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Using Qigong and Tai Chi for Healing, Part Two: Allow Inspiration and Work Hard

This post is Part Two of a series that addresses healing from serious chronic and acute illness, including but not limited to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and Cancer. Click here to access all articles about using Tai Chi and Qigong for health recovery

This is Bianca Molle.

Bianca used to have Parkinson's. Now she doesn't.

As incredible as that may sound, Bianca no longer has Parkinson's symptoms. She attributes the miracle of her healing to practicing Qigong. If you want to learn more about Bianca's story immediately, take a look at this video interview with Lilou Mace of the Juicy Living Tour. Hers is an amazing story.


I point you to Bianca's story because if you're facing a serious illness, it is vital that you know that it is possible to heal. Yes, even you. In many ways, there is nothing special about Bianca's story. She found Qigong practice and made it work for her, and you can too.

In case you didn't watch the video, this is her message to people who are suffering from Parkinson's. I'm sure she would extend it to anyone who is dealing with illness. It starts at 9:00:

"My message is...that there is hope, and that the answer is within you, and that you have the strength."

There is another reason to attend to Bianca's story, however, and that is to take a look at some of the practical considerations involved in using Qigong to heal. The same would apply if you chose to approach your healing journey through Tai Chi or through a combination of Tai Chi and Qigong.

Listen to Your Higher Self
This is not about an act of faith, or clapping your hands and willing yourself into wellness, although if you can do that, then by all means, do it now! It's about trusting your innate wisdom. This is the same wisdom, kismet, synchronicity, divine coincidence, whatever you want to call it, that brought you here through the magic of your search engine. You would not have read this far if you didn't think it was possible to heal. Plenty of people would have stopped reading much closer to the top of the page. Part of you knows you can do it. Part of you wants this. Maybe all of you wants this. Listen to that part. Trust that part. Roll with that part, because it's going to take you further into healing than the part that believes healing is impossible.

Understand that if You Choose this Path for Healing, Qigong and Tai Chi are Part of Your Spiritual Path
This is something that is easy to dismiss if you're in a particular mindset, but I mention it because it has been my experience and I've watched many people go through a similar process of discovery. Tai Chi and Qigong are not merely exercise techniques. They connect you with a whole aspect of reality that is otherwise easy to miss or bypass. Here's what Bianca Molle has to say about it (at 2:40 in the interview):

I see [Qigong] as my spiritual being brought home. Before anything physical or anything else, that's all very nice, that I was healed from Parkinson's, that's wonderful and I'm eternally grateful, but I feel that the place where I was born as a child, that mystical, wonderful place that very often the conscious world makes us push aside, I've returned. I feel very much at home, being myself and being in touch with the higher consciousness that is bringing fulfillment through me.
Whatever practical concerns brought you here, it's good to take a very big view of your Tai Chi or Qigong journey. You're starting down a path that is about to open up more to you than you are maybe ready for right now, but get ready for awesome magic, amazing insights into the world around you, and the lifting of more limits than you could have imagined. The more you do, the more you'll understand, and the better you'll feel. It's going to be great. Think big. Bigger. Biggest.

That's the fun stuff. Here's the tough love.

Three Hours a Day
Yup, three hours practice a day, every day. You read that right.

If you want to use Qigong and / or Tai Chi for healing serious illness, you need to commit to practicing it three hours each day, for as long as your body requires it, potentially for the rest of your life. This is the traditional recommendation for anyone who wants to heal something big. It is a huge commitment, no question about it, and can come as a shock to anyone who goes into Tai Chi or Qigong practice thinking that it's the kind of thing you do for twenty minutes a day and then you're done.

If you are well, you can afford to do less Tai Chi or Qigong. I love it and I teach it, so I personally do a lot of it, an average of about two hours a day. If you're using it for meditation or health maintenance or general wellness, then you will simply get out of it whatever you put in. Twenty minutes a day is great; an hour is better.

If you are not well and are using Tai Chi or Qigong for healing, you need to hit your practice like the Hammer of Thor. Your body is in a serious state of disarray. Once you start to heal and you feel genuinely better, you can ease back a bit, or loosen up the schedule, but I would not be doing you any favours by telling you that twenty minutes once in a while is going to do it for you. Qigong and Tai Chi are powerful, but they're not that powerful. A very advanced practitioner can get massive benefit from a brief practice session, but that's after twenty or thirty years of regular, committed practice.

But How?
It is up to you exactly how. I can tell you that for me, my practice time is something I hold precious and look forward to eagerly, because it makes me feel great, and it gives me a sense of deep peace and fulfillment. It is easier for me to practice than not to practice, but I certainly didn't always feel this way. Here are some ideas if you're looking for a way to start.

