“When it comes down to it, everything is Qi (vital energy).”
-A Chinese proverb
Healthy people don’t think much about their bodies. There’s no pain, bloating, discomfort, or fatigue—no signal alerting their mind and nervous system that something’s wrong. The only sensation is the pleasure of a healthy body.
For all practical purposes, the body disappears; you have freedom from the body, which why the young, healthy, and strong have such an invincible attitude. Can’t isn’t in their vocabulary. However, after one develops chronic fatigue and stiff, creaky joints, worry sets in. Fatigue and pain triggers fear. If you don’t have enough juice, how can you count on your body to support you through any challenge? How can you take a chance on getting out of your comfort zone? You can’t, and so fear starts to define your life.
As our energy diminishes, we age. When the last bit fades, we die. Go to a park and observe the difference between children, parents, and grandparents. Watch the way they play, walk, and get up off the chair. As the juice of life progressively dries up, the entire organism follows: the skin sags, the body flabs, and we look old. Sex, basically an exuberance of hormonal energy, diminishes. Lower back pain is often due to adrenal deficiency; the body doesn’t have the energy to hold the vertebra in place. Chest pain, heart attacks, and arrhythmia are more common when the heart Qi is deficient.
When the vitality of any organ becomes deficient, it’s a problem in the making. When chronically fatigued, even the will suffers. It’s harder to be enthusiastic about life. It’s a fact of nature: a sick, damaged, or weak tree won’t flower. It may have leaves, the very minimum for survival, but flowers come only to the healthy plant. With fatigue, life isn’t blooming; it’s survival, an uphill battle, difficult even to make it through the day. Energy effects every aspect of life, even the mind and emotions. Without ample energy we may be alive, but it’s not fully living.
Old is really lack of Qi, which is why the entire methodology of the early naturopaths was to increase the vital energy of the body. Similarly, the focus of Chinese medicine is to nurture, protect, and balance Qi. Energy—the degree of sap that runs in our bodies—has always been the main game. But it’s not just energy, even more important is how energy circulates.
Life and health are completely dependent on circulation. The instant circulation becomes impaired in any way, no one has to tell us there’s a problem—we feel pain. If stenosis occurs in the spine, there’s tremendous pain and loss of function. A kidney stone, a swollen prostate gland… any loss of circulation, even a simple one, causes profound discomfort. If your nose is clogged, it’s going to be a rough night’s sleep. If your bowels are backed, up food doesn’t sit right, and you can’t even think straight.
Blocked circulation can easily be fatal. One clogged artery and you could die from a stroke. A tiny blood clot can cause instant death. If a nerve is being impinged in your spine, you might be in so much pain you can’t sleep, lift your briefcase, or tie your shoes.
Disease is caused by impaired circulation.
If disease and death is caused by lack of circulation, the reverse should also hold true—and it does. There isn’t a therapy under the sun that doesn’t function to optimize circulation. Acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, cranial sacral, and colonic therapy are obvious methods to remove blockages and increase circulation, but look closely at any therapy.
Good nutrition will improve cellular efficiency, reduce internal inflammation, and facilitate a better flow of energy. Herbal medicine is a profound way to balance and optimize the flow of energy.
Even medical interventions such as medication and surgery are, at least in theory, attempting to facilitate optimal circulation. Certainly a heart bypass or the removal of a kidney stone endeavors to open circulation.
Psychotherapy works on the same principle. Unresolved mental and emotional issues cause a significant stasis, knot, or blockage of energy. If the issues are relieved, energy flows smoothly and there’s a resultant feeling of well-being.
Circulation is vitally important, not only in the gross physical body, but on all levels. If the body, mind, emotions, and unconscious bodies are flowing, the spiritual self blooms naturally.
See Energy and Circulation Part 2.