Medical Qigong Therapy for Senior Citizens
Gerontology is a branch of medicine that deals with the issues and challenges of aging (Figure 1). A Medical Qigong doctor specializing in Gerontology addresses the pathologies of the physical, emotional, energetic, mental, spiritual, and social being of the elderly.
The observation and Traditional Chinese Medical treatment modalities utilized within Medical Qigong gerontology are introduced in this chapter to form a complete overview of the processes of aging, and the treatment of elderly patients. Within this overview are included the various explanations of symptoms, etiology, differential diagnosis, Medical Qigong treatment protocols, homework prescription exercises and meditations, and life-style adjustments needed to prolong and improve the quality of life. Additionally, the Medical Qigong overview of the preparations for death, the process of dying, and the assistance that may be provided by the Medical Qigong doctor at the time of death, are also described.
Today, in a phase of history when seniors are largely neglected, the views and practices of Medical Qigong and T.C.M. promise to economize and improve health-care and spiritual well-being for the elderly, empower self-care, and support and usher patients and their families through the inevitable transition of death.
Symptoms related to Old Age
Some of the most noticeable symptoms related to aging include Dizziness, Vertigo and Insomnia; Weakened Visual and Auditory Ability; Age Spots and Dry Scaly Skin; Prominent Varicose Veins and Cyanosis; Fatigue and Lack of Appetite; Water Swelling and Incontinence; and Decreased Sexual Function, described as follows:
Dizziness, Vertigo, and Insomnia
As the channels, vessels, Qi, and Blood of elderly people decline daily, the Blood vessels’ energetic function of transportation and movement sometimes becomes inhibited. As a result, stasis gradually obstructs the clear portals, and Qi and Blood are not able to ascend to nourish the head and eyes. This manifests in the dizziness, vertigo, and insomnia that are frequently experienced by the elderly.
A high percentage of the elderly are affected by cerebral arteriosclerosis, degenerative joint diseases in the vertebrae of the neck, and an insufficient supply of Blood in the arteries at the base of the skull. These conditions occur in association with a decrease in the volume of Blood flow to the brain. When the tissues in the Brain have a deficiency of Blood and oxygen, this gives rise to dizziness, vertigo, and insomnia.
Qigong energetic modulation techniques are an effective method for dilating the Blood Vessels and increasing the volume of Blood and oxygen to the Brain. When implemented correctly, dizziness may be relieved, the condition of sleep improved, and the aging of cerebral cells can be delayed.
White Hair and Balding (Alopecia)
White or grey hair is an important physical characteristic of aging. The chapter titled “Channels and Vessels” in the Ling Shu (Magical Pivot) states: “If the Hand Shao Yin Qi is exhausted, then the vessels will not be open; the Blood will not flow freely. If the Blood does not flow, the color of the hair will not be shiny.” The Xue Zheng Lun (Treatise on Bleeding Patterns) says, “If there is stagnant Blood in the Upper Burner, the hair will shed and will not grow.” Therefore, Blood Stasis is also an important cause of baldness and white hair.
Weakened Visual and Auditory Ability
From ancient times, diminished visual and auditory ability have been important criteria for estimating the progress of one’s aging process. Changes in the visual power refer to a decline in the eyesight, blindness, corneal diseases, and senile cataracts or arcus senilis; while changes in auditory power mainly refer to tinnitus and deafness.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diminished eyesight and hearing in the elderly are primarily caused by an imbalance of the Qi and Blood in the viscera and bowels, by internal Blood Stasis, and by an inability of Liver Jing, Kidney Jing, and Blood to ascend to and construct the empty portals (eye sockets). The Neijing says, “When the eyes obtain Blood, they can see.” Blood is able to moisten the channels and network vessels and also the viscera and bowels. It nourished the sinews and bones, fills the entire body, and when Blood arrives in the eyes, they are shaded. Therefore, it is important that the Blood flows freely and does not become static or stagnant. If static Blood obstructs and hinders, Jing and Blood will not rise to the empty portals, and the eyes will not be clear.
Modern research shows that in the ocular fundus of elderly eyes which have undergone senile degenerative changes, the superficial Blood vessels become thin, the color of the retina becomes dark, there may be large white patches or atrophic patches, and the color of the optic nerve becomes light. These phenomena are all associated with insufficient Blood supply.
