Walking is the best medicine

Circle walking, the practice of Bagua, is medicine and is sacred. It not only heals the body, the physical, but also the mind and the spirit.

The importance of Work and Movement

Our bodies are made to work but that is not the way we live nowadays, because we often can’t even name what we do as ‘work’. It might be more fair to call it a job- and a meaningless one- rather than work. It is what makes you sick, it is not what your body is made for. It is not made for sitting in the office for 12 hours, having a job. Still, your body is made for working. You can see this looking at our grandparents and great-grandparents, they were working from day to night, though usually not sitting in an office.

The body is made for working, it constantly works. The heart is beating, the lungs are breathing, blood and fluids are powerfully pumped through the whole system. The working of the body and the work that the body is made for is movement. The body has to move. Until recent times, if you wanted to live you had to work. And whatever you had to do for living was connected to moving. It was physical labour, there was no job where you press buttons. And working on the computer is pressing buttons, that is what you do: this button, that button. This cannot be considered physical work or movement.

In the past, there were maybe just the king and dukes who didn’t have to move and work physically, everybody else had to move. And then the king and the dukes, they were probably not the most healthy.

Motion, Health and Stamina

Again, the body is made for working and it works: the heart is beating, lungs and diaphragm are breathing, Qi, blood and fluids are powerfully flushed through the system. All this is bound to motion. We have to move. There should just be one question: what kind of motion? Anything that causes rhythmic motion is good. The heart has a rhythmic motion, the lungs have a rhythmic motion, health is a rhythmic motion. Walking is very close to that, it embodies all of this.

The next crucial point about motion: it is more important that legs move than that arms move. There is a Chinese saying, amongst people doing Qi Gong and the Arts: 

“Health comes from the legs.”

Legs have to work. Health doesn’t come from the arms, head, or the heart. It comes from the action of the legs, and this is the opposite of sitting on the chair for hours and hours and pressing buttons where your legs do basically nothing.

By the practice of walking we try to awaken the power of the legs, as legs are naturally strong and the power of the legs gives you stamina. 

You can say health is stamina. Building up the legs, building up stamina means you become robust and your health becomes robust. So training the legs is very important and it is done to a high degree in traditional training, especially martial arts, the same way traditional life was working your legs. Before we settled down on the chair, when people lived in a village they were walking every day 20 or maybe 30 kilometres. Just to get everything and find everything that they needed. Walking 20 km takes you 4 hours. This was very healthy, no sitting and pressing buttons. You walk, you squat, you find something, gather and eat it; you walk, you squat- use the legs and the Kua, the big pumps of the body.

The role of body pumps

Legs constitute the big pumps of the body, hence the problem with the sitting position. When the big pumps of the body do nothing then the heart has to take over and this has two effects. First, the heart has to work very hard, more than it should. The second is that there is no energy in the lower body because the pumps are not activated. So while people are sitting, their feet are gradually turning colder. The body gets colder: even if the heaters are turned on fully, people still feel cold, because their insides are turning cold. The big pumps of the body are not working any longer and the blood is not distributed and charged, it is not energised.

The pumps have two functions: they distribute the blood and fluids through the body- this we are familiar with. However, the act of pumping also energises the blood and fluids. It is not just that they get transported but at the same time they spark up. Some people consider blood the biggest organ of the body. The pumping action of the Kua and the legs or, we could say, the pumping action of everything we do in Qi Gong massages the inner organs. You can feel that in your practice. In this way we also massage blood. Even if you don’t see it as an organ, we can still say you energise the blood. So the blood is not just well distributed through the body, which is a need, but it also warms you because it is energised, meaning it literally brings energy, Qi, everywhere.

The overuse of the heart

In case the legs don’t work the heart has to take over. As mentioned above, two things happen then: the heart has to work more and it will not succeed to energise the blood. It is not the function of the heart as it is not physical enough. The act of taking over the physical quality of pumping will make your heart work harder and even this effort will not be enough to energise the blood. All the while this forced activity is damaging to the heart.

The second effect is that your lower body will have less energy as the lower pumps are not working, while the upper body gets energised because the heart has to pump more. It means feet are turning cold and the head is getting hot and red. This reverses the energetical flow in the body: a lot of energy is brought to the chest and head, while naturally the head should stay cool and the feet should be warm. The energy stuck in the head and chest is not rooted in the ground as legs and feet don’t function, so it is disconnected from the earth. We see many people in such an energetic state nowadays.

Walking is the best medicine. You activate your legs, the pumps, you fall naturally into the rhythm that organises the functioning of your whole body. You can do more: walking in nature, where the outer environment harmonises the inner environment. Walking uphill, which requires more effort and therefore activates your breathing and circulatory system. And finally, you can practise Qi Gong walking, the art of Bagua Circle Walking.

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Ron Timm Qi Gong Tai Chi Still Power