We live in a fast-paced world, and that pace is increasing every moment. The swift current of modern life can often overwhelm, adding numerous layers of stress as we drown in a state of sensory overload.

If you have children, you probably worry about their time at school – are they being bullied? Are they able to keep up with their classmates in every subject or are they falling behind? Are they spending too much time on social media rather than interacting with friends on a face-to-face basis?

If you’re employed, you probably stress about your job in general – getting your work done every day, pleasing your boss, etc. And that’s not including the stress of wondering if you’ll have a job at all if due to the manic state of global politics and erratic economic changes.

And then there’s what’s happening in the world – from concerns about the environment to concerns about social justice and everything in between.

Stress, even “normal” stress, impacts both our mental and physical health. Mentally, it may manifest as irritability or depression. Physically, it may manifest as binge eating, frequent headaches, the development of ulcers, tension headaches and so on.

The simple truth: there is no way to eliminate stress from our lives.

There are, however, proven methods to deal with that stress in a healthy manner, so it doesn’t consume us.

As the former head of Credit Suisse in Cape Town, I often dealt with high-pressure situations which naturally added to my daily intake of stress. Untreated, this undoubtedly would have negatively impacted my career, social activities as well as my personal life. Ultimately, it was Qigong, an ancient Chinese practice, which elevated me from such adversity. I’ve been a Qigong practitioner for some years now, and I’m elated to share some of its benefits with you.

Qigong was codified as a system of meditation and exercise in the 1950s, but its roots go back over 4,000 years. The word itself means “life energy cultivation.” Practitioners cultivate this energy by meditation and movement, or “forms” – a stylized set of exercises performed extremely slowly and mindfully to send one’s qi, or chi – life energy – flowing throughout the body.

While there are several books on Qigong that will introduce you to this beautiful, healthy – and life-giving practice, I suggest that you take a class from a certified Qigong practitioner to reap its full benefits.

If you would like to see Qigong in action, feel free to watch this video which presents “Eight Pieces of Silk Brocade.”

The sequence of movements in the video focuses on eight separate exercises, that when performed properly and mindfully will send energy throughout the body. While there are many theories on the original origin of this specific Qigong form, the movements (listed below) are explicitly designed to improve one’s health.

1.     Palms raised to Heaven

2.     Drawing the bow

3.     Separating Heaven and Earth

4.     The Wise Owl Gazes Backward

5.     Shake the Head & Swing Tail

6.     Punching with Angry Eyes

7.     Press the Earth, Touch the Sky

8.     Lifting Up the Heels

Naturally, as with Yoga and other Eastern forms of exercise, the Eight Pieces of Silk Brocade will have several alterations and may seem intimidating at first. However, it is commonly the first set of Qigong exercises introduced to novice practitioners and is a terrific starting point to your journey.

Stress is a part of life that can affect our mental and physical health, but it can be managed naturally and holistically. Qigong practiced on a regular basis will strengthen your ability to exist in a relaxed state which in turn will improve your overall well-being. The system of meditation and movement is accessible to any age, even to those with limited mobility, and can boost your quality of life well into your 60s and beyond. Odds are you can find a teacher in your local community who offers a free intro class, or YouTube has a plethora of quality instructional videos. So breath deep and take your first step towards a less stressful life.

About Carole Hambleton-Moser: Whether she is involved in a meeting as a Board member of the Donkey Sanctuary or helping to donate a wheelchair to a disabled dancer who is a part of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Carole Hambleton-Moser uses all her might for the betterment of the world. When she isn’t pursuing her passions of philanthropy, Carole spends time on inner reflection, doing yoga or QiGong, or hiking with her dogs and friends.

Published by Calida Jenkins