Article originally published in Pacific Business News
By Terrence Sing
An ancient Chinese healing art that combines music with qigong has come to Haiwaii in the form of master Shen Wu.
Qi means energy in Mandarin and gong stands for skill or exercise. Wu hopes to prove the efficacy of musical qigong by partnering with medical doctors and has applied to the University of Haiwaii’s Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a nonpaid clinical faculty member.
Qigong is based on a series of exercises that increase the flow of vital energy in the body by stimulating and balancing the flow of qi meridians that move qi within the body. When qi doesn’t flow freely, the body doesn’t function properly. Increasing the flow of qi helps to maintain good mental and physical health and ward off disease.
Many Americans are turning to alternative medical therapies such as acupuncture and qigong to treat a variety of ailments.
A study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the most complete study to date, found Americans spent approximately $31 billion on alternative medicine in 1997. It estimated four in 10 Americans used at least one alternative therapy. The number was higher for middle-aged adults, with one out of every two between the age of 35 and 49 having used an alternative therapy.
Wu has devoted his life to in depth study of ancient Chinese methodologies to cure people of their ills. He was raised in China’s Henan Province, considered the cradle of Chinese civilization because of his location on the Yellow River. Chinese characters were created here and the province also is home to the legendary Shaolin Temple.
In 1995, Wu came to the United States to teach musical qigong at South Baylo University in Anaheim, Calif. He has since lived and taught in Florida, where he helped ease the pain of terminally ill cancer patients at the Walt Disney Memorial Cancer Institute in Orlando.
Wu now calls Hawaii home after being lured here by what he calls the islands’ powerful feng shui. The unique interaction between fire and water here as described by the “I Ching” or “Book of Changes,” an ancient Chinese book of wisdom, is found on the Big Island where lava flows directly into the sea.
Most of China’s classic books evolved from the “I Ching,” Wu said through an interpreter. Wu’s therapy consists of five pentatonic tones corresponding to five major organs of the body: liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. Musical notes serve as an electrical medium stimulating the body’s organs through acupuncture points, thereby enhancing blood circulation and balancing the body’s energy. Sound waves also can be concentrated where a patient’s qi is low. It is an ancient concept developed thousands of years ago.
“With musical qigong, the energy is in the music,” Wu said. “It can go through your skin and into our organs and improve your immune system, making the body more harmonious.”
Performing in concert
The Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii will feature Wu in concert on April 28.
The center seeks to increase an understanding of China, its culture and history though events such as master Wu’s concert, said Director Ron Brown.
The concert is basically a brief introduction to basic Chinese alternative medicine, Brown said.
“Shen Wu is someone new in the community, so we are still getting to know him,” he said. “From our point of view, this is an opportunity for him to play ancient Chinese musical instruments most people don’t get to hear that he regards as having some therapeutic value.”
The Center for Chinese Studies plans to develop educational exchanges with Chinese universities and research institutes to promote joint projects to study traditional Chinese medicine.
Information obtained could be used to get federal research money for further studies.
“Maybe we’ll discover new medical treatments through these exchanges,” Brown said, “That’s all unfolding right now. Along the way, we are trying to learn more.”
How Hawaii Works Hawaii has a growing reputation as a venue for alternative therapies.