Ancient Secret of Living Longer And Free of Illnesses (+Exercises for Beginners in 2020)
You work hard. You take your health seriously with diet, exercise, and supplements. You want to live a long and healthy life.
There is this nagging fear about the unknown, like
- whether your body can weather deadly viruses like the coronavirus if you are infected
- whether you’ll end up living a long life laden with illnesses and shackled to a hospital bed
- whether you’ll need expensive medical care and precautions that will drain you financially, mentally, and spiritually with a longer life
You envy the gracefully aging folks like how a 95-year-old woman was fit enough to do splits as reported in the Los Angeles Times; or the 120-year-old healthy Varanasi monk that was reported in the Hindustan Times.
You desire a long and healthy life, without exorbitant medication or strenuous routines to enslave you.
You want to learn the ancient secrets of longevity and healthy living, like the folks in the old testament that lived up to 900+ years.
You are not alone. I have been researching longevity and health for some time now because of what I witnessed in my parents.
I have witnessed the excruciating pain and slow torture my late father had to go through from type 2 diabetes complications. On the other side of the coin, I was quietly amused at the excessive caution with cleanliness and health precautions of my 82-year-old mother. I am more than happy she is healthy and fit at her age but wondered if there were easier ways than her ex-nurse instincts.
Part of my research work has already been shared with my readers, such as:
- How to Live Longer: 7 Tips For Natural And Effective Anti-Aging (Scientifically Proven + Bonus Tip), and
- Health And Fitness 101: Science-Backed 20-Minute Routines (Easy and Fun).
To uncover nature’s secrets to longevity and good health, let’s dig into the biblical scriptures and ancient studies of health and longevity.
The Biblical Truths of Longevity and Health
Several parts of the Old Testament in the Bible clearly mentioned biblical characters who lived beyond the paltry 70–80 years of the average human life expectancy in 2020.
Wikipedia listed the biblical life expectancy as ranging from Joshua’s 110 years to Methuselah’s 969 years. Adam, the first man on earth after his fall from grace through sin, lived up to 930 years.
There was even a controversy view that God limited the life of human beings to only 120 years in Genesis 6:3:
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
Research has confirmed that the overall life expectancy around the world has increased steadily for nearly 200 years.
Without diving into the intricacies of a biblical discourse and why humans are dying at a younger age than their biblical lifespan, facts and figures suggest that humans can live past100 years of age.
The key question is: how can we live up to our God-given lifespan.
We turn our spotlight to what the oldest existing civilization has to reveal in terms of longevity and vitality.
Secrets of Longevity from Ancient Cultures
The 10 oldest ancient civilizations that have ever existed are:
- The Incan Civilization
- The Aztec Civilization
- Roman Civilization
- The Persian Civilization
- Ancient Greek Civilization
- Chinese Civilization
- The Maya Civilization
- The Ancient Egyptian Civilization
- The Indus Valley Civilization
- The Mesopotamian Civilization
According to the American Historical Association, the oldest living civilization today is the Chinese Civilization. The Chinese civilization has about 3,500 years of written history and that it was commented that “even 3,500 years ago China’s civilization was old!”.
Chinese history recorded the search for eternal life at a massive level by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who wanted to live forever. Through uncovered documents dating back more than 2000 years, we know that he gave an executive order to search for a potion that would give him eternal life.
I focused my research on practical ways of achieving vitality and better health from the Chinese culture. I came across an ancient system of improving your life through practice and perseverance. It is quite similar to the practice of another existing ancient culture, the Indian civilization which began about 4,500 years ago.
The Chinese called their practice Qigong, a Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control related to tai chi. The Indians named their practice Yoga, which is supposed to lead practitioners to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature.
Both practices are similar in essence. Both studies can take up decades of practice and it’s not possible to do an in-depth study here. In order to give you some valuable takeaways here, we will have to focus on the basics of just one of these practices.
Let’s pick Qigong as the fundamentals of this practice can help improve the vitality and health of the practitioners.
Qigong 101: Health and Longevity Simplified for Beginners
You and I are searching for the same thing: health and vitality.
You probably felt the pull of destiny as you began your search for the essential underlying forces of nature that can heal, empower, and enliven us.
The ancient art of Qigong may not be fully understood with just a casual treatment. We’ll cover some basics before diving into the more practical aspects of practices for beginners.
To understand what Qigong is, we start from the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Medicine” or “Huang Di Nei Jing”. This is an ancient medical text that is still being studied since the 300 B.C. Its focus is on health improvement and the prevention of aging and disease through inner resource and energy management.
