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Energy healer David Nelson explains Qigong to a novice

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image David Nelson, Enlightenment Coach

Universal health care started in China 7,000 years ago

Back in 1984, Minnesota medical device and technology companies, health plans and insurance companies, hospitals and consultants of all kinds, formed a trade association, named it Medical Alley, and planned to create an ambiance about the technology rich region that would capture the imagination of people around the world. They dubbed the state: “Health Care’s Silicon Valley.”  

Today Minnesota seems to be a growing hub for a new kind of  medicine: Qigong. Master Chunyi Lin’s Spring Forest Qigong school and clinic based in Eden Prairie draws people from around the country. The National Qigong Association is headquartered here, there are many private practitioners, courses for credit at Normandale and Anoka-Ramsey Community Colleges, and you can find Qigong offered at alternative health clinics. The University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing’s web site features Qigong and other mind-body therapies. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester have found Qigong effective for patients with depression, arthritis and other illnesses. I asked David Nelson, a Qigong energy healer and wellness coach, to explain what it means. 

What is Qigong?

Qigong, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, was founded about 7,000 years ago. Qi, pronounced ‘chee,’ refers to the energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong, pronounced ‘gung,’ means skill or steady practice. Qigong combines physical exercise, meditation and energy to remove energy blockages within the body and to help the body’s energy flow. Helping energy move in a natural fashion allows the body to heal itself and increase one’s energy. Ten thousand years ago, of course, there were no modern Western medical devices or techniques. This is how people adapted and lived and, in combination with herbs, healed injuries, recovered from disease and increased their vitality. 

That sounds like free universal health care. How did you come to practice it and use it to help others? 

For 20 years after college I was a banker, left-brained, intellectual. I didn’t understand, didn’t want to understand, and viewed somewhat suspiciously, the types of things that I’m now doing. But I started to explore what my purpose is on earth. One of the things I was exposed to was Reiki, which is a Japanese energy or healing art.  I was taught Reiki by Catholic nuns at a university in Cleveland. Quite to my surprise, I found that I could feel this energy that could not be seen or measured or tested in any other way, and I could also move this energy. It was quite a wonderful experience and also a little disconcerting.  

Shortly after that, I realized it was time to leave banking. I went through a period of reintegration and letting go of who I was before, and accepting who I am now. I spent a two-year mentorship with a man who does healing “earth work,” by the name of Warren Grossman, who’s written a beautiful book called “To Be Healed by the Earth.”   

Back in Cleveland I had learned there was a master Qigong teacher here, and a number of different people I met either took one of his classes or had a healing session with him and spoke quite highly of it. It sounded intriguing so after we moved back to Minnesota I signed up to a attend a class at Spring Forest Qigong, which is the name of Master Chunyi Lin’s school in Eden Prairie, a Twin Cities suburb, and he offers courses through Normandale Community College.

I found Qigong fit very seamlessly for me between Reiki and earthwork. Qigong helped fill the middle even stronger.  Earthwork, which is also my daily practice, helps me ground, get centered and connect to the energy. Qigong, even more than Reiki, allows me to integrate stronger with higher vibrational energies -- the universe’s energy --and bring it present when I do an energy session with someone.  Master Lin’s Qigong technique incorporates the wisdom of a number of different masters he had in China. But in China Qigong is a very ritualistic, master-student relationship that lasts for 20 or even 40 years.   Master Lin’s inspiration was to synthesize the wisdom of these different Masters and simplify the techniques to make them obtainable for everyone. His vision is that everyone can do this, that everyone is a healer and has the capacity to heal themselves or help others.   

How long did you train, or how long have you been practicing? Better yet, what do you consider it, training or practicing or both? 

Both. I’ve completed all four levels of Spring Forest Qigong. The higher levels tend to be for people who want to incorporate this into their practice or what they’re doing as far as trying to help others. 

Can anyone do it? 

Absolutely. One of the things I like about Spring Forest Qigong is anyone can learn this; it’s available to all of us. With some awareness, attention, and focus, we can actually become quite good at this. For example, I worked with a fourth grade school class on just some basic Qigong techniques, and things they can do when they have an injury in their arm to help make their arm feel better. And these kids immediately picked up on the technique and felt the difference in their own body. So even children have the availability -- maybe more so -- because their minds are more open to quickly pick this up.  Master Lin repeatedly says about Qigong: “All we ever needed to know we learned in Level One.” So the other levels are to deepen the experiences, pay attention to them, and go more into them.  This is very accessible and easy to understand if you come with an open mind and are willing to experience it for yourself. And there are CDs, DVDs and books available, by the way, for people who want to learn but can’t attend the class.  

You’ve lived in far-flung places like Cleveland and New Zealand. Do you think it’s more popular here than other places? 

