S3 Ep 2 – Your First Qigong Lesson: Discover the Branch of Chinese Medicine that Puts You in Charge Again

Sep 12, 2023 | Podcast

When is it the best time to work on your health? When you have more time? After you get sick?

Welcome to modern life!

But real preventive medicine always starts and ends with YOU. And the best time to address your health is NOW. Listen to this episode on how the practice of qigong puts you back in charge of your health.

Self-Care is Everything


Just look at what the ancient physicians wrote over two thousand years ago about their ancestors:

“In the past, … [t]hey understood the principle of balance as represented by the transformations of the energies of the universe [Nature]. They formulated exercises to promote energy flow to harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided overstressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds.” (translated by Maoshing Ni)

Energy flow (the smooth circulation of qi) is the key to a long and healthy life. And those “exercises to promote energy flow” are collectively called qigong (pronounced chee-gong.) Qigong is a branch of Chinese medicine that offers tremendous opportunity to improve your health and, perhaps, help improve the healthcare system itself.

Follow Ramey’s Health Journey in Season 3

My client, Ramey, took one of my classes to learn about eye health qigong, and she reached a point where she wanted to go deeper than that with the Health Strategy Consult program. Season 3 is about pulling the curtain back so you can learn the process with Ramey on how to form a unique health strategy.

Join my client, Ramey, in episode 2 to learn about the power and wisdom that qigong has to offer in your health journey.


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Ni, M. (1995). The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary(Revised ed. edition). Shambhala.

The definition of qi mentioned in the podcast comes from esteemed scholar, Ed Neal, who wrote that all different types of qi “can be understood as being different manifestations of the primary fabric of space/time.” Neal, E. (2012). Introduction to Neijing Classical Acupuncture Part I: History and Basic Principles.pdf. Journal of Chinese Medicine, 100. https://neijingstudies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/JCM-Article-1.pdf


Barbara: I’m your host, Barbara de la Torre. I’m a physician and artist bringing a blended perspective to you about healthcare and exploring simpler ways to restore and maintain your health.

How easy is it for you to meditate?

Ramey: I mean, I feel like it’s just something that I can do just to in my life anyway, just to cope. So, do you know what I mean?

Barbara: Yeah, yeah.

Ramey: So I feel I can, I can get, I feel like I can get there. I don’t practice it every day. Consciously where I’m like.

Barbara: What’s an example of what you’re doing in the day?

Ramey: Just pausing and just being. What am I hearing? What am I seeing? Or if I’m with, I was with all my friends.

So, I just sort of in the big group and then I just sort of stop and like I’m quiet and I just sort of What am I hearing? What am I smelling? What am I seeing? Just to. Not to take a picture, but it is. It helps.

Barbara: Ramey, you just meditated in a big group.

Ramey: Yes, it’s the mindfulness.

Barbara: When somebody goes to take a class, and it’s about a specific disease or specific condition, if all you’re studying is that condition, you never really unfold the true health story.

My client’s name is Ramey. and she started to take a class with me on eye health, prevention, and self-care. And a key component to it is something called Qigong. Q I G O N G. Qigong is something we’re going to talk about in this episode. And so in this class, I had the opportunity to talk to Rami about more than just her eyes.

We’re also talking about who she is as a person, her history, and the struggles she’s had with her health in general. This gives a more holistic picture of what’s going on and lends itself to revealing all the patterns that come up in your life. And if you’re just joining us in this episode, go ahead and listen to the one before this from September 5th, because this whole season, it’s sequential.

It’s a whole story that unfolds about one person. And this could be you. Put yourself in Ramey’s place, sit down at the table, and join us for how to form your own health strategy, beginning with understanding what Chinese medicine is in the previous episode. And in this episode, we’re going to focus on qigong.

Now I’m not teaching you the qigong form. That’s something that if you’re interested in, definitely look to my website. I will also leave it in the show notes, a way for you to take this class online. This is the beginning of how Ramey discovers her health in a holistic way.

Were they all, would you say, within one to two months, the miscarriages?

Like, as far as how far you went along?

Ramey: In between, oh yeah, yeah, it would be right to my first trimester, or early, usually six to eight weeks. The one where I was like, I’m done …got me to like 14. And that was the whole progesterone thing. It was like, whole bunch of progesterone, now we’re going to take you off of it.

And it was, me just not necessarily advocating, I think, for myself, too, of like…

Barbara: Well, how can you know?

