Our modern world is a miracle of interconnectivity. We can easily stay in touch with people all over the world through social media, and we can buy food products from many different cultures at almost any grocery store. And, we can easily travel where we want when we want—across town or around the world. The dark side of this, however, as we have found out through the COVID-19 pandemic, is that new, highly contagious diseases can spread rapidly around the world, quicker than we can act to contain them.
As I’m writing this, there is still no clear, final solution to the Covid crisis. My hope is that there is a safe and reliable vaccine and/or cure soon available. It is amazing what science can do for us with its relentless search for better medical treatments. Many deadly pandemics of the past, such as polio and smallpox, have been practically wiped out. Science and modern medicine are amazing gifts to humanity, and I’m sure something will arise eventually from their efforts. Yet, in the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people have died, and economies and individuals suffer while waiting. Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves, beyond face masks and social distancing? I believe there is, and it is already available to us.
Stress and Disease
As you probably know, older people and people with “pre-existing conditions” have had the most difficult time fending off the COVID-19 virus. While many healthy young people with the virus have felt little effect, sometimes no symptoms at all, those in the high risk category often suffered prolonged breathing difficulties, extended hospital stays, and sometimes loss of their lives. Frighteningly, these “pre-existing conditions” are not at all unusual medical conditions. They are not rare immune deficiencies or genetic abnormalities; they are health problems that are quite common in our society, such as hypertension, asthma, obesity, and diabetes.
To see these health problems from an energetic point of view, I’d first like you to look at something that is a likely root contributor to all of them: stress. As Robert M. Sapolsky chronicles in his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, multiple scientific studies have demonstrated the role stress plays in causing and exacerbating the diseases that plague today’s modern society. And, that same stress response causes havoc on the immune system due to its stimulation of inflammation in the body. Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen, who researched the connection between disease and stress, notes, “The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease.”
The New Old School Medicine
But what does all this have to with energy? A lot, since energy is the bridge between mind and body. It is not hard to see that the stress response has something to do with the mind—we perceive something dangerous or upsetting in our environment, and our bodies respond. Energy is the communication between body and mind, an element in the stress response that is not acknowledged in Western medicine.
In Eastern medicine, however, this connection has been acknowledged for a long time. For thousands of years, traditional Asian medical practitioners have defined the ideal energy balance in the body with this phrase: “Water Up, Fire Down.” This refers to the fact that, if health is strong within the body, the head remains cool while the belly stays warm. If you have ever experienced a period of intense stress, you have experienced the inverse—a hot, feverish head and a cold, clammy feeling in the gut. If this condition is allowed to persist for a long time, health is highly likely to break down, and disease will be the result.
In my new book, Water Up Fire Down: An Energy Principle for Creating Calmness, Clarity, and a Lifetime of Health, I make the case that learning to maintain this energetic balance is our first line of defense against diseases. If we can learn to maintain this, our immune system, along with other healing mechanisms in the body, will have the best chance to function fully. Here, I’d like to share two simple exercises from my new book that can help to reduce stress and quickly re-establish a proper Water Up, Fire Down condition in the body—Dahnjon Tapping and Abdominal Breathing.
This exercise might seem unusual, but it is the quickest way to bring energy down from the head and into the abdominal area, which is the site of your main physical energy center, your dahnjon. The dahnjon is located at about two inches below your navel.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Tuck your chin a little, close your eyes, and focus your mind on your lower abdomen.
- Tap your lower abdomen using both open palms at the same time. Thinking of your lower abdomen as a drum, beat it with your hands in a steady rhythm. Use enough strength to make vibrations deep in your abdomen while keeping your arms and shoulders relaxed.
- Do Dahnjon Tapping for as few as 100 to as many as 500 or even 1,000 repetitions. It takes less than a minute to tap 100 times. Beginners can do about 100 repetitions in a set and then gradually increase that number when they’re more familiar with the exercise. It’s also okay to take a short break between sets of 100.
Breathing properly is essential for stress reduction and healing, and for re-establishing Water Up, Fire Down energy balance.
- Sit on the floor or in a chair in a comfortable position and straighten your lower back. You can also lie on your back on a flat surface. Relax your neck, shoulders, and arms and close your eyes.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your lower abdomen.
- When you breathe in, let your abdomen expand like a balloon filling with air. When you exhale, let your abdomen contract. The hand on your chest should remain relatively still.
- For beginners, it’s good to start with focusing on the feeling of slowly pulling the abdomen in and out without worrying about the length of each breath.
- Relax any tension in your body and mind, and breathe comfortably. You don’t need to intentionally breathe slowly or hold your breath. Once your body is sufficiently relaxed, your breathing will automatically slow and stabilize.
Your Body Is Your First Defense
In my years as a healer and a teacher, I have seen many people dramatically improve their health by simply focusing on proper Water Up, Fire Down energy circulation. It seems like magic, it is not; it’s simply a matter of allowing the body to do what it already knows what to do—to defend against invaders like the Covid virus and to heal any organs or to establish homeostasis in the body. If you can do this, you are returning your body to its original state, like the bodies of those young kids whose immune systems knock out the Covid virus like it’s no big deal. Maintaining this balance is not hard with a few simple exercises, and, I believe, it should become a normal, everyday part of everyone’s health routine.