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Energy Medicine - a universal tradition

Albert Einstein
"We may regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely intense... there is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality"
Albert Einstein

Energy is movement = vibration

All matter has a pattern of vibration and is permeated with energy. Matter is dense, slowing any vibration or energy, whereas air is much less dense. Energy medicine harnesses this inherent energy for healing. All life in the universe including human beings are animated by energy as well.

The concept of subtle energies exists in most cultures and medical systems, not only in homeopathy. The ancient Yogis, the Chinese and the Muslims, to name but a few, knew this fact of nature.

Kirlian photography takes pictures of energy fields with an electric current. It shows that the energy body extends beyond the physical body. For example you can feel when someone creeps into a room behind you. We all have energy bodies, and within these energy bodies the channels and systems exist to manage this energy. Most people's energy flows from right to left - one hand is the receiver the other the sender, see how it works for you. With concentration and intention you can increase your own energy field but not only that. "Where intention goes, energy flows" is a common saying. We can indeed influence energetic realities outside of ourselves with intention and concentration for example in the act of prayer.

There are many forms of energy-medicine, they all draw on ancient knowledge.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the inherent energy is called the qi. Energy therapies like Qi Gong and Tai Qi stimulate the energy of the patient to an optimum level, and thereby improve their health to such a degree that they are healed and do not get sick easily.

In Hindu philosophy this vital energy is called prana. Yoga exercises enhance the flow of this life energy.

In Islamic tradition it would be seen as the desire of all life to blossom, to do the best according to their potential or inner nature.

In Western thinking we are talking about the inherent life force.

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Energy medicine in different cultures

The Indian and Chinese views of the energy body are exceptional in that they have been incorporated into the traditional medicine, rather than remaining in the realms of the esoteric.

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Yoga medicine

Yoga

In Yoga medicine the life energy is called prana. Prana makes up the vital force and vitality of the body. In Sanskrit 'pra' means first and 'ana' means food, so prana also means primordial food of human beings. In yoga medicine, prana is considered the most essential food for the human being. Prana is the vitality that animates the human body and it gives movement and life to all mental and physiological processes. Prana is the element of life.

Kirpal Singh writes: "Prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the Universe, the sum total of all the forces in nature. Heat, light, electricity, magnetism, gravitation, etc. are all manifestations of prana. When prana departs from the body, all organs cease to function, for in the body there is no greater force than life-energy or prana."

Prana is the fuel we get from the environment to make the body (the organs, the nervous system and the brain) function. Prana is the vitality and the vital energy of the body. Vital energy comes from our environment, via food, water, air and sunlight. Without vital energy from these elements, life cannot exist.

According to the ancient Hindus, the seven chakras of yoga that are found along the spine are the internal spinning planets, energy centres or cosmic antennas, which connect us to the universe. They are solar and cosmic ray collectors, magnetic field resonators and electrical transformers.

The seven chakras transform the prana energy of the universe and take it into the body where it is converted for our own personal use. Through energy pathways or internal tubes, called nadis, the energy is carried to all organs and tissues. When the chakras spin they initiate all physiological and psychological phenomena known as human life. The chakras help to regulate the flow of vital energy into different organs of the body. Each chakra is associated with a particular physiological system. For instance the heart chakra is linked to the heart and circulatory system. With proper functioning they help to establish strength and balance. When prana energy flows uninhibited through our energy channels it helps to maintain our vitality and good health. When energy gets blocked, disease occurs.

Yoga is a medical and spiritual practice that creates and enhances prana or vital life energy.

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Traditional Chinese medicine

Qi GongQi Gong
Energy MeridiansEnergy Meridians

The Chinese meridian system has similarities with the Indian concept of chakras and nadis. These energy channels cannot be seen with the human eye like the circulatory system, but they can be detected and manipulated using acupuncture points along the meridians. A principle of Qi Gong is that "the mind leads the qi, and the qi leads the blood". This means that one uses the mind to guide and enhance the flow of qi through the meridians.

There are twelve main meridians, which are linked to the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, earth) and the internal organs. The eight extraordinary meridians form the basis for the Qi Gong and meditation practices. In Chinese medicine disease stems from an imbalance in the qi.

All life is seen as an interplay of the energies of heaven and earth. If these energies are in balance, there is health, if they are out of balance there is illness. This is a dynamic interaction constantly able to adapt and change according to the circumstances.

Yin Yang symbol

Earth is the source of nourishment known as yin. The earth not only provides nourishment through the food we eat, but also through the energies that are drawn up through our feet to nourish, ground and cool the body via the yin meridians. Heaven brings heat, light and expansion and is known as yang. The energies of heaven and of the sun flow downwards in the yang meridians, creating movement, vitality and warmth. All life exists through an energetic exchange of the powers of heaven and earth. The light, animating energy of heaven, heavenly qi mingles with the heavier, dense energy of earth to create all life.

