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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Three Rivers 12 Steps: Qigong for Recovery : Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.

Dec 09, 2011 01:40PM ● By Mark R Reinhart, MMQ


When people hear the terms “addiction” and “recovery” the first image that comes to mind is usually either that of a strung-out drug addict or a fall-down drunk. Sadly the addictive mindset is far more prevalent in today’s society than most are aware of, or willing to admit. Eating, sex, shopping, cutting, gambling, smoking, prescription medication, and sports are just a few of the modes of addiction that have joined the ranks of illicit drugs and alcohol. Acknowledgement of the problem is the first step to regaining balance.

Through skewed perception, survival-based coping mechanisms, and improper lifestyle choices, the totality of a person becomes fragmented—usually resulting in a dysfunctional and self-destructive approach to life. Recovery can therefore be viewed as the process of reconnecting, balancing, and harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit of an individual.

In the Three Rivers/12 Steps approach to recovery, we choose to use the word imbalance rather than the word disease to describe addiction. Inherent in the word disease is the mindset of the victim: someone to whom things happen, making them feel that they are powerless over their situation. An imbalance implies that a state of balance existed in the individual and that by addressing the process by which the imbalance occurred, a person can return to the state of homeostatic balance that exists in all of us.

The Chinese philosophical tradition view life as in interwoven tapestry of three primary levels of existence: the physical (jing), the energetic (qi), and spiritual (shen). Balancing one without addressing and harmonizing all three can result in an incomplete, and therefore ineffective healing.

The way we view our world is the way we ultimate live in it. All reality is subjective in that our interpretations of the world around us determine our responses and reactions. This is an example of how upper influences lower. All we have to do is look at a person and by examining their body language and/or other aspects of their behavior we can pretty much tell how they are navigating their world. Simply trying to “change our mind” is more often than not ineffective due to the disconnection between body and mind. Most people are not aware of this disconnect between their thoughts and how those thoughts manifest in their physicality.

The first step is to reconnect people with their bodies via the three aspects of Qigong exercises: breath, posture, and body awareness. Once a person has achieved functional alignment and can synchronize the gentle movements with their breath (not vice versa—this is key), areas of excess tension in the body can be located and released. Before the water can flow smoothly, the garden hose has to be straightened out and all the knots and kinks need to be undone.

Once the person begins to release excess tension the qi will begin to flow. This is the stage where nutrition needs to be examined. Usually the diet of someone dealing with addictive disorders could use some improvement. Using the Chinese dietary approach to food and nutrition (postnatal qi) assessments are made on an individual basis keeping true to the core principle of Chinese medicine: treating what is in front of you. There is no “one-size-fits-all approach.” The five-phase system of correspondences and other diagnostic templates are used to examine the emotional state of the person and help to determine the best approach to nutrition and building back what has been compromised.

As excess physical tension is released and nutritional support builds back the qi, the shen level is addressed via meditations and work with the 12 steps interwoven with the Chinese spiritual and philosophical perspective. One of the most powerful exercises taught is the 12 Step Qigong, which incorporates the 12 steps, breath, and movement as a daily practice. 

Naturally all aspects of this approach are implemented simultaneously with varying degrees of focus, as each individual must be treated as such.

Not only is this approach valuable for anyone who is going through the rebalancing of addictive disorders, but it is important for counselors and therapists who do this work to understand the nature of toxic energy and how to protect one’s self.

Mark R. Reinhart holds a master’s degree in medical qigong, as well as extensive and ongoing studies in Classical and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese Internal Martial arts and numerous styles and systems of Qigong. He is the President of the National Qigong Association (NQA) and has been teaching his Three Rivers/12 Steps: Qigong For Recovery program at Little Creek Lodge in Hamlin for the past two years, and has facilitated trainings for counselors and therapists. To contact Mark, call 570-455-2221 or visit 


A Three Rivers/12 Steps: Qigong For Recovery training session has been scheduled for Saturday February 18, 2012 at Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center. For more information, call 610-395-3355 or visit 

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