Lee Holden is an internationally known instructor in meditation, tai chi, and qi gong. The founder of Pacific Healing Arts, one of northern California’s most successful wellness practices, Holden also lectures and teaches workshops across the United States, and in Europe and Asia. He has been featured by American Public Television on PBS affiliates nationwide. In addition to his private practice, he works as a stress-management consultant to many corporations in Silicon Valley, including Apple and 3COM.
Lee’s show “Less Stress, More Energy” reached over 50 million households through American Public Television.
Lee teaches classes, events, and trainings through his business at www.holdenqigong.com
Please enjoy my conversation with Lee Holden.
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 104
Lee Holden 0:00
The way that medicine worked is brilliant because it was true health care. You use these five branches of Chinese medicine as prevention. Now you go to your doctor and you say I'm feeling great. I'm going to pay you you pay the doctor while you're feeling good. And they they gauge your energy, they give you some accuracy, they take these herbs, make sure you do these exercises and as long as you're feeling good and healthy you continue to pay as soon as you get sick you stop paying
Alex Ferrari 0:37
I've been able to partner with Mindvalley to present you guys FREE Masterclass is between 60 and 90 minutes, covering Mind Body Soul Relationships, and Conscious Entrepreneurship, taught by spiritual masters, yogi's spiritual thought leaders and best selling authors. Just head over to nextlevelsoul.com/free. I'd like to welcome to the show Lee Holden. How you doing Lee?
Lee Holden 1:09
Hey, thanks for having me Alex.
Alex Ferrari 1:12
Thank you so much for coming on. Man. I'm excited to talk to you, brother I, I've been fascinated with chi gong for such a long time. And it is a very kind of mystical and in kind of like an unknown practice and art form. Here in the West, not nearly as popular as let's say yoga or something along those lines. And like I was telling you before we started I dabbled in it when I was younger. And it scared the living hell out of me because at some things happened to me physically that, that I tapped into some stuff with it. And I never went back to it. Not for any other reason I just didn't, I just haven't. But I'm kind of really excited to talk to you about about your path with it. So first question is how did you start this path with Chi Gong? And I'm assuming that connects to your spiritual path as well.
Lee Holden 2:02
Well, yeah, Alex, I think, you know, Chi Gong is not something as well known in the West as yoga, but I'm doing everything I can to change that. Because man, this practice is so powerful, it's it's very accessible. And it has incredible health benefits. And you know, I've just seen 1000s of people use it for health, healing, wellness, you know, power up clear stress. Well, we could just use it on a day to day basis. And, you know, my history is that I was a competitive athlete. I played soccer at UC Berkeley, back in the early 90s. And, you know, I had an injury, I was jumping up in the air, somebody took out my legs and landed on my tailbone. Just completely throughout my back. And you know, being that I was 19 I really hurt it at that moment in the game. And then I just said, You know what, I'm going to play through this. And so, of course, yeah, the next morning, I took one step out of bed and I might leg buckled and I was just out. So team doctors, you're out for the season. I was in tremendous pain. I was, you know, about a week into this injury. I was hobbling around campus, I was feeling really depressed and felt depressed before but I was, you know, it was I was starting on the on the soccer team. And, man, I was so excited about it. And now I was sidelined and hurts and hobbling around. I felt like it was 90 years old. And you know, got cortisone shots to painkillers that did nothing. It didn't touch it and the painkillers gave me a stomachache. So now I had back pain and a stomach ache. And I remembered I took martial arts as a kid, and I remember this martial arts teacher of mine, he broke this big stack of bricks, just boom, and all the bricks shattered. And I was like, 10 years old, you know, mouth dropped, like, how did you do that? And he said, it was the power of chi. And then he took me by the lapel of my GI. And he looked at me in the eyes and said, she is for healing. It's not for hurting people. So as that I remember that guy, I'm gonna go back. He said it was for healing, I'm going back to this guy, and see if he can do anything about my back pain. So I went home, he gave me some acupuncture, he showed me a few, you know, the time strange exercises for the back. And, you know, in one week, I was like, 70 80%, better after three or four treatments, doing those exercises on a daily basis, you know, in two weeks as backplane I was, you know, 95% better I was doing these Qigong exercises, and I was like, Why aren't more people doing this? It just was like, feeling so good. Not only did my back pain felt better, but these exercises gave me this incredible feeling of energy. And so that injury, you know, at the time was the worst thing that happened to me. And then it became a catalyst to change my whole life because when I graduated from college I immediately went to Asia and started studying Qigong. And I studied in Thailand, I started in China I made between 22 and 25. I did about 12 trips to Asia. In fact, I got a job as a ghostwriter for a really well known Qigong master who had a beautiful retreat center in Northern Thailand. And I became kind of a one on one, go to guy and I'd go to his house in the mornings, and we do all kinds of crazy exercises and meditations and energy practices and write them up and organize them into his books. And it just gave me such a hands on one on one with a master kind of experience. And when I came home, I was always like, Okay, now how do I explain these to my soccer player friends that are now working in Silicon Valley, getting all stressed out? And that was just my, the beginning of this journey for me.
