Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

An Examination of the Relationship between Qigong Meditation and Personality

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

An Examination of the Relationship between Qigong Meditation and Personality

Article excerpt

Qigong meditation is an ancient form of meditation that has been linked with various health benefits. We were interested in whether or not this form of meditation has a relationship with personality. To this end, we administered the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) to eighty Qigong meditation practitioners and seventy-four non-practitioners. The results showed that the number of years of Qigong practice was negatively correlated with neuroticism, but there was no relationship with extraversion. Even after controlling for age, gender, and education level, the practitioners were significantly less neurotic than the nonpractitioners. The study of Qigong meditation and personality may lead to a greater understanding of the various disorders characterised by high neuroticism, and may provide a viable treatment option for long-term health.

Keywords: Qigong, neuroticism, extraversion, meditation, personality.

Qigong (pronounced "Chi Kung") is an ancient art of self-healing practiced by millions of people in China for thousands of years. 'Qi' means vital energy and 'Gong' means discipline. It consists of physical and mental exercises to regulate mental processes and enhance physical functioning, and is made up of five components: visualization, meditation, relaxation, deep breathing, and target circulation (Tseng, 1998).

Throughout history, numerous types and styles of Qigong have evolved, falling under four categories: healing, martial-art, philosophical (Taoist), and spiritual (Buddhist). Despite the variations, all styles have a similar philosophy, which is based on the ancient Chinese idea that vital energy exists in all matter in the universe and humans can circulate and exchange it with the environment by means of voluntarily induced physical and mental action. The two distinct styles of Qigong practice are classified as internal and external, or moving and static. The internal Qigong involves meditation and breathing techniques with visualizations in order to guide the vital energy, while external Qigong includes a sequence of movements accompanying meditation.

The present study focuses on the relationship between personality and meditative Qigong because this form of meditation is believed to have a positive impact on health. In Qigong meditation, the practitioner visualizes a flow of Qi energy circulating through his/her body. This process is based on repetitive, positive, reinforcing suggestions, which may promote health and a sense of well-being (Liu, Cui, Li, & Huang, 1990).

Qigong meditation has been shown to be beneficial to patients' feelings of wellness when suffering from arthritis, hypertension, dizziness, and chronic pain (Kuang, Wang, Xu, & Qian, 1991; Wu et al., 1999). Moreover, Qigong meditation has been found to have a positive impact on postworkout anxiety (Jiang, 1991), improvement in respiratory capacity in asthma patients (Reuther & Aldridge, 1998), heroin detoxification (Li, Chen, & Mo, 2002), stroke recovery (Kuang et al., 1986), sleep disorders (Wang, 2002), and senile dementia (Yan et al., 2000).

The mechanisms of these effects are not well known, however one theory is that there is a relaxation response whereby autonomie activity is controlled and causes a decrease of sympathetic activation (Benson, Greenwood, & Klemchuk, 1975). Benson, Malhotra, Goldman, Jacobs, and Hopkins (1990) showed that Tibetan monks could vary their metabolic rate at will while meditating. Furthermore, studies of Yoga-based relaxation show that sympathetic activity is lessened by guided relaxation compared to nonrelaxed states (Arambula, Peper, Kawakami, & Gibney, 2001; Lazar et al., 2000; Vempati & Telles, 2002).

A neuroimaging study of Tibetan Buddhist meditation showed an increase in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the cingulate gyrus, inferior frontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and thalamus (Newberg et al., 2001). …

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