Qi Gong (External Qi Healing, Wai Qi Zhi Liao)

Background: Where does this technique come from?

Definition: Ancient healing technique. “Projecting qi outside of [the healer’s] body and into a patient… In China, External Qi Healing usually refers to noncontact therapeutic touch, the hand or hands held approximately six inches above the area of treatment.” (Cohen, 243)

Source: The Way of Qi Gong: The art and science of Chinese Energy Healing by Kenneth S. Cohen. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997. Workshop on External Qi Healing by Ken Cohen, Seattle, July 2001. Manual.

Finding Out More: Best website I found is: www.acupuncture.com/QiKung/QiKunlnd.htm

Origin of Method / History: There is a long history in China of exercise / dance postures based on animals’ movements and other elements of nature. This form of exercise continues to be practiced today as qi gong. The first reference to using energy exercise (aka dao yin, qi gong, etc.) for healing is from the 6th century BC.

Theory: What is energy? What is energy healing?

What energy is being worked with? Qi. Life energy. The ideogram for Qi could be interpreted as “the energy produced when complementary, polar opposites are harmonized.” (Cohen, 31)

Sources of Energy: Air or breath; food; inherited / genetic qi.

Energy centers/pathways: Qi reservoirs: Lower dan tien is associated with sexuality and physical energy. Middle dan tien is related to respiration and health of internal organs. Upper dan tien holds shen (energy of consciousness), related to the brain. Pathways are the meridians.

What is illness / health? “Health is more than an abundance of qi. Health implies that the qi in our bodies is clear; rather than polluted and turbid, and flowing smoothly like a stream, not blocked and stagnant.” (Cohen, 3)

What is the mechanism? Practitioner does qi gong and client’s field matches energy. “Your qi field, interacting with that of the patient, communicates a healing message.” (Cohen, 259)

Role of practitioner: To seek a “state of harmony with nature… simply maintaining connectedness allows qi to flow through rather than from the body. The healer funnels qi from a Source, sometimes identified as Nature, Dao, Great Spirit, or God.” (Cohen, 248)

Role of heal-ee: To be relaxed and free of worries. Patient must ask for healing.

Who can heal? Training? Some instructors say you need to train in internal qi gong exercise for ten years before healing with external qi gong. Cohen argues that “we are all emitting qi all the time, with or against our will. We need to learn how to use this innate capacity effectively and wisely.” (Cohen, 243) He does say that the more regular your qi gong practice, the stronger your field and the more precise your sensitivity to qi imbalances. (Cohen, 246)

Where does the healing energy come from? Cohen says that some practitioners think it comes from the healer’s own supply that can be depleted, then needs to be rebuilt. But most believe that they are tapping into a universal well of healing energy. (Cohen, 248)

Practice: How does a healing session work for this technique?

Assessment: 1. General impression. 2. Light contact: Placing palms on three assessment areas. 3. Energy scan: Practitioner holds palms about 6” away from client’s body, and scans from head to toe, noting where excesses of yang push hands away, and where excessive yin pulls energy field in closer to body. 4. Differential assessment. Practitioner holds each of the client’s fingers and toes while scanning the associated organs for temperature and quality. (e.g. holds the client’s thumb in one hand while the other hand rests a few inches from the lungs.)

Then practitioner compares all the information from these assessments with the patient’s health history, presenting problem, and diagnostic measures to form an assessment.

During work: De qi: In healing and treatment, the most important thing is to ‘reach the qi’ (de qi) energetically. When you have de qi, you’ll sense vibration, warmth, or energy. This is done not by increasing the pressure of the hands but simply by intention to reach deeper. (Cohen, 258)

Treatment techniques: Yin-yang polarity: Practitioner positions his hands (touching or not quite touching) on either side of a diseased area, or any of the places s/he felt excess, deficient, or diseased qi. Then s/he simply does standing meditation; does not need to actively project qi. This technique is useful for most conditions, with almost no chance of doing harm. (Cohen, 260)

Circling Palms: Practitioner places one palm over diseased area (other hand is held down at his side, absorbing qi from the earth and discharging toxic qi.) Imagines the center of the palm is a tiny laser beam emitting healing qi. Circles clockwise to create warmth and add energy by stimulation to weak, depleted areas. Circles counterclockwise if area feels hot or overly full. Circles until area returns to normal temperature and sensation. (Cohen, 260)

Tapping, pulsing, waving. Tapping (with fingers, palm, fist, etc.), pulsing (slightly opening and closing the palm, pulsing the energy coming from the center of the palm), and waving (sweeping patient’s energy field with fingertips) moves the qi without adding heat or cold.

Knowing when to stop: Might be 5 minutes, might be 40, depending on what patient is capable of receiving. Practitioner may be able to feel when energy is no longer received. Otherwise, if skin becomes very red or very pale or the breathing rate is consistently quicker, patient is uncomfortable, or if it feels like the same poles of a magnet have been brought together and patient is repelling qi. Best indicator is the patient’s verbal feedback. (Cohen, 264)

Uses: When is this Technique useful?

Duration/Frequency: Some acute conditions improve significantly with one treatment. Chronic conditions require more treatments. Most patients notice improvement after session 4 or 5.

What do practitioners say it is useful for: “reducing pain, shrinking infections and swellings, killing cancerous cells, combating arthritis, releasing muscular tension, improving skin tone, stopping bleeding, strengthening the immune system, renewing vitality, etc.” (Quote from Wang Yin, cited at Cohen, 243) Also used for anesthesia during surgery.

Contraindications: Cohen does not mention any for External Qi Gong. He does say for internal qi gong practice: “it is one of the safest self-healing systems in the world, but if it is not done correctly, even qi gong can have some unpleasant side effects.” (Cohen 273-4) Dizziness, headaches, nausea, and difficult breathing can result from attempting to practice qi gong when there are too many chaotic distractions around you, when you have eaten just before qi gong practice, after practicing outside in a strong wind, or when you use excessive visualization, forcing the mind to hold images or thoughts beyond comfortable limits. (Cohen, 274-5)

Studies done: There have been numerous studies done of Qi Gong, primarily in China. The majority of these focus on the benefits of the patient practicing internal qi gong, rather than on external qi healing; however, they still reveal useful information about the strength of qi gong as a healing modality. See Benor and Cohen for a thorough discussion.

Other uses: “Qi can be projected during any other method of healing body work such as massages… chiropractic, Rolfing, Therapeutic Touch, or laying on of hands.” (Cohen, 243)

Ø      Next

Ø      Techniques

Ø      Home