A cliché, but true: researchers and scientists experience stress. It has various causes: competition for research funds and the race to be the first with publications, financial pressure to secure sufficient resources, the pressure to regularly publish in renowned journals, time pressure due to various deadlines, no proper work-life balance, uncertainty, and teaching obligations. I’m not telling you anything new.
Where I might be telling you something new is that the chronic stress resulting from these factors can lead to a plethora of health problems. From a decreased functioning of your immune system to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and cognitive impairment. And if that sounds too distant, when you’re stressed, you react more strongly to small setbacks and struggle to handle daily situations. That leads to more stress. Maybe you recognize the cycle?
Bringing your body and mind to rest is not a luxury but essential to stay physically and mentally healthy. The Chinese have had a widely used method for over 5000 years: Qigong. Qigong is meditation in motion. Qi is often defined as breath, life force, energy; gong means practice, work. Qigong is therefore working with life energy, maintaining and caring for your Qi. A proven way to find and maintain balance.
That sounds wonderful, but does it work? Karen van Dam, emeritus Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Open University, compiled the scientific findings on the health effects of qigong in this article. The results are impressive: the benefits are evident already in the short term. For example, after ten weeks of practicing qigong three times a week for half an hour, there is a significant decrease in blood pressure. Additionally, qigong improves your cardiovascular system, heart rhythm, immune system, and lung capacity. Qigong practitioners have lower levels of stress hormones in their blood and actually experience less stress. They also enjoy better sleep, experience less fatigue, and have fewer anxious and depressive symptoms. And your cognitive skills improve.
My personal journey
What I personally notice – I’ve been practicing zhineng qigong for about 7 years almost daily – is that it makes me happy and calm, and I do indeed feel balanced, even when life is challenging. My first experience with Qigong made me so happy that I did a deep dive: I completed a teaching training and several years of masterclasses with Master Liu. He learned Zhineng Qigong directly from Dr. Pang Ming, the founder of the Huaxia center: the largest medicine-free hospital in the world.
Give your garden a little water every day
Through my teacher Anne Hering, I learned of a Chinese proverb: Give your garden a little water every day. Even if you know your garden needs a thousand liters of water in the summer, it doesn’t mean you let that thousand liters flow into the garden all at once at the beginning of the summer; you can distribute the water. In Qigong practice, it means you can gradually build up the time you spend on Qigong every day so that the water, the Qi, is replenished enough every day to make your garden grow and bloom.
Several times a year, I organize the QiFlow Vitality Day, where you can get acquainted with Zhineng Qigong and then start practicing it yourself. A Chinese workout, recommended for everyone dealing with stress.