"As America matures in its acceptance of Qi, everyone will realize that it is the
Qi of the acupuncturist, not the needles alone, that is most powerfully healing."

Are Western Body-Minds Demanding a New American Qigong?
by Michael Winn

When I meet a Chinese man, I immediately recognize he belongs to the same physical species: a face, four limbs, ten fingers. His skin is almost hairless, the legs shorter, body stature is different, but I know instantaneously he is homo sapien. Why then does it take me possibly years to deeply understand his way of thinking and perceiving, his deep motives and emotions, his cycles of joy and depression, health and illness?

I may observe he is more sensitive to collective social pressure and the loss of face. Perhaps he is curious yet indifferent at the depth of my western hunger for personal expression. Is this the mystery of race? We are all kin, yet we are all holding different ancestral memories that deeply affect our response to life.

These racial differences manifest into cultural patterns, and raise intriguing questions about the transfer of qigong technology that is currently happening between China and America. Does the incredible depth of Chinaıs understanding of qi arise from a unique genetic or perhaps the spiritual predisposition of their race? The West is rapidly waking up to the possibilities of human energy science based on qi. Yet there is a lot of confusion as to how to best shape or adapt these Chinese qi arts to western body-minds, to our lifestyles and institutions, particularly in medicine and healing.

I believe American sexual and emotional make-up will drive a fusion of western depth psychology with Chinese qi sciences to produce unique and powerful new qigong modalities. This fusion will help stem the epidemic of depression, stroke, cancer, and other killer illnesses. It may heal the mental and spiritual crisis that plagues the West, the feeling of alienation and personal fragmentation that is compensated by widespread addictions to drugs, food, negative emotions and sex. Chinese medicine says sickness arises when one's natural flow of qi is disrupted, and is healed by restoring qi flow and calming the mind (shen). This qi healing model completely dissolves the body-mind boundary. But if western and Chinese minds are not the same, is uncritical copying of Chinese qigong healing modalities the best approach?

Recent articles in Qi Journal have focused attention on two camps in danger of becoming polarized over the future shape of American qigong. One camp looks to the spirit of early Taoist philosophers, and holds that qi healing should not and really cannot be regulated by government or big institutions like schools. They say the very aliveness of qi healing depends on individual unfoldment and cannot be ³tested² by outside experts, only by the patient or student who resonates with the qi or the shen (spirit) of that healer. The other camp holds up the model of modern China, points to three or four year TCM qigong training programs with heavy academic load and testing of qi emission skills, and says we need the same in America. Who is right?

Diseases Follow Changing Qi Flow

I say both are right, and neither is right. Both are looking to the past, and ignore a future third possibility: that western body-minds are demanding and are evolving new forms of qigong healing. My experience is that Westerners have a different physical, emotional, sexual, mental and possibly even spiritual make-up from the Chinese, and accordingly manifest different patterns of qi flow. This will create different diseases requiring different qi treatment. If we stand on the shoulders of both the ancient and modern qigong masters, we can remain rooted in their principles yet see beyond them.

Many people think acupuncture meridians are somehow fixed things and that all qi healing uses the same channels. My herbology teacher in New York City, Jeffrey Yuen, made it his habit to read in Chinese the ancient medical texts from different periods in Chinese history. He pointed out that acupuncture points and even meridians have changed location over time just as the Chinese doctors and their patients have changed. For example, the chung mo or thrusting channel at the core of the body was changed to follow the kidney meridianıs inner path and thus make it more accessible to needles. He also noted that disease patterns in China changed along with social and historical changes, much as historians in the West have commented upon the fashionability of certain diseases that seem to literally catch on. Neurasthenia and polio was big 50 years ago, today itıs AIDS, breast cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Will Qigong Fuse with Depth Psychology?

Naturally, these cycles of disease fashion will likely be different in China and America. As the current generation of American qigong teachers and healers mature, their direction may be quite different from the current Chinese qigong establishment, which I find to be mostly sexually conservative and not spiritually focused. American qigong healers are bombarded with techniques and ideas from depth psychology, yogic chakra theory, shamanism, a plethora of meditation traditions and dozens of other movement and healing modalities in addition to numerous useful scientific discoveries and ideas. They cannot and should not just shove these out of their mind in pursuit of a purist qigong healing modality.

This huge infusion of healing science was mostly not available to ancient or even modern Chinese developers of qigong. For example, I have found Feldenkrais movements, done lying on the ground with the spine free of gravity, will immensely speed my studentıs learning time of focused effortless movement in Tai Chi or qigong. The same is true of Alexander work. Even though true qigong practice already embodies the principles of Feldenkrais and Alexander methods, they may be more efficient at highlighting what is already latent within qigong. You could say they teach the mechanics of effortless movement without understanding the underlying qi flow. But I would still include them as part of an evolved qigong training program.

