Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The ki to longevity

Art of Qi:

We know it as qi, or chi. In Japan, they call it ki, and one Japanese master is renowned for his ki practice.
MASTER Kozo Nishino is a remarkable man. While studying for his medical degree, he also pursued courses in ballet and dance choreography, and this later led him to a stint in a ballet school in New York, US. At age 28, he established his own ballet school in Japan, which produced many famous Japanese dancers. He went on to produce many popular TV shows.
At age 50, he learned Aikido from the son of its founder, and he also mastered kung fu. He attained the highest rank in both. Finally, at the age of 59, he established Nishino Juku, the School of the Nishino Breathing Method, which brought him fame worldwide.

The Nishino Breathing Method
The Nishino Breathing Method (NBM) is his own innovation of breathing to harness the maximum ki (life-force in Japanese, also called qi or chi). It is a result of his understanding of the workings of the body through his knowledge and practice of medicine, dance and martial arts.
He is famous because of the regular demonstrations of his ability to move masses of people using his ki, and also because he remains fit and looks 20 years younger than his age.
His book on ki has been translated into several languages and is sold throughout the world. He is now 81 years young.
NBM consists of relaxing, stretching, twisting and rotating the body combined with a very slow, deep breath (one cycle of breathing in 1–2 min).
Readers may recall that I teach my qigong students to slow down their breathing from the average 12-16 per minute to six or less per minute. But this is one cycle in one to two minutes! So it will take much practice for beginners to breathe so slowly without feeling uncomfortable.
One of his training methods is called “Taiki-practice” (meaning “a paired ki-practice” or energy exchange). Both participants extend their hands and touch each other. They take turns sending ki to the other, repeating the exercise several times. This is most effective when done by a master and a student. He found that through this Taiki-practice, students can quickly improve their level and control of ki.
Ki can also be sent remotely, that is, without any contact, and often causes movements in the recipients.
He believes that this is a ki-induced “non-verbal” communication. When he himself sends ki to his students, many of them would move, jump, run, dance or even sing, as if they are controlled by him.
Although he has demonstrated this ability many times on TV, many scientists reject his claims and attribute the effects to trickery or mass hypnosis. In actual fact, the same results can be achieved with the recipients blindfolded and their ears blocked (thus excluding hypnosis).
The ability of ki or qi to cause movements in others is related to it’s “intelligence”. This is very little understood, even by practitioners. Scientists who know about ki postulate that ki carries “information” or “instructions”.
Qigong masters have known about this phenomenon for a long time. It is possible to “let loose” qi in the recipient or to focus the qi with precise instructions or intentions.
While the mind of the recipient is not so important in determining the outcome, the sender must be clear of the intention when sending the qi. In healing, it is essential that the qi is focused and utilised to improve cellular or organ function, and not end up wasted in useless movements.
Remote ki-sending has been practised for a long time in a Japanese martial arts technique called “Toh-Ate” (meaning “hit from a distance”). It is used to knock down opponents from a distance without physical contact. This martial arts technique is still being taught in Japan. This method is also practised by some of our silat (Malay martial arts) exponents. I am sure there are similar methods in many other martial arts styles.
Although Master Nishino has taught over 10,000 students in Japan, he never claimed that NBM has any healing or therapeutic effects on those with diseases. The only claims made are that it “revives and strengthens cell function, cultivates life energy, and preserves and restores youth and beauty”.
While most NBM practitioners do report being mentally and physically young and healthy, many have also recovered from health problems like high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis.
In fact several scientific studies have been conducted on him and his method. One study demonstrated that his method increased the immunity and lowered the stress levels of practitioners. Other studies showed that his ki protected isolated rat liver mitochondria from heat-induced damaged, and also was able to inhibit cell division of cultured human liver carcinoma cells.
Those of you who have read my articles about how qi and qigong works will not be surprised (see http://www.superqigong.com/articlesmore.asp?id=3 ).

Ki protects mitochondria
According to Nishino, NBM revitalises cellular respiration, that is, the generation of ATP-energy by the mitochondria (the cell’s energy power houses), as well as increases the cellular ki. This is how NBM revives and strengthens cell function, improves health, rejuvenates and slows down ageing.
His hypothesis is that ki plays a crucial role in protecting mitochondria from damage, and enhances their energy-generating functions. Since all cells (except red blood corpuscles) depend on intact, functioning mitochondria to drive their activities, having healthy mitochondria means the cells remain “young” and active.
This hypothesis assumes that ageing is mainly due to the gradual loss of cellular mitochondrial function, and natural cell death (apoptosis) occurs when the remaining mitochondria cannot provide sufficient energy for continued cell survival. Much of the mitochondrial damage is due to free radicals, and ki is believed to protect the mitochondria from them.

Sokushin Breathing
Sokushin Breathing is a basic NBM exercise, suitable for beginners. Stand as in the basic qigong stance (see photo). Imagination is important because as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, you have to visualise as if you are breathing through the soles of your feet.
You must be fully aware of your soles. As you inhale, visualise the ki being sucked from the ground up your legs to the spine until it reaches the top of the head (hyakue, equivalent to baihui acupuncture point).
Gently hold your breath for a few seconds and then resume inhaling while you visualise the ki travelling downwards across your face, throat, chest and upper abdomen towards an area three fingers below your umbilicus (tanden, equivalent to dantien in TCM).
Once there, exhale slowly while directing the ki downwards through your legs and out of your soles into the earth. Here, “sokushin” refers to the centre of the sole, through which the ki enters and leaves.
Beginners can “move” the energy faster so that they don’t run out of breath, and can gradually slow down until breathing is as slow as possible, without suffocating. Like everything else, practise makes perfect.
This is actually similar to the microcosmic orbit exercise described in previous articles. Amazingly, Master Nishino developed this exercise without prior knowledge of the qigong or Healing Tao variations. This goes to show that great masters concur on the important exercises.
Reiki was started by a Japanese (Dr Usui), but is now mostly practised outside Japan. There are many more treasures in the rich history and culture of the Japanese people that we have yet to discover.
In a future article, I will introduce another Japanese energy practice, a ki-meditation technique which is like yoga combined with the whirling dervish Sufi dance. And it is not called sushi!

Dr Amir Farid Isahak is a medical specialist who practises holistic, aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine. He is a qigong master and founder of SuperQigong.

No comments: