Well here in the UK we’re well into our second Lockdown. We’re living in such extreme uncertainty at the moment that’s quite unprecedented.
A lot of us have not experienced this kind of pressure before and it’s certainly taking its toll on the world’s mental health. Learning how to manage our mental state during a lockdown is crucial for our longterm health & wellbeing.
In chatting to many people who get in touch with me & with my students, many are experiencing similar levels of anxiety.
It is really hard to know how to separate oneself from the fear that is spreading throughout the world, especially when we’re living in isolation now.
This daily experience of anxiety and fear is extremely detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
I know that you’ve heard or read about so many of the challenges people are facing around the world during Lockdown and I certainly don’t want to bombard you with even more fear based news
Lockdown has provided a powerful reminder of how important it is to learn how to look after ourselves in a more meaningful way.
In many ways it has polarised peoples’ experience & nudged us to look within ourselves for another way.
A way to step out of the fear and discover a different source of calm, peace and joy.
Even in such times as these!
The aim of this blog is to empower you with the knowledge (even in Lockdown) that you absolutely can, manage your mind & body differently…
And have a completely different experience of life right now.
Some of you will be reading this without having any experience of Qigong.
Welcome…first of all.
This could prove to be just what you are looking for!
Many of you will have had some experience of energy work but may have got out of the daily habit.
This will be a reminder to get back into it and rediscover the immense power that Qigong has to transform our lives.
So how can this ancient healing art help us in these difficult times?
For many people whether they feel happy or sad is based on their external circumstances.
We get so caught up with what’s outside of us that we lose connection with our internal world.
And in today’s environment where our freedom’s are severely limited during Lockdown the future looks bleak & uncertain. It’s easy to be pulled into the overwhelming sense of disempowerment.
It has become clear that nothing in our outer world is constant. Things come and go. One minute we’re taken over with happiness because of the new house, new clothes, new friends or new this or that.
The next minute it can all go. Leaving us feeling disappointed and sad.
When we place our happiness on the objects or experiences in our outer world we effectively give away our power to be happy. We are at the mercy of the winds of change.
We become slaves to our external circumstances!
This creates a really uncomfortable ride of life.
At the moment many people around the world are living in Lockdown, unable to be with family or see friends. This solitary existence brings with it many emotional challenges that we simply must address.
If we don’t deal with the emotional upset when it arises it will only embed further our resistance to change and possibility of a happier existence.
It does not have to be your future!
This doesn’t have to be your experience of LIFE.
Many years ago I made a conscious decision.
I decided not to give anyone or anything the privilege of deciding if I was happy or not.
This meant a dramatic change in the way I led my life was necessary. Up until that time I had focused entirely on the outer aspects of my life and as a result my emotional state was completely tied up with how my life was going.
It was based on my perception of how my life had been up till then and how I thought it was going to turn out in the future. Consequently, I was stressed out, anxious and never able to relax and just enjoy life.
When I made that powerful decision it was a turning point that I have never regretted. In fact it completely turned my life around.
However I won’t say that it was easy!
On the contrary it challenged me to be open enough to release my fixation on outer events and turn my attention inwards.
In Taoism this is called “Turning the light around.”
I decided to own 100% of my emotional reactivity, no longer projecting my blame onto anyone else, any situation, or event. I was totally responsible for how I felt.
Back then I couldn’t imagine the potential power of that decision…
It was perhaps one of the hardest decisions I have made as it’s so easy to see others as the root of our unhappiness.
Not so easy to take full responsibility! But in making this choice I immediately took back control of how I felt and my goodness did it feel good?!
I never imagined that it would be tested so severely in an actual Lockdown of the country!
Qigong is a tried and tested method of learning how to manage our state & then discover how we can lead our everyday lives within this state of being.
If we want to reach higher states of being, to raise our energy and potentially feel blissful in every moment…
Then we can’t leave this feeling to chance!
We can’t live our life unconsciously, leaving our state of wellbeing in the hands of fate, or whatever we happen to be living through at that time!
Qigong provides an easy to follow roadmap that guides us step by step along a path that leads us towards a consistent state of inner peace, stability and balance.
To be in this state is truly blissful.
Having spent many years in stressed out mode, feeling anxious, emotionally wrought & exhausted.
After many years of exploration & discovery
Every day, now feels like a gift. And yes even during a Lockdown.
How did I get there?
By learning to manage the mind using Qigong.
Here are four important principles of the ancient art of Qigong that you can use right now to move away from feeling stressed & towards an experience of peace & joy in every moment.
1. Take an inventory of your Mind!
This first step is to draw your attention to what is going on right here, right now, in this very moment.
When you wake up in the morning, is your mind racing ahead at full throttle worrying about the day to come? Stressing how quickly we can get out of Lockdown?
Or is it stuck on a problem from yesterday?
Do you feel secure and in control of events or anxious & uneasy about what the future holds?
Start to observe your busy mind and notice when you’re carried away with your thoughts or get distracted. Realise that when you pick up the moments of distraction, this is a very good thing! It means that your mind has returned to the present moment. Practice noticing.
2. Bring your mind back into your body
Ever get swallowed up by all of those thoughts racing through your mind, or find yourself stuck in ruminating over a particular thought that just doesn’t go away?