Ramp Up, But Not Too Slowly
The strategy I would recommend to anyone facing serous illness is to start folding Tai Chi and Qigong into your routine as soon as you can. My classes last an hour to an hour and a half. For your first few classes, that will probably be more than enough to tire you out, and that's probably enough for the days when you are attending class. However, it's important to start the habit of daily practice as soon as you can. In the beginning, a thirty minute daily session on days when you aren't attending class is perfect. At the start of your second week, increase that by thirty minutes. Add an hour each week following, so by the end of week four, you're up to three hours a day. On days when you have class, add the extra hour and a half or two hours home practice time in order to get to the full three hours. There you go.

Don't Worry About Consecutive or Non-Consecutive Time
One hour in the morning and two in the afternoon is great. An hour and a half mid-day, a half hour before supper, and an hour after is great. You get the idea. It is easier psychologically to do one big session, since getting going is often the most difficult part. However, when you are facing a major illness, you may find that you get very tired after a shorter period of time. Just make sure you don't get into skipping hours. It is absolutely vital to spend those three hours on Tai Chi or Qigong daily.

If You Are Worried About Practicing Wrong
The most common excuse I hear from people about why they don't practice on their own is that they "don't want to do it wrong." I get it, but no. It doesn't matter. Especially if you're ill, you can't afford to wait until you "get it right". Tai Chi and Qigong are about exploring your body and its limits. You can get the moves completely wrong, but then you come into class and remind yourself of how it's done and change what you're doing and slowly improve. If you have mobility limits, you're going to need a lot of practice in order to get your body moving in the right direction. Just practice.

How to Make Yourself Practice Daily
For now, I'm going to end with some wisdom from the amazing Neila Rey, personal trainer and creator of amazing workout routines with names like "Batman" and "Lannister." This is from her article "How to Make Yourself Exercise Every Day," and contains some of the simplest but most powerful advice I've read. Go read the whole thing immediately, or read this bit, which is my favourite part:

Sometimes, all you need to do is show up. That’s all. You don’t need to be ready, the conditions don’t have to be ideal (they never are), and the gear is really optional as long as you have a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Show up and go through the motions even if you have to count minutes until it’s over. The eagerness and the excitement over what you are doing at times come during the process – like appetite that comes during a meal. Show up and do what you can at whatever pace you can, but do it.

Next time, more about how to maximize the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong for healing, and what to expect as you continue your journey.


Confidante said...

Dear Melissa, thank you for a very interesting post.

I have a question - is there any kind of research/any other references that show that three hours a day is the recommended practice time for it to have a healing effect?

thank you.

Melissa Smith said...

Hi there! I don't know of any published sources. This is the time frame given by my teacher's teacher to anyone who was battling serious illness, and it's confirmed by Bianca Molle's teacher. I personally have seen people going through the process of healing virtually eliminate symptoms through three hours' practice daily within a short period of time (a month or two of practice).

It's possible this is a psychological thing. Maybe an hour and a half is sufficient, but you need to feel as though you're crushing it in order to heal (placebo effect?).

My sense is that you are retraining the body, giving it time to remember that it can function well. If you think about it, 21 hours out of the day, it's free to follow old habits. Maybe the three hours is required in order to thoroughly disrupt those habits.

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa,

Nice post!

Although the Bianca video does not mention it, she is doing the "Lift Qi Up & Lift Qi Down" from Zhineng Qigong. In China, Zhineng Qigong practitioners with stage 4 cancer were practicing for at least 8-10 hrs a day.

By the way, you should activate your Blogger with Google+ and your blog posts will gain a lot more traction or engagement. Also your comments from both Blogger and Google+ will be integrated.


Unknown said...

Hi Melissa,

Nice post!

Although the Bianca video does not mention it, she is doing the "Lift Qi Up & Lift Qi Down" from Zhineng Qigong. In China, Zhineng Qigong practitioners with stage 4 cancer were practicing for at least 8-10 hrs a day.

By the way, you should activate your Blogger with Google+ and your blog posts will gain a lot more traction or engagement. Also your comments from both Blogger and Google+ will be integrated.


Melissa Smith said...

Hi Colman,

Yeah, Google+, right? I'm playing with it. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

I think Bianca does mention Lift Qi Up & Pour Qi down. I get that it would make sense for people with advanced cancers to do more than the 3 hours typically recommended for people with chronic but not necessarily life-threatening disease. I've got some posts planned on dealing with specific diseases, and I'll be going into more details about tailoring practice time and other support strategies at that point.

Confidante said...

Thank you!