Saturday, 30 August 2014

Negative Energy

The standing post position - a powerful way to keep negative energy at bay

egative energy is a curse that pulls the rug from under our training – and from under anything else we might want to attempt in our daily lives.

Similar to what the comedian Bill Mahar says about Irish relatives, negative energy is the distant cousin who arrived to stay for a day and now shows no signs of leaving. Once negative energy finds that comfy chair in our mind and in our body, it may remain long enough do great harm both to our health and to any future prospects in our lives.

In the martial arts, negative energy may be the direct result of an excess of training. For example, if you pursue a particular technique too much over the course of several days – a particular type of punch, a throw, a sword cut – you may actually reach a point where mind and body peak. Beyond that, you may find strength, speed and accuracy all going downhill…the exact opposite of what you intended in the first place!

Let’s refer to this example as too much yang. We want too much, we drive our ego into the technique, forcing it to surrender to our will. We strangle the technique through repetition, almost mindlessly, certainly to the point of beecoming monotonous. The technique loses its spirit. It becomes mechanical.

But we push on – until the monotony and the blunt mechanics of the movement literally begin to smell and taste like a machine grinding to a halt.

Too much ying may also be another cause of negative energy.  Perhaps not from yourself but as an invasion of sorts from the outside. You may be training honestly, working into a good direction, emotionally well-balanced and yet quite suddenly a comment from someone else,  a sign, a look, will open a door into your confidence, and hollow you out.

Both of the foregoing examples – to much yang, too much ying – can obviously be applied to many aspects of our daily lives. We want too much, we do something to the point where the action becomes pure drudgery, we expose ourselves to negative people…and so on.

The symptoms of negative energy are seemingly endless. Here is a very brief list –

a hollowed out feeling right to the marrow of the bones; a stale feeling as if the oxygen in the room had been robbed of its energy; a stale and listless smell to the skin; a listlessness to the pallor of your face; food doesn’t taste the same; bouts of vertigo; trembling fingers; you might feel cold more often; bones seem weaker; the joints ache more; problems sleeping; heart palpitations; no energy; metallic taste in the mouth; the eyes feel hollowed out; stiffness in your way of walking; stiffness in the joints; forgetfulness; weakened lungs; weakened speech; the legs won’t provide a strong foundation; things  you could do so well before are impossible to do now…

Forget about the deterioration of your “cannon fist” or of your osoto-gari. This is going to turn into a huge problem on many fronts, both personal and professional.

There is an expression used in traditional Chinese medicine – “chasing the ill winds” – that may be a remedy for negative energy.

The first bit of medicine is to find the root cause of the problem. And address that cause. If negative energy persists, then consulting a health care professional may be the wisest course of action. After all, that heart palpitation could be the result of something altogether different.

Fill the arm as though filling a balloon with air

Next, try this very simple chi kung exercise…

Stand, or sit, in a spot which you feel might be loaded with lots of energy – in a place where the air is fresh, near trees, near water. As we said in the 60s, a place with “positive  vibes”.

Now, inhale slowly through the nose. Imagine that you’re inhaling the fresh energy in your surroundings. As you exhale very slowly, imagine that energy flowing into and down your left arm.

Imagine that your arm is a balloon, or a bottle of some kind, and you’re filling that balloon with more and more air, or in the case of the bottle, with water. With each successive breath, every bit of your arm is being filled with fresh energy.

Once the left arm is full, direct your breathing to your right arm. Fill the balloon – and by doing so, destroy, or push out, the stale energy.

Next, fill your entire torso in the same manner. This might take some time but you’ll become so good at it, that you’ll feel the space between your spine and the skin of your back gradually filling up.

Next the left leg, and then the right leg.

I've done this late at night while driving, to overcome fatigue. The technique can serve many purposes. But its really useful for clearing out negative energy – and for restoring a balance in the mind and body.

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