Decreased auditory acuity is affected by the Kidney function and closely connected to stagnant Blood. Yi Lin Gai Cuo (Corrections of Mistakes in the Medical Forest) states: “In the ear, there is a small tube opening to the Brain. If there is Blood stasis outside this tube which closes it, the ears will become deaf.” Additionally, the Heart governs all Blood Vessels in the body. For an individual’s hearing to be considered normal, the energetic flow of the local vessels must be filled with a combination of Qi and Blood. Therefore, if the transportation and movement of Qi and Blood is inhibited, it can cause diminished hearing or tinnitus.
Age Spots and Dry Scaly Skin
The brown spots on the skin of the face, hands, and upper back are called Lao Nian Ban, or “old age patches,” and Shou Ban, which translates as “longevity patches.” The incidence of these brown patches on the skin increases with age. Seventy-five percent of people aged 60-79 have them, while 89% of those aged 80-90 have them. Moreover, if these brown skin patches begin to spread widely, then the aging process is severe.
Therefore, we may see that age patches are universally accepted as a criterion for evaluating the extent of the aging process within the individual. At the same time, when an individual’s skin also becomes rough, inelastic, and darkly pigmented, it is commonly known as scaly or dry skin, and is a considered to be a symptom of Blood stasis.
Prominent Varicose Veins and Cyanosis
The exposure of prominent blue-green veins in the elderly refers to various varicose phenomena, such as sublingual varices and varicosities on the lower limbs or the abdominal wall, as well as dilation of capillaries on the nail bed and cheeks. In some elderly people, one may also see cyanosis on their lips and at tips of their extremities.
There have been many essays, both ancient and modern, written on the relationship of Blood stasis to varicose veins and cyanosis. For instance, the Gu Jin Yi Jian (The Mirror of Ancient & Modern Medicine) states, “As regards the pattern of exposure of greenish blue sinews, its source is rebellious Qi, and Blood not moving.” The Yi Lin Gai Cuo (Corrections of Mistakes of the Medical Forest) expresses this fact even more clearly: “Prominent greenish blue sinews are not sinews. What appears on the skin is the Blood Vessels. Greenish blue vessels show that there is stasis internally.”
Because of a decrease in the elasticity of the vessels in the elderly, the Heart Qi becomes deficient and debilitated, and the movement of the Blood is inhibited. The resulting Blood Stasis creates internal obstruction causing the vessels and network vessels to begin to shrink. The result of this form of Qi and Blood deficiency causes greenish-blue sinews to appear prominently.
Engorged veins below the tongue in the elderly occur as a symptom of Blood Stasis. The protrusion of the veins below the tongue, as well as the color of these veins, is directly proportional to the increase in age. The increase in the diameter of the trunk of the veins below the tongue and their morphological changes are particularly pronounced in people from 60 to 65 years of age. Swollen veins below the tongue are not only a sign of aging but also are a criterion for estimating and determining the strength or decline of the viscera and bowels in the elderly.
Fatigue and Lack of Appetite
A person’s activities gradually diminish with advancing age. They are more easily fatigued, and this is often accompanied by decrease in appetite and atrophy of the muscles of the four limbs. Spleen Deficiency is responsible for the appearance of these symptoms, because the Spleen governs the muscles of the whole body.
The four limbs of the human body require Spleen Qi to transport and spread the constructive and nourishing influences, thus maintaining normal physiological activities. If construction and nourishment are sufficient, then the muscles and flesh of the four limbs are full, and they are dexterous and forceful. However, if the Spleen loses its fortification and transportation, then Clear Yang will not spread. This insufficiency of construction and nourishment will cause atrophy of the muscles and flesh, and lassitude and lack of strength of the four limbs.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a good appetite is generally a sign of good health, while a poor appetite is a sign of disease. Poor appetite is observed in externally contracted diseases (which occurs for short duration), and in conditions where there the body has experienced internal damage (which can occur for long durations). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, poor appetite is divided into three categories, poor appetite without hunger, aversion to food, and no desire to eat despite hunger, described as follows:
- Poor Appetite Without Hunger: This condition can be caused from a number of situations, for example, Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency due to the Spleen and Stomach organs’ functions being impaired; Dampness clogging the Spleen and causing Stomach disharmony; Spleen and Stomach Damp Heat causing disharmony of the Stomach Qi; and Liver-Spleen disharmony. It can also be a manifestation of Cold invasion caused from a Shao Yang disease.