At this level there is no distinction between energy and matter - matter is seen as slower vibration, a denser version of the same basic energy that underlies and animates all things. The earth has its own energetic laws which are studied by the Chinese in the science of feng shui.

Acupuncture

The meridian system of subtle energy pathways forms the basis for acupuncture, shiatsu, massage, Qi Gong exercises and even herbal medicine. In acupuncture or acupressure, energy points are stimulated to loosen blockages and enhance the flow of energy, thus restoring health.

Qi Gong

Qi Gong is a form of movement therapy designed to raise the levels of qi or vital energy in the body so that health is created. Through movement and breathing it sends the energy around the body and heals all states. It is a supreme form of healing. In China millions of people practice daily in the parks, squares and hospitals.

The interplay of yin and yang is the basis of all ancient Chinese thought. The idea of constant change and mutual dependency of opposing forces is at the heart of the medicine. Yin and yang serve as the symbolic reminder of the need for balance. In Chinese medicine change and adaptation are seen as the most important factors determining physical, emotional and spiritual health.

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What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong Master

Qi Gong (pronounced 'chee-gung') is an ancient Chinese exercise system combining meditation and slow, gentle movements to promote health and relaxation. The Qi Gong student learns to visualize an invisible energy field known as qi ('life force') and move it through the body to balance and heal dysfunction.

Mentioned as early as 4,500 years ago in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, Qi Gong, or 'energy work', has been considered one of the main pillars of Chinese medicine along with acupuncture, herbal treatment, massage and diet.

Over 80 million Chinese practice Qi Gong daily, and in the West its popularity has steadily increased over the last decade. Qi Gong is the forebear of exercises like t'ai chi and dao-in (chinese yoga).

Qi Gong is considered an effective therapy for a host of chronic illnesses that are considered difficult to treat with Western medicine, including arthritis, asthma, diabetes, hypertension and chronic pain.

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History of Qi Gong

The practice of Qi Gong is thought to date back around the dawn of Chinese civilization, as early as the seventeenth century b.c. Legends of the Shang Dynasty period describe how members of the ancient Tao Tang tribes would imitate the movements of wild animals in order to dispel rheumatism caused by the cold, damp climate. The exercises, called 'dao yin', evolved over the centuries into what is now known as Qi Gong, and reflect the Chinese principle of looking to nature for healing.

From very early times, Qi Gong was incorporated into Chinese medicine. During the Spring/Autumn Period (770-426 b.c.) and the Warring States Period, (476-221 b.c.) the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine were developed, including the theory of yin/yang imbalance as the root cause of illness, the role of the Five Elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Metal), modes of diagnosis (tongue and pulse) and healing (acupuncture, herbs, Qi Gong and diet). The 'three treasures' of the human body, 'Qi' or vital energy, 'Jing' or life essence, and 'Shen' or spirit were viewed as the key to vibrant health.

The Yellow Emperor and the Han Dynasty

The Yellow Emperor

The earliest written mention of Qi Gong as a healing technique is found in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, or Huang Ti Nei Jing, written sometime during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Here it describes the fundamental natural principles that lead to good health:

"In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance, of yin and yang, as represented by the transformation of the energies of the universe. Thus, they formulated practices sych as Dao-In (Qi Gong), an exercise combining stretching, massaging, and breathing to promote energy flow, and meditation to help maintain and harmonize themselves with the universe.
They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided overstressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus, it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years."

Another early Han period record of Qi Gong practice is the Dao Yin Illustrations (Dao Yin Tu), written by the healer Hua Tuo, considered the patriarch of Chinese medicine. It includes a chart representing 44 human figures which perform movements emulating wild animals, including the wolf, monkey, bear, crane, hawk and vulture. Hua Tuo is credited with developing the 'Five Animal Frolics' style, which is still popular today.

"The superior physician teaches; the inferior physician treats."
ancient Chinese proverb

Up until the 20th century, Qi Gong was a closely-guarded state secret in China, passed down from monk to monk in special 'lineages'. On demand, the monks would share their esoteric Qi Gong knowledge with their emperors, who were more often than not seeking the key to eternal life.

As it developed over the centuries, Qi Gong incorporated a variety of religious influences - Buddhist monks used Qi Gong to enhance their spiritual practice, strengthen their bodies and help them attain enlightenment (nirvana). Taoists used it to help them become strong and flexible like nature, with the goal of attaining immortality. During the Liang Dynasty, a Buddhist monk named Da Mo would develop two series of exercises to improve the health of the monks living at the Shaolin Temple. These exercises, Muscle/Tendon Changing and Bone/Marrow Washing, are still used today. Due to this influence, Qi Gong became incorporated into martial arts training.

