Alleviating depression

1.Place the right hand on the left side of the chest while placing your left on your back.

2. Move your right hand in a downwards stroke to finish at your waist. Breathe in as you do so.

Repeat several times.

Chapter 5 Postnatal and Prenatal Qi

The secret energy users EATING AND DRINKING

Before we start, perhaps I should explain that the terms I use in the chapter title have nothing whatsoever to do with having babies -they refer to different kinds of energy! ...If you were to ask a friend or work colleague, 'How do you get the energy that you need to live?', assuming of course that he was an 'ordinary' person who knew nothing about health exercises and Qigong, he would answer, 'From eating and drinking.'

That's the right answer- for the ordinary person. Of course without food you will die within about twenty days and without water in a much shorter time. So eating and drinking are very important for everyone. But did you know that we pay a price for eating and drinking? I don't mean in terms of money, but in terms of energy.

Have you noticed that after a meal you often feel tired and sleepy? This is because most of the energy in your body goes to your stomach to digest the food. As a result your brain loses energy, your mind is not as clear, and you feel sleepy. The same is true of what we drink. Only pure water is absorbed directly; from other liquids, such as supermarket soft drinks and alcohol, the body has to separate out the beneficial elements and eliminate the negative ones. Even something healthy like fresh fruit juice cannot be absorbed directly to become part of us. So whenever we eat or drink, we need to use our energy our Qi.

BREATHING

Take another case -breathing. Now breathing is a very important way of getting energy. Indeed, if you stop breathing for just a couple of minutes you will die. But it too can 'cost energy' because your body has to separate out the good from the bad. Of course, if you are in the countryside surrounded by trees and mountains, by a river or on a grassy plain with just the sky above, the pure fresh air you inhale will not cost you anything in energy terms. But most people live or work in cities which are polluted, for instance by cars emitting carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Factories and offices contain machines and air conditioning systems which release a lot of heat and negative air. Even at home we are surrounded by electricity cables, computers, televisions, radios and cigarette smoke.

All this radiation, carbon monoxide and other 'artificial elements' around us damages our bodies. But this is the air or energy that we inhale into our lungs and which is stored in our kidneys. In Chinese medicine we say that the lungs inhale the energy, while the kidneys store the energy. Those elements from the air we breathe which enter our bloodstream stay in our liver, because the liver stores blood and helps to transfer it, with its nutritional contents, to the other organs and the brain as well. So the bad air we breathe damages the entire body, not just one part. This is a different concept from that of Western medicine. In Chinese medicine the whole body is interconnected and everything must be balanced.

So if we take negative air into the body, the kidneys have to work on it to eliminate the negative parts and pass them out, as do the lungs and the skin. And all this work needs to use energy. So if we are in a place that does not have enough fresh air, it will make us tired. A lot of elderly people like to stay at home, particularly in the winter; they are afraid of the cold. So they keep the heating on and the windows shut, burning the oxygen out of the air. Then they fall asleep. As a result they find themselves getting even more tired a?d weak. But they think this is just a normal condition of old age. Even doctors tell them, 'Oh, that's only to be expected at your age. Just get more rest and you will be all right.' But basically what they are missing is the main source of energy -fresh air! The best thing to do is to open windows for a couple of minutes in the morning and evening to allow the house to breathe. You may even save on your heating bill because fresh air warms up more quickly than stale air!

SLEEP

Every night we come home after a hard day at work or after socialising with friends and feel tired. We think sleep can recharge our energy, and so we go to bed. Yes, sleep is rest -and without enough sleep you will become ill. But did you know that sleep too uses up energy?

Sometimes when you wake up in the morning you will still feel tired and sleepy. This is because there is a right and a wrong way to sleep, and you have picked the wrong way. If at night you just lie down on your bed without any preparation, you are not sleeping you are collapsing! And when you lie down and close your eyes it does not necessarily mean you are resting. Your brain is still working, thinking, creating pictures and the images of your dreams, and you are still using energy.

However, if you meditate before going to bed, you will be in a relaxed state. In meditation there are two kinds of images created by the mind. The first will take our energy and affect our state of calmness and balance; these are called distracting thoughts, for example thoughts about your work, your family, your plans etc. The others come naturally, and you might see pictures of trees, flowers, people and so on that make you feel peaceful and relaxed. Spontaneous thoughts of this kind will help your mind and your energy to develop.

