Key to A Balanced Practice: Qigong

Author: Kabba A
Wailuku, Hawaii {; or or contact Claire Joslin at
Conference/Journal: Acupuncture Today
Date published: 2001
Other: Volume ID: 02 , Issue ID: 07 , Word Count: 1176

In previous articles, I have written about what success is; how to prepare for a public speaking venue; how to organize; and the value of volunteering. Thanks to those of you who have shared your experiences, thoughts and support with me along the way. Many have asked me how I manage to do so much and still maintain balance. Today, I'll share one of my secrets: qigong. I cannot overemphasize the value of regular qigong practice for practitioners of the healing arts. It can support your immune system and increase wei chi, heighten sensitivity and improve your diagnostic ability, as well as enhance the depth and intensity of your treatments.

Although I have studied and practiced qigong for the past 21 years, I reached new depths of understanding as I spent two days with Grandmaster Mingtang Xu practicing zhong yuan qigong. I first heard of Master Xu through a classmate of mine, Arthur, who called one day, passionate about this 'amazing teacher' who had enriched his practice and understanding of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) and 'energy' healing. After hearing Arthur's story, I contacted Master Xu, and began to correspond with him via e-mail while he was teaching in Kiev, Russia.

Over a year later, AcuPlan Hawaii, Hawaii's first AOM independent practice association, was able to sponsor Master Xu's first trip to Hawaii, bringing his unique approach to the professional community there. Within the first few hours, Master Xu guided us through several long qigong exercises. Although the exercises were rudimentary, his expert guidance and instruction helped us to deepen our practice almost immediately.

Master Xu was born in China. His father was a medical doctor, acupuncturist, herbalist and energy healer. Around age four, Master Xu remembers his father performing qigong healing. His paternal grandmother was a healer who worked for barter. He remembers one time as a boy losing his father's prize pen, and his grandmother using her pendulum to help him to find it. Although he was initially discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine and ended up a successful computer engineer, he began studying the healing arts as a boy with local shamans and healers. One of Master Xu's first teachers was a woman in a nearby village who had been beaten blind and lame during the Cultural Revolution. Her healing skills and sensitivity were heightened, and she guided Master Xu in the development of his natural healing abilities.

Zhong yuan qigong has three parts:part 1. Self-development system; Part 2. Image therapy; part 3. Knowledge transplantation.

Image therapy, an energy healing system, was not taught outside China until 1998. Zhong yuan qigong self-development system is divided into five levels. The first level focuses on three aspects:Part 1. Development of your 'super conscious'/awareness in order to improve health and increase your energy; Part 2. Application of your 'super conscious'/awareness for healing and transforming this awareness into healing energies; Part 3. Energetic diagnosis.

In the first level of zhong yuan qigong, we learned three qigong exercises in order to refine, cultivate and stimulate energy. The first was a technique to gather and refine energy; the second was microcosmic orbit; and the third was a standing posture called 'big tree'. Master Xu gently guided each exercise with just the right words at just the right moments: 'Relax' · 'Look at your red ball'· 'Feel the red ball'· 'Let your arms relax.'

Master Xu emphasized that the best time to practice qigong is when you have the desire to practice. Another good time is after eating. There was a noticeable difference between our practice in the morning and the practice immediately after lunch. After eating I found myself sinking more quickly into deep relaxation, my conscious mind quiet, a special awareness and clarity surfacing. Between 11:00am-1:00pm and 11:00pm-1:00am are also times when it is easier to cultivate the relaxed yet clear state required for practice.

When asked how long it is best to practice these exercises, Master Xu replied, 'As long as possible.' He then added, 'Not less than 30 minutes because modern research demonstrates that it takes almost 30 minutes for the body to completely circulate all its blood.' If you are practicing qigong to enhance health, a brief daily practice is fine. If you want to practice qigong to develop healing abilities, he recommended practicing once a week for a longer period, instead of practicing every day a little bit. He used boiling water as a metaphor to support this. A brief qigong practice every day could be likened to heating water to just below the boiling point repeatedly. One long practice is akin to bringing water to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and transforming it into vapor. The intensity of the lengthy exercises during the workshop successfully expanded my sensitivity and awareness in a very short time.

Master Xu described five different methods of diagnosis within the zhong yuan qigong system. We were introduced to the palm diagnostic method. In this method, the energy field around the body can be used to gather information about the zang/fu. By slowly and methodically passing a single palm several inches away from the body, you can 'scan' it for valuable information.

The heart/fire should feel warm. The kidney/water should feel cool. The lungs/metal should generate a vibration like a bell, and emit energy like metal. The liver/wood should feel empty and not emit any noticeable sensation. The spleen/earth should also not emit any noticeable sensation. If other sensations are felt when using the palm diagnostic method, then specific imbalances may be identified.

Master Xu reminded us repeatedly to 'listen with our hands,' to receive his energy with our hands. When someone asked what he meant, he explained that he was sensitizing our hands to be able to 'scan' and energetically diagnose patients more effectively. I admit that since the workshop, the diagnostic sensitivity of my hands has noticeably amplified. When I asked Master Xu what he would like people to understand about his work, he responded, 'There are more and more diseases that are not responsive to conventional medicine today. Qigong can help with many of them. Many diseases are connected with spirit and energy imbalances. As we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and improve, society benefits, and the world becomes more harmonious and peaceful.' Master Xu imparts experience and knowledge with ease and authority. Although I have only recently been introduced to zhong yuan qigong, it is obviously a system that all practitioners could benefit from. It integrates the art of qigong within a modern clinical practice. The weekend with Master Xu was too brief for me, and I look forward to my next opportunity to study with this exceptional teacher. He is currently teaching in Seattle, and periodically hosts a qigong marathon in which the practice begins in the evening and continues until early morning. Master Xu also holds a zhong yuan qigong intensive at the Shaolin monastery in China. For more information visit his website ( or or contact Claire Joslin at