- Aversion to Food: This condition can be caused from two situations, extreme eating and drinking (causing food to stagnate in the Stomach), and pregnancy (the Thrusting Vessel causing Stomach Qi disharmony).
- No Desire To Eat Despite Hunger: This condition can be caused from three situations, Deficient Stomach Yin and Deficient Stomach Fire; Deficient Kidney Yin and the uncontrollable movement of Kidney Fire; and Qi, Blood, and Body Fluid depletion caused from Deficient Stomach Yin due to febrile diseases.
Water Swelling and Incontinence
Edema of the lower limbs frequently occurs in the elderly as a result of a decline in the function of the Heart and Kidneys, and trouble in the circulation of the veins. The formation of water swelling has to do with a decline in the regulatory functions of the Lungs, Spleen, and Kidneys. If the Lungs are diseased, they will not be able to open and regulate the water passageways. If the Spleen is diseased, it will not be able to transport and transform the water dampness. If the Kidneys are diseased, Qi transformation will be inhibited. The common cause of all these patterns is an inhibition of the water passageways, and this is closely related to Blood Stasis.
In his Xue Zheng Lun (Treatise on Blood Patterns), Tang Rong-chuan points out, “Static Blood may transform into water and also produce water swelling.” Because the elderly’s viscera and bowel function is diminished, their Qi is deficient and lacks driving power. The transportation and movement of the Blood flow is also inhibited. Stasis obstructs the water passageways, and water dampness spills over internally into the muscles and skin. Because of this water, swelling appears.
An elderly persons’ urination can also be inhibited. Urine retention is mostly caused by Kidney Qi Deficiency and by Blood Stasis obstructing the urinary tract. The Xue Zheng Lun (Treatise on Blood Patterns) says, “If there is Blood Stasis in the Lower Burner, there is pain below the lumbar region, and the lower abdomen and lateral costal regions will be distended and full.”
Decreased Sexual Function
Diminished sexual function mainly refers to impotence in men and amenorrhea in women. Impotence is a common disease in men over 60 years of age. Impotence in the elderly is a natural physiological phenomenon and reflects the aging process of the human body. As “The Great Treatise on the Resonances and Appearances of Yin and Yang” in the Su Wen (Simple Questions) says, “At 60 years of age, impotence occurs, Qi is greatly debilitated, and the nine portals are inhibited.”
Impotence has a close relationship with Blood Stasis, and the inhibition of the Liver’s function of moving and discharging the Qi. It is mistaken to infer that impotence is caused only by Kidney Deficiency. The Kidneys rule the treasure of Jing, while the Liver governs coursing and discharge. The channels and vessels of the Liver surround the genitals. It is the normal functioning of the Liver’s moving and discharging which enables the closing and preserving of the Kidneys.
In addition, Jing and Blood have a common source (the Kidneys), and they therefore produce each other. If the moving and discharging functions of the Liver become imbalanced, then the movement of Qi and Blood will be inhibited. Thus stasis will obstruct the vessels of the Yin (i.e., genitalia), and this may lead to impotence. Marked improvement is obtained when one treats impotence by invigorating the Blood and transforming stasis.
Amenorrhea is also closely related to Blood Stasis. The Yi Xue Ru Men (Entering the Gate of the Study of Medicine) states: “Hundreds of diseases in the channels are caused by Blood Stagnation and withering. In women, Blood production rules. Owing to deficiencies of the Thrusting Vessel and Conception Vessel in older women, the Qi and Blood are inhibited and stasis obstructs the Uterine vessels. The uterine wall thus loses its nourishment and the Blood becomes scanty, resulting in amenorrhea.
