Why Qigong Is So Effective Against Emotional Illnesses

In this post I’d like to look at what it is that makes Qigong/Chi Kung such a powerful tool for overcoming depression, anxiety, worry, fear and for raising self esteem and resistance to stress.

You can think of Qigong as a tool for increasing your emotional immune system.

Before we do that let’s look at some Mental Health Foundation figures:

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year – note that’ s in the course of a YEAR, not in their lifetime.
  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in britain.
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes.
  • 1 in 5 people feels stressed every day, with half feeling stressed at least once a week.

Now before we go any further I’d like to say that personally I think stress is a sign of life. I don’t think you can get rid of stress, but you certainly can help to increase your resistance to it and avoid being overwhelmed by it.

What makes Qigong so effective?

The core of why Qigong is so much more affective at overcoming depression, anxiety, worry, fear and for raising self esteem and resistance to stress is because it is very effective at treating ‘empty illnesses‘.

Lets look at this in more detail:

  • Empty illness – the cause or the symptoms are not clear, we cannot define the site of the illness. Empty illnesses can sometimes be worse than a solid illness because we don’t know the enemy that we’re fighting.
  • Solid illness – the cause and/or symptoms are clear, we can define the site of the illness.

Western medicine is brilliant for treating ‘solid illnesses’ e.g. contagious diseases, bacterial attack, physical cuts and breaks etc. These are all things were we can clearly define the cause of and the site of the illness.

But unfortunately when the cause or the site of the illness and/ or the symptoms are not obvious western medicine can have a hard time providing an effective treatment. For example where is the site of anxiety? What is the cause of depression?

Qigong and the Brain

Qigong is much better for treating empty illnesses like depression, anxiety, worry fear and for raising self esteem and resistance to stress, because the Chinese healers of the past have worked out powerful ways of working with them.

Here are 5 basic principals for working effectively with empty illnesses:

  1. Unity of Soma and Psyche soma is the physical body and psyche is the mind. It’s only in the last few decades that western medicine is agreeing with what many other medical systems have known for millennia and that is that there is a mind body connection. Chinese masters teach that the body is alive because of the mind and the mind operates through the body.
  2. Harmony of Jing, Qi and ShenJing is the physical body, Qi is vital energy and Shen is the mind/spirit/consiousness. These are also know as the 3 treasures of a human. Jing, Qi and Shen are all interrelated. If Shen is weak then that will have an adverse affect on the energy and the physical body.
  3. The Heart is the seat of the mind and emotion – as you probably already know, the Heart I’m referring to hear is not just the 4 chambered muscle in your chest that pumps oxygenated and deoxygenated blood around the body. It’s the TCM view, the Heart System.
  4. Onus of maintaining health is on nurturing mind – i.e. the Heart, shen, spirit, consciousness. As a Qigong healer this is one of the main points I like to focus on. Activities such as mindfulness, mediation, Qigong, Shaolin Kung Fu and Taijiquan are excellent examples of ways you can deliberately nurture the Mind. Therefore they are also great ways of working with ’empty’ illnesses.
  5. The importance of virtue in mind cultivation – if someone is virtuous then the mind is not perverted. If we look at the Mind Body connection we can see that if the mind is full of unwholesome thoughts then this will have an adverse affect on the health of the body. I’m not going to look at this in any more detail. It’s a huge subject in its own right maybe I’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.
In Qigong The Heart is Known as the Emperor

Principals For Working With The Heart

In TCM the heart is known as the emperor, it is the supreme controller and if you want to be happy and posses a strong emotional immune system then you need to open your heart.

As a Qigong healer I utilize 7 principals for working with the heart, but in this post I’d like to take a look at 3 of them:

  1. Opening the Heart – Smiling from the heart, emperor walks heart opens, two tigers at the ready. All of these are useful techniques for opening the heart.
  2. Calming The Mind – going for a brisk walk, mindful breathing are great ways to calm the mind.
  3. Generating Energy Flow – Qigong is the best way I know of for generating energy flow.

A Quick Word About Stress

This is really important. I believe there is a real misconception about stress. Not all stress is bad. Stress can help you to focus, to exceed your own expectations, it can be a push to improve your life.

The problem with stress is if you don’t take the time to recover and refuel from it. If you live your life constantly exposed to stresses and don’t take time out to refuel, then you will quickly become over whelmed.

You don’t expect your car to keep running without putting fuel in it every now and then. And yet many of us expect ourselves to perform at optimum levels without taking time to refuel, to renew, to recover. That is not possible.

So remember, stress is not the enemy – lack of refueling, lack of recover, lack of renewing – is the enemy. And guess what?

Qigong is a brilliant way to refuel, renew and recover.

The other aspect I’d like to quickly cover is that you cannot get rid of stress. Stress is a sign of life. It is unrealistic to think that you can live a stress free life. In fact trying to do so would be a significant cause of stress in itself.

Stress is a sign of life, you can’t get rid of it, but you can avoid being overwhelmed by it and you now know how to do that.

By practicing Qigong to refuel, renew and recover from stress.


Qigong is powerful tool for overcoming mild to moderate depression, for overcoming anxiety, worry and fear. It is a potent way to raise self esteem and increase your resistance to the stresses and strains of modern living.

These ‘illnesses’ are known as empty illnesses because we don’t know the cause of the symptoms and/or the location of the illness is not known. Western medicine does not have a brilliant track record at treating such empty illnesses, often resorting to the prescription of drugs to treat the symptoms whilst the root cause is untreated.

I must point out that in cases of severe and long standing emotional problems, Qigong alone may not be enough and you may need the help and support of a skilled counsellor or psychotherapist.

Qigong is the most powerful tool I know of for working effectively with empty illness, but it doesn’t have to be used in isolation. Get the best of both worlds, have your cake and eat it – get professional help if you need it.

Marcus James Santer