Lately, there have been stories in the media reporting that anxiety is on the rise. It is not hard to imagine a variety of reasons why this would be the case. The current political climate, economic uncertainty, environmental issues, the ever increasing pace of our digital environment, just to name a few.
Many of our students have told us that qigong and tai chi have helped them to deal with anxiety - especially the anxiety around having a major medical issue. Some of our students have mentioned this as one of the greatest benefits they’ve found in their practice.
I can identify with this. Though I have not experienced severe clinical anxiety, I have struggled with anxiety throughout my life, and qigong and tai chi have helped tremendously. In addition to providing much relief, the practices have helped me to develop the internal awareness to be more present with uncomfortable feelings and identify when I am experiencing anxiety.
Becoming mysteriously sick and having chronic pain in my twenties seriously increased my level of anxiety. Though I wasn’t able to recognize it at the time, looking back it’s obvious that I was freaking out.
And this can become a negative feedback loop. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, excess anxiety, like all illness, is an energetic imbalance. With this understanding, it is easy to see how anxiety can imbalance you, and thereby contribute to other health problems, and vice versa.
Qigong and tai chi, along with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, have a long history as treatments for anxiety. Some clinical studies have been performed, and returned positive results.
Reading about other people’s stories with anxiety, and reflecting on how helpful qigong and tai chi have been to me, I am inspired to learn more. So I have begun researching anxiety, from a western and a traditional Chinese perspective. I hope that by increasing my understanding I can learn to more effectively help my students with anxiety.
And I plan to share what I learn, as I learn, on this blog, in the hope that it can help others. You’re welcome to share your experiences and insights in the comments here. I hope this will become a conversation that furthers all of our understanding of anxiety and how qigong or tai chi can help.