There are a number of practical steps you can take in everyday life to help keep your energy system balanced and healthy. It is important to prevent disease, not merely to wait until you have an ailment and then try to cure it. The traditional approach of Chinese medicine was to pay the doctor to keep you healthy and if you became ill the payments would cease until you were well again! The fundamental reason for doing the exercises in this book is to strengthen your internal power, immunity, and stamina so that you live a life of health as long as possible.
Your whole body functions with an extraordinarily complex central heating system. Obviously we are not talking about a collection of pipes, tubes, and wires. Each of us is alive thanks to a beautifully organized biological system with its own delicate feedback mechanisms. These are reacting simultaneously to both internal changes and those in the environment.
Taking care of yourself begins with careful maintenance of your biological engine. The common-sense advice that follows at the beginning of this chapter pays attention to your eating and drinking (the fuel), to your temperature (the regulation of internal heating), and to tension (which can so easily cause blockages in internal circulation). Some of the bad habits we fall into by adulthood and which harm our biological engines can be eased by the practice of Zhan Zhuang. These are described later in the chapter, on page 175; others are included to highlight the range of influences that can damage your health.
The Ba Duan Jin exercises for self treatment that are outlined in the rest of the chapter will improve respiratory disorders, digestion problems, conditions of your circulatory and nervous systems, and some of the common problems connected with your bones and joints.
When convalescing, adapt your Zhan Zhuang exercises as shown on pages 186-187 to ease any difficulties in holding the normal positions. Useful first aid tips complete the chapter.
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