“Be Still…Energy Flows where Attention Goes” ~Author Unknown
– Qi (chi) energy. Life energy.
The saying mentioned above may have scrolled through your Facebook feed recently. Maybe you contemplated what it meant for a second. I actually have it on my kitchen wall. I try to tune in to where my “energy” is flowing a few times a day. I have learned a lot about energy and its power over the past year. Its power to heal. Its power to enlighten. As with so many of the lessons in my recent adult life, the catalyst for the learning has been my four-year-old son.
“When you ask the right questions, you get the right answers” is another one of my favorite sayings. So I started asking very different questions last summer when over 15 months of treating our sons compromised GI system, candida overgrowth and heavy metal burden had not yielded the healing and progress both biologically and neurologically we had hoped for. And low and behold, when I asked different questions, I started to get very different answers.
The traditional interventions were not working the way that we hoped they would with our son. As any Thinking Mom out there knows, when you hit a wall it’s time to figure a way around, over, under or through it! As I was asking the question ‘why’ – why these protocols were not bringing progress, I discovered a whole new direction and path to health.
I reached out to two preschool teachers I trusted and sought their guidance on educational concerns we were experiencing. I received an immediate email response from both teachers, and one of them shared a practice that she had been introduced to by a parent of one of her students called Qigong Sensory Training, which was designed by Dr. Louisa Silva, M.D., M.P.H., for children on the Autism Spectrum. She went on to share that she heard a talk about the program, and that Dr. Silva had conducted a study, and that the results showed a myriad of benefits including improved sleep, GI function, language and sensory system function. Check, check, check and check! I was ON BOARD! (Here is a link to that study as well as other studies in process: http://www.qsti.org/researchfacts.pdf; http://www.qsti.org/inprogress.html)
As with any family on our journey, the next questions were the tricky ones.
Who offers it? Is someone in my area? Am I going to have to drive two hours each way to see a practitioner? How expensive is it? How often do you have to go? As I was sure it was not covered by insurance, I wondered how long it took to see positive results from the protocol?
Imagine my elation when I learned that Dr. Silva’s book and DVD, which teaches you the entire program, was only $25!!! AND the parent is the ideal practitioner! No driving, no “fitting” in countless hours a week into an already over-packed schedule. The study she conducted showed results in a 5 month period! Fantastic!!
I read through the website and was really excited to get started. I did some research about Qigong practice. My Mom (an amazing Thinking Grandma) attends an exercise class where the instructor practices and teaches Qigong, so I had heard of it before. Qi is “life energy;” Gong is “practice.” Qigong is cultivating life energy, in short. Here is information from the National Qigong Association: http://nqa.org/resources/what-is-qigong/.
Cultivating life energy. What exactly does THAT mean?
We all know that energy exists. We feel days with high energy, days with low energy. We have people in our life that “suck” our energy. We react differently when we are surrounded by positive energy versus negative energy, yet we — cultural Americans of the 21st century– find a productive discussion about energy and how it affects our biology “new age-y.” There is actually nothing new about life energy and the role it plays in our health. Chinese Medicine has been aware of and has treated humans according to energy pathways, Qi (Chi) pathway, for 10,000 years. Energy work, energy healing, simply is not something that Americans are all that comfortable with, but it might be a very crucial part to your healing journey.
If you have read The Autism Revolution by Dr. Martha Herbert, M.D., PhD., or have heard her speak, you are familiar with her concept of “poor cellular health” and “cellular energy.” I was reading her book at the time I learned about Qigong Sensory Training, and the concept of building up the health and strength of the body on a cellular level was very powerful to me. Could that be why we were not seeing positive results from intense biomedical interventions? Were we not really addressing issues on the cellular level? Increasing the biological system health on the cellular level seemed quite an overwhelming task. How the heck do you do that?
Qigong Sensory Training. Different question, different answer.
If we were moving forward with any type of detoxification, if we were supporting our son’s immune system and encouraging it to start to function properly, if we were removing foods that were causing harm, then we learned we better give his body the energy to DO something with all of that intervention! The body requires a huge amount of energy to function properly. If it lacks energy, all the detox pathways will clog and jam with junk and the brain won’t function properly. And the body will be in a state of “dis-ease.”