So many people complain of having a busy mind that just doesnt switch off! It’s incredible how one can go for hours in this state and not know where time has gone! I meet many people who have spent their life in this state and wasted their life away!
It’s the same feeling when driving where you arrive at your destination not knowing how you got there as you just weren’t present.
This ‘busy mind’ has reached such an intensity for many during Lockdown as the usual ways we get to distract ourselves have been extremely limited. We’re no longer seeing so many people to chat with and so we only have ourselves as company!
How are you getting on with that?
It also glaringly reveals old emotional wounds which have not healed. These can come up to the surface of our awareness provoking some emotional pain or discomfort.
When we go through life being distracted and pulled out of the moment by our busy thoughts or painful emotions, we disconnect from life. We lose connection with our body and fail to pick up the many signs and signals that the body is constantly sending us.
We also disconnect from other deeper aspects of ourselves such as our emotions, our Heart and of course our internal wisdom or Qi. This leads to a feeling of instability, uneasiness and imbalance on many levels.
One thing for sure is that this Lockdown has shown us our tendancy to stuff uncomfortable feelings away and find ways of distratcting ourselves from the uncomfortable process of healing these challenging feelings.
Now that we cannot escape ourselves anymore we have no alternative but to face them and allow the healing process to begin.
This is a marvellous thing.
Become aware of how you feel. Allow your attention to settle in the body. Feel your feet against the ground. If you’re standing, take a moment to let your body relax into your feet. Feel connected to the earth beneath your feet. At the same time have a sense of gently drawing up from the headtop. Allow your head to ‘float’ above your shoulders effortlessly. Just breath, relax & feel.
3. Notice your breathing
Have you noticed how our breathing is intimately connected with our emotions? Anger, fear, worry all affect the way we breathe. In my experience many people have become conditioned to breath quite ineffectively through years of stress.
Stress tends to create tension in the body and of course this inevitably leads to poor breathing habits. There is more and more data coming out showing how much of an impact poor breathing can have on our health and wellbeing.
When you observe how a newborn baby breathes you immediately notice how relaxed it is and secondly how the abdomen expands & relaxes back with each breath. Something we forget as we grow into adulthood.
Qigong brings us back to this natural way of breathing and encourages not just diaphragmatic breathing but whole body breathing. As we learn how to relax deeper and deeper the whole body starts to expand and relax with every breath.
This has a powerful effect on our mental state, bringing us immediately back into the Present and discovering the joy of living in the moment. The here and now.
Take a deep breath. In through the nose & gently sigh your breath out through the mouth. Focus on relaxing a little deeper with each exhale. Stay with this a few minutes and notice how you feel.
4. Move your body mindfully
Movement is medicine for the body and mind & if ever you’re feeling down in the dumps, tired and lethargic or worried then movement is a great antidote!
Qigong movement is exceptionally effective in boosting our energy levels, calming our busy minds and getting us into a feel good state.
Qigong movement is NOT about twisting your body into the shape of a pretzel at any cost & nor is it about straining yourself beyond what your body feels comfortable with.
It is absolutely about being present and connected with yourself on every level. Moving effortlessly with ease and grace through the movements. We become acutely aware of how we are feeling and learn how to relax into the movement or position with less push & strain.
We learn how to feel our body and adjust where necessary. Discover new ways of aligning the body that bring a sense of ease and settledness from within, and on the way we let go of outdated patterns that do not serve us any more.
These can be movement or postural habits, but can also extend to outdated & disempowering beliefs in ourselves and the world around us. In addition we may also encounter old emotional wounds that have clung on for too long!
These too can be released out of our system. Leaving us feeling relaxed, renewed AND restored.
Stand in a natural stance with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath and allow your body to relax, your mind to settle and your breath to be natural.
Allow your breath to be as natural as possible. Be alert for any sense of ‘doing’ the breath.
Stay with this awareness for a couple of minutes
Remaining connected to your breathing…
As you breathe in, slowly raise your arms to the front, to shoulder height, with palms facing down.
As you breathe out, slowly lower your arms down again.
Repeat this movement a few times.
From this deeply connected place, continue raising and lowering your arms…
And invite your shoulders to do less!
Ask your body if whilst moving the arms it would be possible to release some unnecessary tension from the shoulder area.
Communicating with the body in this way, will completely open up your awareness as to what you can release and let go of.
After you have completed this simple movement, pause and observe how you feel. Notice any changes.
These are just a few ways that Qigong can help us manage our minds
Life in lockdown is such a challenge and yet it is also a magnificent opportunity to raise our game. To dig deep and learn more about ourselves than we thought posssible. There is an intensity in this moment that we probably won’t ever experience again. It’s in these moments that we can have the most powerful transformations occur in our lives.
Of course I am leaving the magic ingredient for success to the end!
To paraphrase the famous Nike advert….
Just do it!
I’m sure you’ll feel a whole lot better when you start to put these simple ideas into practice .
Above all they will really help you to get through challenging times such as we’re in at the moment.
If you start to implement these four key Qigong principles in your life regularly…
You’ll be making one of the best investment decisions of your life.
You will have decided to invest in you!
And you are definitely worth it.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on.
Please leave a comment below…
I love getting your questions and hearing how you’re getting on,
and if you’ve found this article helpful please share the link with your social media.
We could all do with some support these days.
I am here to support you, so please do get in touch.
Here’s to your Qi filled life