San Diego Edition

Qigogn for Veterans

Why Do They Love Getting High?

Todd Nichols says he’ll never forget the first time he taught at a veteran’s hospital. “I was taken into a locked room and the door was quickly shut behind me. One vet in a wheel chair was trying to escape. Chairs were full of sand so they couldn’t be thrown. Doctors and social workers were coming in during my class and interrupting. Many veterans were medicated and dealing with obvious challenges. Some appeared physically fine, but their mind waged an emotional war inside. One large man, in a state of shock, sat staring straight ahead while making a lowpitched sound. To say that this direct exposure to the mental health struggles of veterans was enlightening would be an understatement,” he says.

After sharing qigong at the veteran’s hospitals for the past five years, he came to realize that the biggest challenge in teaching veterans qigong is to gain their trust. “Veterans immediately want to know if you’re one of them. In the beginning this was unnerving. An individual who never wore their uniform cannot understand what they endured,” says Nichols.

However, Nichols notes that when vets do qigong breathing in a group, trust issues and whether he is a vet or not becomes less important. Old mind patterns are temporarily bypassed as the feeling of qi is so strong that it gives a natural high. Many veterans report this has been invaluable to replace harmful addictions. “In fact, my VA teacher’s position actually came from a referral from Westcare of St. Petersburg, Florida, a 98-bed mental health and substance abuse center. Some vets I met at the VA also ended up in drug rehab and therefore they saw me at both places,” he shares.

Recovering heroin addicts need a powerful approach and Nichols realized early on that it was important to wow them immediately with qigong. “I needed to make a memorable, quick and powerful statement. My grand slam is the Breath-Empowerment and the 9-Breath Method exercises. I draw them in and challenge them to take huge breaths, swallow it and hold it in their belly. A crammed room becomes momentarily silent, then come the smiles followed by scattered giggles,” he explains.

Nichols loves to see his students’ resistance turn to wonder. “They tell me ‘wow, I feel electricity, and my body is warm and tingling.’ Without the breathing tools many would give up before benefiting from the immense healing rewards,” he says.

Todd Nichols has actively shared qigong and Power Breathing at veteran facilities for five years with outstanding results. According to Nichols, anger and alcoholism are the norm for veterans and he is breaking through those barriers by getting them high naturally. His insights as a Heroic Qigong teacher are profound.

Qi Revolution comes to the Anaheim Convention Center August 19 to 21. This two day, one night training is only $99 for the public. Free for firefighters, police and military service members. For more information, call 800-298- 8970 or visit

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