Taking good care of our energy body helps us take care of our other bodies as well.
These days, the idea of “good energy” and “good vibes” has become commonplace even in Western countries. This primarily Asian concept that’s so central to our overall well-being now has more support from scientific research and seems like common sense to many people.
Although the idea of energy has become more integrated into Western culture, the average person doesn’t know how it really works. More importantly, they don’t know how to use it for their own health and wellness.
The practices I’ve developed to take our health into our hands—Brain Education and Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi—are based on principles of energy. More specifically, they are based on the Korean tradition known as Sundo. This year, I’d like to introduce some of these principles in more detail. By sharing this information with you, I hope you can better recognize and use what’s going on in your body all the time.
Basic Energy Anatomy
When most people think of their bodies, they think only of their physical body, the body made of bone and skin and muscle. But really we have three bodies—the physical body, the energy body, and the spiritual body. These three bodies are linked so that what happens in one body becomes reflected in the other two bodies.
Within the energy body, energy flows continually and systematically. We have twelve main channels, or meridians, and two additional channels that run up and down our bodies. On our heads, trunks, arms, and legs, energy goes down the front of us and up the back. It also goes horizontally around our waist.
Energy moves through these channels for as long as we’re alive. Often, there may be places through which energy becomes sluggish or stuck. The parts of the physical body and spiritual body that are associated with those places are then also sluggish or stuck. The longer an energy blockage lasts and the bigger it grows, the more likely we’ll notice imbalances in our physical, mental, and emotional health. Noticing and clearing an energy blockage as soon as possible helps prevent disease from developing.
Energy doesn’t only remain in our energy body; it comes and goes through points all along the energy channels—365 of them. These points can also be blocked. Acupuncture and acupressure, as well as other energy practices, open these points to allow energy to flow the way it needs to for us to be healthy.
The three bodies are powered through energy centers that pump life energy through the body. These energy centers are called dahnjons in Korean Sundo practice or chakras in yogic practices.
Ideally, these three should maintain a fairly equal balance relative to each other. You can visualize this as a triangle with the physical body forming the base, and the spiritual and energetic bodies forming the sides. The equilateral triangle is one of the strongest shapes known, which is why architects throughout history have relied on it to create stable structures. Your overall health is similar—you must maintain a good balance between the three bodies keep yourself strong and stable in mind, body, and spirit. If any of the three are either over or under developed, it is like a triangle with one long side and one short side—it can easily tip over and fall.
Your Foundation: The Lower Energy Center
The lower dahnjon supplies energy to the physical body, and it is located in our lower abdomens, about two inches below the belly button and two inches inside. This is equivalent to the second chakra, the sacral chakra, in the Hindu chakra system. We could think of it as a furnace that is churning out energy to our physical bodies so that we can get things done in the world. If our lower dahnjon is strong, we might even feel heat emanating from our core—the proverbial fire in the belly that keeps us motivated and energetic. If our lower dahnjon is weak, we will likely lack the vitality and energy to get things done.
The power of the lower dahnjon can be developed by just about any physical exercise, but anything that works the legs and abdomen, the core, is especially helpful. Keep your legs strong by walking or hiking every day, and choose workouts that build the abdomen. When you feel your lower dahnjon kick into full gear, you will feel heat building in your lower abdomen.
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The Heart of Your Being: The Middle Energy Center
The middle dahnjon is equivalent to the heart chakra in yogic practice, and it is the energy center related to our emotions and our state of mind. It is located in the middle of the chest in the center of the sternum, and it’s also known as the fourth chakra. A healthy, open middle dahnjon is associated with positive emotions and a loving heart. An unhealthy middle dahnjon, by contrast, is constricted by stress, negative attitudes, and poor relationships with others.
Energetically, the middle dahnjon connects us to all other beings on the planet through the energy of love. To develop the middle dahnjon fully, we must first realize, in the depth of our beings, that “all is one” and that there is ultimately no separation between us, other human beings, and all the living creatures on the planet.
Connecting to the universe in this way is not always easy in a world that presents many difficult challenges, but we can begin this journey by developing more positive emotions about ourselves, the world, and those around us. Focus on developing gratitude and a joyful heart; instead of complaining and approaching everything with a critical mind, open your heart and mind to everything you see in the world. Stress primarily comes from blockage in the middle dahnjon, so simple breathing and relaxation techniques will help a lot, too.
Your Spiritual Energy: The Upper Energy Center
Although it is not something we can perceive with our senses, the upper dahnjon connects us to the most substantial, eternal part of us, the part we could call our soul or spirit. Most of us are closed off from this energy to some degree, however. Awakening and opening this energy center is key to the state of being we call enlightenment.
This energy center is located in the brain—between our eyebrows and a couple of inches inside of our head. In yogic traditions it is the sixth chakra and is called the third eye due to its intuitive abilities. Information that we hold plays an important role in the health of the upper dahnjon. Much of the information we receive is limiting in some way, so ridding ourselves of unhelpful information can help us grow spiritually, unleashing our natural intuition and spiritual insight.
Most spiritual practice is designed to help you develop the upper dahnjon. Meditation is an especially helpful practice, helping us to gain control of the non-stop information that flows through our brains.
Making It a Habit
Understanding the nature of the energy system is really only the beginning. Learning to use energy the most effectively can take many years of dedicated study. The first step, though, is realizing they exist and that they have great influence on our quality of life. We can begin to pay attention to our energy right now.
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