to practice the three adjustments in order to achieve the state of Oneness. This means that the three adjustments should be working in unity and not exists independently. These three adjustments – body, mind and breath; stands for qigong. Such state of unity or Oneness is the main factor that sets Qigong exercises apart from other ordinary physical exercises.
Exercises such as calisthenics may use the three adjustments but they are practiced separately and not in unified state. Qigong is a scientific discipline that employs both physical and mental exercises as well as a practical skill that needs mastery of the techniques. This clearly sets other related disciplines apart, like psychology. And since Qigong exercises emphasize on practice and skill learning, it is very far from purely theoretical knowledge.
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