After two years of saying 'shoulda, coulda, woulda' about learning some qigong for self-care, I finally jumped in to the summer session taught at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) in late July. The specific form we learned was Hui Gong (pronounced "way gong"), which means "Heart Wisdom" qigong and focuses on the energy of the Heart. This form is taught in the summer as the 'Heart' is a part of the Fire element, which corresponds to the hot, bright month's of the year's cycle, summer.
Qigong from afar looks kind of like a person pretending to swim very slowly underwater, or perhaps dancing among the clouds with some flourishes of the hands thrown in for poetic dazzlement. Really, it is a beautiful form of combined mindful exercise, breath and meditation. Each movement and repetition has a very specific wisdom, purpose, meaning and execution. I find it helpful, and very interesting, to know the story behind each motion, but it is not necessary to understand the background in order to get the benefits of the exercise.
I was finally prompted learn and practice qigong because of a worsening overuse injury to my shoulder. Indeed, the exercise worked wonders and I am amazed how quickly I began to heal and feel less pain immediately after the first class. Ideally, I would practice the Hui Gong routine daily (it takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes for a sesssion), but I usually manage 4-5 times per week.
Also, in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paradigm, the physical is not separate from the mental, emotional and spiritual health of a person - all of these things combined is well-being. So while my qigong exercise helps with my shoulders, arms and neck, it also helps me to deal with stress, be more communicative, and especially, achieve a deep sense of self-security and calm, as I've noticed over the past several weeks.