Further energy can be wasted through bad posture when sleeping. If your body is in the wrong position some of the channels or veins will be blocked, causing poor circulation. Your dreams may become very strange and even nightmarish. When you wake up in the middle of the night you might find that your hands are on your chest, putting pressure on your heart, or maybe that you have been sleeping on your side in a posture that compressed the lungs, causing a breathing problem. So some sleeping positions cause problems for your energy flow, and the following day you will feel tired and stiff in your neck, back or shoulders. Your energy will always go to any part of the body that is blocked or suppressed, to try to bring it back to normal. The best sleeping posture is lying on your back with a pillow to support your head, legs slightly apart and arms loosely by your side, i.e. a similar position to that used in lying meditation.

When you want to go to sleep you need to prepare your mind and body. Take some fresh air, or just close your eyes for a while. The best preparation is a combination of Qigong and meditation. This will allow you to have a good night's sleep and wake up refreshed, because your body and mind will be balanced and this will reveal your body's true condition. When you practise Qigong regularly, it may well enable you to tell whether you are tired and need to sleep or if you are still in strong spirit.

Postnatal Qi

The energy we get from eating, drinking, sleeping and breathing and you now know how to optimise the energy acquired in these ways -is known as Postnatal Qi. The ancient text known as The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine mentions the Jing of water and grain -Jing is sexual energy or gene energy. Breathing and sleeping we designate as Qi from the air.

Postnatal Qi is the energy that comes to you, as its name suggests, after you are born. You need this energy to maintain your life -like a seed in the ground, which needs light and water otherwise the plant will not grow.

To acquire Postnatal Qi we need to work -in other words, we need to use energy in order to get more energy. When you cannot afford any more energy you will become ill and have to rely on other things -medicines from the West or East, acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage and so on. And when these can no longer help, you will have come to the end of life's road.

Prenatal Qi

There is, however, another kind of energy that you will not have used up even at this stage. Prenatal Qi or True Qi, which is hidden in the centre of your body, the Dantien, comes from your parents (see also Chapter 4).

The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine describes in its first chapter our Original Qi or True Qi. We grow up from our parents' Qi -Yang which comes from the father, Yin from the mother. Yin and Yang Qi come together, become one and creat~nother Qi. This is True Qi (Original or Prenatal Qi), which will grow every day by absorbing Postnatal Qi like food, water, air and sleep. This True Qi from your parents is like a seed. A seed needs to take nutrients from the soil, air, water and sunlight (in other words, Postnatal Qi)

SOUTH

NORTH

Wen Wang Bagua (Postnatal Bagua)

NORTH

Chien (Heaven)

Chien (Heaven)

Kan (Water)

Chen (Thunder)

(Earth)

Kan (Water)

Chen (Thunder)

w Ken (Mountain)

(Earth)

Fu Qi Bagua (Prenatal Bagua)

to grow into a big tree. But to do so, this small seed must contain powerful Prenatal energy.

Basically, whether you are strong or weak, healthy or unhealthy, depends on your Original Qi -whether your parents gave you a healthy body with strong internal organs and a strong skeleton.

FEMALE ENERGY THROUGHOUT LIFE

The Huangdi Neijing says female energy takes seven years for each stage of development. Normally when a girl reaches the age of seven her kidneys start to develop and so her teeth begin to change and her hair grows. This is all because her Original Qi (which is stored at the centre of the body and is related to the kidneys) starts to 'work'.

When she reaches fourteen, her Tin Kwai begins to develop. This is our generative power, for having babies and sex. The Ren (front) Channel and Chong Channel (the centre channel, inside the body) become strong, to allow the womb to develop. So her menstruation starts and she can have babies.

At twenty-one, her kidneys are strong and the wisdom teeth grow teeth, hair and kidneys are all connected. They are signs of a person's health and how strong their energy is. She is also fully grown.

At twenty-eight she is fully developed. The body has reached its peak. Hair, muscles, bones and the shape of her body become mature. Also her brain is fully developed and mature.