Muscle and skin numbness, limb pain, and body aching all belong to the category of Blood Bi (Painful Obstruction). “The Treatise on Bi” in the Su Wen (Simple Questions) says, “If there is Bi in the vessels, Blood will congeal and does not flow.” The Di Yu Sui Bin (Notes on the Study of Medicine) says, “Blood in the channels and network vessels may be divided into aching and pain, and numbness.”
Owing to the decline in the Qi and Blood of the elderly’s channels and vessels, the Blood vessels’ transportation and movement are inhibited. The muscles, skin, sinews, and Bones lose their nourishment. Numbness of the muscles and skin, and aching and pain of the limbs and body appear. These sensations may occur repeatedly, or they may linger. In some cases, these symptoms may spread over the entire body.
The Two Main Priorities in Treating The Elderly
When treating the elderly, the Qigong doctor bases his or her prescriptions on two major priorities. The first is to achieve emotional stability and the second is to improve the Qi and Blood circulation, described as follows (Figure 2):
Achieving Emotional Stability
When teaching Medical Qigong to senior citizens, first teach them how to quiet the Heart. Once the Heart is calm, the other internal organs begin to relax. Always keep in mind that when the mind becomes disturbed, the body becomes disturbed. To affect one is to affect the other.
Depression and sadness can have a profound effect on the patient’s healing ability. Medical Qigong regulation can be a strong aid in releasing an elderly patient from a chronic, detrimental attitude that complicates the healing cycle.
If anger and grief are not allowed to be expressed by the patient (as a way of releasing the emotional pain), then anger transforms into depression, and grief transforms into despair. This is the second stage of unhealthy energetic and emotional transformation stemming from emotional pain. If the patient’s depression and despair are not alleviated, then indifference, the final stage of energetic and emotional transformation, is developed. The patient then becomes withdrawn, apathetic, and either antisocial or obsessive/compulsive in his or her thinking and behavior.
When a patient’s Spirit closes, he or she can tend to be extremely difficult to work with and can easily sabotage his or her own healing potential. Pleasant emotions bring about a calm and relaxing physiology, while strong or chronic negative emotions cause Qi and Blood stagnation, and create Excess conditions within the patient’s body, affecting the quality of the body’s life force energy.
Balancing Heart and Kidney Qi
The Chinese have a saying, “When the Heaven (Heart Qi) connects with the Earth (Kidney Qi), all seven emotions are kept in moderation.” When Qi becomes scattered, the Heart Fire and the Kidney Water cannot converge. This results in an unbalanced and unstable energy flow.
The Kidneys are extremely important for health maintenance and healing in all patients, and especially in senior citizens. As one gets older, the Kidneys, lower back, and legs are the first areas to be affected.
It is important to stabilize the Heart because the Heart is responsible for mental and emotional orientation. Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that, “when the Heart is moved, all the other organs will be shaken.”
The eyes are considered the seedlings of the Heart because they gather information and feed it to the Brain. It is therefore important for the Heart’s Qi to descend into the Lower Dantian to calm the mind. When the patient is in a hurry, the Heart is in a hurry, inducing the Qi to rise to the head. This results in nervous tension and anxiety. It is only through rest and quiet training that the mind and the Heart can begin to settle.
Quieting the Mind
One method of quieting the mind is through prayer and meditation. This is considered “active rest,” whereas sleep is considered “passive rest.” When focusing inward and not using the eyes to see or the ears to hear, the Qi begins to converge in the middle of the body, and the energy is drawn back into the organs, settling into the Lower Dantian. This convergence of Qi nourishes and cultivates the natural energetic structure of the internal organs. Senior citizens are encouraged to sit for longer periods of energy cultivation. If they practice Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), they are to avoid low postures and big motions. The arm movements should be kept small, soft, and slow.
Improving the Qi and Blood Circulation
The second priority in the treatment of the elderly is to get the patient to move and circulate the Qi and Blood deeply and superficially within his or her body. Blood Stasis is considered the primary mechanism of senility. All growth, development, decline, and debility of the human body is related to the condition of the patient’s Qi and Blood.
Pathophysiologically, Qi and Blood interact with each other. As stated in the Nei Jing, “Blood is the Mother of Qi, Qi is the Commander of Blood.” Long term Blood Deficiency will lead to Qi Deficiency and loss of energy. Conversely, chronic Qi Deficiency will impair the functions of the Spleen and Stomach to transform food into Gu Qi, leading to Blood Deficiency. If one becomes diseased, the other is affected.
