Qigong Bigu or Fasting: Your Best Investment in Health and Long-Term Wellness

Although the pandemic of COVID-19 is officially over for now, the outbreak is still alive around the world, and around the corner. We are not sure what caused the pandemic in the first place, or when it may come back. Your best defense against the future pandemic like this may still be the strength of your immune system. If you have thought of investing more in your own health for the future, it is the time again to consider learning a powerful and unique health and healing practice from Daoist tradition — Qigong Bigu or energetic fasting. For the first time this November we are offering the teaching of ancient Daoist wellness practice — Bigu (energetic fasting) — both on-site (face-to-face) and online in response to the overwhelming demands for better health and wellness practice. This is probably the best time in a year for you to invest some in your own health and well-being through Qigong fasting (Bigu) and mindset training before the holiday season.

What is Bigu?

Energetic fasting, or Bigu (避谷), is an ancient health and longevity tradition used in Daoist and Buddhist practice. In fact all religions have some kind of fasting tradition. Bigu, which literally means “to avoid grain,” is unique to Daoist practice in their cultivation of mind-body-spirit. The idea is not to eat grain and meat, but you may eat other things during Bigu. Starving yourself is not necessary! Understanding this can dispel the fear many people have about Bigu, and eliminate the psychological burden of Bigu.

Bigu is not just no-eating; and it is definitely not starving yourself. Bigu refers to a way of living. By avoiding grain and cooked foods, and obtaining energy by alternative methods and technologies, one can achieve detoxification and health, cultivate qi and concentration, and prolong life. 

There are three main methods to practice Bigu that were recorded in ancient Chinese literature: information Bigu, gulping qi Bigu and taking-pills Bigu.  In addition, there are methods and practices of semi-Bigu and fruit-juice Bigu, which will not be discussed here. Information Bigu requires a successful qigong master to transmit Bigu information and help students enter into the Bigu state without feeling hungry. Taking pill Bigu refers to the use of special Bigu energy pills, so as to nullify the sensation of hunger. It is said that the secret recipe for truly effective Bigu pills has been lost. Contemporary Bigu pills are developed in accordance with what records remain of ancient recipes. Sun Simiao’s “A thousand gold formula” contains parts of 54 Bigu pill recipes. In addition, “Pu ji fang,” “Compendium of Materia Medica,” and other traditional Chinese medicine classics list the content of Bigu pills. 

Gulping Qi with Qigong is the most popular and the best way to do Bigu. Qigong Bigu refers to absorbing the energy of nature, collecting the energy of the light waves of the universe, and swallowing the qi or essence from nature through information, qi extraction and mind relaxation. Gulping Qi Bigu for health is written about in the literature unearthed from the Han Dynasty tomb in Changsha. In the Bigu workshop, Qigong Bigu will be the main method, though the other two methods of Bigu will be explored as well.

The Main Benefits of Bigu

Reduced calorie-intake and fasting with Bigu practice can slow down the aging process, detoxify the body, cleanse the digestive system, and increase bio-energy balance.  Scientific research supports these outcomes.

The 2016 Nobel Prize for medicine, awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for research regarding cellular autophagy, supports the health benefits of fasting.  Autophagy is the process of utilizing and recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components—the so-called cellular rubbish which accumulates in cells.  Autophagy becomes especially active when an organism is under stress (for example: fasting). When an organism is stressed, cells upcycle cellular rubbish to produce energy– that cellular rubbish includes disease-causing bacteria.  Ohsumi’s discovery indicates that abstaining from food and fasting promotes wellness—the body truly cleanses itself during fasting.

Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi

Another review of fasting studies in scientific literature (Longo & Mattson 2013, Cell Metabolism) came to the conclusion that “fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.” A relationship was discovered between long-living calorie-restricted mice and the types of microbes living in their guts. The finding, published in 2013 Nature Communications, suggests that one can live longer by establishing the right kind of microbes in the gut through a low-calorie diet.

