Qigong and Trauma
As a society we are understanding and exploring trauma on a deeper and deeper level, and as we do so an awareness of our individual and collective pain can surface and at times be very intense. What do Yuan Qigong and Ren Xue have to offer when trauma is part of our experience?
Helping Trauma Heal with Qigong
Ren Xue is a system of life development, with many different tools to use to work on life, including Yuan Qigong, a modern and highly effective Qigong system. Its movement based meditations can be very calming and helpful in encouraging the nervous system to settle. A safe and effective Qigong system can be of great support when coping with traumatic stress.
Is Qigong suitable for people who have experienced trauma?
Ren Xue and Yuan Qigong can be very helpful in transforming memories, emotions, thought and behavioral patterns. The practice is very gentle and suitable for all ages and health conditions. When approached properly, with self-care, and according to the practitioner’s own condition it can be a wonderful support for your healing journey.
However, for some of us who are trauma-affected, coming into the body further through movement can be deeply unsettling and may have unwanted effects including increased agitation. Although this is rare, if you are someone who has experienced trauma, we suggest that you work with a trauma-informed Ren Xue teacher so that the practice can be adapted to be more suitable. Alongside Yuan Qigong, when trauma has been significant (and particularly if occurring in childhood), psychological therapies can also be very helpful and necessary.
How can Qigong help with healing trauma?
The practice of Yuan Qigong increases overall energy and Qi flow and helps body and mind to become increasingly calm, relaxed and stable, and also to regulate the nervous system on a deeper level. Each Yuan Qigong form fosters an ability to relax and, with practice, relaxation becomes a stronger and more frequent state of being for body, heart and mind. During practice, a connection is formed with nature and the universe, and trust in life itself begins to build. As we start to feel the boundless energy of the universe coming into our bodies and beings and the nourishment this brings, our sense of belonging and joy is encouraged to grow.
A strong foundation for self transformation
The first 4 Yuan Qigong methods are moving and still Qigong forms. In these methods, particular movements and postures bring balance and deepen harmony and health in the body. These foundations provide a strong platform for the work of the other methods, particularly method 7 Tong Yuan (Opening the Heart) and method 8 Ling Yuan (Changing Patterns) which work on the heart and mind transforming unhealthy patterns. Method 9 (Ming Yuan) focuses on awareness and leads us toward inner clarity and wisdom.
Unhealthy patterns exist in a myriad of different forms: as behaviors, thought patterns, feeling patterns, memories and associated emotions and reactions. Method 7 (Opening the Heart) and method 8 (Changing patterns) help deeply connect with the positive qualities of the heart and transform unhealthy patterns on the behavioral and thought level.
Focusing on the heart and consciously developing clarity and exploring and discovering patterns can often bring past difficult or emotionally complex experiences, including trauma, to the surface. When handled with care and compassion, this can be a helpful thing but diving right in and becoming triggered can sometimes be disruptive, destabilizing, and unhelpful.
To make progress we need well-honed tools at the ready to calm and stabilize should trauma experiences come into our conscious mind for further processing and healing during the practices of Tong Yuan (Opening the Heart method) and Ling Yuan (method for Changing Patterns). These could be any one of the first 4 methods of Yuan Qigong which you’ve already learnt and been practicing, or other methods from therapeutic work such as parasympathetic or box breathing.
Is Yuan Qigong safe to practice for trauma, shock or PTSD?
Qigong has been shown to be particularly helpful for many trauma survivors as it helps stabilize the nervous system and build up energy levels. Developing and strengthening the many positive qualities of the heart such as gratitude, true respect, forgiveness and compassion, and the gradual and gentle re-emergence of trust are often deeply healing.
Depending on your situation, if you are already working in therapy, check in with your therapist about whether the Yuan Qigong methods could be useful and complementary tools for the work you are doing. Transforming yourself in a healthy, happy and kind direction is so highly beneficial for you and those around you, and can, in its turn, deeply support and assist the work you are doing with your therapist.
In assisting the healing of trauma with Qigong the Mental Health Advisory team of Ren Xue advise that “slow is fast”. Yuan Qigong and Ren Xue can really help, especially when you have good support around you and are happy going at a slow, natural, and relaxed pace which keeps you able to regulate yourself and stay relatively calm. Feeling generally relaxed, calm, and natural is central to making good and safe progress with these methods.
Trauma is something that needs love, gentleness, and the gradual rebuilding of trust in the kindest and most gentle of ways. Check out our Teacher Directory for teachers who are trauma-informed and who you could contact to answer any questions or help you if you need support.
If you would like to try the Yuan Qigong methods right now we recommend to start with our Beginner set with its gentle movements and breathing meditations to gather and nourish your Qi (your life force). Enjoy the practice!