S01E10 – A Qi Gong Approach to Heart Based Medicine with Stephan Laur

Qi Gong Master Stephan Laur discusses how energy flows wherever you put your attention, and the benefits of focusing on a healthy state within your body.

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Transcript

Stephan Laur:
Welcome to Heart-based Medicine’s Heart of Healthcare podcast, featuring Stephan Laur, Qi Gong master. A qi gong approach to heart-based medicine.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
I’m really pleased to invite Stephan Laur today with me. Hi Stephan.

Stephan Laur:
Hi.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Thank you for joining us.

Stephan Laur:
Yeah. Thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
You’ve been a, or you are a qi gong master and healer and practitioner. Tell us a little bit about qi gong and how you got to become a qi gong practitioner.

Stephan Laur:
Actually, I got to qi gong as many do through an illness. When I was 20, in my twenties, after being in central America, I had some diseases and school medicine wouldn’t really help me. They just gave me some tablets that really ease it a little bit.

Stephan Laur:
I said that to a friend of mine that was a little, she was a little older than me and she worked in our medical practice and she said, “But why don’t you come to us? The doctor I work with, he does acupuncture.” He was one of the first one to do that in, in Basel here.

Stephan Laur:
So I went to see him, and actually he really helped me just the first session helped. And after a year it was really, really easy. And after some sessions he told me, but maybe it would be good to do something for yourself. And he suggested some things.
Stephan Laur:
I was interested in doing Tai Chi and qi gong, and so I started to do that. And the teacher had there, she, after some years, she got to know a Chinese master who did what we call a style, which is called silent qi gong or qi gong of silence, which is a kind of inner qi gong style. And I was very fascinated of that work, which is not so much form, not so much classical moving force, but it’s more an inner work. Of course you move and everything. You have different movements, positions and gestures and everything.

Stephan Laur:
But the main thing is the mind. And then I got to notice this master is Li Qi Chung is his name. He comes from Beijing, and he lives in Munich. So I got to know him, and I was very fascinated. And then, okay, my [inaudible 00:02:26] was complete is kind of, because since then I’m stuck with him. He’s my master, and I started to do first courses, then a qi gong trainers course, and about 10 more. And then I got his master student. And for some years now I even teach there at his Institute for Beginners. So that was very fascinating for me. And it really changed my life.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Wow. That does sound fascinating. Your personal experience and you also work with patients?

Stephan Laur:
Yes, I do. After… and I did also training in what we call Tui Na or acupressure. So I combine that a little bit.

Stephan Laur:
I do treatments and acupressure, tui na massage, but my main work is actually qi gong. After you do a massage, you do something acupressure. You can also give the clients some different exercises or maybe even just another thought to change the view.

Stephan Laur:
Because the main thing in qi gong, most people think qi gong is just something where you move slowly, and maybe you breathe deeply or something like that, which is true. That is one part of it. But the main thing is not some funny movement or some strange position for us sometimes. But the main thing is what happens in your mind? That’s the important thing.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Tell us about that.

Stephan Laur:
I mean, we think in qi gong that the mind and the body, they are connected, not only connected, but they are more or less the same in different and a different form of tension.

Stephan Laur:
So they’re like an in between there is energy, which is qi. Qi just means life force or life energy, and in this Taoist point of view, we think that there are three energies or substance. And sometimes we call it. One is called Shen, which is translated as mind, which means everything in the mind, just like thoughts and everything, but it means also higher mind. Actually, the word Shen can also be translated as spirituality or even God.

Stephan Laur:
And then we have Ching, which is essence. This is lowest. This is physical energy. Actually, if you see it a little broader, it’s everything physical is essence, Ching.

Stephan Laur:
And in between there is Qi energy. There’s at least three substances, but in their real nature, they’re not different. They are the same in a different density. So you could say that energy is condensed mind and body then is condensed qi, energy, the physical.

Stephan Laur:
So we say there is a very, very straight connection between those. And actually there is a very important law, which is, I think the most important law in qi gong is where your mind goes, the energy will come. And when the qi, the energy flows also the blood will come into motion.