One example of a Medical Qigong exercise for increasing Qi and Blood circulation for geriatric patients is the Microcosmic Orbit (Fire Cycle), which can be practiced in a sitting position.
Further Observations and Insights on Geriatric Patients
New experiences can sometimes become very cathartic for older patients. Understanding the physical and emotional transitions that geriatric patients undergo in their everyday life helps the Qigong doctor establish a better awareness of the patients’ energetic dynamics. These physical and emotional transitions can best be understood when realizing the internal and external conflicts senior patients must constantly address.
These following issues should always be addressed when treating the elderly with Medical Qigong exercises and meditations.
Many people tend to lose meaning in their life when they retire, lose a spouse, witness the death of countless friends, or when their children move away. Patients who lose their life purpose (or their meaning of life) usually do not live long. Elderly patients who have lost their friends usually have a strong emotional attachment to their pets. When the pet dies, this is usually as devastating as the loss of a close family member.
According to clinical observations, most older patients who become involved in spirituality, social service, or voluntary work tend to be the most fulfilled and therefore the most healthy. Humor and laughter as a means of internal emotional medicine for older patients cannot be overemphasized. Socializing with an understanding yet active support group also tends to bring healing to the Heart.
In addressing the issue of being lonely, it has been found that the healing effects of having a pet to love can be very helpful for seniors who have become solitary or isolated. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the fact that people who own pets have overall lower levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.
Overmedication can cause senility. Too many older patients are over medicated. Taking up to ten pills a day is not unusual for many seniors. In a book published by Ralph Nader, titled Worst Pills, Best Pills, the author emphasizes the fact that if an older person is taking over three different drugs, they are taking too many and should consult their doctor with the express purpose of cutting down to a maximum of only three types of medication.
The drugs given to seniors are usually tested on 30 year old individuals who are generally much stronger than most 70-year-olds. Therefore, half dosages are usually considered safer. In addition, there is a minimum of thirty-three drugs on the market today that can cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Several Qigong doctors have gotten their patients off of Parkinson’s medications after discovering that one or more of their other medications initiated the patient’s symptoms.
It is generally agreed that people living today move only 35% as much as people living 100 years ago. This has a major impact on one’s health, especially on older people whose circulation is not what it once was. Our bodies are designed to move; to become sedentary violates one of our basic needs. This is especially true of the elderly.
The elderly are more subject to musculoskeletal disorders and visceral diseases, especially in the Kidneys and Liver. As the Kidney Yang rises, it begins to restrict the heat in the upper portion of the body, thereby affecting the Heart. Also, as the patient gets older, the Lungs cannot sustain liquid retention; this affects the Wei Qi and results in a thinner layer of skin covering the body. Daily physical movement is needed in order to facilitate proper circulation of Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids. Too many older patients are sedentary, especially men.
Studies conducted at Emory College confirm that the safest and most beneficial exercises for seniors are Medical Qigong, Taijiquan, walking, mild aerobics, water aerobics, and light weight training.
Aging is also associated with a decrease in bone density, especially in women. As a consequence, bones become more brittle and subject to fracture.
In a study of male subjects, bone density was found to increase by practicing Medical Qigong for one year. Therefore, it is likely that Qigong therapy also would help restore the bone density of women, especially menopausal women. If so, hormone replacement therapy and its side effects could be avoided.
Malnutrition may be caused by a lack of enzymes that aid in absorbing nutrition from foods, from overconsumption of denatured (over-processed) foods, or from an imbalance (acidity) in the blood that prevents the proper transportation and absorption of essential nutrients. Based on the patient’s age and changing metabolic needs, diet is as equally important for seniors as exercise. Proper nutrition can be used to augment the benefits from the patient’s prescriptions, as well as to increase the patient’s healing potential. The diet in senior housing communities is usually atrocious. Processed foods, sugar, canned vegetables and too many heavy meats are the norm. When prescribing Medical Qigong exercises for seniors, the Qigong doctor must also take into consideration the patient’s diet and fluid intake, making sure that it is not sabotaging the healing effect of the Qigong prescriptions.
