Healing with Acupuncture and QiGong
by Trace Dye
Upon meeting Felicia Ho, a QiGong (pronounced “Chee-gung”and sometimes called Qigong, chi kung, or chi gung) instructor at Haven on the Lake, you may find it hard not to smile. The Clarksville resident’s effervescent nature is contagious. Her sanguine temperament and zest for life may make it come as a shock that only a few years ago, Ho’s life was shrouded in trauma and pain. In 2011, a cancer diagnosis shifted every facet of her life. A year of chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy left Ho sick, brittle and distraught.
“I had a port in my body, I had a double mastectomy and I just felt in many ways like I was Frankenstein,” Ho said. “It was essentially like I had a jigsaw puzzle and chemo threw all the pieces on the ground…I was in all these different pieces and I was in a lot of pain.”
Ho would experience panic attacks following radiation treatments and phantom pains long after the procedures had been completed. “For a long time, my body didn’t know how to feel clothes without feeling like it was burning, so I went to physical therapy and they taught me how to sort of retrain my brain.”
Supplementing physical therapy
Ho augmented her physical therapy with acupuncture and regular practice of QiGong, two ancient Chinese techniques that aim to promote healing and connection of the mind, body and spirit. Acupuncture involves pricking certain points of the skin with needles in order rid the body of stagnancies in order to cultivate wellness. QiGong utilizes different postures, movements, meditation and guided imagery to unite the mind and body.
“I would be given a steroid and I wouldn’t be able to sleep for days,” Ho said. “Then I would go to acupuncture and [the practitioner] would put these points in and I would go home and sleep like a baby. [The practitioner] would do points on my feet and I would be able to go walking.”
QiGong helps movement
Even during times that mobility became a true labor for Ho, she would attend QiGong classes.
“QiGong was such a light, because it felt like I was in the dark and I didn’t have any direction, but I had a rope,” Ho said. “I would just show up and then if I could stand, I would stand up and [do the movements], but if I couldn’t I would sit back down. Slowly, I would stand more and more.”
Today, Ho is cancer-free and shares her love of QiGong through instruction at Haven. By using her experience as a vehicle to help others, individuals can reap the physical and emotional benefits of the healing practice, whether they simply want a reprieve from everyday stressors or are navigating their way through particularly trying times.
For those who have found themselves at a point of true distress, even the task of driving to a class or scheduling an appointment can seem like an insurmountable feat. Ho has advice for individuals who grapple with finding the will to move forward.
“There’s a saying I learned from QiGong and also from years of doing my own healing work, which is, ‘You can’t think yourself into the right behavior, but you can behave yourself into the right thinking,’” Ho said. “Another way to say it is, ‘Move the body and the rattling mind will follow.’ A lot of times people will say, ‘I didn’t feel up to it. I felt depressed. I felt like I couldn’t get out.’”
For Ho, 10 minutes can be all it takes to push toward a positive route of health and healing.
“I understand what it feels like when the day is really, incredibly hard; we all have huge things we’re dealing with,” she said. “During those times, I will just tell myself, ‘One for before the other. I’m gonna get there. I don’t have to feel a certain way; I don’t have to psych myself into going somewhere. All I have to do is get myself there and then if in 10 minutes I don’t feel better, I’ll let myself go home.’ I’ve done that many times to get myself somewhere and I’ve only had to go home once.”