In order to continue our mission of popularizing and demystifying Qigong, here is our latest addition in the form of a Qigong blog. And since Qigong is one of the modalities of Chinese medicine some articles will be about Chinese medicine generally. We hope you enjoy it. And feel free to comment :)
Shhhhhhh, Listen! Your Body is Trying to Tell You Something
How we have lost touch with nature and our bodies
The difference between Western and Chinese medicine is one of emphasis. Western medicine is supportive, treating symptoms and making the patient dependent on it whereas Chinese medicine (Qigong in particular) helps and enables the body to heal itself by treating the root or essence of the problem and making us independent and free of continuous intervention from the outside.
Western medicine compared to Chinese medicine is still very young and has chosen a path that is very technical and in doing so has become remote from the ordinary person. As it develops, it becomes harder to understand and is based less on common sense.
Chinese medicine on the other hand has evolved over a longer period and has remained close to the lay person, is easy for them to understand and apply themselves and still retains much of the common sense that has characterized its development throughout the ages.
The way of Chinese medicine is to simplify things using yin and yang, five elements and other universal principles to find the root cause of the problem in order to correct it. For example, the Chinese physician when faced with a patient who has high blood pressure or kidney stones will not treat the symptoms and signs of these conditions directly but his attention will be on the imbalance in the body that has caused these conditions. Once the root cause of the condition has been discovered and addressed, all relevant symptoms will disappear.
There are various methods used by traditional Chinese medicine - herbs, massage, Qigong and acupuncture. Whatever method used, its aim is to always put the patient in touch with Nature and the Universe. That is simply all that is needed to cure any problem.
To fully understand the healing process we need to explain first how we can lose touch with nature. Then once we understand the causes and reasons we can reestablish our links with nature by using Chinese medicine and by practicing Qigong.
Chinese medicine recognises that the body heals itself once given the correct conditions and therefore the Chinese medicine practitioner only has to do half the job. The other half will happen by itself. Just by listening to our bodies, by being in touch with our bodies will put us in balance with the universe.
The benefits of using Chinese medicine and Qigong are enormous. We can heal most of our illnesses, prolong our lives, improve the quality of our lives and along the way discover wonderful things we never knew existed.
One of the tools nature has provided for us is an inbuilt sense of recognizing what is good and bad for us. Most people in this modern world have to a certain extent lost touch with nature and therefore this sense has been damaged. For some of us, it has been a long time since we were fully in touch with ourselves - when life was much more enjoyable. Instead, as a consequence of our modern lifestyle, we suffer in all sorts of ways and perhaps more damaging, we unintentionally work hard at destroying our children’s touch with nature as well.
Childhood is a period when we are closest to nature. It is a time that we should cultivate and nurture nature, not kill it. The result, children (and their parents) would be so much happier and lead more successful lives.
The reasons why we have lost touch with our bodies are many and varied. Here I will just touch on a few of the more common ones. Overriding all the reasons is the damaging effect of time. Day after day, year after year we gradually lose a sense of what our real needs are. If we only do something wrong once or twice then no harm is done but if done continually over a length of time we gradually and insidiously lose touch with what our real needs are. Our sense of reality becomes faulty.
Most problems of course are caused by ignorance followed by having no ideals in life (and as a result - not caring for our bodies) or, in some other cases, having too many ideals, trying to achieve unrealistic goals at any cost, high expectations from others, the list is endless (and as a result - not having time to care for our bodies). Once we have lost touch with our bodies further damage is done by more wrongdoings. For example: incorrect food or too much stress can cause diarrhoea or constipation, each creating more imbalance and further complicating the existing situation. Other factors which are lifestyle related are negative thinking, bad habits, pollution, drugs, chemicals and improper clothing, to name a few.
Something we in the West have begun to hear about and will increasingly hear in the coming years is Feng Shui. Known in China for thousands of years this is the art or technique of recognizing positive and negative influences on our lives and energies from our environment. These can be such things as trees, flowers, and buildings to name a few, or anything we come in contact with as we live our lives on this earth.
The Chinese way of putting us in touch with ourselves can be summed up in a few words. Adjusting to nature, living within its rhythm and in harmony with it, moderation in all things, applying the wholistic approach to life, a recognition of positive and negative energies, relativity and interconnectedness.
Let’s take a few examples of how these problems start and evolve:
In order to live we all have to eat and we eat when we are hungry. We are hungry because our body tells us it needs food. It also tells us when it needs water, rest and sleep, when it needs to eliminate the waste products of metabolism by urine and faeces.
When we get sick or injured it tells us what we should or should not do. Should we move an injured limb? Pain tells us - don’t. Should we eat? Nausea and lack of appetite tells us - don’t. Should we drink? Thirst tells us - do. And so on.
These are basic inbuilt instincts in most living things and they have been functioning like this over millions of years.
The problem started when we started to ignore these instincts. And we ignore them everyday in big and little ways. For example - instinct tells us “I am not thirsty” but we keep drinking a beer or coke with friends in a pub or restaurant.