Huang Ti was the first emperor known as the Yellow Emperor who had gained access to knowledge of longevity and vitality through a Qi master known as Qi Bo. This medical classic expounded that the most profound medicine is produced naturally within us.
Qigong is not just a form of exercise. It’s a Way of Life to live in accordance with nature, where practices were formulated to include gentle body movements, self-applied massage, breath practice to promote Qi flow, and meditation to harmonize oneself with nature and the universe.
Practitioners lived a natural life with a balanced diet, sufficient rest, careful management of avoiding over-indulgence, and stress of body and mind. The goal is the well-being and harmony of the body, mind, and spirit. Advanced practitioners are known to live to ripe old ages beyond 100 years in good health and full of vitality.
I would liken Qi as the “breath of life” from God. God gives us the breath of life for us to be alive. We need to breathe to stay alive. Our body converts the essence or Qi in our breath to the energy that our body needs to repair and sustain itself.
This process is natural and we are able to do that since birth when we catch our first breath. However, the stress of modern living and over-indulgence in unhealthy practices can deplete the Qi in our body causing us to age, to fall sick, and to die when the Qi is completely depleted.
I can only give you a superficial treatment of ancient art here. If you want to understand further, you can do your own research with an open mind. The practice of Qigong is already quite well-spread globally and you should be able to locate expert practitioners/masters in most parts of the world.
Alternatively, you can also start with the basic practice of Yoga as the underlying principles are essentially the same.
The Qi Matrix
Qigong involves the cultivation of the absorbing, circulating, and refining of Qi in the body through a pervasive circuitry of the life force called the Qi Matrix. Qi is delivered through the Qi meridians or channels to every part of the body as fuel or resource for every function.
The life force vitalizes the blood, activates the nerve activities, sustains the organs, and drives the functions of every cell and tissue in the living process. Modern biophysics and new era cell biology are confirming what the Qi masters have intuited through the centuries.
The universe we know is driven by various forces including gravity, cosmic rays, and the energetic frequencies of the sun. Our bodies as part of this universe are bathed in and affected/sustained by these forces.
2 Kinds of Medical Treatment
In modern medicine, we treat disease AFTER we fall sick and need to be cured. Modern medical science historically taught us very little about disease prevention or health enhancement. Even prevention is typically characterized by clinical procedures, such as immunization, mammography, etc. that are employed to fight or screen for disease.
Ancient cultures have a strong tradition of prevention. Qigong is the Chinese equivalent to Indian Yoga; or the Native American “big medicine” that is referring to a person’s capacity for strength and power. Qi is the “big medicine” that reflects a person’s life force.
Qigong is not limited to disease and treatment. It is a powerful tool for life mastery and personal transformation. That is a topic for another blog post. We will focus primarily on the use of qigong for health and vitality. For that, it is important to understand the 3 states of Qi.
3 States of Qi
To understand how Qigong can be used for health and vitality, we can visualize Qi in 3 possible states in health and disease:
Harmony means that the Qi or life force is sufficient and balanced, with the individual in the good health.
Deficiency means that the person’s Qi is insufficient and the most common signs are fatigue, stress, tension, mood swings, allergies, and other physical or physiological disorders.
Stagnation means that the Qi flow is blocked, stagnant, erratic, or toxic. Symptoms include:
- pains in joints, head, neck, back
- digestive or bowel
- sickness or disease
- sexual or menstrual difficulties
- lung disorders
- difficulty regulating body temperature
- slow, fast, weak, or erratic pulse
3 Key Aspects of Qigong
The focal point in the practice of Qigong is to adjust and regulate the following 3 areas:
- the body posture of movement
- the breath
- the consciousness
If you want to take a deep breath, you have to adjust your posture. It certainly helps.
If you want to naturally relax your body and clear your mind or consciousness, you have to adjust your breath and posture.
Posture is a key aspect of qigong to optimize the natural inner circulation of the qi that flows in with the breath. The breath is the conduit for gathering, circulating, purifying, and directing Qi.
The mind and consciousness are instrumental to life and when that can be brought under control into a relaxed, focused state, enlightenment and the gifts of transcendental life will begin to manifest.
I am providing some explanation for completeness but need to stress again that the study of Qigong typically takes several years or even decades. There are 10 phases of cultivating and mastering Qi as illustrated in the next section.
For this section, it suffices to understand that Qigong involves the adjustment and regulation of posture, breath, and consciousness.