Conversely, the elements of Chinese classical qi cultivation that are the most relevant to western depth pyschology and resolution of our deep sexual/spiritual identity crisis are suppressed by the modern chinese medical and qigong establishment. In 1983 I wrote Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy with Mantak Chia; he supplied the techniques, I put them into western context. Since then I have trained thousands of men and women to use Taoist neigong (internal cultivation) practices to heal sexual frustration, impotence and other dysfunctions, menstrual and orgasm difficulties, and mostly confusion over how sexual energy can be recycled to boost healing, creative ability, or meditation.

But this sexual neigong had to be rapidly evolved to adapt it to a totally different emotional and mental sexual identity. Unlike the Chinese, westerners are culturally bombarded with sexual advertising, oversexed role models in films, etc. It's a national obsession in America (look at Bill Clinton) so it gets played out very differently than in China. Since westerners give so much energy to sex, I found sexual kungfu a natural doorway that would lead people deeper into their physical, emotional, and spiritual health. To practice it deeply, they needed to learn healing sounds to clear their emotions and the microcosmic orbit to recycle the sexual energy to higher centers in the body-mind. Just by practicing this, they started to forget their physical sexual obsessions. They shifted it into cultivating the pleasure of having a developed energy and spirit body.

Why are these practices practically impossible to find today in China? On my travels throughout the Han (dominant ethic group) parts of China Iıve personally felt a general sense of suppressed libido that is not present in the more remote minority areas. Sexual repression is just a part of a larger pattern of political repression. It reminds me of Wilhelm Reich, a revolutionary western thinker who died in a U.S. prison in the 1950's for designing orgone devices, his version of qi linked to universal sexual vitality. If Reich were alive today, he would probably agree that suppression of methods like sexual neigong in China is about controlling the individual sense of liberty, to make sure that sexual power is surrendered to the greater social authority, whether it be the Emperor or Communist Party.

Thatıs why the TCM establishment isnıt teaching sexual kung-fu as standard curriculum. Undoubtedly, the practices got a bad reputation in China from people who abused it. Yet our sexual essence or jing is one of the traditional Three Treasures. Should we be Puritans and also drop it from the American qigong curriculum, and ignore the role of our culture's sexual chaos and sexual repression as a major causative factor in chronic illness? Even Freud would agree with me.

The Taoists, who were often the rebels and individualists breaking the Confucian rules, considered managing your sexual energy an essential step in the internal cultivation process. The true practitioners did not use sexual practices to be promiscuous or vampirize young virgins, but to protect one's health and tap the kidney power of one's jing. It is just a small part of the foundation for inner alchemy meditations that allowed one's spirit (shen) to penetrate deep to the core of the physical body's sexual essence (jing). Qi is just the relationship, a fluid pathway between the shen and jing, the mind-body continuum.

I also learned these inner alchemy methods from Mantak Chia, who got them from a Taoist hermit named White Cloud. He wandered from northern China into the hills outside Hong Kong to escape first Japanese and then communist persecution. But White Cloudıs Seven Alchemical Formulas, the crown jewels of Chinese spiritual civilization, polished over thousands of years and a main subject of the 1160 volume Taoist bible, are not being taught by the modern Chinese qigong or medical establishment. These traditional nei gong methods of cultivating one's inner medicine or elixir have also been suppressed for political reasons.

This is one reason I donıt want TCM standards of Chinese medical qigong schools to be blindly copied in America. I believe TCM training is inadequate for American body-minds in the 21st century. TCM curriculum in China is NOT truly traditional. Some jokingly call TCM Truncated Chinese Medicine because it has in practice removed much of the spiritual aspects of shen (soul or spirit) therapy mentioned in the classics. Modern TCM may pay lip service to shen theory, but it is largely needle by number protocols that focus on restoring qi flow in the twelve secondary meridians of the heart, liver, etc.. The acupucture points have the old spiritual names, but no spiritual healing is mentioned in modern textbooks.

Classical Chinese Medicine used an alchemical model of Jing, Qi, and Shen transforming into each other. Its I Ching inspired 8 Extraordinary Channels/5 Jing Shen approach was largely sanitized out of medical textbooks by Maoists in the l950's and 60's who saw anything spiritual (qi into shen, or v.v.) as being feudal and backward. Soul (shen) therapy was unscientific and unacceptably superstitious in the eyes of communist leaders who wanted a modern, scientific China. Perhaps they also feared ridicule from western doctors in the propaganda war with the West..

I was very excited when I first learned the classical alchemical formulas like Fusion of the 5 Elements, which is how to form the pearl (condensed shen, qi, and jing) that controls the 8 Extraordinary or Psychic Channels. Next was an amazingly sophisticated formula of internal sexual alchemy, the Lesser Enlightenment of Kan and Li (Water and Fire). It works with the yin and yang Jing Shen or body souls, the inner voices of your dark side and light side. You train these vital organ gods to freely copulate inside your body's core channel to rebirth your yuan shen (original or primordial mind).

