The mind/body wellness exercises of Asia have a significant potential to improve health care in the Western world. In November 2005, a panel of more than 30 recognized experts in Qi Gong and Tai Chi, physical activity and aging, and biomedical research gathered to explore and recommend strategies for proliferating accessible Qi Gong and Tai Chi programs.
Historically, for thousands of years in the case of Qi Gong and hundreds of years in the case of Tai Chi, the benefits of practice were limited to martial artists, monks and Imperial court ministers. Recently through decades of political upheaval Qi Gong and Tai Chi have become more widely available in China, however, the benefits have not been thoroughly understood. Even as these mind/body wellness practices entered the US and Europe successful programs did not engage in research. Much of the information that was gathered about effectiveness emerged from intervention programs of short duration that were designed primarily for research.
Many questions must be answered in order to translate research evidence into robust Qi Gong and Tai Chi community programs that can be delivered in a variety of settings including hospitals, social service agencies, schools, corporations, faith based institutions and retirement communities.
The more traditional Qigong and Tai Chi programs that assist participants in deeper understanding will tend to attract greater numbers when entry level programs are more widely available.
The panel of experts agreed that the major challenge to the wide dissemination of these profound practices has been the exclusive dependence on masters or experts to transmit the teachings. For community based programs to proliferate the benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi, it was determined that lay leaders and peer practice leaders must be trained in the fundamentals of Qi Gong and Tai Chi to create a wider entry level to the practices. This is similar to the morning practice in the parks in China where the large numbers (estimated 100 million on a daily basis) are mobilized by citizen teachers. More advanced practice groups get students from these entry level classes.
This much more open entry level then will significantly increase the numbers of students that make their way to the more advanced teachings.
The expert panel used a powerful process of information gathering to reach consensus on these questions:
The "consensus report" (review report) outlines the recommendations and outcomes of the National Expert Meeting on Qi Gong and Tai Chi. The conveners of this meeting -- National Blueprint Office at the University of Illinois, the National Council on Aging and the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi funded by the Archstone Foundation -- hope that these recommendations will be used to develop, implement, and evaluate cost effective community-based Qi Gong and Tai Chi programs to leverage benefits for all ages.