In June 2000, a conference was held at Penn State University that explored the health benefits and scientific research of Qigong Bigu with 500+ attendants. http://www.scribd.com/doc/40294944/Bigu-Conference-Report-PennState-June-2000

Images from the National Conference on Yanxin Qigong and Bigu Manifestation, held at Pennsylvania State University (June 2000)

Some recent studies (Cheng et al. 2014; Brandhorst et al. 2015) reported that fasting practice can regenerate the entire immune system. Brandhorst et al (2015) claim that “a periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance, and lifespan. In other words, fasting is probably the most powerful way to activate the body’s self-healing potential.”  http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(15)00224-7

In summary, the research-supported health benefits of Bigu may include:

  • Detoxification – especially of the digestive system
  • Boosts immune system (the immune system reboots after 72 hours of fasting)
  • Weight-loss through a metabolic system reboot (not the main goal, but it’s a safe and effective way to lose weight)
  • Spleen and stomach tonification – 80% of those with stomach disease get cured after one Bigu practice
  • Facial beautification and wrinkle reduction through self-melting, and increased micro-circulation
  • Purification of the blood and softening of the blood vessels (due to increased metabolism and autophagy)
  • Anti-cancer (more oxygen and increased body-heat during fasting)
  • Repairs the body to get rid of chronic diseases (self-healing & self-regenerating)
  • Slows down the aging process and returns youth (prolongs cell life)
  • Cultivates wisdom – one thinks more clearly and more sensitively after fasting
  • Increased survival ability
  • Builds will-power and positive energy
  • Great way to start mind-body cultivation and spiritual practice (Bigu boosts your sense of happiness)

Dr. Michael Mosley made a documentary “Eat, Fast, and Live Longer” for BBC. Here is a link to view the entire documentary: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvdbtt_eat-fast-live-longer-hd_shortfilms Given its known benefits, it is not surprising that scientists are interested in the relationship between fasting and longevity.

Highlights of Our Bigu Workshop

With years of personal experience and study of Bigu, Dr. Kevin Chen of the University of Maryland School of Medicine will offer his unique teaching of Qigong Bigu and alternative ways to gain energy in Ellicott City Wellness Center, as well as online through Zoom platform so as to meet the needs of different students.  The workshop will teach and offer practice in the following:

  • The Bigu fasting mindset — how to synchronize with the higher power, the immortals, and Gods
  • Physical and mental preparation skills for Bigu fasting
  • Information leading to Bigu status (信息辟谷)
  • Specific Qigong techniques on how to do Bigu, which include turtle breathing, skin-breathing meditation, gulping Qi fasting (服气辟谷), five-element Bigu cleansing Qigong, energy exchange with trees, and Qigong exercises
  • How to make and take Bigu pills (Students attending workshop in person will receive one Bigu pill each day)
  • Acupressure for fasting and pain-relief;
  • Introduction to the health benefits of Bigu,
  • Scientific exploration of where energy come from during Bigu
  • How to assess if you are doing Bigu right and what to do if you feel very hungry
  • How to break the Bigu (resume normal eating)
  • What are the healthy practices after Bigu workshop
  • Daily Q&A session

Dr. Chen will share techniques on how to cleanse and purify your body, and lead a daily qigong practice during the training; as well as explain where life-energy comes from when you are not eating solid food.  Cleansing your body and blood of toxins with Bigu helps balance your energy! The class will not only make it easier, but you will also learn some ancient wisdom on diet and detoxification. You will learn how to implement this wisdom in your daily life. With appropriate guidance and careful monitoring Bigu or Qigong fasting can be a safe and effective way to encourage health and healing while increasing the benefits of Qigong practice.

The Bibu workshop promotes a tradition of preventive health and wellness, mind cultivation, stress management, and peace and happiness on life’s journey.

