Adventures in Chinese Medicine – Finding the Zen in Qi Gong

Qi Gong energy

Then the tiny Chinese woman started slapping me in the head. A lot! From a standing position, she bent me over, chin tucked, and slapped the back of my head – maybe an effort to slap away any dark thoughts invading my brain? Adventures in Chinese medicine…

A few weeks ago I began my “Adventures in Acupuncture” with my first visit to a Chinese doctor. He listened to my pulse, diagnosed my various issues, and then stuck a bunch of needles in my back and one just behind my knee. A lightning bolt from the blocked energy shot from my knee down to my foot.

A week later I returned to his office, nervously anticipating more lightning bolts shooting through my body. Surprisingly, he didn’t even stick me with one needle.

I was cured by a single flash of lightning, breaking up the blocked energy that had been affecting my back!

But how can you mend a broken heart?

When I returned for my second appointment, I also noticed a change in my heart. Before my first visit, I was a little concerned at my racing pulse after only about 12 minutes on the stair master. I assumed I was just getting old and really out of shape. After one week on the Chinese medicine, I did 30 minutes on the stair master and maintained a steady heart rate of 140. Although I went to him to fix my back, somehow he mended my “broken heart”

But the annoying sleep issues lingered, so he prescribed another powdery medicine and warned me that it tasted nasty. After a week of choking down that nasty tasting medicine, my sleep issues still remained.

So I moved onto exploring Qi Gong…but what’s that?

Qi Gong is part of traditional Chinese Medicine originating in China about seven thousand years ago and has three categories: medical (healing), Qi Gong meditation, and martial Qi Gong (similar to Tai Chi).

Qi Gong energy
Qi Gong energy

Qi Gong uses gentle movements, deep breathing, and a meditative state of mind to keep vital energy or Qi, (pronounced “chi”) flowing throughout the body. Medical Qi Gong focuses on clearing the blockages and allowing energy to flow again naturally. The same idea as acupuncture but without the needles.

Arriving at my appointment, I noticed the therapy room was very open. It contained 4 massage tables with therapists (or “masters”) working simultaneously and there was no privacy. I plopped down on one of the small “on deck” chairs and observed the master working her magic. She often runs behind schedule since she doesn’t rely on the clock to tell her when she’s done. She’s done whenever she’s done.

Qi Gong therapy
Qi Gong therapy


Finally, it was my turn. I stood tall on the designated spot while the master examined my body, noticing immediately that I’m a little “unbalanced”. She immediately pointed to my lower back – the same spot that the acupuncturist had worked on.

She spoke no English and I speak only about four words of Chinese, all useless in this situation, so we communicated using sign language, body language, and pointing to pictures in an anatomy book.

Her first mission was to release the bad Qi from my body. Starting on my right arm, she used special techniques (stroking, massaging, gesturing) to release the bad energy. From the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a little of a Qi dance ritual she performed. When she was finished, my right arm tingled slightly and it felt noticeably lighter. Then she moved on to the left side, repeating her special techniques to rid my left side of this bad Qi.

The first Qi Gong homework

Kicking my right leg back, kind of snapping it from the knee, followed by gently stepping back while extending my right arm across my body. We practiced the move a few times until I finally got it exactly right. When she demonstrated the move for my left side, my arm shot straight up rather than across my body – an attempt to balance left and right sides. Although it’s a fairly simple move she focused on precision, which I had a hard time mastering. (I’m a slow learner.)

Dark Thoughts?

Then she started slapping me in the head. A lot! From a standing position, she bent me over, chin tucked, and slapped the back of my head – maybe an effort to slap away any dark thoughts invading my brain? Or was she trying to calm my whirling mind? (I’m still not quite sure.)

More homework

She showed me the proper way to slap myself on the back of the head with a very precise downward motion. (This is a move I won’t be trying in public.)

(Amazingly, my neck felt a lot looser after being slapped!)

Liquid magic?

Slap-fest complete, she instructed me to sit on the edge of the massage table. Then she grabbed a bottle of a mysterious golden liquid, poured some on a cotton swab and began to dab it all over my body, even along my scalp. It tingled lightly and had an unfamiliar smell. (I’m still not sure what that was.)

Lying me face down on the massage table, she began working on my upper back and shoulders, stooped forward from too many hours slouching at my computer. Moving next to my naturally uneven hips, she used her Qi to adjust them. I wanted to tell her about my “birth defect”, according to my US chiropractor. Based on an x-ray he determined I was just born that way. But her magic made the whole area feel looser.

Toe Therapy

Then she flipped me over and started working on my feet, getting into the more familiar Chinese foot reflexology. She glanced at the big toe on my right foot and grabbed an anatomy book pointing to a picture of digestion. “Bad”, she said as she pointed to the picture. Yep. She’s right on! After that, she instructed on specific techniques for playing with my toes, kind of a personal foot reflexology. (Another move I won’t be doing in public.)

For the grand finale, she slid me to the end of the table with my head in her lap and bounced my head up and down. The whiplash move, I guess? And finally, my first Qi Gong experience was complete in much longer than the scheduled hour.

As I rose from the table, I felt a little light-headed and mentally foggy (foggier than normal). I stayed for a moment, quietly observing my friend Jack and secretly filming the techniques she had used to get the bad Qi released from my body.

Qi Gong - Taiwan
Releasing the bad Qi

I silently floated out the side door and took a little walk. It was drizzling outside but I walked anyway, feeling the mist on my face and enjoying the zen of not caring that it was raining.

High on Life?

Jack and I drove home slowly on the rain-slicked roads, both of us feeling lightheaded and slightly detached from life like we were watching ourselves in this bizarre movie from a safe distance. The zen feeling remained for the night and into the next day, very much like a natural high.

That night I slipped into a Qi Gong induced coma and woke myself in the morning with a very loud snort.

I’m searching for a Qi Gong Master to teach me the mysteries of Martial Qi Gong! Unlocking the secrets of eternal zen…and really good sleep!

Qi Gong Zen
Qi Gong Zen

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2 Replies to “Adventures in Chinese Medicine – Finding the Zen in Qi Gong”

  1. This is so interesting.. I just started looking into TCM and had heard of Qi Gong but had no idea what it entailed. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I didn’t know much about it either until my friend tried it. I went with him to his first appointment and he was transformed! I’ll probably go back for a “Qi tune up” every few months and hope to start doing the martial Qi Gong soon.

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