With so much health information online, it can often feel overwhelming to figure out what you should do to stay healthy and thrive. Diet, exercise, vitamins, herbs, different healing modalities, and even water can present a plethora of choices. If you want to know the best way to optimize your health and vitality, follow three simple guiding principles.
When you look at things with these three principles in mind, everything becomes easy. You have a simple way to move in the direction of health and wellness.
Earlier this year, I was carded at the supermarket by someone much younger than me. I was buying a single serving sized bottle of white wine to cook with. When the cashier asked to see my ID, I laughed out loud and said, “I haven’t been asked in a while.”
She mistook my response as a sign of being deeply offended. Maybe she thought I was upset because I was now old ENOUGH to buy liquor. As she looked at my driver’s license, I casually remarked, “I was wondering if I was starting to look my age.” She sheepishly replied, “No, not at all.”
Many of the visitors to my blog also assume I’m younger than the number of years I’ve been on this planet. In one webinar, I made a joke about David Carradine’s character in the Kung Fu TV series. A reader emailed and asked how I had heard about Kung Fu as I was clearly too young to have seen the show.
Another reader commented that I’m probably too young to remember dial-up modems. Hello! I remember phones with dials! I also had a 14,400 bit modem and shelled out close to $200 for 28,800bps. When speeds hit 56K, I thought that was blisteringly fast!
Here’s a recent photo that I snapped about two weeks ago. I was taking a test shot to make sure I was in the center of the screen before shooting a video. That’s why I’ve got a cheesy smile. Did you know I turn 50 next year? Yes. Five. Zero. Fifty years old.
Is my youthful appearance due to good genes? While I gotta give credit where credit is due, being Asian, I’ve always looked younger than my age. However, genes only take you so far for so long. When you head into your forties, what I’ve observed is that diet, lifestyle and attitude have a huge impact on how you age.
I mention this because even though I’m healthy today, I didn’t start out this way. As a kid, I was severely underweight, had childhood pneumonia twice, and was not very physically active.
In my twenties and early thirties, I had an extremely stressful career that negatively affected my health and well-being. It wasn’t until my body completely broke down that I started making significant changes. I believe wholeheartedly that it was these changes that led me to robust health in my late thirties and beyond.
The reason why I’m telling you about my health is because I have a guiding principle about advice, which is, “If you’re going to take advice from someone, take it from someone who is successful at what they’re giving advice about.”
For example, if you want to invest your money, get advice from someone who is financially successful, not someone who is in debt. If you want to find your life parter, get advice from someone in a happy marriage, rather than from a person who has been divorced three times.
If you want to live a healthy and vibrant life, take health advice from people who are living healthy and vibrant lives. Ahem, that would include me 🙂
Age is a number, but it doesn’t have to define you. Follow these three guiding principles to feel energized and younger than your actual age.
So without further ado, here’s my first guiding principle for health and vitality:
1. Keep Your Qi Flowing
Qi is your life force energy. This energy flows throughout your body through a network of energy meridians. It’s similar to how blood flows through your arteries and veins, only the energy pathways are invisible to the eye.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, qi and blood have a close relationship. Qi helps to produce and propel the blood in your body and in turn, the blood nourishes the qi. Both elements must be strong and healthy—and flowing—in order for a person to have robust health. Not only does qi move blood through the body’s circulatory system, it also directs the flow of air move in your lungs, food through your digestive system, and lymph through your lymphatic system.
You want to keep your qi flowing to keep everything flowing in your body.
If qi is not flowing through the body as it should, this can lead to physical issues. A simple example would be hiccups. The qi in the digestive system is supposed to move downwards to help food go from the stomach into the intestines. However, if a person has “rebellious stomach qi”, this would mean qi is rising up instead of going down, and that’s what causes the hiccups. Fortunately, hiccups are temporary and the qi eventually goes back in the right direction. But if the flow of qi was continually disrupted, this could lead to a more serious condition such as acid reflux.
Physical problems can also arise if the flow of qi is slow or stagnant A temporary block of qi could lead to pain such as a headache. If an energy block is not cleared, over time, it can cause more serious issues. For example, someone with blocked energy in their reproductive system could develop an ovarian cyst. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the cyst is a result of the accumulation of toxins because the qi was not flowing sufficiently to flush toxins out of the area.
What Disrupts the Flow of Qi?
Things at the physical level can affect the energy level. For example, wearing shoes that are too tight can compress reflexology points on the feet, and this could affect the flow of energy in the corresponding area of the body. Many women’s shoes are very pointed and pinch the toes. Thus, it’s not that surprising that women experience more headaches and migraines than men because the big toe is where the reflexology points for the head are located.
Weather and temperature can also affect the flow of qi. If a person is sitting on a cold and damp bench, the cold can transfer from the bench into their body and disrupt the flow of qi. Just think about how tense your body is when your outside and freezing.
What we eat and drink can also influence the energy flow in our bodies. Overeating can clog up the digestive tract and cause stagnant qi through the intestines, leading to gas, pain and bloating.
Pushing ourselves too hard and not getting enough rest also affects the flow of qi. When we’re always on the go, we’re depleting our energy reserves. If we don’t replenish our energy, this affects the flow of qi. Our body’s energy pathways become like a river without enough water.
By far, the most common cause of qi disharmonies is negative emotions. Stress, anger, grief, and worry affect the flow of qi because they create physical and energetic tension and constriction. Negative emotions are particularly potent if they’re held in the body or directed to certain areas of your body.
For example, some people hold anger in their stomach and this upsets their digestion. Others hold tension in their jaw, neck and shoulders. Another example would be a person who isn’t happy with their body. Perhaps they don’t like their body shape or they think that their breasts are too big/small, not perky enough, etc. As a result, there’s a constant inner dialogue, “I hate my breasts. They’re not good enough.”
This internal dialogue affects the flow of qi through their breasts. Over time, the anger, hatred, and shame can cause the breasts to become the Achilles’ heel of their body. When person is young and relatively healthy, the constant barrage of thoughts may not lead to any physical symptoms. But when the body’s underlying energy reserves start to be depleted with overwork, stress or age, then physical problems show up in the Achilles’ heel area.
How Do You Get Qi Flowing?
Physically moving your body helps keep your qi flowing. But what’s even more important is to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. If you want to keep your qi flowing, let things go. We’re never going to fully eliminate negative emotions. They’re a part of the human condition. Just like a yin yang, we need the darkness for there to be light.
But what we can do is not hold onto negative emotions longer than we need to. Feel the emotions and then let them go. Appreciate life.
Listen to your inner guidance. Forgive and release the past because every physical ailment has its roots in something that you’ve held inside your body. Root out old emotions to start clearing blocks at the energy level. This gets your qi flowing and that’s the first guiding principle for health and vitality.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll be writing a couple of articles on the next two guiding principles for health and vitality. I invite you to visit again soon to learn more. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter to be notified when the articles are ready. You’ll also receive a free mini course on Chinese Reflexology and a downloadable reflexology foot chart.