There are many Qigong teachers here in the area, but if they’re not directly related to Master Lin, typically their focus is less on the energetic or healing aspects of Qigong and more into the practice as exercise, like Tai Chi.  Spring Forest Qigong is unique. It just happens to be based here in the Twin Cities, but it’s really his creation from information he’s received from a lot of different sources, and he makes it very approachable and understandable for us Westerners.  

If someone just heard about Qigong and wanted to pursue it, how would you recommend getting started? 

First, I would recommend they experience a Qigong session. They could go to Spring Forest Qigong or come to someone like me who’s trained in Spring Forest Qigong. They could attend courses and gain some hands-on experience in actually doing it, and also practice exercises found in textbooks and CDs. You can and take this and apply it to your life.  Master Lin is very good at saying, “Feel free to adapt this, take this, fit it into what you’re already doing,” and “find the parts that work for you.” He doesn’t believe that you have to do it just his way, but he shows what he has found powerful and effective for him. Typically, my wife, Pam, who is a life coach, and I do workshops and retreats. The idea is to give people exposure to these areas that are not traditionally shared or taught in Western society, especially in America, even though all this wisdom has come from Japan, China and India. These cultures have thousands of years of experience of having awareness of energy flows, their bodies, and the earth. Much of the vocabulary and techniques come from these cultures because Westerners don’t even have a word for it.  Going to a workshop or a retreat gives you an opportunity to become aware of  the energy, try it on, and see how it works for you. The same rules should apply: adapt it, change it, or don’t use it, whatever feels right for you, but at least there’s a sense of awareness and that’s very empowering. We like to focus on self-awareness and self-empowerment that allows people to increase and tap into their own wisdom to help themselves and those around them.  

As far as health benefits, what are some of the things people typically want help with?  

Energy healing works on the spiritual, physical and emotional and mental levels. It is very unlike seeing a medical doctor, because this is not a medical treatment, and it’s unlike seeing a counselor or a psychiatrist. It’s quite an amazing thing, it’s sort of a mystery to us all. Yet it’s really quite beautiful and the bottom line is people benefit from this.  Some people with cancer who are going through chemotherapy or radiation find getting a Qigong or Reiki session helps support them while they’re getting their medical treatments. Energy work helps their body feel stronger and more vital and helps achieve more balance. Like Tai Chi exercise or meditation, Qigong helps us stay more centered and grounded and have some balance in our lives. When we get out of balance and especially when we’re in a state of fear from pain or illness or a big life change, we really need some support. My sense is this energetic support is pretty crucial, and is very clean, and so it’s not like there has to be a long-term relationship or there’s anything you have to take or anything you have to buy, you just need to show up, be present, and allow yourself to experience whatever you need to experience.  For people who are looking to complement and support what else they’re doing, this ends up being a very positive and empowering experience.  In my experience, when people come in during a time of need or a crisis, more often than not some thought or emotion seems to have some tie-in to their physical issues. If my knee hurts it may be that my body is trying to get my attention. If I get some support with it I can help keep that knee functioning. That’s the deeper aspect of this and where I think it differs from Western medicine which is much more dealing with symptoms and physical causes and cause and effect, whereas this is much more of an art than a science where there’s a level of mystery and beauty, and divinity, for lack of a better word, occurring.  

My sense of healing is not as a curing of physical symptoms, but more a sense of well-being, wholeness and empowerment. Our bodies seem to be great mirrors and maybe even canaries in the coal mine to let us know when things are a little out of whack somewhere. We need to be aware that our thoughts and emotions contribute to that as much as slipping on ice, or car accidents and things. My basic understanding is that healing is a more complex relationship than I was led to believe when I was growing up. 

There’s a lot of discussion about the mind-body connection, and there are still many mysteries about the brain. We don’t understand how some things work and it’s been called “the last frontier” of science.   

This is the cutting edge area. The tough part for Western scientific minds when talking about energy work is that it’s very hard for any instrument to measure it. We are getting some techniques, some research that does measure blood pressure, temperature changes, changes in brain activity. But this is a very subtle energy and difficult to measure using traditional instruments.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, a biologist and Stanford researcher, authored a book called “The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Conciousness, Matter and Miracles” that I recommend to everyone. Lipton has come to understand cells and genes from a perspective that is very different from traditional scientific belief.  His research found that genes can be turned off and on by environmental signals, including thoughts, feelings and emotions. We’re starting to realize that humans are a whole being. We are affected by our environment and by what we eat, by exercising, by stress, and by thoughts and emotions. We need to look at ourselves on all those levels. If there’s a behavior we want to change, energy work can support that exploration and wisdom and also supply some energy to take the place of the behavior we want to change. It’s really quite beautiful and exciting and complex, and there’s more to come. And science is, in some ways, starting to explore and catch up with what people in the East have known for centuries. It’s neat to see this synergy occurring. 

