The healing influence of the Chinese movement meditation Chi Neng Qi Gong
Tijn Touber | February 2003 issue
Chi Neng is not only effective, above all it is simple. It can be learned in one day. It doesn’t take a lot of time – 15 to 20 minutes a day are enough to achieve considerable preventative results. It doesn’t require a lot of space, so it can be done just about anywhere. Patricia van Walstijn remembers her first Chi Neng exercise well: ‘I immediately felt an enormous powerful energy flow through my body and my fingers started to tingle.’ Chi Neng stems from the classic Qi Gong that is practised by an estimated 100 million people in China and another 250,000 in other countries around the world. After years of research, Chinese T’ai Chi and Qi Gong master Pang Ming reduced the essence of these movement traditions to a few elementary exercises he called Chi Neng. Loosely translated: “practical Qi Gong”.
In 1988, Dr. Ming, who was trained in western and eastern healing arts, set out to demonstrate that Chi Neng was an adequate form of therapy for healing sick people. In an old military hospital, a five-hour train ride from Beijing; he started treating countless patients of all types together with a team of doctors. Each month some 5,000 new patients came to the hospital. Chi Neng was the only treatment on offer: no medicine, acupuncture or special diets. Van Walstijn visited the hospital and saw that the patients were thoroughly examined upon arrival using such methods as ultrasound, scans, cardiograms and blood work. For many patients the diagnosis was not good. After a month of treatment consisting solely of an intensive daily Chi Neng programme, the tests were repeated. The results were remarkable. In 1992 the first statistics were published covering 7,936 patients. Of these, 15.20% were completely cured, 36.68% were nearly symptom-free and 42.09% saw a marked improvement. In 1998 the results were even better. A total of over 200,000 patients with 180 different illnesses were treated in the hospital over a 10-year period.
The Chinese authorities put an end to this spectacular initiative when they banned the Falung Gong movement in 1999. The charismatic leader of the Falung Gong – a massive movement that also practised a type of Qi Gong – was considered a threat. As a result, large Qi Gong gatherings were banned, which affected the hospital in Pang Ming. Since the ban, Chinese are only allowed to practice Chi Neng in smaller centres.
Chi, or Qi means energy. Gong means mastery and Neng stands for potential. Chi Neng Qi Gong represents the development of your own potential. The simple movements, which are carried out very slowly and accurately, divide the body’s energy equally and have the effect of an inner massage. Van Walstijn: ‘The basis is in fact just a simple exercise, called Lift Chi Up, Pour Chi Down. There are other exercises, but the Lift Chi Up is the most important. There is a reason behind every movement. You give yourself a kind of acupuncture treatment, which opens up your meridians (energy paths, ed.). Symptoms that are often the result of an unbalanced distribution of energy in the body soon disappear. People with headaches, for example, usually have too much energy in their heads. Cold hands and feet disappear fairly quickly, as do back and neck problems, along with many other types of ailments as well. People with rheumatism and arthritis also see improvement. And Chi Neng is very effective for people suffering from fatigue disorders, such as burnout and ME. It helps rebuild energy reserves. With a lot of practice it can even help with more serious illnesses such as cancer. In the Chinese hospital they practised 10 to 12 hours a day.’ Van Walstijn is cautious about attributing a cure for cancer and other serious illnesses solely to Chi Neng. But the results she has witnessed, including those posted in the forum of her website www.chineng.nl, are impressive. ‘I’m amazed at the reactions and can say with certainty that the side effects from chemotherapy and radiation treatment are nil if you do Chi Neng.’
Chi Neng is ideal for busy, result-oriented people. You don’t need more than 20 minutes a day to do it. Van Walstijn: ‘During the exercise, which you do with your eyes closed, you don’t think of anything. You take energy in and let it go, take in and let go… It’s like an energy shower. You keep returning your thoughts to your stomach, where your energy centre is located. As a result, you are extremely focused which makes you better able to stay with yourself in your daily life. I’ve been doing the exercise for six years. It doesn’t get tedious. It is unbelievable how much deeper you keep going despite its simplicity. The body-mind connection becomes ever stronger until you fully are what you do. That is called the Gong state. When Pang Ming was asked how often he does the exercise, he answered: “It depends on how you look at it: either 24 hours a day or never.” Someone who is completely himself, under all circumstances.’
Van Walstijn founded the European Chi Neng Institute and for the last few years has been giving one-day workshops for beginners in various countries. There is also an 18-day course for instructors. Together with physician Roy Martina she wrote a book about Chi Neng. Instruction CDs and videos are also available. In the Netherlands there are currently 70 instructors active in various areas. ‘Some are specialised in Chi Neng for children. Others mainly work in hospitals or with the elderly. Chi Neng can even be done in a wheelchair, because the legs only play a small role in doing the Lift Chi Up.’