There are many definitions for the practice commonly known as “Qigong”. Actually the term “Qigong” is less than a century old. Throughout it’s long history it has taken on many different Chinese names. Regardless of the name, the core practice has always been the same.
Every great book on the subject has addressed in some way what the practice is. While I don’t know if this definition has ever been included in a book, it’s the best way I can describe this practice.
Qigong is the “Science of the way the human body works, in relation to the environment surrounding it.”. How does it qualify as a science? Qigong has been meticulously studied and documented for thousands of years, tried and tested. Methods that worked survived, methods that didn’t work died.
The difficulty for a Westerner to learn Qigong is in understanding the Chinese framework for how the body works. Traditionally the practice has been explained through concepts of Chinese medicine, including concepts of Qi, meridians, acupressure points and Daoist concepts. For a Westerner, these concepts are often foreign and make getting into the practice somewhat of a leap of faith.
Never fear, however, because Chinese medicine is not voodoo…it is high science, meticulously studied and refined for thousands of years. The Chinese have figure out ways to deal with every disease and illness imaginable, and documented it all. The tricky part is that Chinese medicine has not been available to the West for very long, and only in the 1980’s did it begin to enter into Western culture. It is still not mainstream by any means, though it is gaining considerable clout as Western medicine (ie. prescription drugs) are starting to show their weaknesses.