My brother had been practising Qigong for sometime before me and had talked about some of the benefit it had bought about. I had, at that time, been suffering from intestinal problems and after a period of prolonged visits to my doctor, and the hospital, coupled with an increasing sense of helplessness, I decided to take my life in hand. I abandoned traditional western medicines, went to see a Naturopath and embarked on a new eating programme. Coupled with this I decided to take my brother’s advice and go to a Qigong seminar.

The first thing to say is that the Centre had what I call a ‘nice vibe’, that is to say I felt at peace there. The more that Simon Lau talked the more convinced I became that this was something I wanted to try, and after roughly a year and a half my life, when I stop to think about it, has changed quite a bit.

Qigong to me is a system of self healing through which one attempts to unblock the meridian channels which cross the body. These channels are the ‘conductors’ if you like, of energy. In a healthy person these channels should allow the energy to flow through the body unhindered, but in an unhealthy person some of these channels become blocked. What makes a person unhealthy? The short answer is all manner of things; we can, and do, carry traces of inherited illnesses, the stresses and strains of modern life, psychological problems, such things manifest themselves in the body in the form of various complaints.

How can these complaints be remedied through Qigong? In order to maintain health the body needs balance, different types of energy must co-exist, thus Yin and Yang energy, in Chinese medicine, must be in balance. When these energies are out of balance we can suffer, sometimes without knowing it. We can suffer physically and /or emotionally, thus the purpose of practising Qigong is to facilitate the gradual return to well being, to life, by restoring the body and mind to a state of harmony. The mind cannot be healthy yet the body remain ill, nor can the body be healthy but the mind remains below par. It is import that one has an understanding of this.

The practise of Qigong involves a series of exercises which firstly promote good breathing and posture, why should these things matter? If breathing and posture are incorrect to begin with, the energy channels will be constricted.

The exercises or ‘patterns’ that are learned change over a period of time, the mind focuses first inside, then after a period of time, outside the body, harnessing the outside energies to our own. It sounds simple but it isn’t. I have been through many changes since starting. When I first started it was extremely difficult to calm my mind down, I would have to work really hard to stop my mind from wondering, our minds are normally so busy, we are so preoccupied with the trials of life that when we attempt to clear the mind, it can prove to be a hard task, but over a period of time things improved, it became easier to focus my energies on self healing. Self healing, taking charge of your own life, involves many things. For me practising Qigong goes hand in hand with a diet which benefits my body, with other forms of exercise, and with a belief in medical alternatives to western medicine, I now have a doctor who uses traditional Chinese medicines.

The process of Qigong can be quite strange at first, at the beginning I would often have to stop during practise as my stomach, which is where my problem was, would feel like a cauldron bubbling, wherever there is a blockage in the body, the energy will gather to try to free it, sometimes old complaints still lurking in the body, will re-surface, or not, anything can happen and one of the most important things is not to fear, not to worry. Simon often talks us through some of the things we might experience, and we can always talk in class or privately. One of the most important benefits for me has been that mentally and emotionally I seem to be more centred; there seem to be more creative energy in me than before. Also I don’t let things get tome as much, I am more able to take things in my stride, which makes my job and my life in general more fulfilling.

Of course you have to practise and sometime I’m really lazy but at the end of the day I stick with it, it has never occurred to me to give up, to stop practising. I truly believe that in order to do Qigong it has to be right for you; you have to be right for it, compatibility, and balance.

The other thing about Qigong is that you just have to let it be, that is to say do Qigong because you do Qigong, not because you are anticipating ‘great’ things to happen, and when you are finished, you get on with the rest of the day etc.

At a certain stage of practise Qigong can be used like an internal daily check-up, making sure that the internal organs are functioning properly, yes, prevention is better than cure and doing Qigong has really bought this home to me. Sometime during a session I feel so good, so vibrant, that feeling of well being is what I love, is what keeps me practising.