Alex Ferrari 5:52
Now, can you explain to people what is Qi Gong?
Lee Holden 5:56
Absolutely, no. So Qi just means energy. Gong means to work with. So it's energy work is basically translation. Gong also means expertise. So you develop an expertise at working with energy. Now, what is energy? Well, it's everything. Because it's, you know, if we think about who we are, we are, we are energy, we have this body, we have a mind we have emotions, everything within us, is categorized as some quality of energy. So the physical body would be the most dense form of energy. Think of it like ice, water, and steam, right? All of those things are h2o. They're all the same energy just manifesting in different forms. So body, emotions, mind spirit, it's just all one energy manifesting in different forms. That's why your emotions have such a big impact on your body. That's why the mind influences the body. That's why the body influences the mind the energy transforms back and forth. So you know, a bout of stress or depression, it wreaks havoc on our on our immune system. We all know this, you know, stress is one of the most detrimental things that we that happens to us physically. And so how do we, you know, quite simply, in Qigong practice, they just say, how do we transform stress into vitality? How do we gather more energy? I think everybody intuitively knows we, if I said, you know, how's your energy people are like, Oh, well, I'm a little stressed out, I feel a little tired. We all have this kind of sense of what energy is. But in Chinese medicine, and a lot of the Eastern philosophies, they talk about it very directly, and how to improve upon it, and what kinds of things you know, whether you're talking about yoga, and the prana, that's means energy, or Qi, Gong and Qi. These things are working with the body's internal energy. And, you know, it was part of the medicine years, five branches of Chinese medicine. And I think people know about these, these different branches, you have acupuncture, you have herbal medicine, you have massage, therapy, nutrition, and the fifth branch is Qi Gong. And if the way that medicine worked is brilliant, because it was true health care, you use these five branches of Chinese medicine as prevention. Now you go to your doctor, and you say, I'm feeling great, I'm going to pay you, you pay the doctor, while you're feeling good. And they they gauge your energy, they give you some Makeva, they take these herbs, make sure you do these exercises. And as long as you're feeling good and healthy, you continue to pay. As soon as you get sick, you stop paying. So the
Alex Ferrari 8:37
Could you imagine, can you imagine
Lee Holden 8:38
Could you imagine. Hey doctor, I'm not feeling good, I'm not paying you, you're not doing your job, because it's health care. You know, right now we have sick care, we don't have health care. So everything is based on we need people to get sick in order to this business to work. There's for the medical, medical business to work. So we do have an incredible technology. But we do have also more sickness than ever before. So what this helps us to do us individually is say, You know what, I'm going to take charge of my own health and wellness. I'm going to prevent problems from arising before they even happen. And how does that happen? Well, we take care of our you know, we eat healthy, we exercise, we move our bodies, but this became part of the medicine. So it's very highly tuned to how to keep yourself extremely healthy and how to overcome health challenges. From a natural perspective, because let's face it in the western medicine, it's really frustrating because not only do you take a long time to go to see your doctor, they give you some medication, those medications have side effects that sometimes this medicine is just keeping you healthy and powered up by looking at the root cause of any imbalance. So this is the reason I love this medicine. It's just it's what Modern Life is calling for right now. It's like, how do I keep myself charged up? and stress free? If you want to think about Qigong in a really simple term, it's less stress and more energy who doesn't want that.
Alex Ferrari 10:13
Exactly. So let me ask you an ignorant question. Because I know a lot of people are thinking about this. There's a little bit more well known our phone called Taichi. So yes, it is a form of energy work. But can you explain the difference between Tai Chi and Qi Gong?
Lee Holden 10:31
Absolutely. You know, and that's a great question because people do know what Tai Chi is. And Tai Chi is the form of Qi Gong. You know, first, there was Qi Gong practices, all these energetic cultivation. Tai Chi was the martial arts practice of Qi Gong. And so Qi Gong is more accessible. In Tai Chi, there's every movement has martial arts application, mainly people use Tai Chi now for health and energy cultivation the same as they would for Qigong. Qigong is simpler because you don't have to learn a whole set of movements in Tai Chi, one movement leads to another movement leads to another movement. In Chi Gong, a lot of times the movements repeat themselves. So it's much easier to get into the practice and get the benefits right away.
