Qigong is a very safe form of health and personal development practice. Problems from qigong practice are rare, but still as you progress with your learning it is useful to be aware of the kinds of issues that can arise.
It is important to realise that while the physical aspects of most qigong practices are quite gentle, you are still doing real work, particularly with your energy. Sometimes people make the error of thinking that more is better, and they practice qigong for hours on end, or they try to fit in practice of all the different types of qigong they have learned. This can be exhausting to the body and energy and far from helping can harm and weaken you. Much like any other kind of exercise, strength and endurance must be built up little by little in qigong and other factors like your illness, your diet, the amount of sleep you’ve had and so on will affect how much you are able to do.
As a guideline, each qigong session should leave you feeling energized and refreshed. If you feel tired or drained after a session you are probably trying to do too much. You will need to reduce the amount of qigong you practice until your strength builds. For some people this may start with as little as 2 or 3 minutes at a time. Always monitor your own energy level and sense of wellbeing.
Our minds are POWERFUL. When we practice qigong our aim is to balance and strengthen the natural flow of energy in our bodies, however we can force the energy to do unnatural things which are harmful to us. This can lead to blockages of energy or unnatural and unhealthy flows of energy in our bodies.
Always try to gently lead the energy in your qigong practice and not force it. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you are trying to lead your energy in a particular way and you find resistance, or if you experience unusual or unpleasant sensations, talk to your teacher about it to make sure you are doing the right thing or if you might need to modify your practice.
Not Filtering Energy
When we draw energy in from the environment around us, we need to filter this energy so that we can make it our own and use it within our bodies. Much as we filter air with our lungs and water with our kidneys without thinking about it, most people will filter energy they draw in naturally and unconsciously. If you try to take in too much energy at once, or too early in your development, this can overwhelm your energy system’s ability to filter. This unfiltered energy can then cause problems in your system. It might be too hot, too cold, not have the right frequency etc.
Individuals with any type of psychotic condition should not practice qigong until their psychosis is under control. They should consult closely with their physician about their qigong practice. During qigong practice we often experience sensations which are out of the ordinary. These experiences of sensations in relation to energy can feed into delusions if someone is not stable.
Danger To The Ego
As individuals progress in their qigong practice and begin to develop skill with energy, they sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that this somehow makes them special or better than other people. This can create a distorted view of themselves which can cause unhealthy dynamics in their relationships with others. It pays to always think of qigong as a skill like any other. Some people can develop levels of skill in any area almost beyond the comprehension of others around them. Think of Olympic athletes, or those at the very top of almost any pursuit. Their skills are amazing to the untrained, or even the moderately trained, but they are still ordinary people with ordinary strengths, weaknesses and needs. They have simply developed themselves in a particular area through hard work, perseverance and maybe some natural talent.
There is an old Chinese saying that sums up a healthy attitude. “Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment chop wood and carry water”. Even if we develop great skill in any area, our needs and things we need to do in life are still largely the same and very ordinary.
Homework Week Eleven:
- This week your homework is to review your qigong practice to date. Have you slipped into any of the areas of danger mentioned above? If so what did you do to resolve the issue, or what do you need to do to resolve it? How can you avoid these dangers in the future and also help those you teach?
- Make sure you note down your thoughts in your study journal