Kate Curtis –   Acupuncturist Midwife and  herbalist, and chigong/taichi instructor. Celtic Shamanic practitioner. Tel. 087 2325383.

CHIGONG means “energy work” and is the basis behind the power of the Oriental Martial Arts including Kung Fu and the more subtle form of Taichi. The practice of Chigong develops internal strength and energy. It is the practice of learning to control the movement of the life force energy (chi), internally using breath and the mind.

Taichi means “Yin Yang”- balance of all things. It is an ancient Chinese system of movements based on the development of the lifeforce energy within the body through movement. It is practiced in series of very slow and smooth movements.

Both Taichi  and Chigong work with muscles differently than those used in aerobic and vigorous stretching exercise programs in the gym. The feeling of strength of being ‘pumped up’, obtained in western exercises is due to muscular contraction and this kind of contraction prevents the ‘free flow of chi’. The goal within the oriental exercises is to obtain relaxed strength and power. Relaxed power comes when the muscles, rather than fighting and straining to achieve power just loosen and open up and allow the energy to flow through.

Chigong is the practice within Taichi.

They both have certain health benefits if practiced every day.

Frees up trapped emotions … heals body cells….energises bone marrow…strengthens tendons….makes muscle tissue more elastic and joints more flexible…. Strengthens the immune system… circulates blood without strain through the heart and lungs and kidneys. Enhances sexual vitality and fertility.

Chigong is an ancient form of energy movement or channeling of energy along meridians, which origionated in China and Tibet, and is practiced in all Far Eastern countries.

It is now well recognized in the West as a very useful practice to enhance longevity. It is used to help to strengthen the inner tendons and sinews, nervous system, strengthen the core energetic reserve, and reduce stress.

This centre for our core energy reserve which has been translated from the  Chinese written  language and is known as  the Palace for Elixor.  At the core of each  Chigong practice we are concerned with this centre.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, herbs and chigong enhances the possibility for healthy pregnancy and also helps to support pregnancy.  The kidneys are where we store this Elixor, otherwise called Jing, or Essence and it is the foundation of the body and its functions. The strength of this Essence is a significant factor in achieving conception and determines the health and vitality of our children. This essence or elixor can be enhanced with a combination of healthy eating, herbal tonics, acupuncture and chigong exercise and meditation. What can deplete it is unhealthy eating, drinking too much caffeine, alcohol,  not enough rest, and chronic stress.

Different channels of energy, flow in and out of the organs, and run like train tracks throughout the body.  At various parts of the body there are different energy points, called acupuncture points, and access points for energy to flow deeper into the body from the exterior, called Energy Gateways. These are like the train stations, where much activity takes place, and often where refueling occurs.

Energy blocks easily, within our system, which creates pain, tiredness, depression and generally resulting in greater susceptiblilty to illness.

Chigong opens up the Gateways by simple use of breath, along with the practice of specific physical moves.  Breathing through the finger tips and out through the palms, for example is part of the chigong breathing practice to enhance the flow of Qi (chee) energy from the exterior to the interior body.  Breath moves into the chest, and directs to the heart and lungs. Once the heart and lungs open and expand the energy flows more easily through and around the body. The energy of the kidneys if opened also with certain moves using the chigong breath, directed to the kidneys, allows for greater vitality of our adrenal glands, (which sit on top of the kidneys). Too much cortisol, and adrenaline which, are stress hormones produced from adrenal glands and which if raised for a prolonged period, may burn out the adrenal gland reserve otherwise known as the  Gateway for Vitality.

There are two major centres of vitality which open up this deeper source of Vitality and strength. The Ming Men at the back, which lies at the level of our lower thoracic /lumber spine, and the Tan Tian at the front, about 2 inches below the naval.

These centres are not only related to the adrenal glands, but also to the plexus of nerves which come out from the tail of the spinal nerves at the end of the spinal cord, supplying energy to the pelvis. The Gateway of Vitality is the Source of all longevity also for creativity and enhancing the energy flow to this area, thus increasing  the possibility for longer and more vibrant life; enhancing also the possibility to create new life, and to better sustain new life once created. Teaching these exercises to children also at an early age will assist them in their lives as they grow and develop.

Chigong practice, was traditionally only taught to certain people in society, mainly singly to a single person at a time, thereby creating a very elite practice.  Lineages were formed, within families, and teachers, called Masters chose carefully who they took on as their students. Chigong was banned during the communist time as it has such a strong spiritual component. It is again part of the training of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which other parts are Acupuncture, Herbalism Tuina Massage and Nutrition.

It has been in the last 30 – 40 years since the reopening of many of the Far Eastern countries to the West, that the practice of Chigong has emerged.

Hense more westerners have started to learn from Masters and teachers in the Orient, and more traffic of people from the Far East have come  to the West.

Now it is possible for us in the West to learn the deeper priniciples of Chigong  from the people who have learned from the teachers of teachers, of teachers, some who’s lineage origionated in various Far Eastern countries. These principles traditionally were never taught to the ordinary folk.

Quite often we are aware, as we practice these exercises using the breath, of some memory being awakened within us.

We may know innately and recognize them as they help us to connect back to ourselves.  The practice enables us to have beginners mind, like a child’s mind.

A child’s body is loose, soft and supple, and fluid and their mind thinks largely of the present.

In ancient Ireland, there were also strong energy practices known to be performed  by certain people.  These  practices like in the Far East were kept to the elite within the society. The Druids and bards were the educated ones in ancient Celtic lands.

The practices were similar and are once again being taught in these islands.

They connect us to Mother Earth and to the Stars and to Nature, to the mountains, the trees, the sea and rivers, and all of us with each other a deeper more heart opening  way is being opened up.

The energy we pull into our bodies using our breath, comes up through our feet through the acupuncture point in the soles of the feet.

Also through acupuncture points at the palms of the hands we breath in the energy of nature, at the equivalent point.  At the top of the head at the crown acupuncture point, through here we draw in the energy from the stars.  The energy flows through the three centres all called the Tan Tian. The lower, central and upper Tan Tians. Known as the lower middle and upper burners, in Oriental Medicinal tradition.

In the Celtic tradition there are also three centres of energy. These are called Lower middle and upper Caldrons. Each centre has its own emphasis. The similarity to the Eastern philosophy to the Western philosophy, lies in the importance in maintenance and preservation of the Lower Caldron and sustenance of the Centre of the Gateway to Vitality.

This Centre is the Source of all Longevity, and for Creativity, enhancing the possibility for longer and more vibrant life.  The Source of all Life.