Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Way of Qigong by Kenneth S Cohen

The Way of Qigong:  The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing by Kenneth S Cohen is the perfect text for anyone who wants to explore the full potential of qigong.  Cohen begins by discussing the history of qigong and some of the elementary beliefs the under gird the practice.  Part two explores some basic principles of the practice—from time of day to proper breathing.  Part three introduces several qigong practices including some moving practices.  Part four gives some basic lifestyle choices that complement qigong, moving the practice into daily life.

This book is not easy to read but a pleasure to read.  If one is not already very interested in qigong this book will probably be boring.  For the reader who just wants to get to it and doesn’t really care about all of the history or how different spiritual beliefs in China informed the practice of qigong, the first few chapters will be tedious.

For me, these chapters were fascinating and before I was through the second chapter I knew I would want to keep this book permanently and reread it with a highlighter nearby.  I would recommend that if you are more interested in the physical practice, investing in Kenneth S Cohen’s The Essential Training Course which includes cds and dvds as well as a slender spiral bound book.  The course is not superficial and Cohen invites the listener/viewer to move at a gradual pace, building upon previous lessons into a longer and stronger practice. 

But if you are already actively exploring qigong and/or taiji quan (tai chi chuan) then this book will give a depth to your experience that I cannot underestimate nor overstate.  That qigong has healing benefits is not disputed by most and it is only when some people give undue credit to working miracles where skeptics rightly protest.  Cohen never makes extreme claims and even allows his own skepticism of some possibly apocryphal stories and their veracity.  He doesn’t suggest that qigong can heal anything and everything under the sun but he shares some inspiring stories that encourage the reader to have an open mind. 

I chose to look into qigong after I had a very intense experience while doing taiji and after I woke up with vertigo.  The very slow movements are a challenge but are not as demanding as some taiji poses that require standing on one foot.  I would recommend this book only to those who have played around with a qigong practice and are ready to go deeper in the roots of the practice.  Read the first chapter and if you find it daunting, invest in the dvd and cd course.  In fact, I would recommend buying the essential course anyway.  This book with the set are all a person needs to develop a home practice and for those who do not have access to a teacher these would truly be enough.  

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