10 Phases of Cultivating and Mastering Qi
The 10 phases are:
- Discovering Qi
- Gathering Qi
- Circulating Qi
- Purifying Qi
- Directing Qi
- Conserving Qi
- Storing Qi
- Transforming Qi
- Dissolving in Qi
- Transmitting Qi
There is no way you can master all the phases without years of study and practice. A great second-century Yoga Philosopher, Patanjali, from India has affirmed that healing and access to highly refined states of body, mind, and spirit must occur in stages.
What I can do is to get you started while providing you a holistic picture of what qigong is and how it can benefit you over the course of a lifetime.
Further self-reading on Qigong
If you are new to Qigong, going further from here might risk boring you or losing you in unnecessary details. Instead, I rather leave you with some research material for you to explore further if you have the inclination to learn more:
- Abstracts of studies from the Qigong Institute
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database with the search term “qigong”
Qigong Fundamentals For Beginners
I relate a personal example to help you understand how Qigong can help you. I used to suffer from chronic back pains that were an indication that the flow of Qi is somehow impeded in my body.
As I go through the Qigong practices, I could sense sharp pains where the blockages were. I released the blockages through the Qigong techniques, and as the sharp pains subsided, the pains in my back were greatly alleviated.
Qigong is more than a healing and exercise technique, as it can improve the body, mind, and spirit with the 10 phases of cultivating and mastering Qi. The exercises recommended here are for beginners mainly to help you through the first 3 phases of discovering, gathering, and circulating Qi. If you can master these phases, your health and vitality would certainly improve.
Let’s dive in.
Dan Tians: Reservoirs of Qi
You need to understand that there are energy centers in our body that stores Qi, known as Dan Tians. A literal translation of Dan Tian is the ‘elixir pool’. There are 3 major Dan Tians in our bodies:
- The Earth Dan Tian is located 2 inches below the navel. The Earth Dan Tian is the source of the life force called Jing that builds the physical body and allows us to develop and use Qi and Shen.
- The Heart-Mind Dan Tian is located at the heart. It stores Qi created from food and air and relates to our emotions and thoughts hence the name Heart-Mind.
- The Heaven Dan Tian that is located at a center point just higher than the eyebrows relates to our spirit and/or consciousness called Shen.
The Dan Tians becomes important especially from the 4th phase onwards involving the purification, storage, and transformation of the Qi.
Phase 1 of Qi Cultivation: Discovering Qi
One way to discover qi is simply to become aware of sensations of flowing energy within our body. This flowing energy might have a quality of warmth, or of coolness. It might feel more like tingling, or a sense of heaviness or fullness, or perhaps will have an electric or magnetic quality to it.
You can also try this simple exercise:
- Rub your palms vigorously like you are creating a fire until your hands feel warm.
- Bring your hands down to your side and shake your lower arms and wrists as an athlete would before an event for at least 30 seconds.
- Completely relax with your hands by your side, maintain an upright relaxed posture, and feel the energy circulating down your arms and into your fingertips.
Qigong For Beginners
Instead of boring you to sleep, I have decided to recommend some basic Qigong practice to get you started. A picture paints a thousand words and I guess a short clear video would replace at least 10,000 words.
Basic techniques of Qigong well mastered can last you a lifetime and yield most of the benefit. Remember to breathe naturally and not force the breath. Guide your breath to follow your naturally relaxed, deep breathing.
Hope you’ll enjoy and learn the basics of Qigong for your health and vitality in the video below:
This 30-minute exercise is simple yet comprehensive for positive effects. Try it out and if you experience the Qi doing wonders in your body, continue practicing it at a regular time every day.
Advancing in Qigong
It takes years of practice and studies to master the various phases of Qigong. The important part of the journey is to relax and enjoy it. Worry and stress disturb the Qi and cancels the benefits of the Qigong practice.
If you find the steps too many to remember, just focus on one or two simple exercises first and slowly add to your routines as you develop a comfort level of attunement with the exercises.
At the advanced stage, there are various Tai Chi forms of practice and for healing, practitioners need to study the meridians and the acupuncture points of the body.
Modern medicine has begun to adopt some aspects of Qigong that promote healthy living and strengthens your vitality by removing stress and tension in your system.
Unlock the Secret to Living Life to Its Fullest
Gone are your fears of not being able to complete your bucket list. Gone are your fears of living your life in pains and suffering. Gone are of your fears of dying in a hospital bed laden with diseases.
The door of longevity and health has been shown to you and the key firmly placed in your hands. Open the door to the path and take your first step towards a long, meaningful, and healthy life with your first practice of Qigong.
Live long and healthy.