How I learned to ease anxiety through Qi Gong
I’ve always been fascinating by intuition. I often sense things that others don’t. I thought it came from my head or was a magical power. Then I discovered it came from the body. Particularly, my gut.
Unfortunately, my gut pooped out on me in my late 20s, when I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My intuition was muffled just when I needed it most.
I spent many years searching for a cure and was often confused about all the alternative health information I was reading. I moved forward but didn’t have a clear sense of the right healing path. For years I tried all the wrong things, had disappointing results or felt worse.
Through my persistence I finally found a nutritionist who showed me how to completely heal my digestion with diet.
Once my body was healthy, I decided to start healing my anxiety
My doctors told me my IBS symptoms were in my head. They believe that stressful thoughts and emotions are responsible for causing the IBS symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, etc.
I didn’t believe it was all in my head but I also knew my head was an anxious mess. For that reason I started practicing Qi Gong to bring relief to my life long issues of neurosis and overwhelm.
If you are curious to find out more about Qi Gong, check out this 9 minute video to learn more about how Qi Gong works and what it looks like.
What I learned radically changed my life and understanding of my body, mind and emotions
Here’s it is….
1) Thoughts originate in the head, but they also have corresponding physical responses in the body. The body contracts and relaxes based on our thoughts. It also works the other way around. Certain repetitive body contractions can produce certain repetitive thoughts.
2) Emotions come from the body. The reason you feel sad or excited is because your muscles and hormones organize to produce those feelings. You can’t feel with your mind, you can only feel with your body. For example, if you (unknowingly) organize your body in a sad way, it will produce sad thoughts and a sad filter to view life.
Most people don’t realize that emotions are so body-centric. They look outside themselves to explain how they are feeling.
Here’s my big discovery:
Every emotion has a corresponding contraction in the body.
That means you can use your body to calm your mind. This is done by locating the contraction in the body and relaxing it.
Don’t worry if you feel nothing at first. I didn’t either. It takes some time, but then a whole new world of sensation unlocks for you. You wonder why you didn’t feel this before?
It’s normal to be out of touch with your body’s subtle sensations. As a society we tend to live in our heads and ignore our body’s hard-to-interpret signs and signals.
While our heads can spin tales about what is going on with us, our bodies never lie. Bodies are always grounded in reality and a source of true wisdom.
This is how Qi Gong has improved my relationship with anxiety
When I get upset, instead of spinning like I used to, I check in with my body and notice that my shoulder are tight and rising up towards my ears.
If I take a few second to relax my shoulders, it’s enough to stop the anxiety from proliferating into a panic, drama or a neurotic story.
A somatic, body-centered practice, like chi gong, can regulate a roller coaster of renegade emotions better than psychotherapy or drugs.
My previous strategy for strong emotion was to repress it. That’s terrible for health. Repressing is a contraction, so you are layering contraction on top of contraction and literally trapping the chemicals of emotion in your muscles.
According to Chinese medicine, chronic contractions create stagnated lymph and energy flow in the body.
I also learned how contractive discipline and pushing myself was. These mental states not only feed perfectionistic tendencies, they wear down energy and create deep attachment to outcome.
I realized that will power and pushing to get things done, weakened my body over time. These contractive states take massive energy and require massive rest and recovery.
It’s like pushing a car with your body. Hard work. Unsustainable. Too much effort. Yet we think we should be able to do it. And we do it for too long. And rest too little.
Qi Gong taught me a healthier approach to getting things done.
Instead of pushing, I try to let go. I relax my contractions. And I move forward from a place of ease. Play is the ideal state to get things done.
Ease will get you to your destination in much better shape and your body will thank you. But trying too hard will created stagnating contractions and deplete energy!
Now I know for sure.
It was never in my head.
It was in my body all along.