North Island Midweek

YOUR HEALTH: Qigong: Ancient healing for 21st century ailments

With the commotion of Christmas over and the New Year and its resolutions upon us, many of us are ready to focus on taking care of ourselves and regaining that sense of equilibrium that often disappears during the holiday season.

According to Chinese medicine, wintertime is an inward time – a time to concentrate on body, mind and spirit. One of the best ways to attain balance is through the ancient discipline of Qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”).

From the words Qi (life energy) and Gong (work), this 5,000-year-old practice is rooted in ancient Taoist teachings. Qigong is a form of meditation that promotes stamina, creativity, clarity and spiritual awareness. But rather than sitting cross-legged and humming “oooommm” like some cartoon mountaintop yogi, students of Qigong combine slow, methodical movement with visualization to cultivate energy and achieve a calm, revitalized mental state.

The visualization component of Qigong draws upon nature to help still the mind and help guide Qi, or energy, through the body. It teaches you to regain trust in your body’s innate ability to heal itself from within.

Qigong is easy to learn. Because of the subtle movements, which also include still postures, it’s accessible to people of all ages and capabilities, including those with physical restrictions.

While the practice appears deceptively simple, however, its therapeutic potential should not be underestimated. Physically, the benefits include improved posture and increased flexibility. Mentally, many practitioners experience increased clarity and creativity. Emotionally, the practice is very calming and promotes increased self-awareness.

While winter’s short, dark days may help justify an inward focus, any time is a good time to improve your health and cultivate energy – and healing – from within.

Dr. Brigitte Tetrault is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Courtenay Healing Centre. For information on upcoming Qigong workshops, call 250-338-2866.

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