Instinct tells us “I am hungry” but the time it told us was not the lunch break at work so we had to wait. If we waited too long we might lose our appetite or overeat when lunch time finally does roll around. At other times when it is lunch break it might tell us “I am not hungry” but we will eat anyway because if we miss it then it’s too long before dinner. Some people have too many snacks in between meals making our bodies even more puzzled.
In most cases we end up putting on weight and naturally we start ‘dieting’. That is skipping meals, drinking so called “diet coke” and similar often resulting in more stress and very little permanent success in our endeavours at weight loss. We do, however, succeed in being forever hungry and irritable, and of course, losing touch with our body along the way.
Then there are those “vegetarians without a cause” (and proper knowledge) who are constantly lacking proper nutrition. Of course there is nothing wrong with being vegetarian (I myself am one of them, and proud of it!), but if you simply replace meat with sugar and starches, as many do, you’d probably be better off if you eat meat.
Others who have grown up on French fries, hamburgers, pizza and cheese cake simply lack everything the body needs for vitality. Or some others who, on the other hand, take too many vitamins and supplements but for some reason are constantly sick. These vitamins and minerals can be good for the body but only the ones that it lacks (and definitely not the artificial ones!). And they can’t replace food. That’s why they are called ‘supplements’ and not ‘replacements’. Unfortunately the majority of people just “go for it” without enough research and proper planning, thinking “Now I’m doing so much for my body” but the truth often is “Now I’m so far from my body”.
It is the same with sleep or rest. Our body often tells us “I am tired. I need a rest.” But we can’t just simply lie down and rest in the middle of work or school. Of course, we could often prevent this and most other wrongdoings from happening if we established a rhythm of life which would enable us to both take care of our body and do all our normal daily activities. Especially if that rhythm follows the rhythm of nature.
But so many of us get too excited late at night and forget about the next morning and we make the same mistake over and over again. Then we become irritable and emotional (because we are not machines, are we?). And that makes things even worse. When we are finally in bed, we cannot sleep. Or we just fall asleep when the noise from the street or next door neighbour wakes us up. We become more angry and frustrated. To make things worse we start taking sleeping pills.
Then there is, depending what type of work we do, damage done to our joints and muscles, eyes, ears, lungs, skin etc. In most cases, it is due to overuse of certain joints and muscles, eyes, or brain. In other cases, it is from being exposed to constant noise, electromagnetic radiation, or harmful substances. Then there are those professions where you sit or stand all day, or are stressed all day. Some people work night shifts - or even worse: alternating shifts at night and day. But even that can be better than changing seasons and time zones all the time as some people do. All of it leading to - can you guess? Losing touch with our bodies.
And so, day after day, year after year, all sorts of vicious circles establish in our body and we just don’t know what our body really needs. Especially if we are addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs where we think it needs all this rubbish (because the feeling is so strong but false, it just makes us feel it needs it).
Putting yourself back in touch with your own body can start with daily practicing of Qigong. Very quickly you will be able to hear your body again. Once it starts to talk to you it should be listened to as any attempt to ignore it again, will cause all your problems to come flooding back.
For example, after years of constipation and using all sorts of laxatives our bowels will start to work again. If we’re in the middle of starting something when we felt we should empty our bowels we should leave everything and do so, because maybe five minutes later it would be impossible and we might wait for the next chance for hours or days. (Even though sometimes the urge will be so strong that you will definitely stop whatever you were doing and take appropriate measures!)
Or after smoking for twenty years, suddenly we start to feel the desire is not so strong - take a chance and stop it right away. Get rid of all and any cigarettes you have left over because you might spoil everything by foolishly getting back into the habit without too much reason.
Or those who were craving sweets suddenly stop doing so and become interested more in fresh fruit and vegetables. Those who were always angry and irritable started to be nice and caring, those who always cried - started laughing, those who were suppressing their feelings and emotions released it through crying or anger. These and many others are the first signs of breaking vicious circles and getting back in touch with their bodies. We may even forget that we used to hate somebody who would do or say something against us. Now we are so relaxed we easily brush it off and don’t worry any more.
Or we can sleep on any bed in a room full of noise with the lights on the whole night when before we had to have “special sleeping conditions” such as a specific kind of bed, lights off, no noise... and still struggled to fall asleep. Or those who had no appetite and who were underweight started getting hungry and putting on weight while the overweighted started losing weight without even trying.
Just following what the body really needs can put us back in touch with nature resulting in better health (often being able to stop taking all medication), better quality of life and enormous happiness.
Now, knowing this (and it has been proven over and over on tens of millions of cases in China and elsewhere), one would think: "This Qigong is great stuff, it can do so much for our body and wellbeing." But for the true Qigong practitioner this is the lowest level or the “rough balancing”. The real benefits of Qigong come with years of practicing when we become so much in tune with the universe that we can heal others with chi energy, use thoughts to control things (such as move them around, change their chemical structure etc.), are able to communicate with animals, develop remote sensing, X-ray sight and many other incredible powers.
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