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Lee Holden’s Qigong Journey

By Ian Drogin

Lee Holden

“My first experience of Qi happened through hypnosis at about age 10,” says Qigong teacher Lee Holden. “My parents would come into my room before bed and guide us kids through a visualization. During the deep relaxation, I would start to feel a buzzing and an electricity moving through my body. It was so powerful. Initially I was scared, not knowing what this was, but my fear quickly gave way to intrigue and fascination.” 

Lee was fortunate to have parents who encouraged him to embrace his own perceptual and energetic experiences. He even remembers his mom teaching him how to use the power of visualization to direct his focus for sports and school. Lee was always interested in energy and meditation, but sports was the main object of his attention growing up. 

It wasn’t until playing soccer at the University of California in Berkeley that Lee really became inspired by Qigong. Lee describes what he thought was the worst experience of his life and how this transformed into the most incredible blessing: “During a soccer match, I suffered a traumatizing injury which abruptly ended my season. I tried all of the Western medical options that were available but nothing worked. Finally, I tried something that no one told me about; I booked an appointment with a martial arts teacher who did acupuncture and Qigong. He showed me some very strange Qigong exercises, worked on my pressure points, and after two weeks, I was 90% better and back playing soccer. The coaches and team doctors were stunned.”

As soon as he recovered, Lee knew with conviction that mainstream society was overlooking the most promised resource for healing and growth: the power of Qi within each individual.

“That experience redefined what I believed was possible for myself and others,” says Lee” It also prompted him to study Qigong in order to learn as much as he could about the ancient practice. His pursuit of Qi led him to many places over the next several years, including Thailand, where he studied and worked with Mantak Chia, the founder of the Universal Healing Tao system.

When asked what he appreciates about Qigong, Lee says, “I love how everything in Qigong mirrors the movements and energy of the natural world — the energy that is accessible through harnessing our intuition.” Lee often speaks about nature, and how Qigong helps humans return to our innate rhythm with the world around us.

Unlike the elements of nature which exist in symbiosis with one another, humans tend to see themselves as distinct entities that are independent and separate. Rather than work with the energies we encounter, we too often fight against them. The human struggle is largely a reflection of our fruitless quest to control and possess.

Lee believes that Qigong can help us regain harmony with our external environment. Just as a tree sways playfully in the wind, we too can learn how to move gracefully through the experiences that come our way. By doing so, we can find synergy and peace with the energies that surround us. This approach nourishes all aspects of our life — our health, relationships, work, and emotional and spiritual wellbeing. 

Lee also appreciates how Qigong recognizes the importance of all our experiences, including the physical. He explains that “instead of disregarding our physicality, Qigong acknowledges that body, mind, and emotions are inseparable. Every part of ourselves informs every other part. Just as ice, water, and mist are constantly transforming and circulating in nature, so are our physical, emotional, and mental energies. It’s through integrating and cultivating both physical, and non-physical that we achieve our highest potential. Qigong is a practice that helps us do just that while celebrating all parts of who we are.”

Qigong is now a way of life for Lee. It’s a practice he takes with him throughout all his experiences, and a source of deep fulfillment for both himself and others. Over the last 30 years, Lee has dedicated his career to learning the language of Qi, and helping his students access the gifts that are available to all of us. Through his unique teaching style, he’s inspired thousands of students who continue to learn from him. 

Lee’s teaching style is light and playful, yet deeply moving. His students love how he integrates analogies and stories into a cohesive lesson about a practice he’s sharing. He believes that it’s important to have fun, so humor is a key element in all his classes. 

Ultimately, while the theoretical concepts of Taoism and Qigong are appealing, it is the felt experience that is truly transformative. As a teacher, Lee loves helping students discover their own inner resources for health and wellbeing. As he puts it, “it’s like seeing people open the doors to a mansion they didn’t know they had.” 

Lee knows that many Taoist teachings can seem esoteric to westerners, so he focuses on making everything as accessible as possible to his students. He also penetrates directly to the core of the lessons he shares, so students can really feel the essence of Qigong. Even though his poetic simplicity is digestible for all, he still doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of meaning through the experiences he offers. 

A few years ago, it became clear that he needed a little help to keep up with the demand for his classes. Today, Lee has a full team around him to help deliver all of the workshops, immersions, and lessons that he teaches. His organization, Holden QiGong, is run by a passionate group of dedicated Qigong practitioners, all of whom love seeing the joy that is shared through Qi. 

For many of Lee’s students, Qigong is much more than a daily routine to start the morning. Rather, it’s a foundational practice that can be channeled for any intention or purpose that is meaningful to the individual. Realizing the diverse interests and needs of his students, Holden QiGong has developed an expansive collection of classes, workshops, and immersions that apply the lessons of Qigong in a variety of ways. 

When Lee is not in the classroom he can be found mountain biking, stand-up-paddleboarding, and spending time with his children, who are his greatest source of joy in life. As Lee puts it, “Qigong is the practice that makes all other activities richer and more meaningful.” 

Helping others cultivate their own richness and meaning is what drives his passion for teaching. If you’re new to Lee and interested in checking out his classes, click here to try his Five-Day Mini Course.

Lee Holden first discovered the healing power of Qigong and Tai Chi after experiencing injuries that nearly sidelined his varsity soccer career at the University of California, Berkeley. Impressed at how these ancient practices healed his body and allowed him to return to playing, he made their study a priority. Today, he is an internationally known instructor in meditation, Tai Chi, and Qigong, as well as a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and author (7 Minutes of Magic, Penguin 2007). His popular library of Qigong DVDs have made him a regular fixture onAmerican Public Television and over 105 PBS stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Lee's unique Qigong programs have been seen in over 50 million households.

Lee’s expertise and down-to-earth teaching style have made him a popular speaker and workshop facilitator. He’s worked with world-famous healer Deepak Chopra as well as Mantak Chia, a widely revered Qigong expert. He is also a stress management consultant to top Silicon Valley corporations like Apple, 3Com, and Cisco, and has been the on-set wellness consultant for several Hollywood film productions.

Lee is a graduate of U.C., Berkeley, with a BA in Psychology. A Doctor of Chinese Medicine, he is a graduate of Five Branches Institute in Santa Cruz, a leading acupuncture college in the U.S.

Click here to visit Lee’s website.


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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 18: Qigong Global Summit and International Day of Peace Weekend