Qigong Healing – Can cultural beliefs stop your healing?

There is so much debate about the potential for qigong healing the body.  I for one believe that qigong can heal the body and benefit from my practice.

However, aside from my personal experience I do not feel that there is a large enough body of evidence to sway non-believers or people who have not had positive results (yet!)


So what to do?

What I can do is share how my cultural beliefs (and maybe yours) didn’t let me accept the potential for qigong healing.  There will always be a seed of doubt until the first change is felt but knowing that it is possible has to be the very first step.  Let’s unpack this a bit.



Believers share their successes which are typically powerful narratives about overcoming an affliction with some dedicated qigong healing practice.However, each instance is typically an isolated case that cannot easily be replicated.

Furthermore, if someone suffers from a true affliction such as back pain, hearing that someone alleviated their symptoms without drugs or surgery is very attractive.  This is even more critical when someone has tried all the traditional western options.


Nay-sayers consider the healing to be coincidence or too inferior a solution when compared to a western approach.For every person who has benefited from qigong healing their body, there are many more who are unsuccessful.  At best, qigong may be a weak alternative or an addition to care but not a cure.

From a purely debate standpoint, the nay-sayers hold a naturally stronger position because they do not have to produce the burden of proof.  They simply highlight their own lack of success or case-studies that have not been systematically proven true.

What is qigong healing?

Metaphysical and esoteric arguments only make this explanation harder so let’s set that aside for today.  At its essence, qigong healing is:

  1. Getting the body and mind into a relaxed healing state typically through breathing, gentle movement, and mental effort to quiet the mind or make our thoughts positive.
  2. Using the mind to heal. There are two basic modalities which are used separately or together depending on the qigong set.



Directing the mind to an injured area and using the forced concentration to heal.Improving and increasing the energy of the entire body so that it “overflows” into the area of need.


Without a systematic way to validate qigong’s healing powers, how do we get to a place of hope and potential?

The body is the proof.

qigong healingLet’s undertake a thought experiment.  Answer YES, NO, or MAYBE to the following questions.  Choose whatever comes immediately to mind:

  1. Can a person be so afraid that they are unable to move?
  2. Can an activity, such as public speaking, cause a person to be so uncomfortable that they become physically ill and can’t do it?
  3. Can grief over the loss of a loved one make a person unable to get out of bed?
  4. Can reliving a fight you had in your mind cause your heart to race and cause you to sweat?
  5. Can directing energy into a body part with your mind cause it to heal?

If you are like most people, you answered YES to the first 5 questions and NO or MAYBE to the last one.  So here is a question for you:

Why are we so willing to accept that the mind can cause pain and sickness in the body yet we struggle to believe that the mind can also heal?

Our Culture Determines what we Think about Qi Gong Healing

Growing up in the United States I simply didn’t have a metaphor or belief system that would accept the mind’s ability to cause positive change in the body.  Plenty of negative ones.  The closest thing for us is a religious explanation or spontaneous regression.

Every day our negative thoughts and emotions trigger physiological responses.  This is a natural human process.  Survival depends on us being acutely aware of what can harm us so don’t beat yourself up over it.  Negative thinking is the o know that you can actively engage the same system though for positive benefit.

Where the evidence is.

Qigong Healing I wonder if the “lack of evidence” surrounding qigong at this point is simply due to the fact that Asian cultures don’t need it.  They may inherently believe that it works and have moved on to study which qigong set best fits each ailment.

Some large-scale studies do exist and are underway but I don’t even know that more are needed.  Major western money has already been pumped into studying how the mind can heal the body and it has all been verified.  They just call it mindfulness.  Jon Cabot-Zin’s work is a must if you need more buy-in (below).

Otherwise just make the conscious choice to heal.

Further Reading:

The Science of Mindfulness

MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

The fastest way to learn qi gong and improve health- Check out: Good Morning – Good Evening Qi Gong



Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

3 thoughts on “Qigong Healing – Can cultural beliefs stop your healing?

  1. Wonderful! Thank you. Your article is so clear and obvious. Where the mind goes the chi follows. Spot on about our culture. Now I need to get to work to become less of a maybe person and more of an of course this works person, You;ve inspired me once again.

    1. Thanks for contributing to the discussion. In my life I look forward to “epiphanies” like this where I was expecting some big metaphysical revelation but instead got an “oh really? just like that?” This is a small epiphany but I think it is emblematic of what is within our grasp with diligent practice. Your comment also points to how this “tai chi thing” makes its way into our regular life. How great would it to be an OF COURSE THIS WORKS PERSON all day long to your peers, workmates and friends. You only have to see it work once.

  2. Thank you, Jason. This e-mail was very informative. It would be nice to see you at Craig’s Friday Tai Chi class at 10:00 at that church.

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