Stephan Laur:
So, which actually means where we bring our attention to something happens also in the body, what we imagine happens sooner or later in our body. And that is also the explanation, actually from a qi gong point of view, that we have all these phenomenons of placebo effect. There’s actually something that, then you already 2,000 years ago, and they base their practice after that. Yeah. Whatever you do will have an effect, at least in your body. So you must be quite mindful how you bring the attention to your body.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
I mean, that opens many questions. So just, having gone down the road of conventional medicine, focusing very much on ching, I guess, focusing very much on the matter, the body and the physical body. And then at some point kind of psychosomatic medicine became fashionable. So then the psyche was kind of, neurology and psychiatry were kind of one discipline, and then that got separated.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
And so there’s a recognition that the mind and the body somehow interact with the level of the qi is really not so well embraced in current conventional medicine.

Stephan Laur:
Of course.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
And so you’re saying in qi gong there… The basis of that, or one of the basic premises is that where we bring our attention is where energy flows, and where energy flows this will have an effect on our material body.

Stephan Laur:
Yes. I mean, sometimes it happens quite quickly. So for example, we do, when I have a beginner’s class, we do an experiment, and this is quite funny. So where people bring… They measure their hands like that. And then they bring like the right hand up, and the left on the lap. Just down. And then we have, for three minutes, we think our hand is growing. It’s growing, it’s growing, it’s growing.

Stephan Laur:
And after three minutes, like 90%, even of a beginner’s class, when they bring the hands together, again, the hand that we thought off, it will grow. It’s really bigger. Sometimes two or three centimeters, such and such a bit. So it’s really great. Of course, it’s just a hand, and that’s an impact that comes, and it goes back again.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
You check this out. I’ll check this out.

Stephan Laur:
Check this out like this.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
You’re not cheating, right?

Stephan Laur:
You have here lines, and then you join it, and you do like this, and you do it with the hand that looks awkward. So you can’t say it’s just because of the blood flows into. So that’s just, just for that reason. And it really works. So you can see there is an effect. So this is an immediate effect. But if you, for example, have a broken leg or some disease in your stomach or something like that, of course it takes longer.

Stephan Laur:
You can’t just bring positive thought, and it’s away. So you have to practice that for some times. You have to cultivate, we actually traditional word is self-cultivation. You have to cultivate your state of mind. Your thoughts. Pictures because they have an influence on your body.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Give us an example. So maybe, I don’t know, maybe you can give us an example from a patient you worked with or from your own experience.

Stephan Laur:
For example, one possibility, for example, is to do with special techniques of breathing, and imagination. We call that qi breathing, the energy breathing. And then once when my son was quite little, I had him in a backpack kind of thing. And I went up a mountain, quite steep, and actually it was a little too big for that. And when I went down, I really hurt my knee, and luckily he was asleep.

Stephan Laur:
So I could just put him there. And I sat there, and I did that exercise. I put my hands on my knee. And I just did for 15 minutes, and it was really hurting and it was already a little swollen, I could see. So I went there, and I did my breeding. And I mean, the way back was like an hour down the hill. So that would have been quite a challenge with hurting me and three years old, four years old child on my back.

Stephan Laur:
I did that breathing, and with that imagination, with every out breath healing energy goes into my knee. And this knee is very strong and very healthy. And after 15 minutes I could walk down. I didn’t have any pain anymore afterwards. I still felt a little weird, but I was surely could walk down. And I was quite sure it wouldn’t have worked so well if I wouldn’t have done that.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Interesting. So what you’ve done is imagining a state of health rather than changing a state of disease.

Stephan Laur:
This is very important. Actually, we don’t have the picture or the imagination of the illness or the injury going away, but we imagine that organ or body part or joint, whatever it is as being healthy. Sometimes we have like, as I did in that exercise, and all the imagination, that light is coming into that part. But we never imagine the illness going away. We only imagine it being good. So we only have positive thought. You only have the thought, but actually the imagination where we wish it to go to.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
That is very interesting. So, coming from a conventional medicine background, where the focus is on what should the normal body in its physical sense be like, look like, work like, and then we call disease everything that is different from that defined state of normality, or this range of normality. And the medical approach, the conventional medical approach is to change the state, to do something about the state of disease in order to re institute, regain the state of normality. While what you’re doing is, in a way, what it sounds like is you almost disregard the change of abnormality, but really just focus on the state of normality. This is where the energy flows.

