Five to Thrive

We often take steps to enhance our health. Some people run for miles while others work out for hours in the gym. Yet, traditional Chinese medicine believes that these strenuous activities aren’t the best things for us. Why? Running or other hard workouts force the body to use extra Qi—Qi that could otherwise have been used for healing.

Here are five lifestyle choices the ancients in China tuned into that will help you thrive:

1. Eating for Healing

Eating for healing is all about following the seasons when choosing what to eat. When you eat in harmony with the specific time of year, you naturally choose foods that are locally grown. You also eat in a way that supports your energetic health. Eating for healing is a powerful tool to create wellness. After all, eating is something you do three times a day, every day. Also, remember to hold the ice! The Stomach “prefers” warm foods and drinks, especially in the morning. Ice-cold drinks as well as raw foods and those with a cold essence (like yogurt) can actually unbalance the function of this key digestive organ.

2. Take a Break

Finding a balance between work and rest is important to your overall health. Start your workday with the following two-minute meditation: Close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Allow yourself to go into a state of “let go” where your to-do list fades and you do not focus on problems, emotions or physical sensations. Throughout the day, take frequent breaks from your cell phone or computer. Take a walk outside or sit quietly and return to this relaxed, calm state. These breaks will give your body a special energy recharge that you can’t get from caffeine or sugar. And cumulatively, they can have the same healing value as a longer meditation.

3. Move to Build Energy

Your body is about 70 percent water. Soft, slow, water-like movements are a great form of exercise. Self-healing practices such as Qigong increase and balance your Qi. Walking slowly in Nature is also a great health-builder. Don’t forget to leave the headphones home! When you are fully present in Nature, your body connects with and receives the healing Qi of the natural world.

4. Early to Bed

Did you know that you expend nearly twice the energy when awake after midnight than you do during the day? Your body has an internal rhythm, and your energy moves deep into your organs during the night, rejuvenating and healing them.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Emotions play a large role in your overall wellness. They are often the energy behind many physical problems. According to TCM, emotions are a natural part of life—they should flow! Continually held emotions have the ability to unbalance the body and set the stage for health issues to arise.

One traditional healing exercise is called “Smiling from the Heart”. Face a mirror and smile—a real smile from your heart. As you smile, feel your shoulders relax and your body loosen. Your Heart is home to your Shen, or spirit, and your face reflects this aspect of your soul. This practice has a very deep effect—it promotes the flow of Qi and blood throughout your entire body (and it makes you happy). So smile!