What It Is
What to Do about It
There is moving qigong and still qigong, hard qigong and soft qigong, slow qigong and fast qigong, patterned qigong and spontaneous qigong. Qigong can be practiced for personal health and longevity, the ability to heal manually, the attainment of supranormal strengths and powers, or for spiritual growth and evolution. Not all kinds of qigong address these four areas o f concern equally, and some kinds of qigong can have long-term negative health consequences if practiced excessively, erroneously, or by the wrong person.
it is very important for the practitioner to
qigong is a combination of either specific is static posture or physical
movement coordinated with specific respiration and specific concentration
In addition, if one disturbs the free flow o f the qi mechanism, for instance, by absorbing more qi than the body can freely diffuse and circulate or by accumulating and concentrating the qi in a certain area of the body, this may easily lead to qi stagnation. If this qi stagnation endures, depression may transform fire, and fire flaming upward may harass the heart spirit. Depressive heat may also damage and consume yin fluids, thus giving rise to ascendant hyperactivity of yang, vacuity heat, and/or internal stirring of wind.
On another level, if one is too physically active, activity which is yang may also damage and consume yin fluids leading to yang hyperactivity and evil heat. While too much sitting and inactivity, as in Zen meditation, which is yin, may aggravate liver depression and even cause or aggravate both phlegm dampness and blood stasis. This is even more likely if such still sitting meditation is accompanied by unfulfilled desires, such as wanting to become a Buddha or an Immortal, or if there are excessive worries and anxieties. Especially if one leads the qi in the body upward or concentrates their mind on a point in the upper body, one can lead ministerial fire to counterflow upward. When this disease mechanism causes symptoms of heat harassing upward, it is sometimes referred to as "fire burning the Shaolin monastery." (The Shaolin monastery is the traditional home of Chan or Zen Buddhism, while shao lin literally means "little forest.)
The Symptoms of Qigong Disease
The Chinese medical literature describes three main patterns of qigong disease. These are:
1. Qi stagnation & blood stasis pattern
The main symptoms o f this pattern, of qigong disease are emotional instability, crying and laughing without constancy, paranoia, tension, visual hallucinations, delusional thoughts, chest and ribside fullness and oppression, headache, generalized body pain, a dark, stagnant facial complexion, a dark red tongue or possible static spots or macuIes on the tongue, dark purple, engorged sublingual veins, and a bowstring, choppy pulse.
Emotional impetuosity, difficulty staying still, emotional instability, crying and laughing without constancy, etc. are all symptoms indicating that the qi mechanism is disturbed and chaotic and has lost its control. The qi is commander of the blood, while the blood is the q mother of the qi. When the qi moves, the blood moves. Likewise, if the qi becomes chaotic, the blood becomes disquieted. Hence qi and blood lose their regulation and are unable to control themselves (i.e., one is unable to control oneself).
Qi and blood depression and stagnation may obstruct the heart orifices, resulting in harassment of the heart spirit. Therefore, one may see emotional instability, crying and laughing without constancy, paranoia, tension, visual hallucinations, and delusional thoughts. Static blood obstructing and stagnating may cause qi stagnation of chest yang. In that case, one may see chest and rib-side fullness and oppression. Qi stagnation and blood stasis result in the channels and network vessels not being freeflowing. Hence there is headache, generalized body pain, a dark, stagnant facial complexion, a dark red tongue with possible static spots or macuIes, and a bowstring, choppy pulse.
2. Phlegm fire harassing above pattern
The main symptoms of this pattern of qigong disease are emotional tension and agitation, impulsive movement, breaking things, mania, difficulty controlling oneself, profuse phlegm, chest oppression, a bitter taste in the mouth and bad breath, headache, red eyes, reddish urine, bound stools, a red tongue with thick/ slimy, yellow fur, and a bowstring, slippery, rapid pulse.
If there is habitual bodily yang exuberance (as there often is in young males) or addiction to alcohol and/or tobacco, or excessive eating of fatty, greasy, thick-flavored foods, phlegm dampness may congest and become exuberant. In that case, when one tries to practice qigong, one cannot obtain stillness but the qi mechanism becomes disturbed and chaotic instead. Then phlegm and fire become mixed and internally harass the heart spirit. This then causes emotional tension and agitation, impulsive movement, breaking and damaging things, and manic, chaotic behavior.
the qi does not gather in the channels, it is difficult for it to control
itself. This then leads to spontaneous sensations of qi discharging
chaotically around the body and inability to control oneself. Phlegm
turbidity internally obstructing with devitalization of chest yang results
The main symptoms of this pattern of qigong disease are emotional depression, difficulty thinking, poor memory, mumbling and speaking to oneself, fright palpitations, generalized fear and dread, auditory and visual hallucinations, vexatious heat in the five hearts (meaning the heart and the centers of the hands and feet), a dry mouth and throat, insomnia, night sweats, a red tongue with scanty fur, and a fine, rapid or surging rapid pulse.
If one is already habitually kidney yin depleted and vacuous (as are many thin people, women, and the elderly), doing too much or erroneous qigong may cause excessive psycho-emotional tension. In addition, compulsively chasing ones thoughts or a desire to emit qi or possess other such supranormal qigong abilities may cause one to exhaust oneself in one's practice. This exhausts and consumes the essence and blood.
the essence and blood become insufficient, then the sea of marrow will
lack nourishment. This then leads to difficulty thinking, dull-wittedness,
and decreased memory power. Essence and blood depletion and vacuity
leads to heart spirit lack of nourishment. Hence there is emotional
depression, mumbling and speaking to oneself, fright palpita-tions,
fear and dread. Yin vacuity
What to do About Qigong Disease
At the very first sign o f qigong disease, the practitioner should stop doing qigong or their practice should be immediately monitored, assessed, and modified by a competent teacher. If symptoms persist, both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be used to treat any of the above three patterns. Therefore, practitioners with qigong-induced symptoms which do not spontaneously go away when they stop practicing may want to see their local acupuncturist or professional practitioner of Chinese medicine. However, one of the foundations of Chinese medicine is to treat disease before it arises, and the best way to prevent qigong disease is to insure that the type of qigong you are practicing is right for you and that you are doing it correctly. When the right person practices the right kind of qigong in the right manner, then qigong can be a wonderful practice. When practiced wrongly, it can cause mental-emotional disease, hypertension, and heart disease and may lead to stroke. It's good to remember that, in Chinese medicine, health is seen as a matter of balance, and too much qi is just as unhealthy as too little.
BOB FLAWS is the single most prolific writer on Chinese medicine in English. Author, translator, and editor of over 100 books and scores of articles in both professional journals and general magazines, Bob regularly teaches around the country and around the world. Some of his other credits include being a founder, past president, and life-time Fellow of the Acupuncture Association of Colorado, a Fellow and past Governor of the National Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental medicine, past editor of the National Academy's journal, a Fellow of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (UK), a founder of the Council of Oriental Medical Publishers, and the founder, publisher, and editor in chief of Blue Poppy Press, Inc. Bob has been in private practice in Boulder, CO since 1979 where he specializes in gynecology, pediatrics, and complex internal diseases.
Article published with permission from Bob Flaws, May 10, 2002, who has the copyright. The article is also published in 80 KUNGFU - 2000 November
For more information on Blue Poppy Press publications visit their website at www.bluepoppy.com.