Ramey: But yeah, you just sort of listen. I was at the clinic, and then I was at a doctor, and then I was also doing acupuncture. So, I was just, I was like, okay, we made it through eight weeks. Yay! You know, I was kind of.

Barbara: So, without the progesterone, were all the pregnancies stopping by eight weeks?

Ramey: Yes. And they would always say, you know, your levels are great, everything’s great, everything’s great. And my acupuncturist was like, no.

Barbara: Things are not great. Things are not great.

Ramey: You’re not in the range that I would want you to be, so. But it wasn’t anything sticking out, alarming, like, “Hey, you don’t have progesterone.” Always unexplained. Always, I don’t quite know. Until I got to the acupuncturist and she was like, I think I know. I think I know what is going on. And then had a really, not easy pregnancy, but comfortable.

Barbara: What was not easy about it?

Ramey: The end part was the worst. I got cholestasis at the end, so we got you here. Oh, right, so, you know, there’s still issues. Gotta get this baby out, basically, was like my body. I always felt that. My body was, like, we’ll give you one. And that’s like, yeah, but…

Barbara: Did you want, did you want more?

Ramey: I definitely knew I wanted one, and then once, but once it was over it was like, no. Absolutely not. Now I’m like, absolutely not. I’m so glad we have one and it worked out great for me, and also the second one would’ve been a girl. So, I always wonder about that with, like, the women in my family. There’s a lot of issues. There’s, say, genetic dumping into the women in my family, if that makes sense.

Barbara: You mean, like, with the eye issues?

Ramey: All of the issues, even psychological, like, all of that sort of flows through the women in my family. So, that was another thing I was like, oh.

Barbara: What type of psychological stuff?

Ramey: Mostly therapy. Depression, things like that. I think my mom was really severely had that or some form of spectrum things that just made her not able to connect very well like not with any of her kids in a way.

I don’t have any sort of relationship with her like my other my other siblings we don’t.

Barbara: Your dad had alcoholism?

Ramey: Yes. Yeah.

Barbara: Is that how he died?

Ramey: Yes. He had quit drinking, but he, yeah, so it was all liver cirrhosis.

It turned into cancer. I think when you’re taking all those medications too, at some point, either your liver causes the cancer or whatever medication you’re taking eventually can cause things to start to go wrong.

Barbara: Well, with Chinese medicine, there’s actually a definite, there’s a pattern to all of those things together. Which is why I thought it was really interesting, you know, when you were telling me your story that everything was pointing to liver. . Pretty much.

Ramey: Every time I go to the acupuncturist, she’s like, guess what?

Barbara: We’re going to needle that. And we’re going to… Oh, yeah.

Ramey: It’s the liver again. It’s… Stagnant qi. I remember my…

Barbara: Stagnant liver qi. See those channels there? All of those flow into each other. There’s a whole rhythm. And qi… Which is loosely translated as life force energy. It’s not a great translation.

In fact, the only translation that is agreed upon by scholars around the world, are you ready for it? Is that qi is the fabric of space and time.

Ramey: Oh, really?

Barbara: Yeah, really. In other words, it’s what ties everything together, but there is a flow to it. There are channels, it involves other circulations, like blood, so qi and blood kind of move closely together, too.

But the idea that healing doesn’t just come from your labs, like what they were looking at and saying, you were fine, you should be able to deliver a baby. There’s different kinds of qi. There’s qi that you inherit from your parents, like your dad or your mom. And there’s qi that is from the environment, like the sun or the moon or the earth, nature.

And then there’s qi that you breathe and qi that you eat. If qi flows smoothly, then you’re healthy. If it doesn’t, then it can do something which you’ve heard before. It can stagnate. If it sits in places, in other words, you know, all that movement has to go someplace. And like a dam and a river, if it doesn’t, what happens? It builds up.

Or if it’s someplace where it’s not moving, it’s still like a pond. Then you end up having things grow. Like cancer. Yeah.

Ramey: Yeah. That’s exactly, and my dad’s cancer was so fast, you know, he probably had it for a while, but we learned about it and two days later he was gone. So, it was just one of those that was like.

Barbara: Your dad, it’s not necessarily the meds. There’s always a root cause to everything.

Ramey: Yeah.

Barbara: And that root cause, the meds could have, his liver already was very compromised.

Ramey: Right.

Barbara: Because livers don’t like lots of medicines.

Ramey: Yeah, that’s right.

