Energy For the New Year
The New Year is upon us and people everywhere are thinking about their resolutions. Whether it’s losing 5 pounds or giving something up, making too many specific goals sets us up for disappointment. This is especially true when your goals involve going without something you love or forcing yourself to do something you hate. A more forgiving approach would be focusing on a year of being balanced, healthier and more energized. Loving ourselves and honoring what makes us happy could very well be the most important resolution we can make.
Something people often wish for this time of year is energy. Energy remains elusive for many; you either have it or you don’t, right? In reality, it’s not so black and white. Energy is actually a vital component of our physiology, and like all of our other parts, it needs to be nurtured to function optimally. Indeed, a healthy energy system is a rainbow of colors that vibrate with life.
The Ayurvedic or yogic concept of Prana (Sanskrit for breath), takes a more nuanced approach to our vitality. In Ayurveda it is understood that the body contains 7 main energy centers (and many smaller ones) called chakras, that influence our health and well-being in myriad ways. According to the oldest written tradition in India called the Vedas (2000-600 BC), these 7 energy centers are each connected with an area in our body and control various physical and emotional aspects. For example, the 1st chakra (referred to as Root or Muladhara) which is located at the base of the spine, is related to our core survival needs and supports a sense of being grounded and connected. It is physically associated with the spine, adrenal glands, kidneys and lower digestive tract. A blocked 1st chakra can result in physical problems such as immune-related disorders, colon or rectal cancer, spinal problems or eating disorders. Red is the color associated with the root chakra.
Our chakras interact with our endocrine and lymphatic systems by bringing in good energy and disposing of bad. If the energy becomes blocked, stagnation occurs and our bodies become vulnerable to the growth of tumors and disease. If we are able to keep all of them balanced and open, we will experience better overall energy and health.
Many of us, myself included, live by the “seeing is believing” philosophy. Working with my friend, Dr. Lu Ping, during my recent illness, I realized that several physical and emotional symptoms I was experiencing were the result of blocked energy in my body. (In Chinese medicine, energy is called Qi). By bringing awareness to this blockage through guided meditation and medical Qi Gong sessions, I have felt much improvement. Because energy is unseen to the untrained eye it is sometimes difficult to comprehend. Paying acute attention to my own energy was a fascinating experience that proved to me that Prana, or Qi, is indeed a real and important component of our health.
Becoming aware of our minds and bodies is half the battle when it comes to emotional and physical balance. Achieving balanced energy will be different for every person, but some of the methods for doing so are practicing yoga or qi gong, consulting a reiki or chakra balancing therapist, following guided meditations (see below), crystal therapy and being in nature as much as possible while simply paying close attention to your body and its needs.