Recovery Gets Ancient

Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is the ancient Chinese practice of meditation through movement and concentrates on the focussing and movement of energy around the body, the words Qi Gong translate as energy cultivating and the practice is the basis for the martial arts such as Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Made up of three parts; posture (stationary or moving), breathing techniques and mental focus Qi Gong is used to cleanse the body, circulate and store energy (Qi) and also to pass on cleansing and healing energies to other people.

The practice can help to heighten senses and even change the way we taste/smell things and has even been shown to help people with cravings and urges proving effective in assisting with stopping smoking especially.

Qi is absorbed from sunlight and air and from the breaking down of food and can be directed around the body to help heal organs and promote better, healthy functioning. The breathing and mental focus can improve or change mood and better organise thought processes.

When Michelle asked me if I would like to spend a week in sunny Manchester learning the ancient art I was curious but unsure, however after a little (very little) research I decided that this Qi Gong stuff had me written all over it so I told her I would give it a whirl.

Though I really hadn’t known what to expect, I certainly hadn’t expected the course to be quite as intense and challenging as it turned out to be and I have to admit that some parts of it were very difficult for me, especially the intimate nature of some of the interactions and some of the trust exercises nearly brought on an anxiety attack. However I endured and in the end was really glad that I had.

The course involved four major areas of study, those being theory, meditations, massage and of course the twelve movements. The theory and massage sections were fine and though I struggled at first with remembering the sequence, the movements themselves eventually became quite straight forward. I did have a bit of trouble with the meditations as I always have and when you find yourself meditating in a circle of strangers and being directed to mentally smile at your prostate it is absolutely time for a bit of faith. However I am confident that with practice I will get it locked down (not my prostate).

It genuinely was an honour to have been chosen to participate in such a fascinating and rewarding project, I really enjoyed my time in Manchester and met a lot of amazing people in the process and hopefully we shall all meet up again.
What I hadn’t realised was that this course was only being piloted and it was the first time that Qi Gong was being taught to be used in recovery in the whole of the UK and that my peers and I were to become pioneers in the field of recovery-based medical Qi Gong. If successful it may well be rolled out to services across the county, so no pressure.

Ultimately I am thrilled that I took part, I broke through some personal barriers and hopefully picked up some useful life skills that I can pass on to other people to aid them in their recovery.

At the end of the week I asked our teacher just a couple of questions to find out a bit more about her:

Who is she, how did she get into this line of work?

“Paula Madeira, I went into teaching in seventy-six and since then I’ve been teaching”.

What does she think (Qi Gong) gives to people in recovery?

“In recovery it gives them self-conscious(ness), strength in the body, the organs and helps a lot to detox and especially the way of thinking changes a lot, those are the main benefits”.

Does she go all over the world teaching?

“Not yet; Portugal, Africa, Mozambique and now here”.

Has she had good results?

“Very good results”.

Would she recommend it to anyone?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michelle and Tom and TBRP for not only making it possible for me to participate but also for supporting me the way they did. Thanks to Sonia and Emerging Horizons for bringing Qi Gong to the UK, thanks to everyone in the group for making the week so special and of course much love and thanks to our teacher Paula Madeira for a truly superb course.

I myself will continue my practice and training and hopefully after a number of months will be bringing Qi Gong to a Basement Project near you.


Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue  6