Do you have physical tension or pain that you want to really heal? Do you want to develop a better relationship with your body? Do you want to feel like you have control over your health?
Last week I worked with a client who got me thinking about Vitality and it’s relationship to Qi. She is smart, creative, loving, focused, goal-oriented, interested in life, yet she just can’t get out of her rut. “I’m just tired,” she said. I could see it in her face, and after tuning in and allowing my self to be open to her deeper needs, I saw exactly what it was. Her Qi was “sleeping” – it was buried so far inside of her that it wasn’t available for her to use. She couldn’t access it. Thus she felt like she was constantly walking uphill… tired with a looong way to go.
I focused the session on “waking up her Qi.” Every part of her body that we worked on – my focus was to find and access her Qi and attempt to coax it out. I used a somewhat aggressive technique for much of the session, because my goal was to get her energy moving faster and up to the surface. The more Qi you have readily available, the more VITALITY you will feel in your everyday life.
Qi energy is like a river that runs throughout the whole universe. The ancient Chinese and Taoists describe it as “life force”. They believed that Qi permeates everything and links our surroundings together. Like the earth, our physical body is our very own “planet” with it’s own seasons of energy. These seasons are expressed into elements that each house a paired Yin and Yang organ. Yin energies rise from earth and store energy, they are the containers. Yang energies descend from heaven and expand into movement.
As a Shiatsu practitioner, I study and use the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine to balance the expressions of vital energy and treat things like pain, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, tension, injuries, and digestive dysfunction. These conditions are caused in some way by an imbalance in Qi energy. On a simple level, Qi imbalance involves having too much (excess) or too little (deficient.) To maintain health we need to be able to move, release, hold, replenish, and transform Qi. The Five Elements are the houses that show us what to do to create balance and restore function.
Wood energy rises in the spring and seeks movement, Fire energy expresses in the summer and seeks connection, Earth energy centers in the autumn and seeks nourishment, Metal energy descends in late fall and seeks cleansing, and Water energy rests in winter and seeks replenishment. My job is to find imbalance and restore the balance of these energies in the body – because when they are in balance, you will likely experience contentment and EASE.
Each element has a corresponding color, dominant emotion, balancing taste, smell, and sound. The emotions are easy to identify. Too much anger indicates a wood imbalance. Worry- earth. Fear- water. Grief – metal. Depression or mania- fire. Another indicator is organ function. Earth organs are the spleen (yin) and stomach (yang) and have to do with digestion. If you are experiencing digestive problems, there is sure to be an imbalance in earth. Adrenal fatigue is a common complaint that has to do with the Kidney and Bladder organs of water, which have to do with rest and rejuvenation. The heart has to do with circulation, and also extends into our close connections. If we are having trouble connecting, we look to the heart and work with the element of fire.
Start by sitting up straight, wherever you are. As you do, imagine that your palms and the bottoms of your feet are opening. Let vibration move into your palms and from the bottom of your feet into earth like roots. You can imagine actual roots entering earth and spreading out. Then open the top of your head, letting energy enter from heaven, move down through your head and neck into the torso, belly, hips, legs, feet and into the earth. Now imagine all of the edges of your body vibrating, allowing your cells to both release and receive energy. This tunes you into your energetic (Qi) body and connects you to that of the earth.
Keeping your Qi flowing is the key to Increase your Vitality. If you are feeling the pressure and frustration of deadlines and your to-do list, do some exercise! If you are having relationship troubles, make some time to connect with your own heart and listen to it’s needs and desires. For digestive difficulties, take time to cook your own food. Prepare simple and “sweet” foods, like rice and porridge with butter and honey; like you would for a baby. Not feeling inspired or able to let go? Make some homemade chai tea, go for a brisk walk, and clean your house (metal loves a clean house!) Finally, if you are feeling depleted, allow your self to rest and replenish in the best way for you. Maybe it’s shutting off the phone and cancelling plans. Read a book. Take a day to sit by the ocean (and walk in the water- all those minerals!) Or just find a way to get better sleep.
Do you want to learn more about the Five Elements and how they can help you experience VITALITY in your life?
I will be offering a lecture called “Creating Health with the Five Elements,” at the Herb Shoppe in Portland in September. Sign up HERE to my mailing list and make sure you get notified.