Chi Gung
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The ancient Chinese believed that they could achieve physical immortality. They tried every method they could think of:  Alchemy, special diets, special sexual practices, Chi Gung ( Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong)   and a host of other methods. They failed miserably at achieving immortality, however they did discover one simple fact. That exercise, meditation, fresh air, sunshine, nutritious food, clean water, adequate rest, and relieving stress were good for your health and helped you live better and longer.

Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) is based on the Daoist principle of Yin and Yang. Although the Chinese were astute observers of the human condition their explanation of the biomechanics of living organisms misses the target somewhat.  Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM)        contains the idea of Chi (Ch’ih, Qi) a life force in all living things. This is a very common concept across Asia (prana, chi, ki, mana) and is often linked with the breath.

There is no life force, no Chi (Ch'ih / Qi). In my opinion what the Chinese doctors of antiquity were writing about when they referred to Chi is the chemical element of Oxygen.

What about acupuncture and the meridians? In my opinion the meridians are a crude map of the nervous system. As for the actual biological process that is involved, I cannot say, however I know it is not a mysterious life force. I do know that although acupuncture is an excellent form of therapy, it is not a cure for anything.

Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong) is a category of exercise that has a variety of forms. I loosely define the term as aerobic exercise for the purpose of heath and meditation. Chi Gung  encompasses a wide range of activities and exercises. It can involve holding a posture or position for a certain period of time. This is called the Standing Post Chi Gung. Chi Gung can involve dynamic tension -tensing the muscles while moving (I use the term Kinemetric), this is called external Chi Gung. Chi Gung can involve isometrics tensing the muscles while not moving. Chi Gung can use opposing muscle groups to tense and relax the muscles. Chi Gung involves stretching and flexibility training. There are numerous routines used for Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong) purposes: The muscle-tendon changes, the Eighteen Lohans, the Eight Pieces of Brocade, the Dao-Yin Exercises, the Sui Shou routines, the Ba Gua Chi Gung, Walking the Circle with the Mother Palms, Standing Post, the Five Animal Frolics, the Wild Goose Chi Gung, the Swimming Body Chi Gung, and many others. These all work the body in different ways and variations. Literally almost any movement form can be done as a Chi Gung. This is why Tai Ji Chuen is used as a form of Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong). Hatha Yoga is essentially a form of Chi Gung.

In many of the texts internal strength and external strength are mentioned. In my opinion internal strength and external strength have to do with muscle fiber. All muscles are made up of two types of muscle fiber, fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch moves us around, slow twitch holds us in place.

Fast twitch muscle fiber is external strength, and slow twitch muscle fiber is internal strength.

Meditation invokes a brain state through controlled breathing, posture, movement, and focused thought. It is useful and good for us. It is a brain state, a peak experience when certain neurotransmitters are released.

Despite the fact that Chinese Traditional Medicine got the biology wrong, this does not mean that Chi Gung is not good exercise or meditation. On the contrary, Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong) can be exercise and meditation “par excellence”. The health benefits of such exercise are well documented. Like any other form of exercise, it will help to seek out a trained practitioner. Unfortunately there exists a wide range of competency and skill among those who teach, and there are no licensing or accreditation boards that maintain some sort of universal standards.