When: Next Workshop on Nov. 3~6, 2022  (Thursday to Sunday)

  • Nov. 2 (Wednesday): 7:00 to 8:30pm (EST — Online preparation meeting, introduction)
  • Nov. 3 (Thursday): 7:00 to 9:30pm (EST — open ceremony, information distribution)
  • Nov. 4 (Friday):  9:30 to 11:30am (EST, qigong practice) and  7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A) note: we’ve delayed the start time so that people from the West coast can also attend)
  • Nov. 5 (Saturday): 9:30 to 11:30am (EST, qigong practice) and  7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A )
  • Nov. 6 (Sunday): 10:00am to 1:00pm (EST, practice and how to break the Bigu)

Note: if you have to miss 1 or 2 online classes due to work or other commitments, we will have video-recordings of the classes available for later catching up.

Where:  Ellicott City Wellness Center, Ellicott City, MD

Will Simultaneously Broadcast the Workshop Online with Zoom Platform

Ellicott City Wellness Center (3691 Park Ave, Ellicott​ City, MD 21043)

For the first time after the pandemic we are holding the Bigu workshop on site at Ellicott City Wellness Center (as well as available online by Zoom platform), after offering the workshop online in past three years. Participants are encouraged to attend the workshop in person so as to meet with the instructors and follow students. Here are some advantages you may get from on-site study:

  1. You will be exposed to the bio-field energy generated by Dr. Chen and the group, and feel more energetic during the Bigu period;
  2. You can learn the qigong form from different angels of instructor, and get a better learning experience;
  3. You may practice qigong and gulping qi with follow participants anytime outside of the class time
  4. You are away from the foods in refrigerator, away from the daily stressors that bother you when you stay at home, and get a much better Bigu outcome.
  5. You could have close interaction with the instructor and follow participants, so as to make this workshop a more personal experience and a network opportunity.
  6. You will get Bigu pills from Dr. Chen, who made those pills personally based on some ancient literature and formula, which are not available anywhere else. You will get one pill each day for a total of four pills, free of charge. Those who attend the workshop online may purchase the pills in advance.
  7. You will get a beautiful Tai-chi suite designed for Qigong and tai-chi practitioners, free of charge (a $49 value), they are made of quality cotton-linen in light purple or white color with embroider, very comfortable to wear, you will love it…..

If you decide to attend the workshop online, from the comfort of your home, you will need a computer (desk-top or laptop)  with multi-media capabilities (camera, speaker and microphone) or an iPad (or other tablet) to attend the Zoom sessions and to see the Power Point presentations.  If you don’t have computer, a smart phone can also be used. Please email us for more instruction later.

Download the Zoom APP from:  https://zoom.us/ 

Cost & Registration:

On-Site Participation:

  • Early-bird before October 20, 2022: $350 ($240 for repeated students) — including the tuition, free Bigu pills and the Tai-chi suite.
  • Regular registration after October 20: $395 ($280 for repeated students) — including the cost of tuition, free Bigu pills and the Tai-chi suite.

Online Participation:

  • Early-bird before October 20, 2022: $250 ($140 for repeated students)
  • Regular registration after October 20: $295 ($180 for repeated students)

Discounts and Deposit for Registration:

  • $40 minimum deposit required (non-refundable) to register
  • 10% discount offered to UMB/UMROI employees, students & seniors 65+
  • Pre-registration is required, workshop is limited to 36 new participants to ensure quality of teaching and better interaction
  • Group discount available when registering together: 2 people registering together get 10% off; 3 people together get 15% off; 4 or more registered together, get 20% off. (Please register by making the deposit first, then figure out what the final amount due later).
  • Registration closes on November 2, or when the class limit is reached. Drop-in students are not allowed.

You can register online with a credit card by clicking on the following link (or mail-in your registration form with payment):

You may click HERE to download the Bigu_Registration_2022c; return the signed registration form with payment to register with other methods of payment.

