The core goal of Medical Qigong is ultimately Longevity. The study of centenarians (people who have lived to be over 100) has been ongoing research primarily conducted by the Japanese, Americans and Chinese. Being a Medical Qigong teacher and researcher I thus am a student of longevity practices.
Here are the top 7 Keys to Longevity that are the secrets of most centenarians success to growing old gracefully. Make sure to check out the last one at the bottom of the article, it could very well be the most important factor according to one study.
7. Positive Attitude– Everyone speaks about a positive attitude, but how to do it? Lu Zijian, China’s previously oldest living Bagua/Qigong master said one of the secrets of his longevity was a positive outlook on his life. He said if you are thinking negatively you need to change the way you think. White Tiger Qigong teaches special happiness meditations to keep the thinking positive. Here is one such happiness meditation: Heart Cave Meditation— Walk down a flight of stairs deep into the earth. Open the door and see the plant that you love the most. Go sit with that plant, feel it’s nurturing, healing energy. Look past the plant and see your favorite animal. Sit with that animal, embrace that animal. Feel it’s healing energy and warmth. Open your hand and see your favorite stone in your hand. Look into it and grasp it allowing it’s healing energy to permeate your body.
6. Diet-Here is an interesting study: In a massive study conducted on centenarians, only 20% of centenarians had ever been on a specialized diet plan. In fact, many interviewed had diets of bacon and eggs for breakfast. The key is not some crazy new fad diet that everyone in California is jumping on, the key is densely nutritious food in balanced portions. Centenarians are not big on supersized portions and believe it or not only a select few were vegetarian. Many centenarians in China use various herbs in their diet such as Goji berries, Schizandra berries and Gynostemma. Tea drinking has also been a common recorded dietary habit of centenarians in China.
Here is an example of a densely nutritious meal of one centenarian. Utilizing the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine you choose 5 colors of food to use:
green, 青 – green beans, peas (savory)
yellow, 黄 – gingko nuts, peanuts, split mung beans, dried longan, walnuts
red, 赤 – red beans, goji berries, red dates
white, 白 – lotus seeds, rice, chinese barley, winter melon strips (sweet), white jelly fungus, dried lily bulb
black 黑 – black sesame seeds, black fungus (savory), black glutinous rice
After combining all the ingredients with the right ratio of water you can cook it slowly overnight and eat it upon waking.
5. Exercise the Body and Mind-Exercise is a crucial aspect of longevity. Over 2000 years ago when Medical Qigong began developing, Chinese Medicine doctors found that their patients who were practicing more dynamic Qigong were having more positive healing results much more quickly than the ones who were primarily doing static Qigong. Thus, a branch of Qigong was developed focused on health and longevity, Medical Qigong which focuses primarily on dynamic Qigong exercises, but still utilizes stillness and meditation.
4. Everything in Balance (Yin Yang)- My grandfather who is 97 and in incredible shape told me everything in moderation and in balance. A little bit of everything is ok and good for you, but too much of anything will hurt you. This echos the great Chinese Medicine doctors of China and the theory of Yin and Yang. Too much of one thing will bring you out of balance.
3. Contribution– It is a basic human need to feel that you are making a contribution to society or someone’s life. Whether it is your family, friends, neighbours or society, making some type of contribution is crucial for feeling importance of staying alive even. I feel good just disseminating this information to you. What can you do each day to contribute something positive to someone else’s life? This will bring your life rich fulfilment.
2. Sleep Early and Sound- The majority of centarians get a healthy night’s sleep each night. They go to bed no later than 11pm and rise early with the sun. This is in accordance with the Taoist Chinese Medicine principle of living in harmony with nature’s rhythm.
1. Reduce Inflammation– Neuroscientists have conducted research on 1,554 individuals, including 684 centenarians and (semi-) super-centenarians, 167 pairs of offspring and unrelated family of centenarians, and 536 very old people. The total group covered ages from around 50 up to the world’s oldest man at 115 years. The study’s aim was to identify biological factors that predict successful ageing at extreme old age, and to see whether improved performance in these factors would already be recognisable in centenarian offspring.
Natural keys to anti-inflammation
Qigong: Medical Qigong has scientifically proven benefits of reduced inflammation. See this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2826100/
Both meditation and physical exercise have been shown in studies to reduce inflammation. Why not do a practice that recruits the mind and engages the body in advanced forms of exercise such as Medical Qigong.
In studies, both aerobic and non-aerobic exercise have been shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP (the body’s marker for inflammation). The lower the body’s CRP, the less inflammation is present.
You can get an aerobic workout from Qigong exercises such as Circle Walking and anaerobic exercises from Bone Qigong training exercises. These exercises also incorporate meditation so you can have your cake and eat it too!
“We know that angry, hostile people have higher CRP levels than people who keep their cool.” The thinking goes that cortisol, a stress hormone, triggers the body to release a host of chemicals that contribute to the inflammatory cascade. Activities that calm the mind, such as meditation and guided imagery, lower CRP levels,” William Joel Meggs, MD, PhD, author of The Inflammation Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2004).
You can use Leopard Qigong to balance angry emotions.
An anti-inflammatory diet “Anytime you go with a large variety of colors, you get a powerhouse of phytochemicals, some of which have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. Wheat and dairy are known as highly inflammatory foods. Too much sugar has an inflammatory effect on the system as well.There are many keys to an anti-inflammatory diet such as the right kind of oils and fats, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
If there is anything you can truly take away from this article is that Medical Qigong and Diet could be 2 crucial secrets of longevity for a long, happy and healthy life. If you want to know more about Qigong for longevity join our upcoming Medical Qigong training.
If you have other information or strategies that you know about that have proven to work for centenarians let me know.