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Qi Movement and Longevity

What better teacher is there than nature to teach us about how to cultivate a deeper understanding of our lives? The seasons, each with their own beauty, come upon us without any control of our own, and force us, yes force us, into a new and different experience. From the new experience, which is never the same from year to year, we may meet life with a fresh new perspective that has been developed over the past year, and hopefully we will be in harmonious relationship to life as it relates back to us. This process of adjusting to change may be most obviously observed during the change of seasons, as we consciously or unconsciously adjust our relationship to nature in order to find comfort, ease and well-being. That being so, it is in fact the moment-to-moment practice of being aware of how we are relating to life, and observing how our mind reacts to all circumstances, that offers us the profound opportunity to create the transformations that can lead to freedom in our bodies and in our lives.

In observing your relationship to life, the simple question to ask is: Am I resisting or allowing? From there, take an inventory of how each experience feels in your body. Usually allowing feels light and free while resistance feels tight and constricted or perhaps anxious and scared. Everyone feels the sensations differently and in different parts of the body.

The most simple, most basic teaching of Acupuncture is that free flow equals health and vitality, while stuck flow equals discomfort and disease. What is it that’s flowing? Qi. What is Qi? Movement, activation, stimulus, function. Our hearts beat because there is an impulse of energy to activate the cardiac muscle. This is Qi at it’s best. Qi is not one “thing”, but rather the variety of ways our body moves. It’s incredible to think about all of the cellular transactions going on in every moment of our existence, and then to ask, ‘how is this all happening?’. 'Where is the impulse coming from?' For now, we can attribute it to Qi, although of course we then must address where Qi is coming from, and that would require hours over several pots of tea.

So, if we know that life and vitality are the result of free flow, and we begin to take an inventory of how often we are in resistance to life versus allowance of life, we may get a good estimate of the state of our health, and what we might expect as we age. Our mind has a profound effect on our bodies, and it’s not so much the big traumatic moments that have the biggest impact. It’s the moment-to-moment experiences that add up, which is why it’s so important to pay attention. Having resistance is not necessarily bad. In fact, sometimes it's an important part of our growth. It's there for a reason! However, we must be aware of the process and open to the learning and understanding that is available through it. This can be as simple as saying "I feel resistance. What can I learn from this", which is quite different than saying "I feel resistance, I don't like it and I need it to go away." The latter will result in an increase in resistance instead of a move through it. You must move through it in order to achieve a state of health.

In the spirit of the FALL season, which begins a turn inward, I encourage you to start a silent practice. Nothing could be more simple than taking five minutes out of your day to do an inventory on how you feel, if and where you have resistance, and then breathing into that space with gentleness and love. Once this becomes a daily habit, you will start to be more present in your daily activities, and thus more in control of your health and your longevity.

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