|How Qigong Can Help You Relax Out of Stress|
John Du Cane M.A.
|Our birthright is to swim in an ocean of pleasure and harmony, luxuriating
in the rolling swell of life. As young children—if we are fortunate—we live that birthright. We celebrate life
with a buoyant, carefree, vital engagement in the everyday moment |
Then something starts to happen to us. We begin
to tense up. We begin to close down. We begin to lose touch with our bodies and live in our heads. We become confused about
our feelings. We start to regret the past or fantasize about the future. We begin to fragment. We start to lose our fluid
integrity as fully expressed and responsive human beings
What happened? In a nutshell, stress happened. While
a certain amount of stress is natural to life, our search for technological shortcuts to comfort and convenience has ironically
created unprecedented waves of stress in our modern lives. Our nervous systems are constantly reacting to a barrage of phone
calls, faxes, e-mails, frenzied traffic and numbing schedules.
Life seems to have become more of a struggle, with
less rather than more time to rest. Sooner or later we really hit the wall. We end up sick in bed. Or a major crisis stuns
us into a temporary halt. Stress has got the better of us.
Not surprisingly, the World Health Organization is now listing
stress as a prime contributor to the five leading causes of death— such as cancer and heart disease.
most of us are now aware of the dangers of stress, we’ve become so addicted to the surges and swings of feeling associated
with stress, we can no longer imagine life any other way. If things get too quiet we start seeking out a new stressor to react
to, for another chemical jolt, another toxic surge of excitement and nervous expenditure.
The Most Effective Self-Care System in the World?
There are many ways to intervene in this vicious cycle
and reclaim our peace of mind—restoring balance and serenity in our lives. Meditation, yoga and moderate exercise can
all help. But, after twenty-five years of personal research into what works best to counter stress, I’ve found the ancient
Chinese art of qigong to offer the surest results.
So Why and How is Qigong so effective in managing stress?
First, qigong emphasizes and teaches how to
breathe correctly into the lower stomach. When we breathe this way consistently, our lymph systems are effectively activated,
detoxifying the body and sending a gentle stream of energizing oxygen into the tissues. Activation of the lymph system automatically
triggers a relaxation response throughout the body. We automatically feel balanced and "well". Qigong also activates the lymph
system with off-the-body stroking movements and an emphasis on pumping the legs with up and down squatting movements.
qigong’s strong mental emphasis on internal relaxation shifts us out of the sympathetic nervous system (associated with
fight-or-flight and our normal reaction to stress) into the parasympathetic nervous system (associated with feelings of pleasure
and harmony). This is so important. Over-use of the sympathetic nervous system depletes our adrenals and floods the body with
toxic levels of cortisol. We literally burn ourselves out. But like rats hitting the button for more cocaine, we just can’t
stop. Qigong slowly seduces us back into the gentle world of the parasympathetic and over time we build up a "body-memory"
that allows us to choose a different, relaxed response to stress rather than the frazzled, knee-jerk reaction we usually employ.
Thirdly, qigong balances the meridian energy flow in the body, through scientific movement and direction of mental
intention. Areas that are depleted are restored to their correct levels; areas that are excessive are "calmed down." As we
become more energetically balanced, we are automatically capable of better adjusting to daily stress.
practice builds the skill of becoming tranquil and appreciating the value of that tranquility. Qigong accomplishes this by
meditative standing and sitting practices where we go deep inside and use our attention to release ourselves emotionally and
psychically. Significant healing occurs at this level of qigong practice, with tremendous mplications for stress management.
Lastly, qigong integrates our three major centers or "brains", the third eye area, the heart center and the stomach.
In the computer age, we have become "headier" than ever, losing touch with the wisdom of our hearts and the grounding of our
stomachs. Western science and organizations like HeartMath have proved that attention on the heart center can entrain the
head to process emotions in a less stress-inducing manner. Through its emphasis and cultivation of all three centers, qigong
ensures maximum resilience when it comes to handling stress effectively.
Qigong is like a practical course in
acceptance and letting go. We learn how to conserve our energy and stay calm, whatever the pressures. We learn how to gain
control of our inner being and take responsibility for enhancing the quality of our lives. These are skills you can use and
apply for the rest of your life
John Du Cane, who began his qigong studies in 1975, teaches qigong in the Twin Cities and is the author of four
qigong videos, Serenity Qigong, Vitality Qigong, Power Qigong and Bliss Qigong.
He owns a publishing and mail order business devoted to qigong and related health systems. For more information on classes
and for a free catalog of qigong resources, contact John at:
Dragon Door Publications,
PO Box 4381,
Tel: (651) 645-0517
Website: Dragon Door