I can not claim to practice Qi Gong diligently, let alone skillfully at this time. But I have become a proponent of after practicing a few exercises for the purpose of writing an article on Chinese medicine for cancer support. Qi Gong has been studied extensively for its benefits not only in palliative care, but also for the actual treatment and remission of cancer. The different forms of Qi Gong have far-reaching benefit that include ameliorating symptoms, improving mood appetite & sleep, increasing self-healing ability, and even inhibiting cancer growth (Chen & Yueng, 2002).
Gentle Qi Gong movements are done without risk for injury or exhaustion- ideal yet often overlooked for palliative care. During all stages of illness, palliative care improves quality of life by reducing suffrage during treatment; enabling activities of daily life while planning the future; and providing psycho-emotional support during life-threatening illness (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 2014). After reading personal stories and research about Qi Gongs benefits, I could not understand why it is not an integral part of palliative care. I had to see for myself but had many barriers to overcome.
In acupuncture school, I believed that one had to be a formal and diligent devotee to a master in order for Qi Gong to be beneficial. So, I did not see how it could fit practically into the average Joe’s lifestyle. Qi Gong movements are so subtle and gentle that I did not understand how it could have the far-reaching and profound effects that it is purported to have. The purpose of and the movements involved in the standing Qi Gong routines I learned were complicated to remember- such that patient might not be compelled at all to do them. But I was compelled to see what was out there for my patients.
I practice Chinese medicine in a rural area were a formal Qi Gong class is not logistically available. So I re-started simple with what was available to me- the Internet. I explored & practiced pulmonary rehabilitation Qi Gong exercises for chronic lung disease; Qi Gong for hepatitis C videos recommended by the HCV Professional Training program; and a beginning Qi Gong practice video on You Tube.
The HCV Qi Gong is a series of standing routines with arm & knee movements a major part. Gently or invigorating depending on ones ability and health status. It helped to have a teacher to follow when learning these movements because they have many purposes, and some cautions for those with hepatic disease
The pulmonary rehab Qi Gong is a series of sitting movements, directed at those who can't not tolerate even mild exertion. While the trainer said the purpose is to strengthen the diaphragm, I soon realized that the breathing motions also massage key acupuncture points for acute & chronic lung disharmonies. The diaphragm has to do with regulating not only the breath but also all cyclic rhythms in the body such as circadian rhythm, menstrual cycle, sleep cycles, and the flow of Qi through the 12 channels in a 24 hour period.
The beginning Qi Gong practice video dispelled the misconception that when done improperly Qi Gong can damage the flow of qi- this frightened me. The video gave me permission to be “bad” at Qi Gong and to just do it with the idea of freely dancing in mind. I stopped disregarding Qi Gong in unconventional situations. For example, in the car on the way to work, while in the bathtub or shower; while on the computer; in bed before sleep, and upon opening my eyes in the morning. And yes I admit, while sitting on the toilet.
I just tried doing various Qi Gong movements in various situations- a little experiment couldn’t hurt. I noticed benefit in a short amount of time, and gained insight on how to incorporate Qi Gong into a very busy lifestyle. I stated to feel computer-related muscle tension leave my head, neck & eyes; my sleep was deeper and longer; and I felt mentally clearer and slightly more energy.
There are many forms of Qi Gong for different purposes, and levels of expertise. One style in particular is recommended for cancer support. There are Gi Gong breathing, self-massage, and meditation techniques. There is Medical Qi Gong with a sub-style called External Qi Gong Technique were the practitioner focuses their Qi to the patient's body to dispel disease. I invite anyone to find a Qi Gong style that feels appropriate for his or her level of function, health complaint, and lifestyle.