Stephan Laur:
Yeah. I mean, there are also practices sometimes where you start with energies where you bring the injured energy or the bad energy away. This can be a help at the beginning. But the main part is always, as you said, you focus on what should be, and on the positive state and not on what you want to have away, because I think there’s also a law that is, for example, I see some connection. I also have a training in medical, psychological hypnotherapy. And actually they, one law that I learned there is never to use, not to no because the unconscious doesn’t really, it’s not really able to understand the no

Stephan Laur:
So if you say there is no pain, there’s quite big possibility that your subconscious understands just pain, and here’s pain. So we don’t say, so we have only this positives that don’t have that thought, illness goes away because then the illness is in my focus. I have the imagination. There is very pure healing energy there, and this joint, or it this liver is very strong. It’s getting stronger all the time. Like that.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
So from a qi gong point of view, what do you think about the conventional medicine tradition to make diagnosis and communicate diagnosis? Are you saying that you have this problem, right? Is that the opposite? Is that like-

Stephan Laur:
No. I mean, we have, I also have a training in traditional Chinese medicine, like our competitor, Tui Na, and we also have the diseases or disorders as we call it. Actually, or disharmony very often it’s translated. And we say like, it’s a weakness of the liver energy or something like that. We also say where the problem is. And I think actually that Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, they work quite well together.

Stephan Laur:
But on both parts, we have to be very, very conscious what we think and what we say, actually this problem. When I say what or what a lot of Western doctors have a tendency to go to a class to talk about the problem. I actually had the same experience with practitioners in traditional Chinese medicine. Also, they can focus on, “Oh. I see your liver. Your liver qi is rising up and putting everything in disorder” or something like that. So, actually, this, I don’t think that’s, that Western medicine and Chinese medicine and qi gong that they are kind of contradictory. I think they work very, very well together, actually.

Stephan Laur:
But I think it’s very important to really see where does healing really occur is in yourself. And that’s not something that comes from outside. In the classic of Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor, they say the most important doctor is yourself. And so this knowledge that you have inside is energy. They call it the inner doctor.

Stephan Laur:
And the job, what can an an extern doctor or therapist do. He can only show you the way to wake up your inner healer. So I think that’s a very important thing, and there’s no contradiction. You can take a pill or have an operation and still work with your mind and bring the positive energy inside. So we can really combine the positive effects of both.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
I mean, you, obviously, have good experience with it, and obviously an entire nation like China relies on this for thousands of years. So there has to be something about it.

Stephan Laur:
Yeah.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Is there in the Western philosophy of science, is there evidence for me? Is there an added benefit that is proven in the kind of Western scientific way? Is there-

Stephan Laur:
They have been done some studies in China in the time of opening in the ’90s where they did stuff like that, but they all didn’t have Western standards. So you can’t really tell about them. But, so I don’t know if there are studies in qi gong specifically, but there are many studies on the influence of the mind. For example, studies of the placebo effect, where I think a lot of you know that very famous study of the knee operation, where they had three groups where they wanted to try out actually, which of two possible methods of operation is better. And so they had two groups of a hundred people, quite a big group. And then they had a third one. And the third group, they didn’t do anything. They just made a cut, and then they stitched it again. And everybody had some therapy after, and a year after they checked out.

Stephan Laur:
And the very amazing thing was that the three groups had all the same effect. That’s really what we do in qi gong, but in a different way. People thought their knee had been fixed, had been operated and it really hadn’t.

Stephan Laur:
My master always said, “It is not scientific.” He actually is a scientist. He started physics and in China, but he came from an old lineage of traditional Chinese medicine, doctors, and qi gong, or that was about what he learned as a child. And he really says, and I think it’s true, it’s not scientific because it’s very individual. It just happens in you and in you. And immediate is a little different than what happens to you. So we can’t really have an exact proof because just can try it out and then live it.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Possibly the approach is different. So possibly this approach to medicine requires a different approach to clinical studies that still needs to be elaborated on. To me there’s no limit to signs. We have a hypothesis here, and we don’t really understand fully how to prove this hypothesis. It’s interesting that your master has been studying physics, as there’s such a dramatic change in physics.

