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Healing Cancer With T'ai Chi and Qigong
By David Clippinger, Ph.D.

Tree branches clog the paths at Boyce Park – wreckage from the blast of February snow – slowing hikers to a crawl. The same problem plagues the creek that runs through the park. Fallen branches had severely slowed the flow of the current, and all of the detritus – trash, scum, and branches of all sizes – continues to accumulate creating even more blockage.

Such scenes are extremely insightful illustrations of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective of cancer. The circulation of the body resembles a series of connecting paths (called meridians and channels), and under normal, healthy conditions, the entire system is clear and movement is easy to sustain. But if there is a blockage, it is like the tree across a path or stream: circulation is either impeded or stopped entirely, which distresses the balance of the body and can manifest as a tumor or a cyst.

This theory parallels Western science's understanding of the circulatory system, which delivers the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells while simultaneously removing toxins and waste products. Any blockage increases the potential for damage to the organs and cells of the body. For example, a blocked artery increases the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.

Qigong and T'ai Chi are designed to correct and maintain the circulation of the body through a series of movements that use the muscles and deep diaphragmatic breathing as pumps. The movement coupled with breath stimulates the channels and organs through a series of bending, stretching, and internal massage. This principle is the gist of all medical Qigong as well as the core of such famous cancer sets as Soaring Crane Qigong (developed by Master Zhao Jin-Xiang) and the Anti-Cancer Qigong Walk (developed by Master Guo-Lin) – both of which have been used alongside traditional chemo and radiation therapy in Chinese hospitals for many years.

"Bending the Bow," a move commonly used in Breast and Lung Cancer treatment, may help to illustrate these principles. To do the exercise, begin with the feet shoulder width apart in either a sitting or standing position, and reach the hands palms out and extended away from the body at shoulder height. Inhale as the hands are drawn back toward the shoulders to form loose fists; then exhale as the hands return to the starting position. The movement of the arms forward and backwards expands and contracts the chest and lungs (bending and stretching). The breath in conjunction with the arms creates an internal pressure – a "massage" – that increases the circulation to the lungs and breasts.

To target a specific spot, the angle of the arms and hands are altered in order to focus of the move. "Bending the Bow" also massages a key lymph node located approximately one inch above the nipple – a common site for cysts. By increasing the circulation of the lymph, the potential for the formation of a cyst is minimized, or in terms of treatment, these exercises spark the healing process.

Nevertheless, people should not forgo Western medical treatment for cancer, but as numerous medical studies document, Qigong and T'ai Chi are powerful adjuncts that facilitate the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation and minimize the side-effects of the treatments. Many hospitals in the Western Pennsylvania region recognize Qigong and T'ai Chi as valuable preventatives against disease and as catalysts for the healing process.

T'ai Chi and Qigong are the foundations of complete physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. The balance and harmony of mind, body, and spirit that these exercises provide helps to stave off disease while providing the individual the means to continue to heal him or her self.

Dr. David Clippinger, Director of Still Mountain T'ai Chi and Chi Kung, LLC, frequently teaches Cancer and other medical Qigong forms through workshops and private consultations and has presented at the National Ovarian Cancer Symposium, UPMC Cancer Caring Center, Gilda's Club, Magee Hospital and other facilities. The next Cancer workshop is June 12th, and more information is available at www.stillmountaintaichi.com or directly at dwc8@comcast.net or (412) 480-9177.

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