Monday, September 14, 2009

Managing Depression With Qigong by Frances Gaik

Managing Depression With Qigong by Frances Gaik is an interesting resource for those who are struggling with depression or are drawn to qigong. The qigong she uses as the foundation for her research is the Spring Forest by Chunyi Lin. I mention this because the suggested exercises in the appendix talk about listening to a tape, etc. which are clearly available online (as is also mentioned in the appendix). The first chapter reads like a dissertation introduction in which the author presents what she will explore in the text itself. The second chapter immediately discusses the biology of depression, how SSRI anti-depressants work, and how qigong can help, including some simple visualization exercises which read more like something from a self-help book than a qigong practice recommendation. Can you tell at this point I wasn’t too terribly impressed with what I was reading? This was further reinforced when I looked more closely at the appendix, after reading Gaik’s sharing that she uses certain exercises to help her, each of which begins with mentioning the length of time the practice is “on the tape” before going into what one hopes is the practice in its entirety. Chapter three focuses more on the research and data, offering scientific evidence of qigong’s benefits. There are images of the brain during a qigong treatment both from the giver and receiver, references to how qigong has helped with chronic and acute medical conditions, and, of course, mention of qigong as a means to help with depression. Chapter four delves into the various causes of depression, from situational to biological as well as offering list of signs of depression. At no point does the author suggest that the reader should self-diagnose and she does make a point of emphasizing that if the reader is considering suicide they should seek immediate professional help. Chapter five finally promises to offer practical advice on how to use qigong, drawing on the examples and images in the appendices. It almost starts sounding like an promotion for Spring Forest Qigong, although one could argue that any text on qigong would, of necessity, focus on one school of practice over another. Chapter six reinforces the idea that each person is responsible for their own health and well-being, making conscious choices to be proactive rather than reactive in all things and then chapter seven describes the process by which Gaik tested the effectiveness of qigong, reiterating the resources used (meditation cds, dvd, and manual). The research is presented with diagrams and statistical data. There is something odd about Gaik’s syntax in sentences and this ripples beyond the individual phrases throughout the very structure of the text itself. Certain thoughts are redundantly presented not as a means of reinforcing but almost as an afterthought. That the scientific research is presented first and final chapters is odd. Then splitting chapters two and four also seems a peculiar organizational choice. All in all, this book presents an argument for using qigong to ease depression but doesn’t organize the information in a manner that is conducive to inspiring the reader to give qigong a try. I also found some erroneous information about Reiki, suggesting that Reiki is purely a hands on form of energy healing, a statement which is not true. Also, although Gaik lists the items each of the patients received, she does not list them by title which makes it difficult for the reader to order precisely what was used during the research. I’ve enjoyed and fully appreciated other books on qigong from the same publisher. Unfortunately, this one does not live up to the quality nor the standards of the others.
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Realize that this “attack” is part of the individual’s own personal mistaken belief system. It isn’t really about you it is about their need to relate to their own “story.” (40) The most beneficial emotion we can have is not happiness or joy, which may be short lived; it is gratitude and thankfulness. (43) Change is the only constant in our world, and the more comfortable you become with it, the better you will navigate the inevitable transitions which life presents. Qigong can help to assist you in maintaining the proper balance of the body through the change. (81) As we get older, our beauty fades and perhaps our health. If your identity is tied up in remaining youthful, perfectionism can be a cruel task master and you are bound for disappointment with yourself. You need to learn to love and accept yourself as worthy. People who place their value on what they do and how they look have set themselves on a never-ending treadmill of dissatisfaction. To be at peace with your age is a worthy goal, and remember that each age has its own benefits. (82) See yourself as part of the unified harmony, rather than the discord. In the past, you have been very good at separating yourself from others use this as an opportunity to relax judgment and experience healing. Allow yourself to see all that is good in yourself and in the world. (93) This is the quote which I say is erroneous. While it is true that some Reiki practitioners can and do touch the other person, it is possible to not do so and Reiki can be given even from a great distance. In other words, it is not necessary to touch the other person and it is not the same as laying on of hands. Some people have asked if a Reiki practitioner will sufficiently suffice. Reiki is not the same discipline and involves the practitioner applying touch, much as in a healing laying-on-of-hands application. However, if you feel that you receive benefit from Reiki treatments, then by all means you can supplement your practice with occasional treatments. (97) This is an example of the awkward syntax that I found strange. Also, illusive should be elusive. By the practice of qigong, you may begin the path to be free of suffering. Happiness is an illusive and temporary state; but you now have one tool to find peace and contentment in your life. I trust you will use it and encourage others to do so as well. (109) Based on what the author describes, each participant probably received the following: Level One for Health Manual Level One for Health DVD Level One Active Exercise CD Level One Sitting Meditation CD Except for the Active Exercise CD, these can be bought in a set SFQ Fundamentals. It should also be noted that there is a Level One for Health Personal Learning Course which includes much of the above and some extras. For more on Spring Forest Qigong, you can read the book or go to this website: http://www.springforestqigong.com/index.htm