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 Mind/Body Tools for Peak Performance: History of Qigong 
 

The character that gives us the word Gong means "to cultivate" or "engage in". In every Asian community there is a wonderful place called the cultural hall or institute of culture. Sometimes it is called the school of physical culture. This idea of culture derives from the act of cultivation, which requires time, discipline and intention. Gong means to practice, train, enhance and refine but it also implies enjoyment, devotion and committment. If some one loves to cook, garden or meditate and if they are devoted to practice and refinement, then, one's engagement in these practices is Gong. Because one of the all time favorite pastimes in China is gong fu, which in many historical periods has meant fighting or boxing, the idea of gong is often associated with the martial arts. . In fact, however, gong is applicable to any practice, discipline or self developement art in which a person is deeply involved.

Qigong, simply stated, is the cultivation of Qi or vital life energy. Stated in a more modern and scientific language, Qigong is the practice of activating, refining and circulating the human bio-electical field. Because the bioelectrical field maintains and supports the function of the organs and tissues, Qigong can have a profound effect on health. Beyond this Qigong expands into a discipline of mental and spiritual development. There are many systems and traditions of Qigong ranging from simple calesthenic type movements with breath coordination to complex auto regulatory type exercises where brain wave frequency, heart rate and other organ functions are altered intentionally by the practitioner. In extremely advanced levels of practice the Qigong practitioner can transmit Qi or energy across distances and through substances. There are cases where the practitioner can manipulate the limbs of a subject from a distance and diagnose physiological disturbances without conversation or palpation.(5,6,7,22)

History and Tradition: The Roots of Chinese Light Alchemy
There is a growing literature on the history, tradition, science and practice of Qigong. (1-24) Its origin is shrouded in the mystery of ancient China. There are stories of special techniques of breath practice that lead to immortality, healing powers, and special abilities. During the ancient Shang dynasty (1766-1154 BC) there is evidence of a system to stimulate, what are now called acupuncture reflexes, that help to resolve disturbances of the Qi.

During the Chou dynasty and the Warring States periods (1100-221 BC) records appeared on bambo and on bronze that refer to breath practice. A number of Lao Tze's greatly revered verses suggest breath practice and the benefits of merging with the forces and elements of nature. A famous prescription of the period is frequently refered to and because of the wide variation of possible meanings for early chinese ideograms it has many various translations.

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 About The Author
Roger Jahnke OMDRoger Jahnke has been in the health field since 1967 beginning with body therapies, herbal medicine, Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation. He turned his attention seriously to Oriental medicine in 1972 with study at the North......more
 
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