Many people I talk to are interested in Qigong because they want to reduce the amount of stress in their lives and be more relaxed. And you have good reason to want to reduce your stress – research has shown that 60% – 90% of all illnesses are stress related. Reducing stress not only leads to a happier and more content life, it could even save your own.
Qigong chips away at stress on many levels. Want to know how it works?
Relaxing and breathing. It’s quite simple, really. When you practice Qigong, you are training your body to relax and breathe properly – this shifts you away from poor breathing habits and gets your body used to breathing properly (the way your body was designed to breathe). Once you can do this during Qigong practice, you can then begin using this in your everyday life. As you feel stress coming on throughout the day, you can use the simple methods you’ve learned in class to calm the body’s nervous system down. It’s easy to relax and breathe in class, but can you apply it to your everyday life? It’s really what it’s all about. If you can apply this stuff, you’ve just unlocked a very powerful secret to the practice.
Letting go. When you practice Qigong, your mind state is very important. It’s best if you can “meditate” as you practice, but in the beginning it’s often better to go for a “relaxed” mind state. Relaxing the mind simply means letting go of all the thoughts, worries and judgements that you carry around with you all day. It’s also means letting go of your mental “to-do” list, just for an hour. I can assure you that the information is not lost when you mentally let go of it – in fact, after relaxing the mind for an hour, you’ll find that you are more mentally sharp after practice than before. So again, as you can learn to let go during your practice, you can also begin to let go in your everyday life.
Physical release. Stress has many negative side effects on the body, most noticably being the effect that it has on your physical body. Stress finds it’s way into all your muscles and tendons, leaving you with tight shoulders, back and hidden tension everywhere. The gentle movements of Qigong combined with breathing and relaxing loosen up the physical tension and relax you first on the outside of your body, then on the inside. But you have to get through the tension on the outside before the inside can relax. Mental tension contributes to physical tension, and physical tension contributes to mental tension. You have to work on releasing both physical and mental tension to reduce the negative side effects of stress.
If you can take the simple things you learn in class and apply them in your everyday life, you’ll have a powerful healing elixir that is yours forever. Something simple as focusing on natural breathing can be used almost anywhere, anytime, and probably is one of the most powerful healing and stress reducing methods available. Remember, no one ever learned to play piano or ride a horse by reading books about it, it’s all about the practice.
If you have a hard time finding time to practice during the week, begin by reminding yourself to take one good natural breath throughout the day. In fact, take one now, focus on the rise and fall of your belly, and remember to do a complete exhalation (without forcing it). See, doesn’t that feel good immediately?!