Completing the Ever-Growing List

When you wake up in the morning, does your mind automatically go to the laundry list of tasks you must complete by the end of the day? And does your list seem to get longer and longer as the week goes on? If so, you’re not alone.

Everything you do uses Qi, or vital energy—from brushing your teeth, to writing an email, to running a 5K. So, how much Qi will it take to complete your entire list? And is everything on your list worthy of your Qi?

The natural response would be to look at the items on the list and figure out how to boost your Qi so you can check them off. Another perspective is to cross things off of the list that are not essential.

Increasing your energy takes work! Qigong practice and deep, quality sleep are critical components to acquiring Qi. But as quickly as we increase our energy, we also deplete it. Instead of looking to increase your energy in order to do the extra work, look to cut off your energy expenses. Clearly, this is easier said than done. Taking things off your list may even create anxiety. So how can it be done? Look at your lifestyle and ask yourself two questions: How can I conserve my Qi? and What isn’t necessary?

Conserving Qi

So many people rush to the gym in the early morning or go running in the cold weather. They feel that this is the best way to strengthen their bodies and give themselves an energy boost. But TCM takes the opposite approach. By pushing the body, you are asking it to go against its nature. Sleeping is the best energy event to increase energy and cut out expense. Instead of a long run, take a long soak in a warm bath. And instead of a sweaty gym session, practice Qigong every day. At the end of each day, find time to truly unwind and give yourself the space to relax before jumping in bed. Go, go, go does not translate to deep sleep.

Physical exercise works on the physical body—muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. But everything on the physical body first begins at the level of energy. You also need energy in order to achieve quality sleep. Qigong gives you a shortcut to go right to the level of energy. Continual practice can keep your body flowing in harmony. When the body is in a true state of balance, illness cannot and will not occur. So instead of using everything you acquire through Qigong practice, sleeping, and eating-for-healing, look for ways to conserve.

Eliminating What Isn’t Necessary

There are likely many things on your written or mental list that aren’t essential. Try this exercise: Write down everything you feel you must do in a given week. This should include things you expect of yourself and things others expect of you. Think of this from every angle—work, home, volunteer. Now that your list has been created, look at it with fresh eyes. Can any items on the list be completed by someone else? Perhaps your child can help fold the laundry or empty the dishwasher. Or maybe another parent in your school can share the responsibilities you so generously volunteer for. If you can realistically hand off something to another person, cross the item off. Take a look at what remains. Are there items there that truly make you happy? If so, leave those on your list.

Now look again. Is everything that remains truly essential? Keep eliminating items from your list until you have something much more manageable. And when it is complete, breathe. Give yourself grace to complete these items in your own time. As you complete them, become aware of what you are asking your body to do. Feel the amount of Qi you are “paying” for each of those items, and find ways to make them simpler, so that you can complete them without depleting yourself.

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