Senility is frequently caused by dehydration, as well as by malnutrition. Both conditions are frequently overlooked by Western medicine. The dehydration is usually due to a breakdown of the body’s thirst signal, or can stem from side effects of medication. The patient may not feel thirsty, and will therefore neglect to drink.
Every internal organ in the human body lives and bathes in fluid. Eighty percent of the human body is composed of water, and the function of the body’s internal systems depends primarily on water. Fluids are responsible for dissolving food, transporting broken down tissue, and eliminating waste matter. Without a proper supply of fluid, the internal organ systems cannot function properly.
When a patient becomes water-famished due to dehydration, not only do they become constipated, but the Liver and Kidneys also begin to malfunction, the blood thickens and the quantity of blood diminishes, the skin becomes dry, and the complexion becomes anemic in appearance.
Rehydration by increasing the patient’s electrolyte intake is said to have a miraculous effect by reinstating patients back to a “normal” condition. This is because when water is combined with Qi and taken internally, it acts as a tonic.
As patients gets older, their Kidney Jing becomes weaker, their hair begins to turn grey, the hearing and sight become affected, the bone density lessens, mental comprehension can diminish, and sleeping patterns also undergo changes. These physical transitions can and do affect the patient’s emotional outlook on life. This however, is all part of the natural course of aging.
Due to the weakening of the patient’s Kidneys, sleep deprivation is more common in seniors than most people realize. Doctors could benefit from more training in dealing with insomnia and changing sleeping patterns, as the serious impact on health by sleep deprivation is poorly understood in Western society.
Sleep is needed to invigorate and stabilize the patient’s Shen (Spirit). Without proper sleep, the patient’s energy becomes depleted, affecting their intuitive perceptions, mental comprehension, drive and willpower, and can result in dementia.
Guidelines For Prescribing Medical Qigong For The Elderly
The Qigong and Taiji movements prescribed for the elderly should be slow and smooth. Qi regulation can be practiced safely by focusing on the center of the palms while keeping the intention moving downward. The patient must not over-exert or strain when using the muscles. When the patient turns his or her body, make sure that the center of each palm (Pc-8) faces the other. Slow and even breathing will calm the patient’s emotions and sedate the mind.
The flexion and extension of the muscles relates to the interaction of Yin and Yang within the body’s energetic tissues and muscles. This flexion and extension of the muscles becomes the foundation of energy balance. Relaxation of the body results in soft, gentle movement, peacefulness, and tranquillity. Muscular rigidity, on the other hand, results in hardness, stagnation, and disease.
It is important to begin Medical Qigong regulation training for senior citizens with Natural Breathing (i.e., expand the abdomen as you inhals – contract the abdomen as you exhale). Natural breathing allows the patient’s respiration to become soft, natural, gentle, and quiet. The focus of their mind should be placed on relaxation.
In dealing with senior citizens, if the focus of their mind’s intention is allowed to become too concentrated, it can cause the Qi in their body to constrict, which may lead to Qi or Blood stagnation. In order to avoid this, redirect the focus of their intention onto the breathing by practicing slow abdominal breathing. the Small Heavenly Cycle meditation.
Medical Qigong and Reversing Senility
In an effort to study the mechanism of keeping fit through the practice of Medical Qigong exercises and meditations, a controlled study was conducted with 100 subjects classified either as presenile or with senile impaired cerebral function. The subjects were divided into two groups of 50 people each with an average age of 62.7 years and with a similar distribution of age and sex. The Qigong group practiced a combination of static and moving Qigong. The control group exercised by walking, fast walking, or running slowly. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of classifying the vital energy, more than 80% of the patients in each group were classified as deficient in vital function and vital essence of the Kidneys.
Criteria for judging the outcome were based on measuring clinical signs and symptoms, including cerebral function, sexual function, serum lipid levels, and function of endocrine glands. After six months, 8 of the 14 main clinical signs and symptoms in the Qigong group improved more than 80%, whereas the symptoms in the control group improved only 45%. These results suggest that Qigong can reverse some symptoms of aging and senility.
