Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Qi refers to life force or vital energy that flows throughout every living being. Various situations negatively impact the flow of Qi, causing it to become deficient or stagnant rather than remaining in a harmonious state. Without consciously realizing it, the energetic body picks things up throughout the day that need to be released, otherwise they build up and produce negative effects. This may manifest in feeling out of sorts, unusually fatigued or angry for no apparent reason. A current example is having to deal with the emotional, mental and physical distress stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Other causes of qi disharmony include: accidents, insufficient nutrition, extremes in temperature as well as a prolonged bouts of emotional imbalance such as depression.
Chinese medicine works to regain balance and wellness through cleansing, cultivating and renewing the flow of qi. It also works toward enhancing physical, energetic and spiritual development to produce balanced and vibrant health. Methods to accomplish this goal include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage and the Chinese exercises of Qigong and Tai Chi. This ancient healing system offers treatments and self-help tools to establish and maintain harmonious flow of qi. It helps you become more fully present in your body and provides the body with the impetus to come back into a place of homeostasis. This is quite helpful for finding the willfulness and strength to overcome challenges, even during an existential crisis like we are presently facing.
Performing a daily cleansing exercise is important to rebalance the system, just as a bath or shower cleanses the physical body. A simple Qigong exercise to accomplish this can be done in a seated or standing position. Do so with feet flat on the floor, spine upright and crown of head gently suspended upward. Begin by mentally scanning your body to locate blockages, constraint and toxicity lodged within the energetic body. Then move both hands as if they are feathers from top of the head down to the toes. Upon doing so, apply the mind to gather up these blockages and whisk them from your system downward into the earth. It is helpful to exhale or emit a sound such as “haah” or “shoo” as they are released from the body.
Taking a long walk by the ocean is another activity that can help with detoxification and renewal. Walk at a slow pace and notice the continual shifting of weight from one foot to the other. This naturally balances the energetic forces of yin and yang within your body – as the foot with more weight is yang and the one with less weight is yin. Apply the mind to strengthen these energetic variations and know that this is bringing qi flow back into harmony. Then stop for a moment and gaze out over the ocean into the horizon. Next take three slow deep breaths into the belly. Upon inhalation fill the belly with vibrant energy and on exhalation release blocked or toxic qi down through the body and into the sand. The fresh air is revitalizing to the lungs and deep belly breathing helps to build qi reserves, strengthen digestive function and oxygenate the blood.
You may also visit an acupuncturist who will provide a healing and balancing treatment to bring qi flow back into balance. This may include a point combination called “Four Gates” which is highly effective for detoxification purposes. They may also recommend an herbal formulation to disperse and drain toxins from the body. Eating a clean and balanced diet filled with fresh and organic vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits and small amounts of fish, chicken or beef is further helpful. And most definitely limit or eliminate consumption of dairy, refined sugar, fried foods, sodas and alcohol. A mono fast one day per week is also indicated for cleansing the body and rebalancing qi flow. Upon doing so during the winter months it is best to eat brown or white basmati rice along with drinking purified water throughout the day.
Dry skin brushing is another way to cleanse the body of unwanted toxins. Do so by gently rubbing the body with a dry loofah followed by taking a hot shower to open up the pores. Take time during this daily cleansing ritual to listen carefully to your body and heed its warnings. Make a commitment to honor your thoughts and feelings and begin the day anew with the intention to treat your body with loving kindness and provide it with exactly what it needs rather than ignoring its callings. Be creative and dive into new ways to move your body, clear your mind, nurture your spirit and keep your vital energy flowing. Search out fun exercise classes on Zoom, read an inspirational book and reach out to friends virtually whenever possible. View each day as an opportunity to make choices that help you feel healthier. This paves the way for your authentic self to emerge – filled with deeper meaning and a clearer life purpose.
Shoshanna Katzman, L.Ac., M.S. is an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and director of Red Bank Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Shrewsbury, NJ for over thirty years. She is author of Qigong for Staying Young: A Simple 20-Minute Workout to Cultivate Your Vital Energy (visit www.qigong4.us) and co-author of Feeling Light: The Holistic Solution to Permanent Weight Loss and Wellness. Shoshanna has taught tai chi and qigong for over 45 years and is a 6th generation lineage holder of the Guang Ping Yang Style Tai Chi Form. She is offering qigong and tai chi instruction via Zoom and outdoors weather permitting.
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