Alex Ferrari 11:20
Okay, so when we're talking about energy work, in your energy in general, where, how do we how I took it to somebody many questions, the battery that we run on, we all have a battery of some sort. So there's always a different energy level, certain people have higher energy levels, some people have lower, that's determined based on diet depends on environment than on stress, all that kind of stuff. What can we do on a daily basis to just kind of release the negative energy, the things that are bringing us down and cultivate the things that are actually bringing us official energies to make our day run a little bit smoother?
Lee Holden 12:02
Yeah, isn't that the question? Because, you know, when we have good energy that is, and when we have strong, high levels of energy, when we have health, I mean, that is true abundance. I mean, that is what we really should value because it's not until we get sick, or we don't feel good that we just like, I would just give anything for high quality energy, and health and wellness. When we can get ourselves out of pain. This is just This is so valuable. And the the ancient masters of this art form really saw that. So you know, what can we do? I mean, this is that the, the answer to that question is Chi Gong. And, and here's why. Because it's going to work on your breathing. So one thing that you can do if we think about energy, where where do we get energy from? Well, like you were saying, Alex, it's it's diet related. But we can go, you know, weeks without eating food, and still be alive. But we can only go minutes without breath. And so your breath is your going to be your quickest source of energy. And so when you do Qigong practice a lot of work with the breathing, and synchronizing breath with movements. And that's what gives us the energy set skill that working with breathing, plus movements. Plus, how do we release tension in our bodies. You know, for example, everybody while you're listening, we are all holding too much tension. Right? Right. Now, if you just relax your shoulders a little bit, okay, I just relax a little bit, and my neck and shoulders came down, maybe just notice your upper back and neck, that chronic way in which we tighten our muscles, and which I'm lifting my shoulders right now, where we're holding tension, over some hours drains our energy. And so with the practice of Qigong, you're gonna have to really learn where you're holding tension and how to relax into it because it's unnecessary. Just because you're tracking your neck and shoulder doesn't mean you're keeping your head on. Do you know what I mean? Like if you relax your shoulders, and your head's not going to fall off, so relax, we unconsciously tighten all kinds of areas in our bodies, or our bellies, our neck, shoulders are our job. As a way to manage stress, we want to be in control of what we're not in control of. So when we see stress around us, or we hear, you know, pandemic, this, we just start to tighten up our bodies because we want to have some control, even though we're not in control. So when you relax your breathing, what you'll find is that you'll breathe deeper. So just to sense if I'm under stressed, notice how you're breathing. Your breath should be slow. It should be through the nose, and it should be down into your belly and ribs. And so when for about four or five seconds and exhale, four or five seconds automatically that kind of breathing for just a couple minutes is both going to relax you and energize you. And then what we do is we kind of take it from there we work with breathing, we're going to stretch out your body. So Chi Gong is a little bit like yoga. But it's also like Tai Chi, it's kind of a combination. It's like a simple form of yoga, plus flowing movements in Tai Chi. So it's going to get a wide variety of movements and exercises and stretches, and kind of mindfulness flowing type of movements that gets you into a really beautiful state of internal balance.
Alex Ferrari 15:30
Now, there's, there's a experiment that I heard about the Stanford experiment. Is that Is that something you could talk about a little bit? It was it was there a Stanford experiment regarding Qi Gong,
Lee Holden 15:42
I think it was on Tai Chi Gong and Tai Chi, okay. And it was, it was a wonderful experiment. They just found all kinds of incredible things. Like for example, they took different groups. I'm not sure if it was this exact experiment, but this one was either done at Harvard or Stanford. And they wanted to see for seniors, what exercises prevented false and had the best efficacy. And so they did a physical therapy group, they did an exercise group, and they did a group that didn't do anything. And then they did a chi gong group, tai chi and qi gong group. And far and above the tai chi and qi gong group had the best prevention of falls and seniors the best balancing kind of exercise, which is huge, because, you know, for seniors, falls are one of the biggest Rick's risk factors. Because soon as the seniors fall, break a bone hit a hip, then they're in the hospital, and then there's a lot of problems that arise from just going to the hospital pneumonias, and catching whatever disease there is at the hospital or being sedentary, all of a sudden causes a whole array of other problems. So that was great. There's there was also just the incredible way in which this practice is so accessible doesn't seem like you're doing a whole heck of a lot and you're getting a lot stronger, your body's in alignment, your stress is being released, which is preventative. Do you know Alex the the number one cause of 90% of our illnesses, that means 90% of the reasons why we go to our primary care doctor, I got a headache, I got digestive issues, that primary care to first visit is 90% of it is stress related. So as you manage your stress, you are preventing 90% of the problems that might arise. So how do we manage our stress? Well, you know, there's all kinds of ways that we do you know, and they're they're not very skillful, right? That remember that gong means to work with it also means skill. So we manage our stress, we have a cocktail at night, we watch TV, we just try to unwind. But if you're active about managing your stress, like you're breathing, you're moving your body and gentle you're stretching. It's much more effective in managing our stress than just passive relaxation, active relaxation is the best.
