Author: Johnston SL
Conference/Journal: Paraplegia News
Date published: 2000
Other: Volume ID: 54 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 31 , Special Notes: Full Text COPYRIGHT 2000 Paralyzed Veterans of America , Word Count: 344
According to traditional Chinese medicine, a life-force energy called qi
permeates all living things. Good health requires an ample and flowing supply
of qi (also chi, pronounced 'chee').
Depleted by the demands of daily living, qi is naturally replenished through
breathing, eating, and closeness to nature; it is deliberately enhanced by
meditation, qigong, tai chi, and other principles of traditional Chinese
medicine, such as acupuncture (see 'Acupuncture: An Alternative Therapy?' PN,
September 1998). When qi is consistently diminished, out of balance, or
polluted, sickness ensues; its absence means death.
Unfortunately, in people with physical disabilities, qi can stagnate and
become unbalanced, increasing the likelihood of illness. Therefore it is
especially important for these individuals to stimulate qi flow.
Influenced by a variety of Eastern spiritual philosophies over its 5,000-year
history, qigong (pronounced 'chee gung') evolved to include medical,
martial-arts, spiritual, and, recently, business applications. China's current
government has been ambivalent toward qigong, sometimes encouraging it as a
valuable home-grown healing tradition and at other times viewing it as a
counter-revolutionary vestige of the past. Because spiritual movements often
force social change, the Chinese government recently cracked down on a form of
qigong (falun gong) that stresses qigong's spiritual components.
Qigong-related practices encompass gentle movements, breathing, and
meditation. According to author Kenneth Cohen, qigong 'means working with the
life energy, learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to
improve the health and harmony of mind and body.'
It is a holistic, mind-body-spirit system of self-healing. Already one of the
world's most popular healing exercises in terms of total number of
practitioners, qigong is increasingly being embraced by health-conscious
Most qigong practices are relatively straightforward and easily mastered.
However, because many different techniques exist, this article cannot provide
in-depth specifics. Readers should look at the reference books listed in Part
With slight adjustments, most exercises are possible from standing, seated, or
prone positions, and, in the case of people with spinal-cord dysfunction
(SCD), with or without arm movement. As such, qigong is an ideal activity for
people with physical disabilities.