Qigong, the ancient Chinese practice of fluid movements and rhythmic breathing, lets practitioners around the world find a sense of balance in body and mind.
That's especially important for health care providers, who must care for their own well-being while treating sick patients. Nearly half of doctors reported symptoms of burnout in a recent Mayo Clinic survey.
Guan-Cheng Sun, PhD, a longtime healer and faculty member at Bastyr University, says providers can learn a powerful self-care tool in qigong. He developed his own form, Yi Ren Medical Qigong, which promotes self-healing through the cultivation of one's life energy, or qi (pronounced "chee").
A new certificate program in Medical Qigong Self-Care lets providers learn those skills through Bastyr’s Office of Certificate, Community and Continuing Education (CCCE). Beginning September 14, the program is held on weekends and is open to health care providers who work in therapeutic patient-practitioner relationships.
It's taught by Dr. Sun, who has practiced qigong for more than 35 years, learning it from an uncle in China who used it to treat digestive and breathing troubles.
"Guan-Cheng Sun offers a wonderful gift to health practitioners,” says CCCE Director Sue Russell. “His blend of scientific molecular-research experience, teachings from the great Chinese qigong masters, and decades of cultivating the Yi Ren Medical Qigong practice can be found nowhere else.”
Students who took his recent courses found a powerful tool for self-care amid demanding careers.
"Dr. Sun empowers people to become aware of their own innate healing abilities for self-care," says student Catherine Osgood. "In the health care field, where so many professionals experience symptoms of burnout at some point, Yi Ren Qigong is an invaluable practice that enables people to stay refreshed, balanced and healthy."
The Medical Qigong Self-Care Certificate program is open to practitioners at all levels of qigong, from beginners to advanced, at any age or way of life, from the able-bodied to those with chronic pain.
“It’s feasible for people with any health condition,” Dr. Sun says. “Everybody has an energy field, even people who don’t practice qigong.”
You can practice qigong while lying down or sitting in a chair, he says, which makes it possible to practice nearly anywhere.
Like all forms of qigong, Yi Ren can help you become more aware of the connection between your mind and body. It also deepens understanding of natural medicine, which focuses on finding and treating the roots of illness.
“Instead of looking for the cause of the pain,” Dr. Sun says, “many Westerners instead focus on treating the symptom, which can actually worsen the pain.”
Through the certificate program, you will learn how to use the mind-body connection to locate the source of your pain, then turn your qi toward healing it.
Since his childhood, Dr. Sun has benefited from the power of medical qigong (read our article about his research using high-tech imaging to better understand qigong).
He's since discovered a desire to share his skills with other healers and health practitioners. When patients heal, he says, there is often an “energy exchange” that results in their doctor or other health care practitioner gradually taking on their pain.
“Every health care provider is a healer, because they have love and compassion for their patients, which often leads to this energy exchange,” he says. “In our research, we’ve found that health care practitioners in all modalities start to take on some of their patients’ pain."
Providers can learn to use this energy exchange to their advantage — first to care for their own health, and then to protect themselves from taking on their patients’ pain while healing them.
Osgood said taking the course prepared her to continue regular qigong.
"As a future acupuncturist, I am very excited by the changes I see in myself through the program," she says. "I can see my insight and my capacity for managing different types of energy grow. I believe daily cultivation of Yi Ren Qigong will allow me to arrive at a whole new level of self-care and care for patients."
The first course in the three-course program takes place on several weekends September 14 through December 7. It includes 45 hours of class time, all on weekends, along with 30 hours of qigong practice outside of class and approximately 20 hours of reading.
Please sign up by August 28 to receive an early-bird discount. You also can learn more about the certificate and training programs available through Bastyr’s CCCE at free information sessions 6-9 p.m. on July 24 or September 10.