Twentieth Century to Present Day

After the overthrow of the last feudal dynasty, the Qing, in 1911, Western medicine became the accepted norm in China, and many of the ancient healing traditions were neglected. However, during the Communist Revolution, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung began to look to traditional practices including Qi Gong as a cheap and effective treatment method for the millions of poor peasants without access to health care. Mao called for the integration of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, which led to the first scientific study of Qi Gong. In 1953 the first Qi Gong hospital opened in Bei Dai He.

During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, Qi Gong was once again derided as a superstitious practice, and its practitioners were persecuted. But less than twenty years later, as China's political climate became more moderate in the early 1980s, it was once again revived as a popular health regimen, and hundreds of Qi Gong hospitals sprung up all over China. Scientific Qi Gong research began in earnest.

Today, almost a billion Chinese practice Qi Gong daily in parks and gymnasiums around China. It is considered a basic health maintenance ritual.

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The Mi Zong standing meditations postures

1. Earth - Wu Chi (spine)

1. Earth - Wu Chi (spine)

Start by doing the standing exercises for five minutes a day. After three weeks, increase this to ten minutes, three weeks later, increase to 15 minutes and 20 minutes after a further three weeks. Stand with your feet a shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward, either parallel, or turned slightly outward; unlock your knees. Let your hands hang loosely by your sides and drop your shoulders. Imagine that, like a puppet, your whole body is hanging, suspended from your head. A string holds your head from a point at the top of your skull, directly in line with the tips of your ears. Feel yourself sinking down, relaxing, as you hang from the string. Breathe calmly and naturally through the nose. Stand quietly, allowing your whole system to calm down, for up to five minutes. As you do this, mentally follow through the points on the illustration, starting at the top of your head. Your eyes look forward and slightly downward; drop your chin so that your throat is not pushed forward. Release any tension in your neck. Relax your hips and belly. Let the bottom of your spine unfold downward so that neither your belly nor your bottom is sticking out. The dantien lies 3-6 inches below your navel, one third of the way into your body. It is in line with the suspension point at the top of your head. From below your kneecaps, your roots extend downward. From your knees upward you rise like a tree, resting calmly between the earth and the sky. Your weight is evenly distributed between your left and right feet. These roots sink deep into the earth. The weight of your body rests in the middle of the soles of your feet. Return to these points again and again until you are able to assume the Wu Chi position naturally and perfectly.

2. Moon - Monk Gazes At The Moon (brain)

2. Moon - Monk Gazes at the Moon (brain)

Slowly bring both your arms upward and forward to form an open circle in front of your face. Visualize holding a full moon or a crystal ball.

3. Mercury - Air (lungs)

3. Mercury - Air (lungs)

Stand like a crane with arms extended and fully stretched from shoulders. Hands raise no higher than shoulders and hang limp with fingers pointing to the ground.

4. Venus - Water (kidney) Stand by the Stream

4. Venus - Water (kidney) Stand By The Stream

Imagine that you are standing in a stream with the current flowing toward you. Bend your knees, and sink down about 4 inches. Imagine that you are suspended from the top of your skull and that your wrists are supported by an invisible strap that runs from the back of your neck. Two balls float on the surface of a running stream, you remain motionless, steadying them. Your body sinks down so that your feet and calves reach down into the soil of the bed of the stream and take root.

5. Sun - Fire (heart)

5. Sun - Fire (heart)

Raise palms to face outward at shoulder/ heart level.

6. Mars - Fire (blood) Stand Like a Candle

6. Mars - Fire (blood) Stand Like a Candle

Raise your hands outward so that the backs of your hands are level with your cheeks. Make a pyramid with your arms with your face in the middle. Imagine that your wrists are supported by a strap that runs around the back of your neck. Your open hands hold an imaginary balloon in front of your face. Press gently outward on the balloon as if to guide it away from you, but do not tense.

7. Jupiter (liver) Standing Like a Tree

7. Jupiter (liver) Standing Like a Tree

Slowly bring both your arms upward and forward to form an open circle in front of your chest at about shoulder level. Your open palms face your chest. (The distance between the fingertips of your hands is 6-9 inches. The tops of your thumbs are no higher than your shoulders. Your wrists are as wide apart as your shoulders. Your elbows are sightly lower than your wrists and shoulders. The inner angle between your upper arm and forearm is slightly more than 90 degrees.) Imagine that you are holding (resting on) a large inflated balloon between your hands, forearms, and chest. Your armpits and upper arms rest on two small balloons. Your thighs gently hold one balloon in place. A huge balloon takes you weight behind you, like a beach ball on the sand. The weight on your feet remains slightly forward.

