It’s no secret that Americans are more stressed that ever these days. The never-ending news cycle and the demand to be ever plugged in to the world takes a toll on us that eats into our well-being, day in and day out. A recent Gallup poll revealed 79% of Americans feel either some or a lot of stress every day. Every. Single. Day. Yuck. Are you starting to think you need a more effective tool to combat stress than just Netflix at the end of a long day? Enter qigong. The best 15-minute practice you never knew how much you needed.
Qigong is an ancient practice involving breathwork and gentle movement. In its 2000+ year history, thousands of styles have evolved that are still practiced by people around the world every day. Different styles confer different benefits, like tackling chronic pain, addressing emotional issues, and developing power for martial arts.
What I love about qigong is not only how effective it is, but also how little time you need to practice it. Just 15 minutes. Every day. Qigong teaches you how to clear your head of all of the noisy thoughts that are circulating. As you continue to practice and your energy, or qi, increases, clearing your head becomes easier and easier. Your body’s response to stress becomes more efficient. Okay, traffic isn’t going to go away, nor are your work deadlines, but your response to them becomes more relaxed, and you become the calm eye of the storm swirling around it. If stress keeps your body in a constant state of fight or flight, qigong trains your mind to relax back to a rest and digest state. The more consistent the practice, the better the results, which compound over time.
When you respond to stress better, you enjoy life more. You see the little things as just that: little. When you’re no longer bogged down by everyday stressors, you have more energy to devote to the things you enjoy: your hobbies, your family, your friends. When you reach this state, your quality of life improves dramatically. You start to live your life more fully than ever. I can’t begin to express how much better my life has become since I started practicing qigong. For something that requires so little time every day, frankly, I don’t know how I ever lived without it.
(Written by Molly. Did you know that she teaches qigong here in St. Paul? For more information visit www.shaolinwahnamtc.com.)