It's interesting that my introduction to the concept of "energy work" and qigong came from the east, a Korean martial art called tong-il moo-do (The Unified Martial Art) and Chinese Healing Qigong Practices learned during recovery from cancer surgeries and radiation treatments.
Over time I have observed that my viewpoint on what qigong or "energy work" actually is has expanded dramatically. With sickness and a focus on healing , I tended to take a rather narrow view of my energy practice and it was very focused inward and emphasized the soft, flowing movements and deep breathing allowed by a weakened body.
Yet more and more I see the true definition of qigong is that it touches all aspects of life where the opportunity for energy creation exists. The food we eat, the relationships we make, the natural universe we live in, the books we read, the work we do, and the sports we play can offer tremendous energy to our lives if approached with a sense of preparation, observation and paying attention. We are constantly engaged in "energy work" in everything we do.
As a tennis enthusiast I must admit that the exhilaration, mind-body unity and "oneness" I feel after a satisfying tennis match is not dissimilar from a martial arts workout or qigong practice. Both Eastern qigong and Western sports offer this energy building ability within practitioners. Many speak of the meditative and healing aspects of their athletic practices whatever it might be (running, golf, skiing, bowling, archery etc.)
George Leonard in his groundbreaking book, The Ultimate Athlete, when describing his athletic practice opens us to this great possibility for energy creation through our involvement in sport and how that might impact our work as community builders: When my practice goes well, I am, if only for a short while, one with the universe. Within the one are heaven and earth and much more-not only friends and lovers but also the convict in solitary confinement, the dread enemy in the jungle-all part of me, all part of us. The time has come to ask about reconciliation, which starts not at some distant place but here, in my body and being and in yours.
For more discussion on the topic of community building and sport check out the Books/Inspiration Page.