Energy circulation in the body is probably the most important factor in maintaining good health. When illness strikes, it is usually the result of an imbalance in the body that has been going on for some time. Inflammation and congestion are known causes of many modern ailments and are the result of poor energy circulation. Cardiovascular health is a top priority in fitness regimens, as is body mass index, but the slimmest, fittest person I know was recently found dead in a ditch, following a massive coronary attack whilst on a bicycle ride. Intense aerobic exercise is not always the best option and often ignores body types and constitutions. Energy circulation acknowledges the importance of overall health and fitness but approaches it with a different emphasis – nurturing the body rather than seeing it as a challenge to be overcome.
How can I use energy circulation?
There are many techniques and practices that help to circulate energy through the body. Most involve physical movement of some kind and, essentially, all employ the mind. There is a very close correlation between mind and energy. Borrowing from Taoist thought, yi (mind) leads the qi (energy). If the mind is tense, so too is the body. The natural state of the mind is openness but past conditioning and innumerable emotions create tension in most of us. Letting go of these is a gradual process and is a key component in allowing qi to flow through us, so promoting health and vitality. Meditation is one very useful practice; qigong is another. Tai chi (taiji) can be thought of as combining the two in a system of slow martial arts moves.
A simple qigong exercise
- Stand with the feet apart and back straight. (Alternatively, sit upright.) Lift the head slightly, as though you are lengthening the neck. Place the tip of the tongue lightly on the hard palate, just behind the teeth. Breathe slowly.
- Bring the hands to a few inches in front of the chest, as though holding an orb of light, with the fingers pointing upwards.
- Breathe in and imagine the orb expanding, pushing the hands apart a little. As you exhale, close the hands, shrinking the orb to its original size.
- Continue doing this for at least a couple of minutes and then lower the hands and rest them on the lower abdomen, just below the navel, for about half a minute.
This is a wonderful start to the practice of energy circulation.
For a free guided meditation on circulating energy, go here.
Other free meditations.
More information on health and energy in my book on happiness.