We started the Jiayou group as a qigong and TCM initiative to give people methods to protect their health, and cope with the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, Kerry and I will conclude the project as we turn our attention to the other work we hope to do this year. As we wrap it up, I would like to leave you with a few comments concerning the principles of qigong and TCM, and why we chose the methods we taught.
The basic principle is: Fuzheng quxie 扶正祛邪. Support the healthy, upright qi in order to prevent invasion from, or expel, pathogenic qi. This is the key point of the qigong exercises we have introduced (the Healing Sounds sounds, the Yuanminggong and other basic traditional methods, as well as the various massages). That's why I said right from the start: every qigong exercise that you feel comfortable enough with to practice it regularly is the right one for you. Regular practice (even a little, every or most days) is important - it is a repetitive impulse for the qi to bring about the necessary changes to life processes that create and stabilize the balance of health.
I would like to emphasize once again: Qigong and TCM do not fight disease. They regulate, in other words, they order the qi. This ordering brings any state of imbalance back into balance - it reduces an imbalanced state of excess, it strengthens a state of exhaustion of the qi (and blood), it lowers what is too high, raises what is too low, cools what is too hot, warms what is too cold, moistens what is too drying, and dries what is too humid. All this is a kind of regulation, and every good qigong exercise does just that - it promotes and supports regulation. Balanced health is mirrored in this regulating flow of qi.
In health, an organism with regulated qi copes with diseases by itself. That would be the ideal situation, but self-regulation is often blocked for various reasons that stress our bodies and minds. Intervention through qigong and TCM methods that provide a regular healthy qi impulse is needed. All of the methods and advice we published in the Jiayou Project will restore the ability to self-regulate and self-heal.
Health and healing are based on self-regulation, which in turn is based on strong Zheng-Qi, the orderly behavior of a strong, well-functioning Qi. In the past few months we have tried to illuminate, explain and translate this simple sentence from various approaches:
Moving qigong exercises. These are primarily there to move the Qi so that the Qi develops harmoniously and balanced. The better the balance of the Qi, the better the regulation and the more stable the health
- Quiet breathing and relaxation. The Qi must be able to regenerate itself through sleep, rest and breaks, and also through letting go of tension. Pathogenic Qi can overwhelm Zheng-Qi when you are weakened by fatigue, exhaustion and stress. Taking the time to quieten the breath and relax the mind and body counteracts this and helps to regenerate the exhausted qi.
- Self massage. The massages that we have shown focus primarily on the lung meridian and / or help relieve qi states of heat and moisture that make you more susceptible to the virus, and help the defensive qi of the immune system circulate.
- TCM dietary and food medicine advice. These are important because you can specifically counteract the qi properties of the virus. The virus is a moist and warm pathogen, it belongs to the “heat pestilence” category and attacks the lungs and spleen. This is why, if your own qi tends to be damp and overly warm, it is so important to counteract these tendencies.
- Theoretical explanations. You can practice Qigong without theory, no question. However, the theoretical understanding of the practice helps a lot. You can take it slow. If you read through our different explanations of qigong and TCM theory every now and then, you will gradually begin to understand better what it means to think in terms of qi and to put your own understanding of qi into practice. Even more important, it will enhance your experience and confidence in what you feel from your practice.
I hope you found the content we posted helpful, and continue to explore it. I will keep the blog up for a long time. The pandemic is not over yet, and the reality is that we will probably have to live with this virus, and other established and new pathogens for a long time, so we want to keep the content accessible.
We'll see how our work goes in autumn. Hopefully, qigong lessons and seminars can take place "analogously" as normal. However, if necessary we will go online with qigong again, perhaps with live practice lessons (this time I was not able to do so due to technical problems).
The YouTube channel remains, and I plan to continue to publish videos there. Perhaps not so regularly, but occasionally.
Kerry and I would like to express our sincere thanks to all who have supported us and our initiative. We wish everyone healthy and - despite everything - a comfortable, nice summer!
As Árpád and I come to the end of our initial “Jiayou!” Project to support our qigong community of students, TCM practitioners, nurses, doctors, friends, and family during these first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to say a few words to help consolidate and clarify what this initiative has, and will continue to provide all of us.
Whether you followed all the way through, read and tried all the methods, advice, recipes, poems, philosophy, TCM explanations, art, and music is not the point (although, hopefully you did dip your toes into the “well of qi” at the heart of our project!). Our, and your intentions have more effect on the qi and a better quality of life than you might think. Where you direct your gaze can define the scope of your life; it can be either limited and partitioned or expansive and integrated, become tighter and feel more burdensome or become untangled, looser and feel lighter. It takes no explanation to get the gist of what might be a more nourishing, more comfortable, more natural and inclusive gaze. That is the reality of health, of directing the gaze first inward, in order to realign and open the flow of qi in the body, and then engaging outwardly with all of life in a more harmonious, easy way.
None of us could ever really know what the next seconds of life brings, let alone the next years. The pandemic has brought this into focus, grabbed our attention in ways that none of the other man-made warnings of social, political, and climatic upheavals of the last decades have done. During the initial protective phase of isolation, of staying at home, and of caring for others while protecting ourselves by literally keeping our breath, its moisture and its potential as a carrier of life and death to ourselves, masking the gateways and thoroughfares of mouth and nose, we had no choice but to become still. As the curtains of containment lowered, our almost constant gaze outward to what was our “normal” lives of working, socializing, shopping, travelling, etc, naturally took a turn.
The transition of this abrupt change of focus was an important part of the Jiayou Project - using qigong as a way to regulate the body, breath and mind, to look inward, past the arising confusion of uncertainties and fears, to feel connected with what is essential. In terms of Chinese medicine, this is how you protect your health from the ravages of “normal” life, live to your potential, and age with grace.
The pandemic means our vulnerabilities are exposed, and we all have to balance that with trying to move forward, to be able to work, provide a living and enter into community life with the energy and creativity needed to adapt. In a broader sense, this is what everything we have put together for the Jiayou group is in aid of; it is a support to nourish life, what the Chinese call Yangsheng. Having the intention to nourish life is the beginning, and it directs the qi in a positive way. Giving body to those intentions is the physical practice of qigong, and will keep your health regulated, no matter what the next seconds, months or years bring us!
Best wishes to you all. We will certainly pick up the thread of our intentions and teach more in the future.