The west vs the east… It seems that there’s a disconnect sometimes between western thought and eastern thought. We speak different languages, however, we may be speaking the same language.
I’ve sat in countless conversations trying to censor myself around my non believer, overly sceptic, western minded community, trying to not say Qi, or Energy, or Spirit, or Breathing, or Health, or Responsibility, or…
Or basically any word that has to do with martial arts or yoga, or potentially “woo woo” or “flakey.” it’s hard though, now that we’re all getting older and the conversations start coming from all directions about health, stress, happiness, work… You know.. The stuff you talk about when you’re knocking on 40’s door. Sometimes the marriage might not be working, or the job might not be the right fit, or hey… You’re happy as hell and just want to start something new.
It was easy in our 20’s for me to avoid these words due to most of the conversations were about bands, politics, or girls. I would never let out that I felt this hot chick’s vital energy was really flowing, but she looks like she could eat more fat. Or “wow she’s crazy fit, I bet she poops regularly…”
So here goes… Let’s integrate or share some similarities, and clear this new agey bullshit up a bit…
Ya see I’ve been to more nascar events than the average yoga instructor. I’ve been to a ton. I’ve been in fights, I’ve jumped a jet ski… I’ve caught and eaten my weight in mullet while spending the evening head banging around a burning tire. This is the censored version of my past. The whole time I was practicing martial arts, meditation, yoga, and yes, I fell off the path over and over, but I did what I could with what I had. This path is shared by all kinds… I’ve done tai chi with redneck cops and I’ve listened to slayer with hippies. The highest levels of all performance focus the mind, breathe, and visualize.
The good part was that falling off the path so many times so young, it gave plenty of time to resubmerge and try and correct.
So for all you guys and gals out there that feel that eastern, or new age wisdom is no more than just hype, delusion, and placebo… I’ll share my ways of justifying trying this stuff out… The more I do it, the more I feel it, the more benefits I receive, the longer I’m gonna stick with it.
These are ways that I had to explain this stuff to myself as I’d practice.
As my teachers would tell me to breathe into my feet, or into my center, and I’d think to myself… Air goes into the face and out the face… If air does not leave through one of the designated holes in your face you either need to get that checked… Or just say excuse me.
When we breathe we take air into the face… Nose or mouth. Air fills the lungs and blood travels to the lungs to get oxygenated. The oxygenated air travels throughout the body, thus you just breathed into your knees. I would imagine the oxygen full blood moving to the area I was focusing on.
How about qi… Energy… Flow..
We have a brain. It produces electric signals which communicate to the rest of the body. Electricity is a form of energy. So stop saying there’s no such thing as energy. Or go ahead and try and sleep next to someone who’s pissed off at you. Go on… Try it.
And if the brain controls the energy, why do we see placebo as a bad thing. If believing in a sugar pill is often just as effective as a leading brand pill… Why are you wasting money buying pills…. Learn to control your mind save the $14.95. See that an industry looks at placebo as a bad thing because using the mind will keep profits down, but your savings could go up, your mind could get strong, and that’s also good for the economy and our own state of mind. Did I say don’t buy pills… no (well, maybe a little…just trim down the intake, all tools are valid in time.). I just said believe in your self and give your mind the credit it deserves.
What about qi.
Qi or life force. Basically is a flowing force in the body. I call it some other things too… blood, oxygen, fluids, electricity (energy). Why? It’s most practical. There are other fluids too… Lymph even marrow… white blood cells are produced in the marrow. So theres a connection there… Also white blood cells are a huge part of your immune system so this must be good for your health. I could be wrong, but hey, I’m not a doctor. I’m just giving you may ways of visualizing what I considered esoteric metaphor and magic. It’s not. Just a lot of blood and fluids flowing around.
Immune system is also a part of the gut. So probably diet is important. Diet for health, not weight loss. Health is a state that you’ll be able to achieve a healthy weight as the habits grow for the better.
I learned that, “where there’s blockage there’s pain where there’s pain there’s blockage.” I was also challenged by a guy that said “well you can get oxygen into the blood but can you control where the blood goes with you mind. Like they say in qi gong.” “moving the energy with the mind”
Well, let’s see. Perhaps in the most elementary way… Imagine if your hands are cold. Your mind can send a message to squeeze em over and over to get blood flowing to them and poof. Your mind just moved energy to your hand. Qi gong has a ton of exercises moving the body… The minds doing them by the way. Once we get over our skeptic literal mind filters perhaps we’ll be able to control these things without such obvious conclusions, because honestly when we get over the hard blocked mind we’ll be able to tap into the subtle… And the subtle is where the magic is. We wont talk about that yet though. I will say that usually the more advanced stuff is more still and subtle… but first learn to move, focus, do the work.
Breathing… Meditation… Relaxing.
Let’s get back to breathing. Can it really help you relax. Well… Your breathing is the only mechanism in your body (other than blinking) that is active both consciously and subconsciously. It changes with our mood. If you don’t believe me… Ask a woman during birth if breathing is important or if it changes. Jump in an icy lake. Get stressed, fall in love, get happy, it will change. Again, the good stuff is in the subtle… You don’t have to be squeezing out a kid to benefit from breathing. Boxers, runners, public speakers, sharp shooters, poker players, golfers, basically anyone that has a nervous system uses breathing. If your breathing changes with your nervous system, then if you can control it, your breathing can be somewhat of a referee of your nervous system.
Meditation is the last line of bullshit that we opt out of… Not me… I’m totally into it.
I look at meditation as a moment to “check in” yes it’s just a bunch of breathing, but tuning into our environment is something we used to have to do, it was engrained in us to “tune in”. Why? Well in nature, any sound or movement could be danger, or a meal. Crisis or opportunity. To know ourselves is to actualize. Now… Just to type this I have to tune out a preschool of kids next door, a stereo, cars, the other 2 guys in the room, the hum of the computer… I’m basically tuning out more than I’m tuning into. Our bodies are now tuning out constantly just to be able to focus on one thing. We’re losing our ability to tune in. We’re becoming numb. When we can’t tune back in, then we’re just disconnected from the subtle messages our bodies can give us. Like… Am I breathing deeply…
These are little things that helped me sort through the ancient metaphor that seemed so foreign and confusing to my literal western mind. There’s a ton of info on all this stuff out there, and I don’t mean to distill it and simplify it, however, it should be for a while… Just start breathing and realizing that “flow” refers to many things in the body. If water doesn’t flow it stagnates… Our bodies are mostly water. I’m glad I’m not a doctor I’m glad I’m not a master… I’m glad I’m no longer a skeptic, I’m a humble practitioner that just has to see it to believe it. Using the western lens to see the eastern point of view helped me get on this path and enjoy it…