The way Dr Silva designed QST, the parent does a series of 12 moves in a massage-style format beginning at the top of the head and moving down along the body to the feet, once daily. Each move has an intention and a connection while you are moving the Qi energy along the natural pathway of the body. In some children, the Qi is very blocked, in others they do not have enough of it. You, as a parent/practitioner, are working to rebalance the healthy Qi flow. You are, in essence, assisting your child to have the healthy energy flow that will bring them into balance and health. http://www.qsti.org/QST_parents.html
I received my book and read it. I watched my DVD. I practiced and we began.
The VERY first night I administered the massage our son was awake until 10 pm going back and forth to the toilet moving his bowels. For an impacted kiddo with gastrointestinal issues from birth, this was pretty amazing. My husband the skeptic looked at me with huge eyes and said, “Wel,l if I didn’t believe it was going to do something before, I believe it now!”
As Dr. Silva warns, if you have a high energy/sensory seeking child (we do) it may take a full two months until they tolerate the 15 minute massage in its entirety. For us, it did not take quite that long. The first several weeks we were administering moves while walking around the room. There was a lot of prompting to “come sit down,” “come lie down,” and then something happened. Our son started going over to the area where we do Qigong and signed that he wanted it. (I had created a sign for QST that I paired with the massage every time we did it; I highly recommend this for a child that is not using words). He was independently asking for us to perform the protocol, which let me know that he was enjoying it. Score!
I attended a Biomedical Conference as we were beginning QST and, in a room of about 200 people, I sat down next to a woman holding Dr. Silva’s book and I recognized her from a photograph I had seen online of a Qigong Sensory Trainer in my area. Serendipitous? Absolutely! I introduced myself and shared how our first few days with the massage were going and she suggested that both my husband and I trade off doing it or even do it together with our son. She explained to me that male energy is very different (more yang) than female energy (more yin) and our son would benefit from both. Yin and Yang are opposing sides in the entity of Qi. (More on that here: http://takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/traditional-chinese-medicine/
Home I went and that evening we started doing the massage together with our sweet boy. During that session, my son actually began to ‘hum’ during certain moves, the way Dr. Silva describes in her book. The humming is an indication that your child is tuning into you. Adding in Dad and his Yang energy was a good move for us.
We brought our son to a practitioner that does energy work about six weeks after we started Qigong and she asked what we were doing for him energetically. I told her about Qigong. She was pleased with how healthy his energy flow was. She remarked several times that whatever we do, continue doing QST. She felt very strongly that it was assisting his body to heal in a more efficient and timely manner.
We are in the seventh month of Qigong. In full disclosure, unlike Dr. Silva’s study, we are doing multiple interventions simultaneously, but we most certainly are witnessing our son moving forward on the path of health and recovery. We have seen the most significant improvement in sleep, along with wonderful advancement in digestion, awareness, sensory arousal and language. Prior to starting Qigong, our son would wake for 2-5 hours in the middle of the night at least 85% of the time. We have seen that drop to 10% of the time. When he does wake up, he actually can go back to sleep. This was miraculous for us as a family. Most nights, he sleeps a continuous 10 hours. Life changing! His independent connectedness, ability to attend to task, receptive language and more and more sounds with approximations are soaring. I have no doubt that QST has been integral to all of this progress. Keeping his body in balance with healthy Qi flow, has allowed any other protocol we are doing to have effectiveness and healing power. There truly is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than finally witnessing your child blossom.
The mistakes of the past inform our future successes. I believe the lesson of Qigong–life energy, meditative practice, being still so that we can indeed pay attention to where our energy is flowing, have truly transformed our son, our family and our future health. After our 18-month-old goes to bed, my husband, my son and I have 15 minutes of peace, connection, and energetic renewal. It may sound touchy-feely, but that’s ok, because it is. I encourage you to read a bit about QST, and Dr. Silva’s work. It just may be as transforming for you as it has been for us.
QST website: http://www.qsti.org/index.html
Dr. Silva’s bio: http://www.qsti.org/about.html
Publications on QST: http://www.qsti.org/QST_research.html
When a Developmental Pediatrician told Cobra, that her then 2-and-a-half year old, would gain back his forty word vocabulary but would “ALWAYS struggle with language”, she became a full-fledged Thinker. After 7 days of pure panic and no sleep, Thinking began and action followed. Cobra feels that healing chronic health issues in your child can be the most overwhelming task imaginable and she has no doubt that the constant love and support of an amazing Thinking husband, incredible Thinking parents, brother and close friends always offering encouragement–not to mention being in the company of the unstoppable Thinking Moms–is why her son is healing, learning, and progressing every day. And when she needs to keep that positive energy in the house, lots of loud music with silly dancing with her 18 month-old daughter helps too!!