Archive for June, 2009

Can Qigong Save America (and the world?)

“By a wide margin, the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care.”
President Barack Obama, March 2009 (reported in The New Yorker, “The Cost Conundrum”, June 1, 2009)

The World’s Population is Getting Older

An article from the Associated Press on June 23, 2009 states that the population of over-65 people in the world will triple by 2050. The estimate is that there will be over one and a half billion people 65 years old and older.
By 2030, 20 percent of people in the U. S. A. will be over 65.

How can we get people to be 65 yet younger?

I learned a long time ago this simple formula

Movement equals health
Stagnation leads to disease
Movement is life

Or as a Haiku

Stagnation is death
Move at every level
To flow is to live

Or as a limerick

There once was this guy on earth
Who, confused of health’s true worth
Refused to train his body
Which was always shoddy
From the movement dearth

Qigong Can Help Solve the Health-Price Crisis

Qigong practice is not just a good idea or a fine practice for those that are into it. It is a super-inexpensive health regimen. The world is going to need it soon. There is no way  the developed world can continue to pay the gigantic amounts of money we currently do for disease care.

Get Healthier by Getting Back to Nature

We will need to allocate our resources of money better. There will be fewer expensive doctor’s visits, costly machine-produced tests, long hospital stays, or high-priced medications.

Society won’t be able to afford them.

We will need cheaper—much cheaper—alternatives.

I suggest Qigong practice as an important and effective piece to solving this monster-sized money puzzle.

Qigong Works

One of the safest, most reliable, and most amazing method of retraining and maintaining healthful movement is the practice of Qigong.

Qigong is good for everybody but it is particularly apt for seniors (older folks, not those finishing high school or college.)

For instance, Qigong practice can help seniors in the following ways:

Qigong is Good for the Joints

Qigong is not only easy on the joints, it helps articular function, bringing more full range of motion, easier movement, more space, and better relationships between bones. With good joint health older people (and younger) will use their body more, moving in more ways and for more miles.

Qigong Enhances Breathing

Qigong teaches the supra-important skill of how to keep breathing. Qigong breathing has the potentially to literally add years of health to one’s life.

Some Ways Qigong Enhances Breathing:

–Deepening the breath
–Drawing the breath lower in the torso
–Strengthening the correct breathing muscles
–De-training (untraining) incorrect methods of respiration
–Fostering the ease and smoothness of breath
–Equalizing inhales and exhales

Qigong Helps Ease Pressure on the Heart

More blood is pumped through one’s body with greater ease by simply relaxing the blood vessels. Instead of forcing the blood to plow through tight arteries and veins, Qigong practice opens these vessels through internal relaxation.

Qigong is a Dementia Preventia

The many sequences of movements train the mind, build new synapses in the nervous system and strengthen the focus power of your brain. Qigong also teaches the amazingly important skill of centering your energy and consciousness low in your torso instead of in your brain; by doing this you build body wisdom and avoid jagged, jolting thinking habits.

Qigong Fosters Equilibrium

With the gentle and slow movements that much of Qigong consists of Qigong can build leg strength, increase walking confidence, and reduce the number of falls. Studies of Tai Chi–the brother of Qigong– show that in just 10 weeks of practice a senior citizin can decrease falls by 40 percent.

Qigong is Good for the Lymph System

Qigong has magnified effects on lymph flow and lymph gland function. You want this so as to clear out the body and prevent disease.

Thirty to forty minutes of Qigong can increase white blood cell count by 40 to 200  percent and keep it there for a day or two.

Qigong is Pleasant and Pleasurable

Wouldn’t you rather engage in some pleasant exercises in your yard or living room— or down at the Park or local rec center with some friends—rather than need endless medical procedures.


Old Dog, Young Puppy

Honoring Kiya

For those of you who have been to our place you probably remember our Alaskan Malamute Kiya. Kiya was a superb greet dog, always excited to meet and re-meet people who drove up to Axton Gardens. She would often hustle up to a car as it drove into the parking lot and do her “whoo” Malamute howl at the driver’s side door. She wanted people to get out right now to pet her.

Kiya with Robert in 2008

Kiya with Robert in 2007

We had to put Kiya down this spring. She was some 13 years old and quite creaky in her last years. We believe that Kiya, in her previous home, probably didn’t get much exercise. Her joints were a pain to her for years with us. It is so important to get that exercise early in life and all through life.

Kiya was a loyal, friendly, gentle, people-loving, petting-loving companion for many years and we will miss her. Read the rest of this entry »


Free Qigong Classes

Qigong in the Gardens in July

Every summer for the past several years I have offered free Qigong classes. The first year I held them in Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham. That was good, but I found it too busy and loud there by the road. And there were some crows that kept throwing down fir cones on our heads from the trees above us. Weird.

Since then I have held the free classes in my front yard amidst the natural scenery and festooned beauty of our gardens.

Axton Gardens

Axton Gardens

It is time again for the free summer classes. Qigong is such a powerful, yet approachable practice I want anyone interested to come and give it a try!

