Meditation and Qigong
by Dr. Robert Kienitz, D.Ac., DTCM
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is commonly understood that emotional and physical health are closely allied and are, in fact, wholly interdependent. Illness arising from an organic source will eventually lead to or create an emotional response, for instance, chronic pain of any type is always followed by a depressive state.
The converse is also true. Chronic depression eventually leads to a breakdown of the immune system and metabolic decline that can lead to conditions that range from an increased susceptibility to colds and flu to obesity and heart disease.
In TCM, some of the relationships between mental emotional and physiological states can be generally summarized as follows:
Anxiety and depression tend to damage the liver or can be the result of liver disease.
Grief and sorrow tend to injure the lungs and can be due to lung injuries like asthma and bronchitis.
Obsessive compulsive thinking and behavior tend to damage the spleen and stomach or can be the result of a dysfunctional digestive system. Fear, fright and paranoia suppress the function of the kidneys or can be caused by repression of the kidneys and adrenal function.
Too much of any emotional condition, especially in sudden bursts, tends to injure the heart. Even a pleasurable emotion can injure the heart. A weakened heart can make every emotional fluctuation a dangerous proposition.
Since emotion in excess is potentially responsible for a wide variety of disease condition, the Taoist sages have always counseled emotional moderation. The “middle way” is one of the fundamental concepts in Taoist philosophy but is often misunderstood in the West. The middle way is not Prozac, the Taoists did not advise that we live in an emotional vacuum in order to preserve our health and harmony. The lack of emotional outlet is as potentially devastating as the any one of the emotional excesses listed above.
Two ways to develop emotional moderation are through meditation and Qigong practices. Stability of emotion has as its base the stability of mind. The concept is a simple one, the firmer the root the stronger the tree. Nothing ensures a firm mental root like consistent practice of meditation techniques. The more the mind is called upon to behave in a disciplined manner, even for ten minutes a day, the better behaved that mind becomes.
The first question that springs from most of our patients is “which meditation or Qigong practice is best”? The answer to that is whichever one you find that you like enough to make a daily practice out of. It does no good to learn esoteric and complicated meditation techniques and Qigong forms if you are not inclined to practice them. I advise again the middle way. Find something that is simple and enjoyable and that can be done within a reasonable time on a daily basis.
Another bit of advice is to learn what is at hand. It is impractical to go on a four year quest to find “just the right master with just the right technique”. Try something on, practice it for a few months, if you don’t like it try something else, but don’t waste valuable time searching for the perfect practice. The perfect practice will be the one you use every day.