Alex Ferrari 18:08
Can you talk a little bit about the breath and breath work because it is something that people really don't understand the power of, I mean, I've done the Wim Hof Method of breathing. And I was amazed at what I was able to do, just by breathing and what I was at my body was starting to be able to take in. And you know, like I was telling you before we started, I've been meditating for years. And my stress levels drop, and I inch purely because of my my slow breathing, everything kind of relaxes, things like that. But the breathe the breath work is so powerful. And if you do certain breath work, it affects you in ways that it's so difficult for people to understand. So can you dive in a little bit into the in the power of breath work.
Lee Holden 18:59
When you're when you're when we're doing breath work, you are kind of in the operating system of your subconscious mind. Because you know, it's one thing I can tell you to do that your body's functioning right, your body's has his autonomic function, your breathing your heart speeding, right, but I can say slow your breathing down and you can slow down your breathing, there's only two things we can do consciously. One is blink our eyes and the other is change our breathing. You know, I can't say hey, digest your breakfast a little faster. Hey, slow down your heartbeat now speeded up, make your right hand warm and your left hand cold. We can't control all these physiological functions, but we can control our breathing. That gets us into the operating system of the subconscious mind. And once we're in that operating system, we can slow down the breathing, we can speed up the breathing and then we can shift the energy that's circulating and flowing in your body. So it's kind of like again getting into the operating room of the whole system and The way in which we breathe is a reflection of how we're feeling. If you look at any emotion, it is connected to a breathing pattern. So how does somebody breathe when they're angry? Well, it's a lot of strong exhales, huffing and puffing, right? Any of you guys know, if you have teenagers, you're going to hear a lot of sighing when you tell them to do something. Why do we do that? Well, anger is a resistance to inhaling. Why, because we don't want to take in somebody's perspective, we already know what we want, we feel righteous in our perspective, and we exhale strongly. So then we look at sadness. And it's the reverse of that. It's a resistance to the exhale, why we what we're sad. So we don't want to let go of something, we don't want to, you know, let go of that relationship, or that change is making us sad, or we don't want to let go that person or whatever it is where we hold on to it. And then of course, we have to exhale. So we, we cry, you know, and that's the, that's the process of transforming emotional energy. So breath is a reflection of how we feel. Now, if we reverse engineer that, as if we hacked that, we can change our breathing to give a message to our emotional energy, how we should feel so slow, deep breathing is going to say, Oh, the nervous system was a, okay, I must be relaxed, I must be calm, I must be at peace. So slow breathing is going to send a message to your system. I mean, laughing is a breathing exercise, it says we're happy, right. So think of somebody how they how what's happening when we're laughing, it's actually an expression of our breath. So it's very important, it's very tied together with the nature of our mind, our emotions, and every system in your body needs breath. And so we want to become oxygen efficient for our health. So slow breathing, helps our nervous system go from fight or flight or sympathetic into parasympathetic, which is the rest and digest mode. And when we're in parasympathetic, then we're relaxed. And when we're in sympathetic, then we're stressed out. So the breath is the switch that will take us out of stress mode and into relaxation mode. And that's why it is so crucial. Because if we're chronically overstressed, again, that leads to health issues, major health issues, cardiovascular immune system going, poor function and immune system, digestive issues, because chronic stress really brings our body into into low vitality, and cry and relaxation helps us to find our balance.
Alex Ferrari 22:43
So when you're, when you're afraid, I always use the tiger, if the tiger is in the room with you, your breathing is going to be pretty quick. Your breathing and your heart is going to raise and everything's going to be building up to fight or flight scenarios Correct. Unfortunately, a lot of us live in that state constantly. throughout our day in that could be traffic, it could be our boss, it could be our spouse, it could be money issues, it could be there's many tigers in our in our jungle.
Lee Holden 23:16
Yes, that's right. And you know that it's an amazing thing about our mind, because the tiger isn't the tigers in the room, it's great to go into fight or flight. But the Tigers in our mind, tiger, you know it's a you're just carrying the tiger with you in your mind. So you're always stressed out because there's no tiger in this room. But maybe tomorrow, show up. Maybe in a week from now the tiger maybe the stock market is going to go down, maybe the pandemic is going to come out. So we always have this tiger in our mind. So even though everything's fine, right now there shouldn't be a stress response. We create it by thinking about the future and worrying about it, then we bring the tiger into the room. Now we're stressed out over something that's not here. So it's this way in which we scan for danger all the time.