I envision a day when tens of millions of Americans are using the accessible exercises of Qigong and related arts as a primary part of their healthcare and life empowerment practices.

Get the PDF Flyer or read below. Read the rest of this entry »


Slap Yourself Healthy

Applied Knowledge Leads to Health and Power

Over my years of practicing, observing and reading about Qigong I have often observed that Qigong and Tai Chi are difficult for beginners to understand. Many forms are simply too advanced or unusual for the average Westerner to grok.

The underlying methodologies are often hidden to the uninitiated, and often not even spoken of.

Knowing what you are doing, what you are trying to accomplish, why you are doing that and how to go about it are crucial to getting the greatest benefit from your practice.

Cracking the Qigong Code

I want to crack open the secretiveness and confusing-ness; to make the subtle motions and sublime notions of Qigong come to the light of easy awareness.

Once you understand and can imbue the principles of movement in the exercises you begin to see how they apply in other venues and avenues of your life. You see how applicable the principles, philosophy and foundational movements are in multiplying ways.

One of the main uses and meanings of the Five Flows Qigong set is that it is an introduction to many other Qigong exercises. The principles and movements are a foundation for many, many other exercises in the great pantheon of Qigong.

Slap Yourself Resilient

I read an article today in a catalog about a man who survived a car accident unscathed. His car was broadsided by a pickup truck speeding some 50 miles per hour. Though the side of his car was smashed and was spun around 360  degrees, he had no repercussions that he could notice at all. No headache, muscles soreness, neck stiffness-nothing.

This man-Stephen Berwick-has developed a Qigong system for systematic self-hitting called True Strength Yang. The self-hitting can be seen as an extension of the idea that I introduce in the Five Flows exercise Outer Qi Shower.

He attributes his amazing escape from even nominal injury to his practice of this art, one he developed from old Kung Fu principles.

Self-Hitting is an Advanced Art

Though there is some self-hitting history in the West, it is not usual.  Self-hitting practices are common and quite developed into many varieties in the Orient.

Healthy self-hitting has many benefits. It helps loosen stagnations and toxins from the muscles and cells, bring blood flow to the skin, and generally wake up your internal systems. You can slap or tap muscles, organs, acupuncture points, etc.

Slap like a Wise Goose

There is a wonderful and quick Wild Goose Qigong form called Healthy Slapping Gong that uses 9 sets of 9 pinpoint taps to wake up some 60 pairs or single acupuncture points. When I practice this short form I notice a sense of fullness, rightness, and openness in my body, breathing, and energy flows.

I was told that the famous Wild Goose master Yang Mei Jun used self-tapping extensively. She was said to be tapping herself all the time in her older years, keeping her energetic juices flowing. (This would have been in her late 90’s and early 100’s.  She died at 106.)

Slap with Sticks and Wires

The Universal Tao School of Qigong uses bamboo sticks and wire hitters to slap. Two bamboo (or rattan) sticks taped together are used to send percussive vibrations into the tissues. The wire hitters are 100 small wire rods set in a handle. Self-hitting with the wire rod is said to be able to set free deep stagnations in the bones, while strengthening the bones and other tissues.

[Safety Note: Always avoid tapping the joints with any kind of tool or with any but the lightest of force.]

The Tarzan Chest Pounding

In an article about a Tarzan-like chest pounding, Qigong teacher John Ducane talks about the value of tapping:

“Why do you think we instinctively like to pat our kids or friends, or administer taps to ourselves and others? Yes, it’s often a demonstration of affection, but it’s also an instinctive move to enliven and bring energy to ourselves and those we care for.

With their tremendous interest on observing nature and animal behavior to gain insights into human Qi cultivation practices, the Daoists systematized many of these instinctive patting and tapping practices, so we could more consciously employ them to our benefit.

… the chest pounding helps to enliven both the lungs, the heart and also key acupoints in the front of the body. We become immediately more alert and systemically activated to deal with a potential environmental challenge.”

Tap Gently

My recommendation is to be gentle with your slaps. But there are schools of thought that encourage more vigorous slapping. Stephen’s Berwick’s methodology is on the harder end of the spectrum to build strength, toughness and resiliency. It apparently saved him from serious injury. Don’t do any of this kind more vigorous slapping without a qualified instructor guiding you.

Study and Practice Qigong Principles

My main point of this post is to encourage you to learn and use Qigong principles, which are based on our natural way of being, doing, and attaining. Qigong principles are a fascinating and functional study that will serve you well the rest of your life.

Know principles and exercises that apply them. This will widen and clarify your perspective when learning other exercises.

For instance, The Five Flows Qigong exercise Outer Qi Shower is a harbinger and doorway to all of the slapping methodologies above; and many more. Practicing it will help you understand more later than you would have otherwise.

You will have a doorway to understanding that give you more ability to use what you learn, and learn it well.

It is a superb and pleasant exercise to experience on it’s own.
It leaves you feeling tingly and ringingly alive.

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