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Beyond Medicine: What Qigong Taught One Doctor About Healing

Almost 7 years ago, I met Master Gu for the first time. My former midwife-turned-friend and mentor, Yeshi Neumann, had invited me to his studio in Petaluma, CA, for a workshop. Innocent enough, I thought. Low risk. I was a doctor of internal medicine, trained to think critically and methodically, skeptical of anything that might […]

Almost 7 years ago, I met Master Gu for the first time. My former midwife-turned-friend and mentor, Yeshi Neumann, had invited me to his studio in Petaluma, CA, for a workshop. Innocent enough, I thought. Low risk. I was a doctor of internal medicine, trained to think critically and methodically, skeptical of anything that might fall into the realm of “miracles.” 

But I was also desperate. I had suffered for years with complex autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and dysautonomia–the “shadow” conditions of Western medicine. Despite conventional treatments, my health continued to worsen. At one point, I was bed-bound for 6 months, housebound for 2 years. So when Master Gu encouraged us to practice every day, I figured I had nothing to lose. 

With my health brittle and my children young, I started with 15 minutes twice a day, doing sound healing practices. When I could stand erect to do movement forms, I began noticing, after years of chronic vertigo, that I could stand with my eyes closed. Gradually, I committed to practicing 45 minutes every morning. As I understood it then, mind-body practices were just another slice of the total pie of all the other health-promoting changes I’d already made by studying integrative and functional medicine: nutrient-dense diets, a rainbow of vitamins and minerals, a pocketful of herbs, sleep hygiene, gut healing, acupuncture, cranial osteopathy, you name it. My health was improving in numerous ways. No need to urinate throughout the night, an increase in appetite, stability in weight, and a lessening of vertigo, aches and fatigue. I was laboriously but gratefully moving toward 100 percent.

Then my health crashed. Again. Despite all I’d done, my entire stress system plummeted. I endured a 3-month period that felt like a prolonged near-death experience, terrifying not just because I was at the edge of life, but because many of my experiences fell into “mystical” or “energetic” realms, of which I wanted no part. Was I not already on the forefront of internal medicine, integrative and functional medicine, intuitive medicine? I realized what I knew was but a drop in the ocean. I didn’t need more information. I needed, in fact, a miracle. 

One of the primary things I did was to dive deep into qigong. I ramped my practice up to 2-2 1/2 hours a day, doing lachi and visualizations when I couldn’t get off the couch. I bought Master Gu’s textbook and Luke Chan’s 101 Miracles of Natural Healing, poring through and highlighting them as though medical textbooks. Master Gu and the 101 testimonials from the Medicineless Hospital in China reminded me that our bodies store the subconscious, complementing the theories I knew of epigenetics (how our thoughts and emotions and movement dictate the folding patterns of our DNA) and neuroplasticity (how the same factors change how our nervous system wires and rewires). In the framework of root-cause medicine, I realized I hadn’t gone deep enough. Down below the factors that cause disease and those that promote health, lay the mysterious qi energy. It wasn’t a slice of the health pie; it had the potential to be the whole pie itself. Qi surrounded and infused me, seen and unseen. But its potential depended upon two things: my capacity to tap into the qi field by my consciousness (the mind and heart), and my ability to activate its flow within my trillions of cells (the body). 

After a while, something shifted. I went from doing the practice as transactional (I practice in order to get better) to transformational (I practice because it connects me to the energetic source of healing, whereby the body heals as a side-effect). Healing the body as a side-effect! I’d done so much soul- and mind-centered work prior, but had somehow compartmentalized mind and spirit from the body. And as a doctor, my ultimate goal for myself and my patients was always to heal the body, too. 

Since the plunge into qigong, the trajectory of my health, for those who have witnessed it up close, would be categorized as a radical remission. It defies all medical explanation. I’ve also tapered completely off my levothyroxine, which I’ve taken for 14 years. My husband has been astonished, not fully grasping what’s going on, because on the outside, it seems I had always been doing everything “right.” Last week, my family took a river rafting trip in the desert canyons of eastern Oregon. For over a decade, this kind of trip was something I had to sit out. This time I went. And I paddled through rapids, hiked the shale hillsides, and slept under the twinkling of the Milky Way, feeling both like me, and not me, too. Perhaps this was a truer me than I’d ever known. All my husband could say was, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” 

Whatever I’m doing, I’m entering yet another paradigm shift. That is, learning that when we tap into Pure Consciousness, the complex prescriptions distill into golden simplicity. Food and air and water are sources of energy. So is qi. And in many ways, harnessing qi feels more important to me now than eating food. 

I hesitate to ever tout one practice as The Method, because like anything else in deep healing, it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’re unique beings with unique lineages and gifts and callings. Wisdom Healing Qigong connected me to my Chinese heritage in a way I’d never been before; it also transformed the trauma I experienced growing up in an evangelical community in Texas (the dualism of good and evil and the fear of being left behind) into one of the most powerful healing forces in my life now (God as pure consciousness, as the common origin of all, and Jesus as the embodied form of pure consciousness).

There’s so much I don’t know and can’t explain. It can only be experienced. But what I gather is this: nature’s laws are immutable. What we call miracles don’t defy these laws; they just access laws higher than we’ve previously encountered.

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