Tapping the Knees to Prevent Senility
Due to the Kidney’s influence, as seniors get older, their hearing, hair, memory, lower back, and legs become adversely affected. Therefore, all senility-combating formulas of Medical Qigong traditionally stress treating the patient’s Spleen and Kidney Deficiency first, by supplementing the patient’s Yin and Yang. Then, by applying the balancing methods of activating the patient’s Blood (regulating the patient’s Heart) and rectifying the Qi, the doctor can next attempt to combat the patient’s senility.
One exercise prescription that the Qigong doctor can use to assist the patient in combating senility is to have the patient lightly tap above, below, and around his or her knees. This exercise stimulates the Kidneys’ energy and can also be used as an important adjunct to maintaining health for senior citizens.
To begin the Knee Tapping exercise, have the patient sit in a chair with both knees lower than the thighs. Encourage the patient to lean forward and concentrate on his or her Mingmen area. Have the patient direct the focus of his or her attention into and around both knees. As the patient begins to tap (or softly slap) the tissue surrounding the knees, he or she should imagine the energy and vibration flowing up the legs into the Lower Dantian. After several minutes (about 36 breaths) the patient can stop the exercise.
Cultivating the Patient’s Yuan Qi by Absorbing Qi from Nature
Another important exercise for older patients is the gathering, storing, and cultivation of his or her Yuan Qi. In China, in order to tonify the Yuan Qi, elderly patients practice their Qi Tonification and Regulation Exercises facing a cypress tree daily (a cypress tree is considered very powerful and full of energy). If a cypress tree is not available, then the patient can use a healthy pine or oak tree. This exercise prescription is considered a slow and gentle Dynamic cultivation. Any Dynamic exercise for senior citizens should always be practiced slowly and gently in order to replenish the Yuan Qi during the Static Qigong posture (in this case, standing).
In order to practice Medical Qigong exercises, senior citizens are encouraged to keep their body’s energy connected with the energy of the Earth. This connection is obtained via their energetic attachment through the bottom of their feet and the center of their palms, Laogong (Pc-8). If the patients are confined to wheelchairs, or are bedridden, they can still focus the mind’s intention on the Lower Dantian, and then extend their energy deep into the Earth.
As with all Medical Qigong prescriptions, the patients must first purge and cleanse their body before gathering, collecting, tonifying and regulating the body’s energy. To purge the body of Toxic Qi, the patients imagine divine healing energy pouring down from the Heavens, filling their entire body, as they inhale. This vibrant healing energy is absorbed into their tissues, and the Toxic Qi stored within the patient’s body is dispersed into the Earth.
As the patients exhale, they imagine the Toxic Qi melting out their tissues and flowing downward, deep into the ground. The patients perform this purging and dispersing sequence for several breaths until they feel cleansed. Next, the patients begin to fill and regulate their body.
To fill and regulate the body, the patients first imagine circulating the Qi downward, deep into the Earth, and into the root system of a tree.
Next, the patients imagine the Earth’s Qi ascending up through the top of the tree, blending with the energy of Heaven, and then descending through their head, filling their entire body from the feet upward, like water being poured into a glass and filling it up.
The inhalation and exhalation should follow the Natural Abdominal Breathing method, and the mind’s intention should be focused on filling, gathering, and circulating the universal and environmental Qi.
Understanding the healing implications of what is offered within the discipline of Medical Qigong opens the potential for increasing comfort and health for the elderly. Middle-aged and younger patients who wish to improve the quality of their present life and to prepare for the process of aging will also benefit hugely from this knowledge.
Expedient yet gentle, Medical Qigong methods treat gerontology syndromes, their root causes, and their symptoms, while supporting major adjustments and regulations of lifestyle and attitude. These qualities make Medical Qigong a highly practical and applicable medicine for the elderly. Many elderly people have the time to apply methods of self-care, self-healing, and self-regulation, and thoroughly trained practitioners of Medical Qigong are equipped to offer these ancient, time-tested and reliable self-care methods. In China today, over 80 million people regulate their Qi, Blood, and Spirit through the practice of Medical Qigong, Martial Qigong, Spiritual Qigong, and Taiji, with the highest proportion of them being elderly.