Alex Ferrari 24:04
But it also I think when you're doing breath work, you are forced to live in the moment. Where as like you were just saying, we're we spend most of our day, living in the past, which is our memories are living in the future, which is our imagination and not living in the present moment. And when you breathe, you are forced to literally be in the moment that you're breathing, you're focusing your energies on it. So that's another powerful thing when you're breathing and when you're doing Qigong. That's well you are absolutely in the moment you're not thinking about the tiger down the street or
Lee Holden 24:37
Yeah, exactly. And then when we come back to the moon moment we we neutralize the tiger we make friends with it because it's oh yeah, there's actually there's no tiger in this in the room right now. We there's no stress. So remember, stress is survival. If you are if your life is being threatened, it is a great response right if you're facing a tiger You know, once I faced a grizzly bear that was in Alaska fishing with my dad came face to face with the grizzly bear three feet away, I felt my stress response. My heart was racing my, you know, I was ready to run or
Alex Ferrari 25:12
No Qi Gong. You didn't do the Qi Gong at that moment.
Lee Holden 25:14
I was 13 at that.
Alex Ferrari 25:17
I wasn't really hold on one sec. I need to start breathing calmly now.
Lee Holden 25:20
Yeah. You know, they're in Qi Gong, there's a there's a whole sequence called the bear frolics. So whenever I do the bear frolics, I remember face to face with this grizzly bear. And it was a beautiful moment, because, you know, the big grizzly bear could have had me as an appetizer, but he decided that the salmon was going to be tastier. You know, and that's, you know, that's when we're walking down a dark alley, you hear some noises, you know, there's somebody invades our house. So you know, those rare moments we want to be in fight or flight. Otherwise, it's an overreaction. We're hardwired for survival, happiness, all the things you want our way are secondary, or secondary to survival. And so you have to turn down that survival mode, especially in modern life. We don't live in the jungle, we're not feuding tribes, people aren't invading our house all the time, we don't need to be constantly hijacked by our survival mode. So that's why you need these techniques. You know, we don't I don't teach any workshops on how to worry more, or how to get stressed out, we got that hardwired into us. So we need if you want to be happy. If you want to be healthy, you have to train it because you have to override this hardwiring for survival, which is great. But modern life we're living, we're living really well in modern life. Most of us, most of us aren't fighting in a war, most of us aren't having to deal with actual survival, we just need to manage our survival so that we can be happier. Because happy is less it has less of a priority. So that's why when you're perfectly content in the moment, your mind goes, Yeah, but what about tomorrow, because we're scanning for danger in some future scenario. So we got to calm that down. Because if we're in survival mode, we're not feeling peace or happiness. That's why it's so important. Because if we're going, Hey, I go into work. Now I'm stressed out about traffic, I'm a little bit late. Now I got to talk to my boss. Now, when I get home from work now my, my spouse says something I didn't like so we're constantly survival mode, stressed out, stressed out, stressed out. And then over time that really wears on our physical health and our immune system. In fact, people that are stressed and depressed, your immune system functions 30% below normal. And people that fall in love their immune system is 30% above normal. So it's interesting when you want to boost your immune system, and people are talking about that a lot these days, because of the pandemic, you want your immune system to be strong, get out of stress and start feeling good. That's, that's one way to just boost the energy in your immune system. The other way is move your body, the other the third way, breathe better. So just get out of stress, move your body in simple ways and, and breathe better your immune system is going to be way higher than if you didn't do those things.
Alex Ferrari 28:12
And a lot of people don't realize that we're all pre wired with negative bias. I mean, it is a it's a survival. It's why we're here. I mean, we had to constantly be scanning for the worst thing possible in order to survive. And it's something that's been with us since the beginning. And again, because we are in a different world now. It's hard to turn that off. So I think being aware of it is step one, and then to try to address but it is a battle because it's literally we're like you say you don't teach courses on how to worry more. Because that's pre we're pre wired. Every human being is it's something that you have to kind of unprogrammed rewire within yourself. Look at things differently. I always love I love talking to people sometimes or I'm sure everybody I'm sure you know people like this who are positive all the time. Just there's just a sweetest nicest Oh optimistic all the time. And then you always see a friend next to him like That's why is Bob always so damn. How dare he be happy all the time?
Lee Holden 29:19
Yeah, when a Bob's exasperatingly happy,
Alex Ferrari 29:24
Like it's off putting really you need to be you need to be a little bit more depressed.
