Is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight by going on a diet? Are you frustrated because you have already tried many approaches that produce immediate results, but don’t last? You are not alone. Many people suffer from cyclical and frustrating weight fluctuations because dieting fights against the inner desires of the body and involves eating habits that are not sustainable. They usually involve altering food intake without increasing self-awareness. You radically change food intake and often eliminate the foods you like and possibly need. Diet trends are created by external authorities that do not encourage a person to discover what is best for them.
Qigong presents a sustainable and self-directed approach. Chris Fernie, a Qigong master and founder of the Institute for Internal Transformation, explains, “Instead inhibiting your dietary needs, Qigong practice cultivates knowledge of who you are and how your body works. This knowledge reveals how the body regulates itself so you gain the power to control your health and weight. Through simple daily exercises you can improve the rate of digestion, increase metabolism, and promote weight loss.”
Qigong, a self-healing practice, has been broadly documented in China to improve digestion and overall health. In the U.S., The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the NIH has recognized the efficacy of the use of Qigong in maintaining long-term weight loss and is currently funding research to further document its effectiveness.
In Qigong, students learn exercises combining mind, breath and movement to unify and cleanse Qi — the vital life force in the body. As Qi is balanced, the systems of the body harmonize, digestion improves, metabolism regulates and chronic problems can disappear.
A vital aspect of Qigong’s success is gained through awareness of how the body functions. According to Fernie, “one of the primary goals of Qigong practice is to discover the inner geography of the body in order to develop awareness and control of factors that contribute to health.” Students discover that mind, breath, gravity, posture, emotions, Qi and forces of nature affect the delicate balances of the entire system. In the realm of digestion, that means recognizing that the digestive system is tied to many internal and external factors. For example:
We are all familiar with “comfort eating,” to mask or avoid difficult emotions. In addition, repeated emotional states lead to long term muscular contractions, which in turn radically change metabolism and reduce the ability to absorb nutrients.
The digestive track is aided by muscular contractions and gravity. Therefore our alignment in the gravitational field, known as posture, influences our ability to properly digest food.
The body changes with the seasons. Learning how to recognize and respond to these changes enables us to maintain balance throughout the year.
With practice, students develop a deep awareness of the digestive processes. Eventually this awareness allows students to trust their body’s wisdom about what and when to eat so they can naturally attain a healthy weight and metabolism.
However, even before deep awareness of the internal states is cultivated, the exercises inherently speed the rate of digestion. Fernie explains, “Many people in today’s society do not efficiently digest their food-instead it stagnates in their intestines causing many problems. Performing Qigong exercises can speed the rate of digestion and improve many digestive disorders.”
Qigong offers a way to discover that every person can become free to do and eat as they please. George Ohsawa, the founder of macrobiotics, stated that a free man can eat anything. Attaining a desirable weight is not just about the food you are eating, it is about you and your relationship to those things that affect health and digestion. Qigong reaches far beyond weight loss and into a profound transformation of one’s own life and often the lives of those closest to you.
article by Sarah Kowalski