A few years ago, a friend invited me and my husband, John, to attend a two-day Qigong class with Master Mingtong Gu of the Chi Center in Santa Fe. John was already familiar with the concept of chi through some online therapy and practice he had done, long before Zoom, with Jeffrey Zimmerman, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and musical savant. So we decided to give it a try.
Qigong is the study and practice of cultivating the life force energy known as Chi. Qi or Chi, means "breath" or "air" and is considered to be the vital-life-force in this ancient practice. This term chi corresponds to Prana, in Yoga. The western concept of this energy is bio-electricity. The word gong means "work" or "effort." In our busy world, it’s easy to get distracted from the essence of who we are and our connection to our vital life force. This blocked energy in the body can translate into pain, stiffness and other signs of congestion.
Master Mingtong's practice involves slow movement, sound and mindfulness to remove energy blockages in the body. The movements are gentle and easy to do. Even if you are stiff and lack mobility, you can practice the techniques in your mind’s eye until you are ready to give it a physical try.
Given my quest to help John live the best life possible with Parkinson's disease (PD), I found this study from 2016 from researchers at Texas A & M and Beijing Sport University very interesting. The study found Qigong exercise could significantly improve Parkinson’s patients' muscle hardness, functional walking capacity, hand-eye coordination, stability, and balance. In PD, there are short circuits in the signaling (bio-electricity) of the body which interrupt the flow of movement. There is also underlying stress which can exacerbate stiffness. This can be improved through greater awareness and acknowledgement of where the stress sits in the body, and one of the principles of Wisdom Healing QiGong is Awareness.
For 2021, John and I have committed to expand our practice of Qigong on a daily basis. If you are interested in the potential for Zoom QiGong, please come over to Martha’s Quest and post on the members forum. I would like to schedule some online classes in 2021 where we can practice together as we build our community.
Regardless of whether or not you struggle with PD or another chronic condition, I hope you give Qigong a try to bring more mindfulness into your daily life and remove energy blockages in your body. This practice can benefit us all in our busy, fast-paced lives!
Martha Carlin, is a “Citizen Scientist”, systems thinker, wife of Parkinson’s warrior, John Carlin, and founder of The BioCollective , a microbiome company expanding the reach of science and BiotiQuest, the first of it’s kind probiotic line. Since John’s diagnosis in 2002, Martha began learning the science of agriculture, nutrition, environment, infectious disease, Parkinson’s pathology and much more. In 2014, when the first research was published showing a connection between the gut bacteria and the two phenotypes of Parkinson’s, Martha quit her former career as a business turnaround expert and founded The BioCollective to accelerate the discovery of the impact of gut health on all human disease. Martha was a speaker at the White House 2016 Microbiome Initiative launch, challenging the scientific community to “think in a broader context”. Her systems thinking background and experience has led to collaborations across the scientific spectrum from neuroscience to engineering to infectious disease. She is a respected out of the box problem solver in the microbiome field and brings a unique perspective to helping others understand the connections from the soil to the food to our guts and our brains.
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