Qi Gong is the foundation for any kind of bodywork, energy work and martial arts. It embraces all levels of human life – the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Even though Qi Gong, unlike yoga for instance, is not well known in the West, it is a very complex and complete system. Being a Qi Gong teacher I would even call it “THE system”. Qi Gong has a history dating back some thousands of years and its teachings have been passed on, through time, from masters of many generations to their students. In this way the methods have been proven, improved, modified and adjusted. And to this day they are still serving the same purpose: to live life in a happy and healthy way, in congruence with oneself and in harmony with others and the Earth (environment).
Some of the reasons why Qi Gong is not that popular/well-known in the West may be due to the fact that its origins are in China. China has been closed for the West for many centuries. That’s why Marco Polo became famous with his travel diaries when he talked about life inside of China for the first time. Yet today it is doubted whether Polo had ever travelled to China. The West has never colonized China. It was only with the political opening of the Chinese government in the 1990’s that it became easier for an individual to travel to (mainland) China.
Personally, I see the main reason for why Qi Gong is not as popular as it should be in its very nature, in the way it deals with energy (Qi).
Qi Gong is a Chinese term. In translation Qi is the energy of life or life force. Gong means work or practice. So basically Qi Gong means nothing more than to work with energy, to exercise the force of life. The human body is an energetic system that is run and even created by the universal life force (Qi). In fact, the various motions of Qi cause all expressions of life. The natural flow of Qi through our body is what makes us alive and feel happy and healthy. Now the problem is that the Western World has neither a concept nor an understanding of what the Chinese call Qi or life force. In the East it is contained in everything, from architecture to art, to medicine, to daily life. In the West, even in the esoteric fields the idea of energy is often very abstract, negligent of the body and daily life. Energy is mostly seen as something mental. The approach that Qi Gong takes in that perspective is but one: through practicing it (if you cannot do it, you don’t know it), connected to the body and its functions and focused on the betterment of day-to-day life.
Practically there is no way you can do Qi Gong without being concerned with the energy and the flow of Qi (through your body). For instance, it is very easy to do an asana (yoga posture) while fully neglecting the aspects of energy; this is actually done very often. Practicing Qi Gong in this way makes absolutely no sense because the outside (visible) motions have no purpose of their own; they are merely the visible result (manifestation) of energy moving through the body. Observed from the outside the motions look very simple (and they are indeed) but inside many complex things are happening at the same time.
And right here we are facing another problem. Modern life is so much oriented towards the outside and the surface that there is no(thing) inside. But life and therefore health, wellbeing, peace etc. is only found on the inside. There is no life outside of a tree, the life is inside. The outside is just an expression of the life that is pulsating inside. So when life dies inside the outside dies too. When the inside is in harmony, peaceful etc., so is the outside. Therefore even though the motions of Qi Gong are quite simple, after some time of practicing it people will refer to them as being very beautiful and touching. This comes from the inside. Through practice your inside becomes more beautiful or to say it differently, the beauty inside of you (present since birth and even before birth) gets uncovered; now it can shine through and be expressed on the outside. Qi Gong is only oriented towards the inside, to where life is, to help the unfolding of life and beauty because: WE JUST HAVE ONE LIFE – TO SHARE.
With this in mind I try to teach people who are truly interested, the priceless values, virtues and deep insights that lie within the true Qi Gong practice.