Barbara: So that’s one thing never liver doesn’t like alcohol either. Right?

Ramey: Which I, you know, we don’t know if he was also, I just feel like if he had been drinking, he would have been dead a lot sooner, but who knows? You don’t know. He was all by himself, but he, you know, I suspected things. So, I just, I was just like, he’s so sick. Like, how could you even. How could you drink and enjoy it?

Barbara: Well, the sickness isn’t just about physical illness, right? So you can have, your whole being can be sick.

Ramey: Yes, yeah. Even when he wasn’t drinking, during periods of time. There was illness there still, right, like just

Barbara: Exactly. It’s not the drink that caused him to die. It’s not the cancer. Ultimately, a lot of things that the things that are Beyond our con we think is beyond our control is actually very much under our control.

Ramey: Yeah.

Barbara: Do you know much about Qigong?

Ramey: I don’t.

Barbara: Okay, so Qigong is In the parts if you were to separate this into just single parts, it just means It’s the cultivation of qi. So with good practice consistently, you end up having qi that flows better. So it means that you’re good at it. Okay? And there are these different components.

There’s breathing, there’s movement, breathing, movement, stretching, and intention. And this is a word called Yi, without pronouncing the “y.” And that just means intention. Where the qi goes, how do you direct the qi? And all of these components have been shown to actually, they work. They work on your body, they work on your emotions.

Science has shown that. And what qigong is, is putting it all together. And then here’s another thing about qigong, before we start our big lecture, is that in Chinese medicine, it’s not just about you getting your needles. You’re actually getting different types of things. Herbs, sometimes moxa, which is putting heat on certain acupuncture points.

And then acupuncture is also there, and body work. But you see how all of these are passive? The only one at the very top of the ladder is qigong, where it’s you doing it.

Ramey: Yeah.

Barbara: So that’s a big component. The other part is understanding what qigong is. Now we know the parts, and there’s different kinds of qi.

There’s the sun, you, what flows in you, what flows around the earth, the moon, air, food. Where you got it from, your parents, your prenatal DNA. The master I studied with calls it your savings account.

Ramey: Oh, okay.

Barbara: And your checking account is like air and food. Okay, so your 401k is what you inherited.

Ramey: That makes a lot of sense.

Barbara: Okay.

Ramey: It’s zero.

Barbara: Oh, no, it’s not.

Ramey: Savings account?

Barbara: No. No, I’m going to give you more credit because you actually, you’re, you’re here talking to me and laughing.

Ramey: Yeah, that’s. That…

Barbara: …and you’re functional and you can work. That means you have a lot in your savings.

Ramey: That’s true. Okay. Okay.

Barbara: But you don’t have as much maybe as someone else who might have more in their savings.

And then there’s something called defensive qi or wei qi, and that prevents you from getting sick outside, like external things that can make you sick, like germs, you know, weather, things like that. And some of us have a better defensive qi and some of us don’t, and we can cultivate all of these things.

We can make our source qi more valuable so your 401k can go up in, in value. You just can’t necessarily add to it. But you can make it much better. And the defensive qi you can make stronger.

The way qigong has been passed down, and it’s been about… I’d say 5, 000 years, all of these lineages, people that have passed it down, not necessarily family members, but it could be family members or just students.

And they create these forms and out of these forms, there are different kinds of routines where it’s like a sequence of movements. That’s what it is. So what we’re going to do in this class is we’re going to go over eye health, but the main thing is to make sure that It’s not always movement standing.

We’re gonna be seated. And this Qigong meditation can also be done lying down before you go to bed. Okay. But there’s breath work. There’s sometimes stretching, movement, like maybe in the arm, and intention is very important in visualization.

I wanted to get away from PowerPoint for these.

Ramey: Yeah, I appreciate it.

Barbara: You’re welcome, yeah. Because that way…

Ramey: I’m a teacher, a former teacher; so, I’m a big fan of the Post Its.

Barbara: Oh, you are? I love the Post Its.

Ramey: A special place in my heart.

Barbara: Oh, that’s really good. Because I wanted to make it special and memorable for you where it’s not just click, click, click, click.

There are basic qigong concepts that you need to learn before we start any kind of qigong.

And one is that there’s the concept of three treasures. Shen, Qi, and Jing. You’re going to see the number three come up over and over again. Three levels, three treasures. What Shen is, is this level. There’s an upper burner, a middle burner, and a lower burner. The Shen is more like your consciousness. It’s the spiritual sense of your health.

