Qigong and the Zeigarnik Effect

by Marcus on August 30, 2011

In the 1920’s a Russian psychologist called Bluma Zeigarnik was sat in a cafe with her supervisor.

Whilst sat people watching they noticed a very curious phenomenon.

When a customer asked for the bill, the waiters could easily recall what the customer had ordered.

But just a few moments later, after the bill had been paid, the waiter would struggle to remember what the order was.

It was as if the payment had closed an unfinished loop and erased it from memory.

Back in the lab, Zeigarnik found that unfinished tasks stuck in peoples minds and so were easier to remember.

It seems that unfinished, or ‘open loop’ activities cause a sense of mental anxiety. Only when the activity is finished can the mind let go and relax.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of ‘Lost‘ you’ve been exposed to this effect. Did you notice how they showed you snippets from the next episode. Snippets that would leave you thinking:

“I’ve got to find out what happens next!”

So, what does this have to do with your Qigong training?

Simply this.

The next time you don’t feel like doing your training, just persuade yourself to do it for a few minutes. Tell yourself that you’re going to stand up and enter a QSoM – and that’s it.

Thanks to the Zeigarnik effect you’re very likely to find that this initial activity will create a situation where you refuse to rest until your Qigong is finished.

Try it and let me know how you get on.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jackie September 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Hi Marcus,
This is a great tool! It’s a technique I have used for a long time – just sort of stumbled upon it. Now, it is one of the first things I share with a Qigong class when we are talking about motivation.


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