Lee Holden 29:29
Yeah. You know, modern life is complex, and we're complex creatures. And you know, one thing we do want to be as real you know, how we feel and when we'll be real in the moment like, Hey, man, I'm having a hard day. I'm feeling depressed, I feel down. That's absolutely fine. It's the it's the realness that helps us to get clear on where we are. Because, you know, it's kind of like a map. If you're not real. You don't know where you're starting from. You know, you know, when you go to a map, you're like, God, where are we? How do I get to where I want to go? It's like, when you look at that map, and it's As you are here, that's an important. That's an important moment because now I go, Okay, from here, I want to go there. And so that just getting real with where we're at is like, Okay, I'm here, I'm stressed out, I got this issue at that issue. But where do I want to be? Now most people don't say I want more stress I want, I want to be more depressed. The problem with modern life is it's not even though we have all this great technology, you know, our cell phones don't get us out of, of stress and depression. In fact, they actually create more of it. And so we are here, here's where I'm at. I want to get to, you know, I want to get to abundant health, lots of energy, more joy and fulfillment. Well, yeah, the math of modern life is giving us is not leading people there. When you look at modern life, people are not happy people are not stress free. In fact, we're not as overall it's, it's not a pretty picture. And so we need to take charge of our own health and happiness, like, Hey, I'm right here, right? Now get clear about that. Where do you guys where do we want to be? Now step by step? What is the process is going to get you there? You know, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, but it better be in the right direction, right? Otherwise, we're 1000 miles off after 3040 years, you're like, wait a second, I did not want to be here. You know, this, the way in which society is set up is not leading to really thriving. Individuals are a thriving society in terms of health and happiness. So let's, let's take on some new tools so that we can start to take charge of where we want to end up both within our inside of ourselves, my mental, emotional state of mind and body, my health. And we're out where do I want to be in my life, my my level of fulfillment. That's what this practice can really help us get clear, get clear on where we are, get back to the moment, get back into where we're at South transform the energy at a moment, build your energy up. So you actually have fuel in the tank to get you to where you want to go.
Alex Ferrari 32:06
Now, if so, let's say someone is about to start a Qigong practice, what can they expect to happen to them? After the first few sessions after a few first few practices, what are the what are the physical benefits are going to be things that they can really feel right away? Nothing esoteric, but just in general?
Lee Holden 32:29
Right! I mean, I think you feel after first class, a lot of people feel this melting away of stress and tension, this feeling of what I didn't know I was carrying that much tension. You know, I taught a class I was Weight Watchers hired me for about two years to teach and redesign all their movement. It was off the scale. We did this whole beautiful thing that we did, I traveled all over the country, lots of weight watchers centers, I trained Weight Watchers leaders to lead their people through Qigong practices, we did a tour of the UK. So it was about a two year journey of teaching to these. This, this company and a lot of their members. And I remember after one class, this woman was an arms folded brow furrowed, she was clearly upset after class and I said, it's something wrong. Are you okay? She said, No, I'm really angry. And I said, What is it? She said, Well, I don't have pain in my neck and shoulder anymore. I've had this pain for 15 years. Why didn't anybody show me this earlier? Why haven't I learned this early? She's really, my pain is gone. I'm really mad about it
Alex Ferrari 33:38
I'm pissed off, why hasn't someone
Lee Holden 33:43
And I was like, I hear you, you know, I'm trying my best. But, you know, if we want to get out of pain, we want to get out. There's some very simple things that we can do. And, you know, that's the thing is like, why haven't we learned this earlier? Because, you know, it's just, it's just not something we the, with the way society set up, we don't want empowered individual individual. We want individuals that need things, I need substances, I need that pill, I need this thing. I need stuff. I need stuff to feel good. And that's it. You know, if you don't need stuff to feel good, or you know, our economy or our capitalistic way of being, which I'm not knocking I'm just saying, we also got to take charge of our own health and healing because it's not going to be out there. It's going to be in here are in internal we, your team, but first take charge of your own health and healing you'll find that most things can be prevented, most things can be prevented, and most things can be overcome with the right quality of internal energy.
Alex Ferrari 34:49
Now, is this a true statement that there are people more people practicing Qi Gong than they are practicing yoga in the world on a daily basis?