Okay, not in a religious sense, but just the fact that we think, we perceive, we have intuition, all of that’s up here. When everything flows well, you’re intuitive, you’re creative, you sense the things in the right way, in other words, like, you don’t misperceive somebody’s intentions. You can read the room.

And when someone looks in your eyes, you’re totally there. And you’re engaged and you’re connected to the world around you.

Qi is the mid-level, so you notice how this is more ethereal and this is more solid. Concepts of yin and yang and how things are relative to each other. Qi is that sort of life force energy and what, what is vital to sort of live. It’s the difference between you living and not living.

Jing is that essence, and that’s the most sort of material part. This is what you bring into the world from your parents. Essence is stored, and that’s stored here in the kidneys, in between, in the lower level. Relative to each other, nothing is understood by itself in Chinese medicine. It’s, East Asian philosophy is like that. That there is no A or B. A and B can exist.

Dan tian is the idea of the three levels. We’re going to be focusing, not so much in this Qigong form, but when you study Qigong, and if you take more classes, this is what you’re going to learn about. And this, these are your three levels here.

Your lower Dan tian is right below the navel. So guess what’s there? Your uterus, your ovaries, the place where you create life.

Upper, middle, lower.

Lastly, with Qigong, if you’re practicing, it’s always nice to do some kind of preparation. So you’re not like coming in out of a day and distracted, because this is about being one mind.

And you warm up, you may have a meditation, like we’ll have, actually before a meditation we have a warm up massage. So there’s a preparation before this. So that it’s easier, so you flow better.

How easy is it for you to meditate? I mean,

Ramey: I feel like it’s just something that I can do just to, in my life anyway, just to cope. So, you know what I mean?

Barbara: Yeah, yeah.

Ramey: So I feel I can, I can get, I feel like I can get there. I don’t practice it every day.

Barbara: Yeah.

Ramey: Consciously, where I’m like.

Barbara: What’s an example of what you’re doing in the day?

Ramey: Just pausing and just being. What am I hearing? What am I seeing? Or if I’m with, I was with all my friends.

So I just sort of in the big group and then I just sort of stop and like I’m quiet and I just sort of What am I hearing? What am I smelling? What am I seeing? Just to, not to take a picture, but it is, it helps.

Barbara: Ramey, you just meditated in a big group.

Ramey: Yes! It’s the mindfulness. When I taught, we used to teach mindfulness.

Barbara: What did you teach?

Ramey: Sixth grade. We just did this extra advisory. There was a group of teachers that were like, let’s, let’s try this and see if it helps our kids. And so we did these meditations three minutes, three times a day with every new group. And we watched how it like everybody settled because they’re little, you know, coming from lunch. They’re just vibrating.

Barbara: Yeah.

Ramey: And that is quiet. That’s amazing. That helped me practice the ability to get quiet. And …

Barbara: You just need three minutes. That’s it. I mean, this meditation typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes at the most and the preparation takes about the same amount of time, maybe 10 minutes. You can shorten it.

Then you have an opening, the opening sequence is generally for standing. We’ll do a little something like that when we’re done, and I’ll show you what that’s about. And that’s just a tap, so you’re tapping all the channels, and you’re tapping them in the direction that they’re moving, because some of them move up the arm and some of them move down the arm or up the leg and down the leg.

And that’s because you’re trying to activate the qi when you open so that you get more out of your qigong. It’s revving the engine before you move your car. And then the form, or the movement, or the routine, and then a closing says, you know, I’m done. But it’s also redirecting everything to that lower dan tian that I talked about.

That is basic qigong, sort of 101.

Ramey, who took one of my classes, the eye health class, reached a point where she wanted to even go deeper than that. And so she is now my client and we’re going to pull the curtain back again and have you sit at the table while Ramey and I work on her health strategy.

This is a gift because normally when I work with clients, it’s a very, very private, intimate, vulnerable space. And I ask that you listen as if you’re the one sitting at the table, because I want to respect your dignity. Let’s hold that space for Rami as we begin her journey to find her health strategy to expand what it means to be healthy.

And I look forward to joining us again for the next episode where Rami starts with a complimentary phone call to talk about the process of becoming a client and what it means to form a health strategy. Stay tuned.

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Third Opinion M. D. podcast is produced by me, Barbara de la Torre. Music is licensed through Audio Jungle. Any comments made by the host or guest on Third Opinion MD reflect opinions about health care and self-care. Please consult with your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.

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