The question is chi: "If it's true that many health problems are caused (or partially caused) by blocked chi, could you explain chi and outline some beneficial ways to unblock chi?"
The answer: sure!
It's quite safe to agree that chi and health are intimately related. When your chi doesn't behave as it should, health is compromised. So while the exact language the reader used isn't the same language that I typically would, it is indeed a very relevant question.
What is chi? This is the Chinese-language term used to refer to what we would commonly call in English "life-force energy." The Japanese call it Ki and in India, it's Prana. You may wonder how it's possible to relate to such a strange-sounding word, but I promise that you know what life-force energy feels like.
Whenever you say something like this: "I feel drained today," what you really mean is that your energy is low. (Check back to the June 30 post for more on this.)
When you say, "I feel stuck in my life," what you really mean is that your energy is stagnant - or blocked, to use the reader's term. [Note to energy aficionados: stagnant and blocked are not identical states, it's true -- but they're close enough for this example -- ok?]
When you say, "I feel great today. I feel I could do anything!" what you mean is that your energy is flowing well at a high level.
It's really no bigger mystery than that.
While a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine could offer more detail than I will, we can get some great insight into the nature of our vital life-force energy by exploring the three states I mentioned. Typically ill health is related to insufficient energy or to energy that is congested, stagnant, or "blocked." Optimal health is associated with freely flowing bountiful energy.
Since the reader's specific question is about blocked energy, we'll explore that today.
Anything that creates movement can unblock your energy. Depending on the situation, you may wish to consult with a therapist or teacher to get you going in the right direction. Sometimes a therapist or teacher will be essential to your progress. Other things you can DIY. We'll explore some of each.
Here's a quick run-down of some favorite suggestions:
- Acupuncture is the classic answer to the reader's question. Ask any acupuncturist what the goal of their treatment is and I'll virtually guarantee that the words "move the chi" are going to pop out.
- Massage therapy can help you unblock chi. One benefit of massage therapy that nobody argues about is its ability to increase circulation.
- Any of the hands-on energy healing methods - Reiki, Healing Touch, and the like, will support you in getting your energy moving.
- Chiropractic is also great for unblocking chi (along with the joints of your spine) at the physical level.
- Walking, yoga, stretching, martial arts, and swimming can move your chi. Let's not forget that Tai Chi and Qigong are especially suited to moving and building chi. Look for whole-body exercise like these rather than heavy lower-body exercise (like biking) to get chi going. The upper body is often nearly starved for movement.
- Breathwork practice (an active, stimulating process - not the relaxation breathing you may think of at first) is an excellent chi-mover. One of the best I know. In fact, my own breathwork teacher, Dr. Jim Morningstar, gave a simple analogy you might enjoy. It's as though your core energy travels in a hose, similar to your garden hose. Imagine that your hose has a little chunk of debris in it - dirt, leaves, grass clippings, something like that. Then imagine that your breath turns up the pressure behind the block - breathing, breathing, breathing until finally your breath sets the block free and your energy moves again. It's a great visualization to use in your breathwork practice if mobile chi is on the agenda.
- Sex can really get your chi moving, provided it's respectful and consensual. Check out the practice of Tantra - a system for capitalizing on sexual energy.
- Clear any clutter out of your personal space - your yard, home, car, etc. Make sure the space under your bed is clear. Clean the closets and your junk drawers. Clear out the garage. Wash the windows and any mirrors you have around your space. Cut the grass if it needs it. Weed.
- Clear out mental debris as well. If you have a long list of things you "should probably get around to one day," make this the day and start. If you have strained relationships with family members, co-workers, or friends, come clean now. Apologize for your part in the allowing the misunderstanding to continue, even if you don't think the original incident was "your fault."
- Make a point to eliminate stagnant habits from your day to day lifestyle. Try a different route to work, get your groceries at a different store, re-arrange the living room, get a magazine about a subject that's completely new to you and read it, fix something different for dinner. Eat dessert first.
- Certain sounds are thought to clear the chi (Tibetan bowls, bells, tingsha, vocal toning) and the burning of aromatic herbs like sage, cedar, or frankincense may also help. Consult an essential oil text like the Essential Oils Desk Referencefor more information on moving chi with scent.
- Finally, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, probe your memory and your subconscious mind for any "hunches" you've been ignoring. There's no better way to become "blocked" than by ignoring your own intuition. If you've had the guidance to do something and you have yet to follow through, you've got no one to blame for the situation but yourself.
Thanks for the great question!
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Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health — or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!
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