There have always been tales and legends of an elixir that brings everlasting youthfulness. These are matched by stories of the fruitless attempts to find it. Even today, consumers spend vast sums on countless products in the hope that using them will make them as fresh and young as a new daisy in the morning dew. But daisies, you may have noticed, don’t stay fresh and young for very long. Perhaps some creams and serums do give a temporary lift of some sort or the other. Or maybe it is just seductive marketing.
Rather than searching for the latest exotic substances to eat or drink or rub in our skin, maybe we already have what we need: qi (chi). This is our natural energy and it is influenced hugely by the mind.
Qi is strengthened or weakened by our thoughts
How the mind affects the body and our sense of well-being is quite extraordinary. A mind that is aggressive, for example, will cause the body to wear out more quickly than one that is calm. If we are in a negative state – worrying or fearful perhaps – notice how our sense of well-being takes a nosedive. Our thoughts have a very definite affect on the body’s responses.
The mind and its reactions to everyday life are the cause of most of our troubles. However they play out, stress and tension arise in the mind. Like a spiral, negative thinking always produces more negative thoughts. So any product we buy off the shelf is unlikely to provide the cure. If we want to improve our sense of wellbeing, we must look after the mind.
Is qi the elixir?
When our qi is strong and balanced, we have vitality. But what can we make of tales of an elixir? If the mind is the cause of producing many of the body’s ageing compounds, it must also be capable of maintaining, or at least prolonging, a more youthful state.
The Chinese regard qi, the vital energy of the body, as an elixir. They talk of a centre in the abdomen just below the navel, the lower dan tian, as being the ocean of elixir. Qi can build up very strongly in the dan tian. There are hundreds if not thousands of specific exercises (qigong, sometimes written chi kung) that can help to increase qi. This energy can then flow through the body and the internal organs, revitalising them.
Apart from the physical movements and breathing, the mind is also very important in this process. An exercise carried out with full awareness can increase the flow of qi enormously. The same exercise done inattentively or carelessly will have far less of an effect.
Rejuvenation: being younger for longer
People with strong, well-balanced qi tend to maintain strength, vitality and mobility for much longer than those whose qi is poor. Mind, body and breath can together build up our energy and improve the quality of life. This increase of energy and quality of life is sometimes attributed to a substance or elixir that is produced within the body. At a physical or clinical level, this substance may simply be the product of enzymes, hormones and biochemicals secreted by various glands. Whatever it is, how we think seems to hold the key to staying younger for longer.
Read much more on this in Awakening Heart: The Blissful Path to Self-Realisation