These formulas are the Taoist equivalent of depth psychology, but they are seamlessly integrated with yin-yang, five element theory and the detailed body energy maps of Chinese medicine. It gives one a practical way to interface with their unconscious and the autonomic nervous system. At the more mystical high end you learn to dissolve the boundary between yourself and nature, the sun, moon, and star beings. But like the sexual neigong, I found these practices needed to be re-languaged and adapted to western bodyminds.

I practiced these formulas, and they worked great for me. But I was initially confused when I could not find any reference to these formulas in TCM medical or qigong books, only in the ancient texts. Yet I learned over time that this 8 Extraordinary Meridian and 5 Jing Shen centered approach is really the faster, simpler, truly traditional way to heal the body-mind.. This is because the 5 Jing Shen (body souls) and the 8 deep channels feed all the vital organs and the 12 secondary meridians (heart, spleen, etc.) Increasing numbers of qigong healers and acupuncturists today are trying to recover this deliberately buried aspect of Chinese medicine.

Several years ago, after a car accident I started getting symptoms of my motherıs rare inflammatory eye condition, birdshot choroiditis, that frequently leads to blindness. It got so bad that I could no longer read. I sat down and intensified my alchemical Kan and Li practice, and after a week of steaming my heart and eyes it felt like the lights had suddenly come on and I could see again. This convinced me that these formulas could work even on healing inherited diseases by changing core genetic patterns.

One Chinese Qigong teacher claims that a study had been done in China that showed Classical 8 Extra treatments were far more effective than the TCM protocols, but that the results were not released because officials did not want to disturb the now mammoth TCM institutions. I cannot verify that. What's more important for the qigong healing community is that these 8 extra channels may be more easily accessed by neigong self-practice and qi emission than by acupuncture. In my experience they are less draining for the healer than qi emission into the secondary channels. It seems the closer you work to the core, more juice is available.

I asked around about the attitude in China toward shen therapy, using the body souls that actually are the body's intelligence and inner will. I met with Dr. Yang Yuan Jing, perhaps the most scientifically studied high level qi emission master in all of China. Almost a third of the Chinese research studies on the ability of qi emission to kill bacteria or grow them in a petri dish, the infrasonic/ photonic quality of qi, etc., have been performed on his personal qi field. I experienced his qi during a session as very powerful, and he could clearly direct it.

I asked Dr. Yang, What is the attitude towards shen in China amongst top qigong masters? He hesitated, and looked furtively around, as if concerned that someone in China 6000 miles away was listening. Nobody talks about it, he finally said. The government does not like it. Of course, when you develop high level ability with qi, you begin to have many experiences. I have seen the spirits of dying people depart. But we cannot discuss this professionally. Some people with high level qi ability have difficulty living with this, and close down their shen.

So where does this leave us in America? We have plenty of skilled qigong teachers from the martial arts side, which tends to focus on fa jing training, or suddenly discharging dense energy into an opponent's vital organ or tissues with intent to disable. At a high level it could kill a person if the organ is so shocked it stops functioning. We have fewer medical qigong teachers, who might focus on the jing level but apply qi more gradually to it with the opposite intent of building it up. The ability to step down qi into the jing level and repair tissues, dissolve tumors, etc. is one thing that often distinguishes Chinese healers today from other types of energy healing in America, like reiki or pranic healing. And we have even fewer qigong teachers working from the shen level. There are a few qi healing training programs available, but they vary widely in their approach.

This is why the National Qigong Association USA or simply the NQA, an umbrella organization of about two hundred American qigong instructors, healers, students, and organizational members, recently formed a Medical Qigong Committee to look into creating a consensus of what American medical qigong training standards might look like in the 21st century. I originally joined the NQA two years ago at its inception because I was excited by the idea of creating a national family of qigong lovers. I'd had a great learning and loving experience with the Healing Tao community, and wanted the same sharing with other American qigong players and their different styles. I wanted to help birth a new American qigong paradigm, free of any one teacher. I am currently president of the NQA, which affords me some insight into the dynamic of what is now happening in the national qigong community.

The NQA's 15 member Board of Directions asked Jerry Alan Johnson, who is working on what promises to be an excellent 800 page book on Medical Qigong Therapy for clinical settings, to chair a Medical Qigong Committee. Jerry, a martial artist turned healer, is very passionate about his viewpoint on the subject. He falls into the adopt the current TCM medical school standards camp, a position that is not universally shared on the board, myself included, for the reasons I've stated. Yet I am grateful to Jerry for holding his position, as it highlights important aspects of qigong training that many western qigong enthusiasts are unaware of and that should be included in a top notch training standard. However, Jerry's zeal to promote TCM qigong medical school standards (with qi emission exams) led to an error that needs correction.

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