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Conscious Aging through Qigong
Master Mingtong Gu and Betsy McDonald
Some things get better with age, like fine wine and cheese. Biological processes transform these common foods into uncommon delicacies—delicious, sought-after treats. But aging in humans? Not always quite so delicious!
Science, however, is narrowing in on the biological causes of the diseases of aging. In an interview for the January/February 2017 AARP Bulletin, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and a Nobel Prize winner, discussed the role of telomeres as a main factor in diseases associated with aging.
“The chromosomes are where all our genetic material is packaged, in the form of DNA. Telomeres are very special caps at the ends of each chromosome that protect against deterioration…We’ve found that the better your telomeres are protected, the less chance you’ll have of getting any of the big diseases. A beautiful study came out recently showing that if your genes urge your telomeres to be better maintained, your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease will be somewhat low. It’s not 100 percent protection, but it’s an underlying factor.”
Associated studies are showing that chronic stress is the significant factor in telomere deterioration. So what can we do to mitigate the everyday stress in our lives as well as the chronic stress that has taken up residence in our bodies? There have been studies on meditation and telomere maintenance, and “all have indicated that telomere maintenance improved” with meditation. According to Dr. Blackburn, additional ways to keep your telomeres healthy include: “exercise, doing things that interest you, and doing whatever you can to reduce long-term chronic stress.” Qigong fits perfectly into this prescription for health and longevity. In fact, Wisdom Healing Qigong is a form of meditation as well as a slow-moving form of physical exercise. And it is also a really interesting activity!
Wisdom Healing Qigong practices specifically target release of long- and short-term stress by focusing on releasing energy blockages in the body. We focus our minds back into our bodies and direct our healing energies on those places that are holding stress. Our movements, combined with sound healing and meditations, release layered blockages at deep levels and allow energy to flow freely, thus nourishing all the major organ systems of the body. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual blockages are transformed by these practices.
Those of us well into the process of aging know all too well that stress does not instantly dissolve when we take a vacation or even when we retire. Ongoing daily sources of stress include: money, family, health, friendships, the search for meaning and purpose, caring for aging parents and in-laws—and the list goes on. So there is little wonder that stress accumulates and that long-term, chronic stress has taken up residence in different parts of our bodies. The beauty of qigong is that we now have a practice that allows us to release the stress we accumulate on a daily basis, all the while also clearing that deep chronic stress that has built up over the years. This makes this practice an essential key to true health, happiness and deep fulfillment of life.
The practice of qigong allows us to live a fulfilling life at every age. In the end, of course, we all make our transition from this physical body to a formless energy being. Of that we can be certain! However, as qigong practitioners, we are cultivating intimacy with our own energy bodies, the essence of who we are energetically and spiritually. In this way, we open and connect our energy, our spirit, to the earth and the universe every day. The more we practice qigong, the more we grow to understand that in this moment we are manifested as the energy of form in a human body. But before we took on this form, and after we leave this form, we are formless energy beings.
I cannot say for certain exactly how my consciousness will manifest after death. I do, however, know that as a result of my qigong practice I have less fear of death and more curiosity than before. I know in the depth of my being that I come from the universe, from the stars; we all do, and to stardust we all shall return. I know that this common beginning is what truly connects us each to each and all as one.
So while I walk this beautiful planet with this precious form I have been given, I will honor my body, mind and spirit with the practice of Wisdom Healing Qigong. And when it comes time for me to leave this body behind, I hope to be fully open to what comes next, to open to the light and majesty of the wondrous source energy of the universe, my next adventure!
You can begin experimenting with the adventure called Wisdom Healing Qigong this very moment. The new Qigong for Life program allows you to register and start online classes whenever you are ready. There are also wonderful retreats and workshops, online and in person around the globe, to help you learn and maintain this practice. Go to www.chicenter.com for more information.
Betsy McDonald is a retired teacher and principal from Bishop, California, whose passions include being a mom, skier, hiker, CASA volunteer, Rotary member and a founding member of Inyo350, a group dedicated to environmental protection and social and economic justice. McDonald is a Wisdom Healing Qigong teacher, certified under Master Mingtong Gu, founder of The Center for Wisdom Healing Qigong in Galisteo, New Mexico. www.chicenter.com/chi/home/
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