Qigong for Emotional Balance by Marketa Pavlacikova
We live in a fast-paced, busy, and ever-changing world, and many of us are stressed out and anxious as a result. If one suffers from anxiety but has found little relief through modern western treatments, or is looking for a complementary healing tool, the ancient practice of Qigong, which can be understood in simple terms as the cultivation of internal energy, that may offer lasting relief.
Qigong is rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine, and it utilizes breathing, movement, and awareness exercises to promote healing, longevity, and maximum human potential. Qigong practice brings numerous incredible benefits on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. I will focus on reaching the emotional balance in this article, as I have experienced powerful transformation on this level myself and I know many, who need and want to make such changes in their lives.
Daily focused Qigong routine can gradually help us think about negative feelings and ourselves in a different way, as a “WHOLE”. We will learn to stop resisting moments of fear, anxiety, and other strong emotions, and will rather welcome and embrace them within the larger flow of our body’s energy field. By doing this, we can transform them and ultimately strengthen, cultivate, and balance the natural energy we possess.
In Chinese Qigong, it is believed that emotions can be regulated by harmonizing the body, breath, and mind. Medical Qigong has traditionally used movements to release emotions. And thus, White Tiger Qigong aims at transforming unwanted emotions into new behavioral patterns through conscious movement, breathing, and meditation techniques.
Qi is soft like water that can only be led and not pushed. Though Qi is soft, its influence on our health, longevity, and spirit is powerful. The mind is just like a king who governs the Qi (people). If a king is able to use the soft way to lead the people and educate them with the right manners, the country will be peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious. As long as a person is able to keep his mind humble and is willing to listen to his body’s feeling, then he will be able to regulate the body’s functions and achieve health. The feeling is a language that allows your mind and body to communicate. Pain, discomfort, or suppressed negative emotions mean that the body is complaining about Qi stagnation or another problem. Ignoring it will lead to sickness. The only place to be able to reach an awareness of this communication is right here and now, and Qigong teaches us to return to this present moment each time we practice.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present” – L a o T z u
Adequately managing Qi with our mind is the crucial key to keeping the body’s Yin and Yang balanced and harmonious with each other. This ultimately results not only in strengthening and healing our physical body but also in concentrating and calming the spirit thus, balancing our emotional state.
The 5 Element Qigong system is a dynamic form of exercise that combines rhythmic movements of five animals, Qigong meditation, deep Qigong breathing techniques, and a strong, focused spirit. Each animal form helps to heal and bring into balance the internal organs and the meridians of the body.
According to the Chinese Medicine theory, each organ and its related meridian has a relationship with distinctive emotion. When emotions are trapped in the body, they can negatively affect the related organ and further intensify the stuck emotion. This can lead to emotional imbalance and ultimately to serious diseases. Through these powerful Qigong exercises, we can literally squeeze the tension and toxins out of the organs and by dynamically stretching the area to refill them with clean healing energy, and thus reach a more balanced emotional state.
Each animal form in the 5 Element Qigong is related to an element. Each of the five elements is related to one of the five Zang Organs (Yin) – heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys and each of these correlates with one of the Fu Organs (Yang).
The Dragon is related to the element of Water and the Zang organ is kidneys. On an emotional level, any impairment in the kidney meridian will result in feelings of fear, paranoia, or insecurity. This also affects the meridian of Fu related organ, the urinary bladder. Practicing this form helps us to restore health and balance into kidneys to become the seat of courage and willpower.
The Tiger is related to the element of Metal and the Zang organ lungs. The large intestine is the Fu organ paired with the lungs. On an emotional level, the lungs are responsible for self-protection and self-preservation. If there is an imbalance, the negative emotional attributes are grief, sadness, despair, and sorrow. When releasing these during the exercise, we intend to bring in the energy of joy, self-esteem, and integrity.
The Leopard is associated with the element of Wood and the Zang organ is the liver. The liver meridian is paired with the gallbladder meridian. Emotional imbalance results in intense feelings of anger, irritability, and frustration. The antidote emotions we bring in during this Qigong practice are kindness, compassion, and generosity.
The Snake form is related to the element of Earth and activates the meridian of the spleen and paired stomach meridian. When blockages occur, we experience anxiety, worry, and low self-esteem on an emotional level. To reach balance through this exercise, we focus on replenishing released anxiety by the support, nurturing, and nourishment from the Earth.
