Qigong for Veterans: Why Do They Love Getting High
Jul 29, 2016 11:11AM
No mistake in life has troubled me more than not serving in the military. After missing that opportunity, I am sharing Qigong at the Veterans Hospitals (Vas). The biggest challenge in teaching veteran’s qigong is to gain their trust. An individual who never wore their uniform cannot understand what they endured. Veterans immediately want to know if you’re one of them. In the beginning, this was unnerving.
VAs are tough facilities. I’ll never forget my first time teaching and being let in the locked door and it quickly shutting behind me. One vet in a wheelchair was trying to escape. Chairs were full of sand so they couldn’t be thrown. Doctors and social workers were coming in during my class and interrupting. Many veterans were medicated and dealing with obvious challenges. Some appeared physically fine, but their mind waged an emotional war inside. One large man was sitting in a state of shock and sat staring straight ahead making a low pitched sound. Direct exposure to mental health struggles of veterans has enlightened me. Most Americans are unaware that 22 US vets commit suicide each day. I hope my experiences help tutor other qigong instructors.
“One of the best things to happen to me was to be sentenced to a six-month drug rehab center where Mr. Todd literally was breathing new life into us.” - Timothy Stewart, U.S. Veteran.When vets do qigong breathing in a group, trust issues and whether I’m a vet or not becomes less important. Old mind patterns are temporarily bypassed as the feeling of qi is so strong that it gives a natural high. Many vets report this has been invaluable to replace harmful addictions. My VA teacher’s position actually came from a referral from Westcare of St. Petersburg Florida, a 98-bed mental health and substance abuse center. Some vets I met at the VA also ended up in drug rehab and therefore, they saw me at both places.
“For four years running Todd’s Qigong program has uplifted the spirit of many.” - Robert Neri, Westcare Rehab, Chief Clinical OfficerRecovering heroin addicts need a powerful approach and I quickly realized I needed to wow them immediately with qigong—to make a memorable, quick and powerful statement. My grand slam includes the Breath-Empowerment and the Nine-Breath Method exercises, as this group of people is challenging to gain trust. They are guarded and apprehensive. I draw them in and challenge them to take huge breaths, swallow it and hold it in their belly. A crammed room becomes momentarily silent, smiles and then scattered giggles.
I love to see students’ resistance turn to wonder. They tell me wow, “I feel electricity, and my body is warm and tingling.” Without the breathing tools, many would give up before benefiting from the immense healing rewards. Teaching qigong at the VA was not very respected in the beginning. Now it has grown from a single class to two classes each week. The doctors, nurses and social workers now respect the group and do not disturb our class. Qigong at Westcare has been received so well that it has grown from one to three classes every week. It is now a part of their curriculum. There is no doubt in my mind that the need for more instructors in this field of qigong is a must.
Cost: $99 for the two-day, one-night training; free for firefighters and veterans. Open to the public. The Qi Revolution seminar will be held on September 16 to 18 in Virginia Beach. To learn more call 800-298-8970 or visit QiRevolution.com.