Stephan Laur:
There is.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
And it is in demonstrating how close the relation between energy and matter is. Possibly there’s evidence emerging.

Stephan Laur:
Yeah. I think actually you can say on one hand it’s not scientific, but the other hand, I think it is quite scientific because you have to have that scientific mind to find out inside yourself. So you can do some experiments in yourself. For example, the one with the hand. Maybe we could do one thing here and I thought that we just could just try it out. Maybe it works. I have never done it on a computer, but I think it will work as, so shall we do that?

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Sure.

Stephan Laur:
Maybe, yeah. Maybe you can try out if we can feel the effect of qi or the effect of thoughts to our body directly. I think we do the hand experiments. So we have the same line here on our wrist, each one. So we can really bring those both, those two together in both hands. We’re really looked at as really on the same height.

Stephan Laur:
They really touch each other. And then we look up both. Do both heads have exactly the same length? Normally it is more or less. Some people, it is not what. But that’s no problem. We just, we just memorize how it is.

Stephan Laur:
And then we put the left hand on our lap and the right hand besides our shoulder or ear, like that. We close our eyes. Close your eyes, and imagine that your hand is growing. Your hand is growing and growing and growing. And energy is expanding in your fingers. Not only in the muscles and the skin and everywhere, even also in the bones. Everything is growing. All the fingers, all the bones, your whole hand is growing and growing. It’s getting bigger and bigger.

Stephan Laur:
The physical of your hand is expanding. It’s expanding and getting bigger. And bigger. You only have this one thought, like two or three minutes. Your hand is growing. It’s growing. It’s growing. Think it. Imagine it. Tell it to yourself. Your hand is growing. It’s getting bigger. Energy is expanding in every cell of your hand, in the bones, in the muscle, in the ligaments everywhere. And everything is growing. Your hand is growing. We do it for about 30 seconds more now, really focused. Your hand is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Stephan Laur:
Okay. And now we come back. We open our eyes. We bring the both hands together. We looked at it on the same size. And now we look as one bigger. You see, my hand is quite different. How are yours? Did they grow? It really grew. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. It worked. I don’t know how it works. If this really works, when you do guided on a computer, but it worked with you, Jan.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
That’s pretty cool.

Stephan Laur:
Actually, that is something that we do in beginners’ classes. So people see, and then we say, of course, if this works with your hand, why shouldn’t it work with your knee? Why shouldn’t it work with your liver or something that you bring in effect, of course not in the same speed, but if you have constant positive thought, we think this liver is really strong and really healthy. Or this knee is really strong. It is full of energy. It is vivid. Then of course, this will have an effect to have a long term positive effect, of course you have to do it best would be all the time, more or less to cultivate. Because, I mean, what do we do normally?

Stephan Laur:
And then something, but people come to me, for example, with back pain, when I really often hear, they say, “Oh, my back is really killing me. I mean, this damn back is just killing me. It’s just a piece of…”

Stephan Laur:
You talk to your body like that. You say you’re rubbish. You’re damned. You’re bad. I hate you. People say things like that. I mean, of course it will act like that. It will change. And we have to change that. That’s programming. And actually if we reprogram it and we cultivate, that’s actually the traditional name for qi gong that they had before, self-cultivation.

Stephan Laur:
If you cultivate positive thoughts, positive energy, you cultivate not to say, “Oh, my body is rubbish.” But no, “Ah, there’s light. There’s strength in my body. The energy is flowing, and I get better all the time. I’m connected with a higher energy, and it flows in me.”

Stephan Laur:
And we do some exercises with that state of mind. It will change. Of course, if we then combine it with movement, with breathing and everything that we do in qi gong, then the effect is even better. But the main, the heart of it is the state of mind.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Amazing. So there are clearly ways of how the mind can influence our body energies and the body energies kind of create a field within the part, for the particles to or the particles to move in or to behave in, there’s some kind of influence.

Stephan Laur:
Some kind of-

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
Remains to be understood, but clearly there’s old wisdom. Great. Thank you, Stephan. Thank you for doing this.

Stephan Laur:
Thank you. It was very interesting.

Dr. Jan Bonheffer:
I appreciate it.

Speaker 5:
This has been a Heart-based Medicine Production. Thanks for listening.