Qigong is a great tool to cultivate a healthy immune system, greater relaxation, lower stress and tension, enhanced ability of the body to defend itself from external pathogens and an ability to maintain emotional balance despite turbulent times.
With growing concerns, not to mention unhelpful, media-fuelled panic and fear surrounding the COVID-19 Coronavirus, it is worth reflecting on how genuine, high-level Qigong can play a part in staying healthy and well.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Before discussing how Qigong can help, let’s consider some suggestions for how you might choose to respond to the current situation.
Coronavirus: How Will I Choose to Respond?
There is a potentially far greater threat posed by the way we choose to respond to these extraordinary circumstances. Fear-based, selfish responses lead to excessive stockpiling, greater isolation, suspicion and fear of others. Decisions made in fear are always sub-optimal because our reasoning capability is impaired. The consequences of herd mentality will only exacerbate challenging times and could put the vulnerable at risk.
- Stay Calm – Don’t be seduced by the panic and collective fear surrounding this situation. When our bodies are in “fight or flight mode” from fear-based scenarios our immune systems shut down, making us more vulnerable.
- Relax – Take time to relax and calm yourself, whether through breathing techniques, Qigong, relaxing and having fun with family and friends or anything else that calms the mind. Being relaxed puts the body into repair and restore mode, a useful state to deal with external pathogens.
- Connect – Stay connected with other people, even if forced into isolation. Whether in person at arm’s length or virtually, take time to connect and avoid isolation and loneliness. With phones and computers, there is no reason not to these days. Humans need and crave connection.
- Hygiene – DO implement the Government’s recommended hygiene practices.
- Sleep – Get enough sleep.
- Nutrition – Eat well to get ample nutrition.
- Consider Your Response – take time to reflect on how you will choose to respond to the circumstances rather than default to knee-jerk reactions. Can you stay out of fear-based reactions?
How Qigong Can Help
If you have already been practicing high-level Qigong for some time, you may have found that you are rarely ill, even when the rest of your family and friends are experiencing seasonal colds and flu. You may have noticed that despite being around coughs and sneezes at work, in school, on public transport, and at home, you are seldom ill, and in the rare cases that something does affect you, it is neither as impactful nor lasts nearly as long as it once would.
There are 4 fundamental ways that Qigong supports greater health and vitality.
Enhanced Energy Flow Keeps External Pathogens Out
Practicing high-level Qigong regularly builds more energy in the system and enhances the quality of that energy flow. This can act as an invisible protective layer of energy, almost like a forcefield or army of microscopic soldiers, repelling external pathogens before they even enter our system.
Ability to Achieve Deep Relaxation in Daily Life
Every time we practice Qigong we access a deeply relaxed yet focused state of mind. Over time, we not only drop into this state of mind very quickly, but we can start to live from this state irrespective of external events.
Letting go of tension and accessing deeper relaxation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body’s rest, repair and restore functions. Accessing this state boosts the body’s immune system, processes and eliminates toxins and is able to repair and restore the system.
Conversely, when the body is threatened, from either a real or perceived threat – such as when we are deluged by shock and fear tactics from mainstream media – our immune system shuts down, preparing for fight or flight. It also releases stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol into our blood, while blood flow is prioritised away from our vital organs and towards our extremities.
Enhanced Energy Flow for Better Bodily Functions
The enhanced energy flow we create during Qigong practice clears energy blockage that impacts the healthy functioning of our body systems. Thus by clearing energy blockage, function is restored and enhanced in our vital organs, key body systems, muscles, tissues, and nerves. When our systems are functioning effectively and efficiently, free from energy blockage, we can enjoy good health.
Restoring Emotional Balance
Qigong supports a better emotional balance in a couple of different ways.
First, negative emotion held in the energy systems and vital organs is released when we experience energy flow. Without this, negative emotions such as anger, sadness, fear hurt, and guilt can build up and cause unhelpful reactions when triggered, often at the most inopportune time. For example, road rage occurs when an event triggers unresolved anger. Reducing the build-up of such emotions leads to a more balanced emotional state and greater equanimity.
Secondly, practicing high-level Qigong expands awareness. This includes self-awareness and interpersonal awareness. With awareness, we can often see situations for what they are in a broader context and notice our responses to events, making it easier to respond more proportionately. In this way, we can be less susceptible to collective panic and fear responses in the media and society at large.
What If You Don’t Practice Qigong?
If you don’t already practice Qigong, here’s something you can do to start to develop greater levels of relaxation. It will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and the body’s rest, repair and restore mode. It also builds energy, even though it might seem unlikely from the description.
A Simple Practice
Find a space where you won’t be distracted for a few minutes.
Stand with your feet parallel and about a fist width’s distance apart. Then stand up straight and relax.
You can imagine an invisible thread pulling you up from the top of your head and let your frame relax with the weight spread evenly on your feet.
Scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and let your entire body relax. Wherever you feel tension is held, invite that part of the body to relax and notice it doing so. You can take a few minutes to relax the body like this.
Loosen the knees, release the stomach and let the mouth be open, breathing in gently through the nose and gently out through the open mouth. Let the eyes be closed.
Now let the body relax, remaining in an uprighting position with the body staying upright with the absence of any unnecessary tension. You’ll know you’ve found the right position because you’ll be standing uprighting effortlessly.
Let the face smile, because smiling is good! Even if just the edges of the mouth turn up slightly, just do it, and enjoy it!
Let any emotions be present without getting involved in them. Put them to one side for a few minutes, you can always pick them up afterward.
Don’t purposely think of anything, though if thoughts arise as they have a tendency to, let them be. Don’t get involved with them, let them think themselves.
Gently be aware of the breathing, breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Let the breathing be spontaneous, no need to control it. Just let breathing be gentle.
Now just enjoy standing uprighting and relaxing, noticing breathing in gently through the nose and gently out through the open mouth. Don’t think of anything and enjoy yourself. You may find your energy flowing and you may even sway a little. This energy flow is poetically known as “flowing breeze, swaying willows”.
After a few minutes (up to 15 minutes if you feel like it) have a gentle thought of an area just below the navel and inside the body and let any energy flow come to a graceful stop. Don’t worry if you don’t feel energy flowing, rest assured it is.
Rub your hands together, massage the face and head, and have a brisk walk around, feeling refreshed and relaxed.
We will be recording a deeper guided audio to enter this relaxed and focused state as if you were attending one of our classes. If you want to receive a copy, sign up for our mailing list and you’ll be informed when it’s available.
Stay Calm and Grounded
In closing, we encourage you to remain calm and grounded during the coming months. Use the suggestions above if they resonate with you.
Whatever you do, and however you approach it, be well.