The many faces of qi

  • Health
  • Sunday, 26 Jan 2003

By Dr Amir Farid Isahak

IN previous articles, I mentioned the different forms of qigong that are taught under many styles and many names. Qi, the life-force that is vital for health and healing, is not confined to qigong, but is also the force involved in many other healing methods collectively called “Energy Healing” or “Energy Therapies”. I will describe some of these briefly. 

Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Wai Tan Kung 

The closest exercises to qigong are Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Wai Tan Kung (Wai Dan Gong). Historically, qigong was closely related to Tai Chi, and martial arts qigong is indistinguishable from Kung Fu. Most people are familiar with them. Wai Tan Kung has a big following in Malaysia and has much in common with Tai Chi and qigong. 

Healing Tao  

Healing Tao is also very similar to qigong. As the name suggests, it is based on Tao philosophy and was popularised by Master Mantak Chia and his wife. Their teaching of the “Healing Breath” is very practical and effective. They are also famous for teaching men and women to become multi-orgasmic! 


Reiki was founded by Dr Mikao Usui of Japan in the 19th century. He “rediscovered” the art of healing using “rei-ki” (Japanese for “universal life force”) after studying ancient Buddhist healing practices. It was brought to Hawaii about 40 years ago and has since spread rapidly throughout the world. 

It is probably the easiest energy healing art to learn and practise, and thousands in Malaysia have learned this method since it was first popularised here about a decade ago. 

Practitioners channel the healing energy (reiki) through their hands to heal hands-on (without necessarily touching) or remotely. Many have experienced instant relief from ailments, and some have had chronic diseases improved or healed. 

Over time, several new versions have emerged from the original “Usui Reiki”. Karuna Reiki stresses on the healing power of love and compassion. In the United Kingdom, someone has started Sufi-Reiki, obviously combining Reiki with Sufi healing. Then there is Osho Neo-Reiki. There are several other variations started by imaginative Reiki Masters. 

Pranic healing 

Prana is another name for universal life-force, used in Yoga, Pranic Healing, Vasthu Sastra and other Indian or Indo-Chinese practices and philosophies. 

In Pranic Healing, the emphasis is on the need to identify the negative energy that contributes to physical, mental or even spiritual ill-health. This energy must be removed and the defects in the healthy positive energy are then repaired by channelling divine or universal energy. 

This healing art has spread to the whole world in the last few decades. The Malaysian Pranic Healing Society is very active and hundreds have undertaken their training and some are practising as Pranic healers. 

Other energy healing arts 

Therapeutic Touch has been practiced as a healing art in Europe for a long time. This is a formal healing method with a lot of hand contact that transfers healing energy. However, even a simple touch can heal. It is known that women in labour feel less pain if somebody is present just to hold them. 

There are many types of psychic healing, including those that use psychic energy to effect the healing. In such cases, the energy is similar to qi. Faith healers often speak of divine energy in their work. 

Mahikari is another healing method similar to both Reiki and Pranic healing. There are of course many other energy healing methods not described here. 


Yoga is an excellent self-healing exercise. The various asanas or postures and the breathing techniques enhance the healing prana energy.  

Yoga gets the prana flowing and the chakras opened and activated, giving health and healing. Meditative forms of Yoga also beget tranquility and are spiritually uplifting. In some forms, the mind is focussed on the movement of prana from the lowermost chakras to higher levels of attunement. 

Sufi healing  

Sufi healing also involves energy and energy centres. The energy (“lutfa”) that is utilised by each healer depends on his spiritual station, and the colour or frequency of the energy corresponds to the respective energy centre (called “latifa”, somewhat similar to “chakra”) of his spiritual station. The higher the station, the more powerful is the healing energy.  

The beginner operates at the station of ego or “nafs” (his energy centre is “latifa-i-nafs”), whilst the highest Shaykh or Master heals at the level of “secrets of secrets” (his energy centre is “sirr-i-sirr”).  

I learned Sufi healing from a Sufi Master many years ago. It was soon after completing my basic lessons in Sufi Healing that I met Master Yusuf Yang of Ningxia, China, (who told me that he had dreamt of me and that I had been gifted with qi) and started my involvement with qigong. 

Reducing drug-dependence 

The percentage of people afflicted with chronic ailments is very high (more than 60% of Malaysians over 40 years suffer from either arthritis, obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, stroke, heart disease or cancer) and most are on some form of drugs to treat their ailments. These drugs usually have side-effects.  

Energy healing and natural therapies may help reduce the over-dependence on drugs in our current approach to treat these and other health problems. Energy healing can be combined with modern medicine, and works well with nutritional and other natural/complementary therapies. A good diet and a healthy lifestyle are of course prerequisites to any effective treatment. 

We should all consider natural healing whenever possible, starting with diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes.  

If these are done early when the disease is mild, there is much hope for recovery. Only if these actions are insufficient to cure us of our ailments are medications necessary.  

Even then, if there are proven, effective natural alternatives to synthetic drugs, the natural remedies should be preferred. 

Many medicinal drugs are unnatural and our body systems may not have effective mechanisms to handle them safely in the long term. Often we are faced with drugs having serious side-effects, and drugs becoming less effective over time.  

Over the years, many patients require increasingly higher doses, or the addition of other drugs to treat their diseases. It is not unusual to see patients taking up to 10 prescription drugs each day. Some of these are to counter the side-effects of the others! 

A word of caution – alternative/complementary medicines must also be proven to be safe before taking them. Even supplements used in nutritional healing have their safety limits and may be dangerous if over-dosed. 

It is also good to have an independent assessment of your improvement or cure, to be sure that whatever treatment you chose really worked for you.  

I believe in combining the best of what modern medicine and natural/complementary therapies have to offer. And I believe in the holistic approach – that health and healing depend on physical, mental, spiritual, social, economic and environmental factors.  

Dr Amir Farid Isahak is a medical specialist who practises holistic medicine and has been teaching qi gong for more than 10 years. He is the president of the Guolin QiGong Association, Malaysia. You can e-mail him at . 

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