Lee Holden 34:59
There are more people practicing Qigong than any other form of exercise? Partially because there are so many people in China and you know, to be fair people practice Yeah, to be fair, they all you know, there's a lot of people practicing Qigong in Asia. And it is, and it's 4000 years old, I mean, this, this practice has stood the test of time. And it works. We just don't know it very well in in the US and modern, modern world, because it's, we kind of think of it, it's for the older people that go out into the park and do these funny exercises. Well, there's 3000 styles of Qigong. So when you look at the different practices, there is some practices that are really well suited for you and whatever issues you have. So what I've done is I've researched this practice, and I've said, You know what, for low back pain, here's the Qigong practice to do for upper back and neck pain. Here's the practice, if you have high blood pressure, do this practice, if you have digestive issues, try these practices. So I've created routines that are very condition specific. And they work so well. So I'm really trying to help people, you know, my, my shows that were on public television, what we did was we created these conditions, specific routines, and people started trying them and, and it worked extremely well, you know, even though Chi Gong isn't, isn't well known here in America, those shows on Chi Gong that he did, they reached 50 million households, it was really well received. You know, a lot of stations were airing it because people were like, I tried those practices, and it worked. And so it's, it's, it's starting to gain momentum. And I think Chi Gong is where yoga was 25 years ago, it's just going to start to get more and more momentum, because it really is effective. It's really easy. And you can do it in a short amount of time. And you don't have to, you don't have to stand on your head, where you're spandex, get a yoga mat out, you know, get weights, you know, it's all it's all body conditioning, it's your body working with itself. And it's simple and easy. And that's why it's so accessible to everybody. And once you feel energy, and I think this comes back to your question, Alex, you know, what do you feel like when you finish a class? Well, you feel this tingling, you feel this buzz, you feel this electricity, because you are energy, it doesn't matter. If we look at it from a Western perspective, you know, ask a scientist, how much energy you have in a body, you have a ton. Each cell in your body has a microcurrent, you know, point two megahertz or something like that. And if you add up 50 trillion cells, that's about a bolt of lightning. That's what's inside of you. So every you know, think about your heart. How does your heartbeat Well, electrical cells create that pulse. Now, if we look at science, why does your hearts Why does your heartbeat that's a head scratcher? How did your heart start beating? Nobody knows you are a mystery, right? So every cell in your body needs electricity. We're talking about the heart, the heart beats because of electrical cells electricity, the reason why you can close your eyes and see images. There's no light source there. That's a mystery. How do you close your eyes? How do you close your eyes? And how do you hear internal dialogue? There's no speakers in your brain. These things are mysterious to both east and west. So they call that chi. They called it heart chi, liver chi. If you look at any one aspect of your body, whether it's your eyes, your hearts, your liver, at some point, we run into the mysteries that I don't know how it works, that sciences doesn't know. I don't know how this brain works. It's, we know that it does work. So that the East End Well, there's energy, there's mysterious lifeforce energy in there. Even though we don't know how it works. We can work with it. Even though we don't know why it works. We know how it works. Okay, so there's clues along the way. And so when we start to think well, yeah, Western medicine or Yeah, Western science. I mean, we run into the mystery. I talked to a scientist, I said, well talk to me about the heart. He said, Well, the heart is so mysterious. It doesn't operate with normal physics. It's like a match that learned how to light itself. Like whoa, and then instead of it just burning down, and having no more energy potential, it regrows itself and lights itself again. That's how mysterious your heart is. It's like oh, remember your mysterious you. You don't nobody has all the answers to you. So we got to work with the mystery. We got to work with that. That's why these ancient practices that really helped to, to dive into the mystery and work with it on a really functional well, so Qigong is an art and a science. And so when we start to work with chi, or your heart Qi, your digestive Qi, your nervous system, chi, there's all these different kinds of Have chi and your body emotional chi. We start to work with it skillfully that skillful living is what Chi Gong really helps us to achieve.
Alex Ferrari 40:09
So essentially we're all Jedi Masters sir. Focusing really are really just controlling the force. We just can't move anything just yet. With our mind.
Lee Holden 40:17
Yes, yeah, that's right. Come to class for a few weeks though. No, you know, that's the that's a great point. Because these this pop culture is really talking about chi a lot. You know, the force. You know, we look at Harry Potter. We know we're fascinated, Dr. Strange. These are all examples of Qigong practice. You know, I was watching with one of my kids, Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda became the master of Qi. I was like, yes, he's talking about a very directly so it's, it's really in our pop culture. And, and we don't even know what our potential is, of Qi Gong is really something that unlocks your potential.
Alex Ferrari 40:57
So you was mentioning that this is an ancient practice about 4000 years old. What do we know about the origins of this? And how did it hold itself over centuries where many things get lost along the way, yoga practices being one of them, I mean, yoga came and went and it kind of like, got lost and then it got found again, I'd love to hear a little bit about the history of it as much as you might know of the ancient oranges of Qigong.
Lee Holden 41:28
You know, the origins of of Qigong practice, or shamanistic. And so what did the shamans do? You know, 10,000 years ago, somebody was sick, they were talking about spirits invading the body, these invisible energies, right. You know, whether it was a virus or bacteria or emotions, it would they talked about these forces, its energies now, you know, one day I feel good, and the next day, I don't feel good. And so they started to see, well, what are we going to do about it? Well, they would maybe dance, they would drum, they would invoke different forces to help the energy move. So whether they were moving their bodies, chanting, singing, all of a sudden, what they started to find was different movements, sound started moving energy in different ways. Now, instead of just keeping it in as a shamanistic practice, they started to systematize it, make it more repeatable, verifiable, and over time, what happened, these movements started to arise that if I moved my body and breathed this way, it was good for my lungs, and it could clear asthma. If I move my body in this way, it was good for my back pain. If I moved in this way, it helped my digestion. And so over time, and being very sensitive people to energy, they started to develop certain movements, and points like acupressure points on the body. And really verifying that, oh, this helped, oh, if I push this point, it was like a light switch to turn on the light bulb in my head, you know, so acupressure, Qigong, breathing exercises, meditations, they all started to become systematized over time, because 1000s and 1000s of people started trying it. And remember, this is a culture that was, you know, there were no cell phones, no TV, you're sitting out in nature, you had 1000s of hours just to be with yourself and figure out what your energy system was doing. But what happens if I do this, you just have hours on your hands. So these were pioneers, these are pioneers that were pioneering the mind body connection. And that's really what we're talking about.
