The state of our brain is in our own hands.
Do you live in a perpetual haze in which your mind only finds clarity for brief moments? Or perhaps your brain normally feels foggy at certain times of day, such as when you wake up, in the afternoon, or after eating a large meal.
When our minds feel vague and confused or when they are spinning or racing with thoughts out of our control, the life energy that normally flows inside us has accumulated in our heads. Our heads may even feel hotter at this time, either inside or to the touch.
Our bodies and minds are healthiest, however, when our heads feel cool. We feel calmer when our energy concentrates in our lower abdomen between our hips instead of our heads. This energy state, in which we have a cooler head and a warmer abdomen, is called Water Up, Fire Down.
A Fundamental Energy Principle
Having Water Up, Fire Down is one of the most fundamental and important things we can do for our health. However, it’s very easy for Water Up, Fire Down to get reversed. Whenever we’re tense, stressed, or don’t have enough energy, the energy in our heads can’t flow down to our bellies. It get stuck in our heads, perpetuating our problems. We become foggy and more stressed and tired, making it more difficult to make healthy choices for ourselves that can improve our lives. Instead, we may turn to things that are stimulating and comfortable, which may help in the short term but don’t address the heart of the situation—Water Up, Fire Down.
We can bring ourselves back into this energy state whenever we want, and the more often we do it, the more easily we can keep it in the face of internal and external stressors. Mind-body-energy exercises create Water Up, Fire Down in two ways:
One is by releasing stress, tension, and emotions, which are also energy and block the energy flow inside, keeping too much energy in our heads.
The other is by strengthening our core. We feel calmer and more grounded when energy has gathered in our lower abdomen–our physical and energetic center (dahnjon in Korean). The stronger the energy here is, the better it’s able to pull energy down from the head. This effect makes strengthening our core help us not only get rid of brain fog but prevent it from happening in the first place.
Here are three types of exercises that have both of these effects and help you clear your foggy mind:
Tapping and Brain Wave Vibration
Create vibrations in the body that dislodge stuck energy and make energy flow. Concentrating the tapping on the abdomen helps accumulate energy there.
Abdominal Brain Wave Vibration
Pressing and massaging your body also gets blocked energy moving. These are some key acupressure points you can target. Press into the point with your thumb or middle finger repeatedly about five times and/or press and make small circles. You can tap these points with your fingertips or fists as well.
Chunju (Bl 10)
Joksamlee (St 36)
Yongchun (Ki 1)
Held Postures (Yeondahn in Korean)
Certain positions allow energy to enter the body and accumulate in the lower abdomen. Make these postures using the correct angles, remain still, and concentrate on your abdomen as you do them. Your body will gradually relax as stagnant, stuck energy moves out of it, although it may automatically vibrate in the process. If you feel vibration, continue to hold the posture. Exhale out your mouth, although inhale through your nose, to release the energy. As your body relaxes, your breathing will become deeper by itself, and you will go into Abdominal Breathing. Here are two postures you can try for five minutes or more.
The benefits of breathing are well-known, and Abdominal Breathing, or breathing so that the lower abdomen rises and falls instead of only the chest and/or neck, is one of the deepest and healthiest forms of breathing. We can be doing Abdominal Breathing automatically all the time if our physical and energetic condition allows it, but when we’re stressed, tired, or foggy, our breathing naturally becomes shallower. At those times, we can do it purposefully by bringing our attention to our breath and our lower abdomen. The moment we bring our present awareness to our body, we will feel our stress and tension more. In fact, it will be difficult to breathe from the abdomen at first. We can do some of the exercises above, such as tapping, to relax first, or we can continue to breathe mindfully. Over time, our bodies will relax and our breathing will grow deeper. Then, our minds will eventually clear. Here is a more detailed way to do it:
Walking circulates our blood, and it also circulates our energy. Going out for a walk gives us a simple way to clear away brain fog and make Water Up, Fire Down. Walking in a meditative way makes this exercise even more powerful.
Brain fog may seem like a plague in our minds that’s out of our control, but just like all mind states, there are ways to change it. We can reverse it whenever it appears. And we can maintain a Water Up, Fire Down state by integrating exercise into our regular health regimen, making brain fog a thing of our past.
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