Breathing Spaces

Nancy N. ChenNancy N. Chen's book Breathing Spaces, qigong, psychiatry, and healing in China, was published in 2003, by Columbia University Press. Before Chen's book there was nothing available about the history of Qigong in the 20th century that would satisfy a curious 12 year old, much less a scholar.

I have at least 45 post-it notes in my book. Why do I love this book so much?

Here is a brief biography form the back cover: "Nancy N. Chen is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A medical anthropologist, she also teaches courses on food, ethnographic film, urban anthropology, China, and Asian Americans."

She grew up in the US studying gongfu, and like me, heard about this thing called qigong sometime in the late 80's. It turned out to be, at least partly, what we had all been practicing and referring to as martial arts warm-ups. But there where also lots of claims being attached to this new "qigong" that didn't seem to fit our experiences. There was a lot of religious feeling and parlor tricks too. There were strange and sometimes very specific claims made about healing powers associated with both the practice of doing qigong and these new "Masters" themselves.

Being a lover of history, the biographies various masters would pull out from the underside of their 'inner cauldrons,' were particularly irksome to me. Nancy N. Chen deals with all this beautifully.
So the only real question now is, why haven't you read it yet?