(Note: The workshop is limited up to 36 new participants, so please register early)

About the Instructor: Dr. Kevin W Chen:

Dr. Chen is an adjunct faculty at the Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is the deputy secretary-general of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong. Professor Chen is actively engaged in the research and application of medical qigong in the United States, with a focus on the role of TCM wellness and qigong cultivation in stress management, drug addiction, and cancer rehabilitation. He is the associate editor of the college textbook “Chinese Medical Qigong” (London: Singing Dragon, 2010)

Professor Chen has studied with several Daoist masters and practiced Daoist Bigu for many years. Since 1999, he has practiced full Bigu for 2-3 times a year; each time lasting 7-14 days, and the longest time lasting 21 days (while going to work and attending classes as usual). He is passionate about sharing the Daoist spirit through teaching the Bigu techniques and science behind them.

Note: Bigu Qigong fasting is not recommended for people who currently:

  • Have psychotic disorders, or a history of psychotic illness
  • Have extreme physical weakness, or serious illness.
  • Patients with the following severe symptoms:
    • Internal bleeding or vomiting blood,
    • ulcer perforation,
    • recent heart attack,
    • severe heart disease and angina pectoris,
    • severe kidney disease,
    • The stage 2-3 pulmonary tuberculosis.
  • Patients who have long-term use of insulin or epinephrine, or liver, kidney and other organ transplant recipients.
  • Children under 16 and adults that weigh less than 85 lb.

Please email Dr. Kevin Chen at Qigong4us at hotmail.com or Jeri Hemerlein  at jerihemerleinqigong at gmail.com for more information or if you have any questions. Thanks!

You may join the FREE Facebook group for discussion and updates:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/635356703642836/

This workshop will be part of our annual Qigong program in Maryland.  You may also be interested in Dr. Chen’s Online Weekly Qigong for Health class every Sunday morning at 9am EST. (go to http://yang-sheng.com/?p=12020 ).

Note: if you come to the workshop from other states, you may contact Allwyn, our technical support specialist, for travel and lodge assistance. You may reach him by email alja78 at aol.com.

Selected Testimony from previous participants:

“Since the fast, I have only taken 3 half doses of my blood pressure medication.  My pressure now runs  between 115-135/51-75  without medication…..  I lost my taste for high carb/high sugar foods that I know are not good for me.  — M.C.

“I liked the fasting workshop online. It felt like a refresher course for me and an inspiration to practice consistently.”

“I really enjoyed the Bigu class. It was a great success! Thank you so much Kevin!” “I lost 10 lb. from 131 to 121 although it was not my goal.  My blood pressure is lower than before. From 134-130/86-85 to 125-118/84-76. Every day is different. I feel good and lighter. I did it for 7 days instead of 4 days. It’s good. It’s not as difficult as I thought would be. I will do it again in the future for self-detoxification. It’s a great way.” —– P. Y.

“I felt incredibly at peace, happy, energized, healthy and upbeat. No chatter in my brain.  I felt energized and comfortable in my skin and felt like I could finally get enough air.  My stomach stopped hurting…. The shoulder, neuropathy pain, and tingling in the feet and hands went away.  Afterwards, I was shocked that I was able to increase my range of stretch on my radiated side much more.  The skin on my face looked bright and felt extra soft.  I also noticed that some stubborn keloids that I had on my lower left abdomen healed in the center so that I had an inch of healthy healing in the middle of a very long keloid scar….  I felt wonderful during the fasting.”  — F.H.

“This has changed my mind about water fasting.  I have fasted with fresh vegetable juice many times before; now I can clearly see definite benefits of water fasting.  The teachers were very informative, they helped me to release fears!” — C.W.

“Very interesting challenges. It lets you get in touch with yourself, appreciation for water, breathing and qigong exercises, and their role in healing…. (my) allergies were less, feet were better, and feel clear headed.” — M.F.

“Digestion better; mindfulness improved; meditation more focused…. If you take the principles offered in the class, a person’s health will vastly improve.” — R.D.

“Very nice experience… My joint pain in hips & shoulders has been much less.” — P.T.

“I felt this fast was extremely successful!  It was my first time and I actually fasted for a week, because I felt so good during the fasting.  I had a wonderful time and it was mind-opening.  It broke a lot of my assumptions about food and the body and was a lot of fun in the group setting.” — F.H.

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