Maintaining your health

In addition to regular Zhan Zhuang practice, there are a number of straightforward steps you can take to keep your whole internal system in balance. These help to regulate the generation and flow of your energy.

KEEPING AN EVEN TEMPERATURE Don't let yourself become extremely cold or hot. When you go out in winter and summer, protect yourself from sustained exposure to temperature extremes. In summer, if you are very hot and sweaty from exercise, keep your clothes on until you can cool down naturally, wash, and change. Don't strip off and let all your perspiration evaporate in the air. When you are hot and thirsty, don't take ice-cold drinks. They may be pleasant in your mouth, but they are a tremendous shock to your digestive system. As a general principle, it is best never to drink them. You should drink liquids at room temperature or, for relaxation, hot water or hot tea.

CONTROLLING TENSION If you are doing a job that involves a lot of tension or concentration, be sure to take a break at least every two hours. Stop for five minutes and do the "energy wash" exercise described on page 145. It is essential to take such a break to allow your nervous system to calm down.

TIPS ON FOOD

In the morning, before breakfast, drink one or two glasses of pure or freshly filtered water at room temperature. The benefit of this to your system will be greatly enhanced by taking a spoonful of honey as well. Take it once a day, each morning before breakfast.

Never overeat. Never fill your stomach to its capacity at any one meal. Don't swallow your food rapidly; chew it thoroughly before swallowing. This makes it much easier for your stomach to digest. The Chinese way is to use aromatics (such as ginger, spring onions, and garlic) to help digestion, but not to use hot spices in cooking. Too many spices can cause digestive problems.

After eating, take a slow walk for a few minutes. Several small cups of hot Chinese tea (without milk) will also help to soothe your digestion.

RELAXATION BEFORE YOU SLEEP Before sleeping, spend a minute or two massaging your abdomen. This brings many benefits to your digestive system and other internal organs. Place one hand over the other on your belly and make 36 anticlockwise circles and then 36 clockwise circles. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down.

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