Benefits of Chi Gung

chi-gung-poster-photoChi (or Qi) is another name for “energy” and refers to the subtle energy that flows through and around us.  It is also called prana or inner winds. Gung (or gong) simply means cultivation. Chi Gung is, therefore, the cultivation of our subtle energy.

There are many ways to “work” our subtle energy and smooth flowing energy characterizes states of peace, calm, vitality and health.  Indeed, in traditional Chinese medicine disease, such as cancer, begins as a block in energy flow.  What follows from stoppages in chi flow are alterations and blocks in fluid flow that then lead to dysfunction in the immune system.  Finally, we have the gross manifestations of disease such as inflammation, pain and tumors.

The regulation of chi is a fundamental practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Health is maintained by using herbs that influence energy flow as well as stimulating points on the body where chi blockages can occur (as in the practice of acupuncture).  Specific exercises are referred to as “chi gung” and these are part of the ancient longevity practices of Taoism.  Dragon and Tiger Chi Gung is one such practice.  As a powerful stimulator of chi, It is use in China to treat cancer.

I was taught that in order to maintain good health one should practice twenty minutes a day.  If one was interested in developing internal power in order to compete in marital arts then one needed two hours of practice a day.  For spiritual development eight hours was the minimum.

The health benefits of chi gung have been validated by many studies.  A research review in the American Journal of Health Promotion informs us of the following scientifically validated benefits:

  • Reduces Stress
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Reduces Depression
  • Enhances Immune Function
  • Enhances Cardiopulmonary Function
  • Increases Self Esteem
  • Enhances Quality of Life
  • Improves Bone Density
  • Reduces Blood Pressure
  • Increases Sleep Quality
  • Increases HDL – Decreases LDL
  • Decreases Total Cholesterol & Triglycerides
  • Improves Balance
  • Increases Ability to Handle Pain
  • Enhances Detoxification from Heroine


Am J Health Promotion 2010 Jul-Aug;24(6):e1-e25. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248. A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F.


Lavender is one of my favorite plants.  It is drought resistant, deer resistant, supplies lovely flowers, and grows quickly.  It also can be grown in Phoenix! -especially if given morning sun only.

Here is the one I planted last fall.  It was just a small plant (probably a four to six inch pot).  And now it is a solid four feet across.  (I gave it enough room to get 6 to 8 feet round.  I don’t like to crowd my plants.)

Today before sunrise, since it gets the first rays and I don’t like the intense Phoenix sun beating down on me, I harvested the flowers.

It is an easy process.

Just snip, snip with the scissors and drop into a paper bag for drying.

I throw the bag into my car to dry.  It makes the car smell wonderful also.

This is what my plant looked like once it was trimmed.  You’ll want to take off the extra stems as well as the flower heads.  A pile of the stems can be seen on the left side of the picture.  In California, if you harvest the flowers early enough, the plant will put out a second bloom.  It won’t be as many as the first, but always nice to get more lavender.

lavender-harvestedWhen the lavender is dried, which won’t take long here in Phoenix, you just strip the flowers off the stems and compost the stems.  I recommend waiting for a day when you are depressed, anxious, or a little out of sorts.  Nothing like the aromatherapy of stripping lavender to settle ones nerves and elevate ones mind.

The scent of lavender directly influences our limbic system.  The limbic system is a part of our brain that regulates autonomic function such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.  It also regulates our hormone system and is involved in some aspects of memory as well.

Smelling lavender can reduce stress hormones levels and anxiety, improve mood and sleep, and reduce pain!  If you want to read more, here is a link to a nice scientific review of lavender use.

lavender-sachets-frontsOnce I have the dried flowers, I could make tea from them, but my favorite thing to do is to make sachets.

Here is a picture of my latest batch in progress. These are the future front panels of the sachets,


lavender-sachetsThe finished sachets.

This is the solution to “my what to give away at my book signings” problem that I talked about earlier this week in the post Temptations.

Sure beats glow sticks!

Peir Hossein Koulivand, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji, “Lavender and the Nervous System,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 681304, 10 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/681304