How does Qigong differ from Reiki, healing touch, or any of the other energy modalities?  

I’ve been trained in three different energy modalities and I’ve had exposure to probably five others. My sense is that they all get you to the same place. It’s really no different than one person enjoying the Salsa and one person enjoying the Waltz, it’s still dancing, and it’s what moves and works for you.  I encourage people who are looking to explore this to try a couple different ways and see which ones speaks to them, and they’re most comfortable doing. Do some reading, ask some questions, and ask friends who maybe have done it. The provider of these services makes a big difference also. You know, we all try to stay very clean and just allow the energy to flow through us to benefit the person but there is a perfume or a sweetness or an essence that is also transmitted in the relationship. You need to be one with somebody that you trust and connect with, and that gives you results. When you’re done the session with them, you feel more peaceful, enlivened and aware.  

How do people locate Qigong practitioners? 

Referrals from other people is probably one of the best ways, and sometimes you have to rely on ads or searching on the Internet.   Qigong right now is less known, less publicized and less available than say Reiki or healing touch. There are quite a few Reiki practitioners and others who do energy work. Lots of nurses study and practice healing touch and Reiki, and we’re starting to see more blending of traditional and alternative approaches to our overall well being.  One of my goals is to make it better known in the mainstream. I think it’s becoming more accepted in our society, even in the medical profession. Some research has found Reiki, meditations and prayers to aid healing following operations. 

I like the way you haven’t oversold the ability of energy practitioners or healers, or what I am coming to view as ‘awareness coaches.’  How can people guard against those practitioners that make claims like: “I guarantee you’re going to feel better, you’re going to do this and that…”  

One of the first things I’d encourage people to do is to trust their heart. Almost all of us have a gut sense or a instinctual sense, a feeling that occurs. But often we let our brains talk us out of what we feel to be true. What we emphasize at our workshops and retreats is getting in touch with your wisdom. So that would be number one. Two, anytime you feel uncomfortable with the person, including in the middle of the session, you stop the session and you get up and leave, because whatever the reason is, you’re uncomfortable. You don’t have to make any excuses.  Anytime you run into somebody who thinks they have all the answers and they know what’s best for you and they say, “You must come to me to get better or feel good” I would view it with suspicion.  When somebody is more interested in keeping the knowledge and the power and there’s less for you then I think that’s something to be concerned about I often find people receive inspiration about themselves, their body or their life while we’re working together. But they’re receiving it, they’re getting it, you know.  I may ask a question but I try not to label or diagnose or do anything that would be misperceived as me being an authority on you. You’re the authority on you. And I’m here to help you be more in touch with that. 

Interview conducted and condensed by Kathlyn Stone

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (8 posted):

Pat on 05/13/2009 16:49:12
I've been practicing qigong for alomst 2 yrs now and it is a part of my everyday life. I have witnessed the benefits personally and have enjoyed informally teaching interested parties.
I am considering teaching larger groups.
Do you have any ideas for me as to how to move forward on this.
Thank you.
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Devendra Kumar Joshi on 05/18/2009 05:15:16
“Effect of Spiritual healing in curing Parkinson”
I am working as spiritual & Distant healor from Udaipur (India) specially for the patient suffering from Parkinson and knee joint pain. Apart from their regular medical treatment and medicines I involve them in total spirituality and use medicated oil massage on affected portion of body with my spiritual hands along with mantras. The result are fascinating and attractive with self satisfaction. My patient after the treatment starts working as normal person with full of joy and happiness. I shall be glad to work as spiritual healor with you on demand for the benefit of mankind, and would love to perform joint research in eradicating this devastating disease from this world.
God bless to all.
Devendra Kumar Joshi
Spiritual healor
[email protected]
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gift ideas on 12/04/2009 03:50:54
Wow nice post again.I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks.
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mesa dentist on 05/06/2010 03:51:01
Here i can say i have never taken a qigong class at all, but i am pretty sure i can direct it to different parts of the body i need to know some things: 1 can you screw your body up if you dont know what your doing.
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jackadams on 06/04/2010 02:59:11
Tips and advice are really good.
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Send cakes to Pakistan on 06/11/2010 12:43:36
Your advice is appreciable.
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Fishing Reports on 06/14/2010 10:50:44
nice information, I just Love it!
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mbt shoes on 06/28/2010 01:22:57
Wow this is an interested post. I like this post. I read it 3 times. I never qigong class at all, but I'm pretty sure I can directly in different parts of the body, I need to know some things. In addition to their regular treatment and medicines that I had a total of spirituality and medicine use oil massage impact on a body part with hands together spiritual mantra.
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