The Crane is associated with the element of Fire and the Zang organ is the heart. The heart is the ruler of all emotions. Signs of imbalance, among others, include excessive/scattered joy, sadness, dullness, excessive yearning, and desire. The paired meridian to the heart is the small intestine meridian. Peace is the antidote that we bring in with focused intention and sensing bliss and harmony in our hearts when practicing this form.
Using the intention (Yi) to guide our focus to the purpose of the exercise, visualization to guide our imagination and sensing (color, temperature, the result, the emotional state we want to bring in …) is the key to transformation. Of course, the amplitude of the emotion we want to invoke must be stronger than the emotion we want to transform. It is therefore important to learn to combine focused intention with elevated emotions. This is enhanced during Qigong meditations dedicated to each form, element, organ, and transformation of emotional blockages. The mindful breathing during practice, powerful breathing exercises, and Qigong meditation teaches us to maintain this focus, de-stress, and increase emotional balance. Meditation posture Zhang Zhuang or Standing Qigong is a highly energetic exercise despite having no external movements. It efficiently develops internal energy and on an emotional level, it balances the central nervous system and has an overall beneficial calming effect.
“Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water, yet nothing is better in attacking the hard and strong. Weak is able to defeat strong, soft is able to overcome hard.” – L a o T z u
Unlike the 5 Elements, the 8 Trigram Organ Qigong is a smoothly flowing form of Qigong where each movement is linked to the next through seamless transitions. The spirit of Dragon governs this practice, and the dragon is associated with an element of water. Through the flow of rhythmic soft movements, the 8 Trigram Organ Qigong offers more gentle and smooth massage to all internal organs, while it simultaneously wrings out the meridians of the arms, focuses on the core of the body, and bows the spine in all possible directions to release blockages and to open the energy flow. Just like by gentle cleansing current of water, the stagnation of Qi, toxins, and suppressed emotions are expelled from the body and one’s energy field. Legs are used as strong roots into the Earth throughout the entire set of exercises, which centers the practitioner and supports the harmonizing process and transformation. The softness and smooth flow of each exercise in this form only increase the power of focus on healing, rejuvenation, and cleanse of the body, mind, and spirit.
The initial exercise “Throwing Away the Trash” heals organs, rejuvenates, expels toxins, relaxes the body, reduces stress, and clears the mind before moving into the rest of the set. It can also be performed on its own according to the needs of the practitioner. I consider this form one of the very powerful tools for transforming stuck negative traumas and feelings into elevated emotions. As with all the other forms, in this practice, it is important to imagine that we are throwing away any excess emotions and toxins out of our bodies. In addition to the intention, visualization, and sensing, the Six Healing Sounds are used in this form to dispel the old, stagnant, toxic Qi and stuck negative emotions from the organs and to promote longevity. The Six Healing Sounds Formula was first mentioned in the 3rd century BC and it is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine theories of Yin and Yang, the five elements, and more. In White Tiger Qigong the Six Healing Sounds can be used with any movements of the 5 Element and 8 Trigram Organ Forms.
“Flow like Water, Dance like Fire”
The benefits and flexibility of Qigong practice are enormous. One of the White Tiger Qigong principles is, that each body contains Yin and Yang, which equate to water and fire. The body must be able to move like a flowing river, as fluid as water, but when there is Yang that needs to be released, fiery explosive Qigong movements are used. The daily routine can be prescribed and adjusted by a qualified medical Qigong teacher to enhance the healing of each practitioner according to their individual needs, using the medical formulas of White Tiger Qigong. This is also done with consideration of various internal and external circumstances and other aspects that affect the energies of and around each person.
Regular daily practice of Qigong helped me immensely to create stronger emotional balance and sustain it even through the hardest lessons of my life. The ultimate goal of White Tiger Qigong is to help elevate each other from suffering while promoting healing, transformation, and the realization of one’s ultimate potential. Thus, I feel that my purpose is to help others to believe, they can as well heal themselves and to guide them with patience and love on their way to transformation. White Tiger Qigong is one of the most powerful tools to reach and retain not only emotional balance but to heal and transform as a whole. Therefore, with gratitude and humility, I continue spreading this great wisdom around the world, so that we can collectively install harmony and balance into our lives.