As the world seems to be making more and more demands on our time, and our lives are filled with an endless 'to do' list, we can find ourselves feeling increasingly overwhelmed and depleted of vital energy, depressed and lacking the motivation to do anything. There is a feeling that, no matter how much we do, there are a million things that are left undone. Combine that with the fact that our Awareness is constantly being pulled towards the latest shiny new object, and the endless (and mostly useless) information that is at our fingertips on the internet, we can easily find ourselves unfocused and without any Life Force with which to live with joy and enthusiasm.
This Life Force, known as Qi in Taoism, is the primordial energy that, not only fuels and animates our body, but also unfolds the entire play of the Universe. It is Qi that beats our hearts, gives us the feeling of well-being that we need to lead peaceful, calm and productive lives, and inspires us to live creatively and passionately. The old Taoist Masters said that there are only four ways to cultivate and nourish this vital power, and they are, in descending importance: 1. Proper breathing 2. Drinking adequate amounts of fresh pure water, 3. Eating nourishing food, and 4. Moving the body through practices like Qigong and Tai Chi. Pretty simple, right? Without the breath, the body would expire in minutes, without water the body could live for 3 or 4 days at most, and without food we could go perhaps 21 days. Of course we can go years without exercise but we will feel sluggish, depressed and unhealthy without it.
If you feel that your Life Force is weak, and you simply don't have the energy to do what is necessary to feel good on a consistent basis, you can begin right now to build your internal power by doing some deep breathing exercises (like Tummo or pranayama) everyday. Just three or four rounds of Tummo breathing (or any other pranayama) will oxygenate your cells, release harmful Co2 from your body, and boost your immune system. Likewise, increasing your daily water intake will hydrate your cells and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. The old formula of 64 oz everyday may apply to someone who is only 125 lb, but for everyone else, drinking half your body weight in water is a good marker. Just these two practices alone will boost your Qi dramatically, and lift your Shen (spirit) towards heaven. Add to that a diet that is healthy and nourishing (the guideline to a healthy diet is very simply: LISTEN to what your body tells you it needs), and you will then have the energy to actually go out and move your body, which will increase your Life Force by 100%.
Taken together, all of these practices will give you the energy that you feel is lacking from your life, bring radiance and optimum health to your body, and peace and tranquility to your mind. All that is required is the discipline to follow through on a consistent basis. If feeling strong and healthy are what you truly want, then remember that you hold the key to your own well-being in your hands, and you can begin right now to cultivate a greater Qi in your life. Feeling good, and Being vibrantly Alive are not possible without it.