Coming up to thirty-five, the Yangming Channels (the Large In~estine Channel of Hand Yangming, and the Stomach Channel of Fo~t Y angming), both of which pass through the face, become weak. So her face begins to look tired and some hair is lost. This means that her energy, having come up to the top, begins to drop back down again, becomirlg weaker.

At forty-two the three Yang Channels (the Large Intestine Channel of Hand Yangming, the Stomach Channel of Foot Yangming, and the Small Intestine Channel of Hand Taiyang) become weak. This causes the face to dry and the hair to turn grey.

At forty-nine the Ren Channel becomes empty, losing its Qi. The Chong Channel too becomes weak, losing its blood and its Qi. This causes the Tin Kwai to stop, so her menstruation ceases and now she can no longer have babies. Also the body and face start to look old.

MALE ENERGY THROUGHOUT LIFE

For men the changes in their development come every eight years and the development ends later than for women. In a boy of eight the kidneys start to 'work', producing more hair, and the milk teeth change.

At sixteen the Qi of the kidneys becomes strong and so puberty starts, releasing sperm. Thus his Tin K wai starts to work. The Yin and Yang Qi inside the body become strong and balanced, and from this moment he can father a child.

When he reaches twenty-four his kidneys are very strong. The muscles and skeleton have become stronger, and he now has his wisdom teeth.

At thirty-two the body is fully developed. It reaches its full height, and the muscles and bones are fully developed.

Forty is the time when a man's .body begins to run down. The kidney Qi becomes weak, and so he begins to lose hair and teeth.

At forty-eight the Yang Qi in the body becomes weak. Tiredness and greyness show in the face.

At fifty-six the kidneys become weak and this affects the liver. In the Five Elements of Chinese philosophy (see Chapter 4) the kidneys are water and the liver is wood. Water supports wood, and so if water is lost then wood becomes weak. The body then becomes stiff, as the muscles lose their flexibility.

At sixty-four the kidneys have decayed and Tin K wai stops, so there is no sperm. Many teeth are lost, and a lot of hair. The body us become old.

Daily Qigong practice keeps your channels open and healthy thus Jowing down the ageing process. You can continue to enjoy good 1ealth and vitality as you grow older.

Achieving balance

When your body comes to balance, your Prenatal Qi will come :hrough. This energy can keep you forever -it lasts throughout your Jie and can develop your hidden potential.

So how can we come to balance? You have to bring your body to . 1 point between consciousness and unconsciousness, when you are neither awake nor collapsed. By practising Qigong you first reach a level of relaxation, then you come to the balanced state that will open your Prenatal Qi. At first you find your body relaxes. Then you become used to the exercise and you come to a point where you can do the movements without thinking -where you can forget everything, even yourself!

Your whole body becomes quiet and you do not even notice your breathing, which slows down and seems to stop. This means you begin to breathe with your skin, through your acupuncture points. Now your body becomes part of the universe and you can recharge your energy.

You will feel strong sensations flowing down the Front (Ren) Channel, through the Huiyin point (the acupuncture point between the two legs) and then going up through the Back (Du) Channel. The sensation may be warm and tingling, and you might see colours around your body and fingers. Whatever sensations you feel, treat them as normal. The main thing is that you are in the balanced state, whether you are meditating or performing movement; this will promote your Prenatal Qi.

THE EFFECTS OF DEVELOPING YOUR PRENATAL QI

When your Prenatal Qi has developed, you might see the colours of Qi: red, green, yellow, black, purple, and so on, just as mentioned before about the original image of Qi. It is something that you might feel, smell or see. The colours you see, basically, come from the five major organs in the body: red comes from the heart, green from the liver, yellow from the spleen and black or purple from the kidneys. Other organs such as the stomach, intestines, gall bladder and so on are connected to those five. You will see colour either in the skin of yourself or another, or in the energy field surrounding a person, which Westerners call the 'aura'.

When your Prenatal Qi becomes very highly developed you may be able to heal others (see Chapter 6). But always remember that however your potential and energy come out, they must develop naturally. The Chinese say, 'Follow nature and live. Go against nature and you will be eliminated.' When your potential develops, take it easy. Being healthy is the most important thing of all.

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