Alex Ferrari 43:34
Now, being, you know, Qigong master and understanding, deep level of understanding energy. Do you have a set a sensibility when you meet people to pick up on their different energy traits? Because I've always said to people, like, have you ever wanted to take a shower after dealing with a car salesman? Because you feel dirty afterwards, or someone tried to pick you up at a bar and you feel dirty, or you meet someone and you're like, Oh, my God, they feel so toxic. There's this, how is doing Qigong allow you to become a little bit more sense, a little bit more sensitive to that kind of stuff.
Lee Holden 44:14
Yeah, and much more sensitive, and it gives you the ability to, like, energetically clear really quickly after talking with those people. You know, I was just describing it the other day, it's like, you know, you got into life and there's people with toxic energy. It's like going to a buffet there's, there's, you know, doughnuts and McDonald's on the table doesn't mean you have to eat it. Right? So even though you're around it, you're not taking it in now. Too many of us were just so affected by everything around us. That's whether we look at a news article, talk to this person, talk to a car salesman, my boss, me, you know, maybe maybe one of your kids is in a really grumpy mood. Now you deal with them and now you're in a grumpy mood. We don't necessarily have to take on somebody's energy. That's a really great skill to have, you know, I have teenagers and you know, have twin teenagers. Oh, and they were, you know, they're kind of they wanted to do something. I said no, and they were cranky about and I just was like, I was able to just stay in my center and not take on their exam. Hey, I'm really sorry, you feel that way? But the answer is no. There is how we're doing guys. Yeah, sorry, dad. Oh, everything's fine. Then, guys, let's go on a bike ride. Okay. It was just like, because I could stay in my center. I didn't. I didn't add stress to the circumstance, right? You know what I mean? So like, and when you're out in the world around you notice when you're around people who makes you feel good? Who brings you up? What circumstance? Who makes you feel a little bit lower, like, oh, man, I feel tighter, or I feel toxic? And how do we get rid of that energy? Really, what really quickly, and that's a really good skill that chi gong helps us with?
Alex Ferrari 45:53
Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple of questions. Ask all my guests. What is your mission in this life?
Lee Holden 45:59
To help spread ancient healing practices and make it relevant for modern times.
Alex Ferrari 46:04
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Lee Holden 46:11
To to recognize our power and potential to live joyfully to live in our heart space with love and compassion.
Alex Ferrari 46:20
And where can people find out more about you and your work and things like that?
Lee Holden 46:26
Come to holdenqigong.com and Qi Gong is spelled Qi Gong, Holden, holdenqigong.com, holdenqigong.com. And we got all kinds of free stuff and condition specific things, like I said, so look forward to seeing having people come over there.
Alex Ferrari 46:45
And I have to ask this one question, why is it sometimes c h i and sometimes it's q i? You know, like, what is it?
Lee Holden 46:52
As if it's not confusing enough? You know, there's two different translations of Chinese into Roman characterization. So the C H I came from Harvard Harvard said, Oh, we're gonna you know, back in the 60s or something, we're gonna we're gonna make it more phonetic, but the Qi is the pinion that comes from China. So this is how you Roman character, our language so there's two different systems that float out there. But that you know, Qi Gong is spelled Qi Gong or Chi Kung, but they both mean the same thing.
Alex Ferrari 47:26
Lee it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you man. I feel more energetic and understanding more about energy and breath and, and and hopefully this episode will help some people deal with stress a little bit better and dive into Qigong and spread the word. So I appreciate all the hard work you do my friend.
Lee Holden 47:43
Thank you so much. Oh, thanks so much, Alex. It was great to meet you. Great to be on your show. You're doing great work.
Links and Resources
- Free Masterclass by Lee Holden to Become Pain Free with Qi Gong
- Official Site – Lee Holden
- The Superhuman Experience
- Amazon – 7 Minutes of Magic: Recharge Your Body Each Day with Qi Gong
- Earthing.com: End Inflammation Today – Discover the Science-Based Healing Powers of Earthing/Grounding
- FREE Mindvalley Spiritual Masterclasses
- MUSE 2: The Brain Sensing Headband – Meditation Tracker Headset Device
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