GRESHAM — Joseph Ripplinger takes a holistic approach to his qigong class.
His students learn qigong’s relationship to Chinese philosophy. Students talk about cleansing the body and the mind. And they practice the movements that make up the qigong method — a moving meditation intended to promote health and healing.
“You’re moving your energy,” Ripplinger said.
Gresham City Hall is offering qigong classes for the first time this spring. Qigong is similar to tai chi — both encompass slow body movements and concentration. Qigong is different, Ripplinger said, because it is considered a peaceful art where tai chi is considered a fighting art.
Participants say that regular practice can prevent and treat illness and reduce stress.
The practice comes from traditional Chinese medicine, which teaches that good health results from a well-balanced energy system.
According to the Qigong Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., qigong practitioners develop an awareness of the energy in their body and can use their mind to guide it. When a practitioner develops the skill, according to the institute, he or she can direct external energy for the purpose of healing others.
Ripplinger hosts a class every Thursday night at Gresham City Hall. Only two students attended the first class two weeks ago. Gresham officials say it may take a bit of time for the new class to develop a following.
The two students in the class, Ripplinger said, are already off to a promising start.
“These are probably the best beginning students I’ve ever had,” Ripplinger said.
The students have practiced qigong before, but no experience is necessary to take part in the class.
“This is for brand-new people,” he said.
Ripplinger leads his students through all the exercises slowly, until they are ready to move on to a new concept.
“The best thing you can do for the world at large is to heal yourself,” Ripplinger said.
Ripplinger first learned qigong while studying acupuncture at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland. He said there are many forms of qigong; he uses the “soaring crane” method. The method includes five routines, which he practices by himself and with his classes.
“It’s gorgeous. The energy just flows,” he said.
His classes also incorporate meditation. For 15-20 minutes per class, students are asked to simply relax.
The Gresham class meets for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. every Thursday at City Hall. A second class might be added if interest picks up. For more information, call 503-618-2828. MELISSA L. JONES, The Oregonian