8. Saturn - Monk Holds a Bag of Rice (spleen)

8. Saturn - Monk Holds a Bag of Rice (spleen)

Begin in wu chi, turn the palms forward, lift the hands until they are at hip level and parallel with the ground as if holding a big bag of rice.

9. Return To Earth - Wu Chi Posture to Complete the Cycle (Sacred Nine)

Stand until calm and relaxed.

Points to remember:

  • Keep eyes open, tongue on the roof of the mouth.
  • Relax while holding the correct posture, check for tension over and over again. Use your mind to travel through your body from top to toe, relaxing every joint, tendon and muscle. Imagine creating more space between the bones at each articulation point.
  • Women: increased blood circulation may make menstrual flow heavier, therefore decrease standing time during menstruation.
  • After completing the cycle, rub your hands over your face, as if you were giving yourself a wash, this increases the flow if chi in your hands and the circulation of chi through your facial skin.
  • General sensations most commonly experienced by people in the first six weeks of training include numbness or tingling in some parts of your body; aching, sometimes associated with old wounds, and muscle fatigue; warmth; shaking or trembling (just continue to stand, this will subside); asymmetry, one side of body or one limb feels longer, hotter, higher; comfort/relaxation, this is the goal.

The Inner Smile

An inner smile radiates powerful healing energy. Starting with the eyes, practice the inner smile by closing your eyes and smiling sincerely into them. Relax and let a deep, loving smile shine through your eyes. By relaxing your eyes you can calm your entire nervous system. Continue by smiling down the front line (from the eyes down through your vital organs towards the genitals effortlessly like a waterfall): into the face (especially the jaws), neck, heart and blood circulatory system, the lungs, liver, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas, spleen, bladder and genitals. The Middle Line: Smile down from the mouth to the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, simultaneously swallowing saliva. The Back Line: smile down the inside of the vertebrae of your spine, one by one.

With thanks to Robin Murphy www.alchemilla.com

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Islamic medicine

Rose

In Islamic thought, humans are created for a higher purpose. Our body is earthly but our spirit is divine. We are created in the image of God and are here to reflect the divine in all its beauty and majesty. As well as human beings who live for a higher purpose in life, every particle in the universe has a role and is commissioned to undertake it to the best of his ability.

The force of life urges living beings to resist disease, which is by definition an obstruction to the fulfilment of the ultimate objective of this being. This innate tendency in all organisms to function in accordance with their respective eternal laws, ministering their roles and missions, is a part of what the Qur'an calls Tasbeeh.

"The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His Glory: There is not a thing but celebrates His praise, and yet you understand not how they declare His glory. Verily He is oft-forbearing most forgiving."
(Qur'an 27:44)

When there is any disturbance or deviation from the inherent discipline of Tasbeeh, there is disease. In humans such a disease can be moral (psychological), pathological, or psychological - cum - pathological. In Islam ethical health is part of general health, and unless a person has good, positive, and balanced morals and values he or she cannot maintain general health either. Thus both moral health and physical health become directly a medical concern. This is why Islam lays a great importance on the spiritual welfare of man.

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Homeopathy - energy medicine

Dr Samuel HahnemannDr Samuel Hahnemann
1755-1843, creator of homeopathy

In homeopathy one aspect of 'Tasbeeh', 'Prana' or 'Qi' would be our inherent life force or 'Lebenskraft' as the inventor of homeopathy, Dr Samuel Hahnemann, termed it. This dynamic force differentiates a corpse and a human being. It always strives to bring the body back to optimum health.

"In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force, the dynamism that animates the material body (organism), rules with unbound sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards both sensations and functions, so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purpose of our existence."
Samuel Hahnemann - The Organon Aphorism 9

When we are run down, burnt-out, and our life force is weak, we are more susceptible to falling ill. When we are ill with a cold or flu, and don't do anything except rest, we get better on our own - this is the life force, or the body's own healing power, always striving for perfection.

When the disturbed organism of a patient is properly tuned through the administration of the right homeopathic remedy, the patient not only experiences the alleviation of symptoms, but also has the feeling that life once again is harmoniously flowing through him.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that not only recognises the presence of the healing powers of the body and of nature, the vital force but it actually bases its entire system upon the stimulation of that force.

Homeopathic remedies are energy medicines or energetic / vibrational forces (see 'The process of potentisation' and 'The life force') that resonate with the body's life force, and stimulate it to restore health and well-being. "The spirit of the drug acts on the spirit in man." (Hahnemann)

Homeopathy and all other energy medicine traditions promote the free flow of energy and strengthen vitality, qi energy, the prana or life force in order to achieve vibrant health.

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