In some ways, lockdown seemed easy. There were strict rules to follow which were simple, pretty much stay indoors for a couple of weeks, only go out on essential journeys, wear a mask and keep your distance. In the main it was uncomplicated, we were told exactly what to do. Now as we move forwards and step outside there aren’t the same rules, there are guidelines that can be open to interpretation and judgment calls. There’s a grey area instead of black and white. This unsure ground can create a panicky atmosphere. We may feel nervous about getting it wrong or exposed to other people’s judgment. This fearful feeling stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, triggering stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, prolactin (the celibacy hormone) and epinephrine which elevates the heartbeat. In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys control the endocrine system and the production of hormones. So by keeping these organs healthy we can calm the nervous system to relax, rest, digest and thrive instead of descending into an agitated panicky, spiral of flight, fight or freeze.
Fear can feel very different for different people. Sometimes fear manifests as a short temper, we are triggered to fight and lash out, for others our energy becomes frozen, we become despondent and perhaps just stay in bed. Depending on where you are with your response to fear, Chinese Medicine has a solution.
If you are feeling low then follow the diagram and gather the energy in the kidneys by placing your palms on your kidney area, specifically Bladder 23 & 52, rub them gently, feeling the warmth gathering in the area. Use your imagination and direct your breath down to the area, feel the kidneys grasping and holding the breath, whilst your hands continue to rub and warm the area. This will build your Chi (energy) giving you a solid sense of grounded stability, as the kidneys and its partner organ, the bladder, are seen as the roots of the body in Chinese Medicine.
Perhaps you are at the other end of the scale and you are running around, skittish and uneasy, so anxious you can’t sleep, appetites all over the place and you can’t focus your mind. In this way we need to sedate the Chi by moving it, using stretches, massage and flowing motions to calm and relax the system. The bladder meridian runs down either side of the spine, down the backs of the legs, along the outside of the feet right to the outside of the little toe. A great way to stretch out this meridian and quiet the nervous system is to stand with feet, hip-width apart, knees bent, tail bone tucked in. Stretch up with the hands until the palms face the ceiling, looking up at your hands follow them as you hinge forward from the hips, still with your knees bent, until your hands come down slowly to touch the floor with your head relaxed, top of the skull pointed to the floor, feel each of the vertebrae naturally easing out the spine. Slowly roll the body up, vertebrae by vertebrae, until you roll back the shoulders ready to begin the move once more.
And then of course there is the foods that overstimulate the kidneys, such as coffee, fizzy drinks overconsumption of poor quality table salt and processed foods exacerbating feelings of unease and panic. These should be avoided instead choose other slightly salty flavoured foods such as oats, barley, seaweed, miso and sesame seeds to relax the kidneys.
Blueberries, blackberries and black grapes are also great for the kidneys so a bowl of relaxing porridge with a flurry of berries and seeds is a perfect way to begin the day with unwavering calmness. Like a tree, your kidney energy creates deep roots for the body so you are unshaken by the storms and changes that blow all around you.
Join me in the Chi Flow with Jo – Energy Club every weekday morning for wake-up Chi Gong where we cover all the practices from Conscious breathing, Self Shiatsu, Meridian stretches, all to tonify and move the energy, depending on what you need. Don’t worry if you miss a session, they are recorded and sent straight to your email so you can watch again at any time of day. Subscription also includes monthly interactive Online Talks – July = Stopping Sweet Cravings. Send me your email below and I will send you the access code for the Zoom launch on July 1st.