I find it exciting that so many of the stress-reduction techniques for body-mind-spirit that have become popular include teachings about the importance of postural alignment for your health. When we work to align ourselves on every level, from physical to emotional to mental to spiritual, I believe we open an enormous well-spring of resources.
One of the very earliest practices to work with this concept is Qigong(also spelled many other ways, including Chi Kung). Based on Taoist principles to cultivate life force energy or qi (chi) and dating back, some say, up to 5000 years in China, qigong includes energy work, breath work, meditations, Taoist yoga, healing, and martial arts.
Both in my work and in my book, The Way of Joy, I explore some of the themes from these ancient Taoist practices, as I look at the lessons we can receive from that I call “The Three Realms of Consciousness”—Heaven, Human, and Earth.
These three realms (related to three energy centers called the triple tan tien in Traditional Chinese Medicine) are primary portals to our connection to the universe and our experience in life. How we access and use the energy in each of these realms constitutes the basis for much of Chi Kung. In short, the Heaven realm contains consciousness and inspiration, the Human realm contains intention and love, and the Earth realm incorporates empowerment and manifestation.
When you can feel your feet on the ground (Earth realm), your head in the sky (Heaven realm), and allow your chest and heart to relax (Human realm), I think you’ll be amazed how quickly you can pivot your energy to optimal capacity.
Are there times when you’ve felt the power of aligning your mind, heart and actions?
During these last few weeks of 2011, I’ve been pushing to Get Things Done—tying up loose ends, trying to complete unfinished projects, lay out plans for the year to come. All those good end-of-the-year activities that seem So Very Important.
However, in the metaphoric way my body likes to protest my “mind-not-quite-succeeding-being-over–matter,” I’ve also experienced back spasms, a sprained shoulder, smushed thumb, and a torqued knee. As I described in a vlog a few weeks ago, I slammed my thumb in a car door in a mindless flurry of activity. This was after straining my shoulder in an overenthusiastic workout. In the last couple of days, in a fit of denial that I’m not in the same shape I was when I was a fitness instructor in my 20s, I pushed myself into a back spasm trying to do a stretch faster and further than was right for the present moment.
So I have to ask myself what my body is trying to tell me. (I know what I’ve been trying to tell my body, to no avail, “C’mon Let’s GO!!”)
I believe that these physical “mistakes,” where I’ve ignored “where I am” in the miasma of an idealized “where I should be,” are related to how I experience power—trying to Feel, it, Prove it, or generally Muscle my way through it. Now you might think that after 40+ years of practicing qigong, t’ai chi, and yoga, I’d remember that this might not be the optimal way to accomplish my intention. Embarrassing to admit, really.
My injuries are all healing remarkably quickly, ie a back spasm that used to take 2 months to heal has completely reversed itself in two days. But Still. As I set my intentions and work to create my Best Year Yet, I think I’d better remember the image of becoming one with the vast river of flow that is one aspect of Tao. This seems wiser more sane than the kind of Conquer and Deliver attitude I appear to have adopted lately.
Last year, I wrote about the importance of releasing fear for 2011. This year, as I enter 2012, I am invoking the spirit of one of my early T’ai Chi Ch’uan teachers, Dr. Franklin Kwong, now deceased. Week after week, he demonstrated how to feel and use power differently, with a sense of lightness and joy instead of urgency and heaviness. My New Year’s wish is that I carry the touch of his teachings in my awareness once again so I can drop the burdens of “should” to express the possibilities of “shall”.
Have you ever experienced your own power “lightly”?
Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy: An Evolutionary Process to Awaken Inspiration, Focus Intention and Manifest Fulfillment, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.
Do you ever wonder why one person might seem to have “good vibes” while someone else puts out “bad” ones? Do you sometimes feel, despite your best efforts, like you are just plain feeling negative? Ok maybe not you, but how about someone you know?
Explosion of positive energy. Photo by Łukasz Strachanowski
When our bodies, thoughts, feelings and behavior are aligned, our good energy becomes contagious. The practice of Qigong offers a powerful tool that restores and enhances that positive energy called wei qi.This is a kind of protective energy that is, in essence, open, expansive, and assertive, as though you are so surrounded by positive qi that the negative or draining becomes irrelevant.
What do you tend to do when you are around someone who brings you down? And how do you bring your energy back up when you feel like you are sinking into overwhelm, anxiety, depression or stress?
Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy: An Evolutionary Process to Awaken Inspiration, Focus Intention and Manifest Fulfillment, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.