Common Misconceptions of Qigong and other energy practices:
Misconception: It is about 'zoning out' or 'spacing out'
Fact: It is quite the opposite, it is about Zoning IN. When Qigong is practiced one brings their attention INward. This doesn't mean that one is running away or escaping into their dreams or fantasies. It is about getting IN tune with what is happening inside and how it relates to the outside. Specifically, it is about clearing the mind and relaxing the body. When this happens, one taps INto a natural state whose physiology reflects a healing state of recovery. The result is clarity of mind, mental sharpness, higher energy levels, and a strengthened body.
Misconception: Qigong practitioners are 'health freaks':
Fact: Qigong brings numerous health benefits but not all practitioners do it purely for health reasons. In Qigong practice health is the foundation. Why is it the foundation? Because without a stable and strong base of health one should not progress further in practice to higher levels.
These 'higher levels' include the further development/optimisation of the internal energy system such that the practitioner is able to perceive (and manipulate/work with) more and more subtle energies. This is extremely useful for instructing others in Qigong, healing others, internal martial arts practice and useful for general, everyday life. Basically, Qigong changes and enhances the way you perceive the world. It is Life-changing.
Misconception: Qigong is for old and frail people
Fact: Qigong is good for anyone. The reason older people gravitate toward it is because it is a very low risk activity in terms of suffering injuries. The reason young people are often not attracted to it is because it doesn't look very exciting (Note: Experienced Qigong practitioners will tell you it is VERY interesting and exciting). The movements are simple and easy to learn and do not require great physical strength. On the outside it doesn't look like much is happening but if you were able to take a peek into the inside, the story is far, far more interesting.
The reason the movements are gentle is not because they are designed for people who are frail. It is because gentleness of movement is directly related to the fundamental mechanism to 'activate' or make the Qigong movements work. Just doing the movements is not enough because each Qigong movement/exercise has two components: External and Internal. The external is related to learning and memorising the movement patterns. Once this is done, one can then bring more focus to the inside and start sensing how the exercise affects the subtle energy movements and channels in the body.
Optimising the body's subtle energy system is like having a direct access to the blueprint of the body's physiological functions. The way to learn how to do this is by RELAXING. For Qigong to work and for you to be able to unravel the fascinating world of energy you need to learn to open the body, calm your mind and relax. This relaxation is not about becoming a blob, this relaxation brings powerful activation to one's whole being.
Conclusion: Qigong is a very versatile art which can be used for health, martial art or spiritual reasons (or all at once). It is often misunderstood because it is an 'internal' practice and to someone observing from the outside it can be hard to full appreciate it.
If you have decided to practice Qigong and are looking from the inside, be patient because even when looking from the inside, it can be difficult initially to understand how to perform Qigong properly. Keep up your personal practice and you will no longer feel like you are looking from the 'outside' even though you're trying to look to the 'inside'. Then, soon, enough, you will 'see' (feel). Then there's no going back!