Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Managing Stress with Qigong by Gordon Faulkner

Managing Stress with Qigong by Gordon Faulkner is a simple to follow book that offers two series of exercises, one for stress relief and the other for stress prevention.  Each practice is further broken down into a standing and seated practice.

Practically everyone has heard that sitting in silent meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress; however many people find it difficult to sit still.  Qigong’s very slow movements allow the person to experience a moving meditation and the particular sequence of these moves is designed to specifically work with the qi within the body.  Some of the information about specific acupuncture points may be a bit beyond the average reader but for those who work with these points the details are all the more helpful.  However, you won’t need to know these details to reap the benefits promised in these practices.

The first chapter discusses how qigong can help relieve stress and even prevent future stress through practice.  The author goes on to explain who qigong has evolved and specifically how the practices shared in the book were developed.

In chapter two, the author detail some of the specifics of how to hold the hands, move the feet, and breathe with illustrations to help the reader visualize the information more easily.

Chapters three and four introduce the actual practices, first the standing stress relief routine followed by the seated stress relief.  Again, there are illustrations with step-by-step instructions on how to do the practice.  The next two chapters, five and six, focus on the stress prevention practices.  Like the previous two chapters, there is first a standing practice, then a seated one, both fully illustrated and explained clearly.

The final section explains the effects of the practice, going into great detail about each move, the acupuncture points being stimulated, the different organs being either stimulated or calmed throughout.  Faulkner’s choosing to share this information at the end is a wise one; most readers, I think it’s safe to say, will not need to know every jot and tittle. However, as the benefits are experienced first-hand, it is likely that all readers will want to better understand the reason behind each part of the practice and the information at the end of the book is a treasure, for this reason.  For the reader familiar with qigong and/or acupuncture, the insight offered in this last section will be interesting and affirming.

There are also three detailed appendices and a glossary.  All of which add up to a truly wonderful resource.

I think that Faulkner’s decision to offer both a standing and a seated practice is wonderful.  I can’t say how many times I’ve heard people say what they cannot do.  When I first worked through the book, I was having a difficult day and chose to explore the seated practices.  I was not yet familiar with the sequence so I focused on the upper body which reinforced my perception that even a person in a wheelchair should be able to do these exercises.  (Of course, I realize that a quadriplegic will not be able to do so.)

The truth is, at the time I tried the book, my knee was bothering me and there are certain parts of the standing practices that I would have found unbearable.  These same deep bending moves would probably compromise my balance on anything but my very best days.  Again, Faulkner was wise to offer the reader an option.  As usual, I think that it would be easier if there were a dvd to go along with the book or even a cd that would allow the person to follow along without constantly referring to the book.  Still, they exercises are not so lengthy or varied that one couldn’t learn the entire sequence in a couple of weeks if committed to doing so.

It is easy to say what can’t or won’t work but not so easy to step back and try something for yourself, to explore the possibilities before measuring the merits. I think that anyone who tries qigong will quickly see how effective it really is and I am confident that anyone who has struggled with sitting in silent meditation will find the slow movements just the thing they need to focus.

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