Energy is a resource. With available energy, one can accomplish goals, fulfill wishes and desires, thrive and contribute for making the world a better place. Energy is essential for all life processes and for maintaining good health.
Like any valuable resource, energy should be used wisely. The equation is quiet simple: make sure you make more energy than you spend. This way you will always be loading your battery and have a better chance at staying healthy and making your wishes come true.
What is energy?
The oriental concept of energy (defined as Yang Qi in Chinese medicine) is composed of both heat and movement, which are the basic and necessary condition for life. Life is a moving flame, a manifestation of heat, from the fertilization of the egg by the sperm to the last exhalation. A living body is a warm moving body; the heat allows the movement of life to occur. Heat and movement manifest in the body as kinetic energy, electrical energy, chemical energy, thermal energy and enables metabolism,immunity, mental function and general vitality.
Our internal energy sources
According to Chinese medicine, the Kidney Qi is the source for all the energy in the body. It is the source of both Yin and Yang.The kidney’s region in the body has different names in different cultures: Hara in Japanese culture (more commonly known for the devastating act of Hara-Kiri), Ming Men in Chinese culture (translates to “the Gate of Life”). This energy source constitute the inherent power of each person and is necessary to activate and stimulate all life processes in the body and specifically enable the proper functioning of the immune system, the hormonal system, the nervous system and brain, and the process of production of blood cells in the bone marrow.
To make things simple, we can regard the kidneys as two batteries. One Battery is non-rechargeable (almost), and the second battery rechargeable.
The non-rechargeable battery
The non-rechargeable battery is a reserve energy source which is acquired from our parents (some compare it to DNA). Thus the health state of our parents determines “the quality” of this energy reserve and somewhat the quality of our life. This energy source nourishes the fetus during pregnancy and is meant to supply the energy needed for long term processes such as growth, development, sexual maturation, fertility and extreme circumstances during out life.It is not meant to supply energy for the day to day energetic needs.Since it is inherited from the parents, it may be low from birth, and it is progressively depleted with age.People with insufficient energy of this battery suffer from infertility, impotence, mental and physical underdevelopment in children, and premature senility in adults.
As mentioned, this energy reserve is gradually depleted during life and can hardly be renewed. It is like an inherited bank account one can only withdraw from but cannot deposit to. Each person is born with a certain amount of money in the account and chooses consciously or unconsciously how and at what rate to utilize the money in the account. When the money runs out, life as we perceive it ends.
In fact, esoteric teachings such as alchemy and body-mind practices such as yoga and qigong have been created in an attempt to improve the quality of life and extend life by charging the non-rechargeable battery. There are people who are born with a very big non-rechargeable energy reserve, and can abuse their bodies (drinking lots of coffee and/or alcohol, lack of sleep at night, long-term exposure to stress, drug abuse, inadequate nutrition, etc.) and still enjoy quality of life and longevity without effort. Everyone knows a story about a grandfather or grandmother who reached a very old age and who only met the doctor at the grocery store, regardless their unaware lifestyle. These are the lucky ones and those who were born with a particularly large savings account and can afford more dissipation. On the other hand, some people are born with a small non-rechargeable energy reserve and will have to be very careful about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and even then they are likely to suffer from certain health difficulties.
Although intended for long term processes, the non-rechargeable battery will kick in action if and when the rechargeable battery is low on energy. This mechanism of compensation for the lack of day to day energy will cause the non-rechargeable battery to decline prematurely, especially under the following circumstances:
- It is particularly vulnerable to exhaustion due to overwork, a hard driven life style, and mostly due to chronic stress conditions.
- Suffering from continuous abuse.
- Chronic illness
- Excess ejaculations, multiple pregnancies, excessive sexual thoughts or activity.
- Excessive mental work, excess worry or fear.
- Hard strenuous physical work.
- Excessive or long term use of medications, drugs, smoking or alcohol.
The rechargeable battery
The rechargeable battery provides the day to day energy supply. It is charged with energy by the food and drink we consume, the air we breathe and our overall lifestyle. The level of recharge is variable and depends on our own choices. Healthy eating and sleeping habits,appropriate exercise and an overall healthy and spiritual lifestyle generates energy, while unhealthy habits, inappropriate diet, drug and alcohol abuse, living in polluted areas, stress, etc. drain energy.
Based on the choices we make we will influence the length and the quality of our life and the various life stages we go through, such as puberty, maturation, menopause, and aging. Thus although our life span and life quality may be somewhat predetermined by our inheritance it is essential to remember that a big part of it also depends on our own selves.
When the chargeable battery is full, the non-rechargeable battery reserve is in economy mode. Whenever chargeable battery is low, such as during illness, after an accident, conditions of extreme stress, dysfunction of the digestive and respiratory systems, in old age, the non-rechargeable battery reserve kicks in to supply the energy needed for maintaining life.
Low energy levels of the rechargeable battery could be compared to the modern term adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.It strikes people who endure long stretches of mental, physical, or emotional stress. People who are more likely to contract adrenal fatigue are shift workers, single parents, people with alcohol or drug dependence, and those with stressful jobs.
Elements that charge the chargeable battery:
- The production of energy on a daily basis from food and air by the activity of the digestive and respiratory systems.
- Quality and length of sleep. The ancient texts recommend early sleep and late awakening for charging energy, with the most important hours of sleep being the hours before midnight.
- Since our energy is quickly depleted nowadays by stress, it is imperative to get your stress levels under control. Slowing down, body and mind, to conserve energy, by getting more rest when you are tired or taking a break to de-stress.
- Finding the correct balance between activity and rest, incorporating into your life both stimulating, exciting, challenging activities and time for rest, letting go, relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Resolving situations that are making you worried or fearful, by changing your point of view over life, giving up your comfort zone to gain a new perspective and changing the way you perceive reality.
- Exercise routinely to stay in shape; nurture both flexibility and aerobic ability in relation to your specific constitution. Strengthen the muscles of the legs, lower back and abdomen that encircle your Kidney organ. Gentle exercise such as Qi Kong, Tai Chi or Yoga can balance more stimulating activities.
- A life style where foods are used as medicine and medicinal herbs are used daily as food.
Causes of low energy
Low energy in the form of fatigue for instance, can come from either depletion or excess. Think of energy as a flowing river. When the river is full and flowing steadily, energy level is good.
When the river is very low on water, the flow ceases. This is low energy on account of depletion. When the river is full of water, but something is blocking the flow of water, a dam, causing flow stagnation, this is low energy on account of excess.
Low energy from depletion
Depletion may stem from blood deficiency (anemia), dehydration (electrolyte imbalance), lack of sleep or poor sleep, poor digestion, too much activity, stress/anxiety/tension or hypoglycemia.
Low energy from depletion will get worse in the afternoon, after being active since morning. By16PM, the adrenals of the depleted person are likely to be exhausted. It’s time for a break, less stimulation, activities and thinking, in order to reclaim vital energy. A short power nap, a healthy snack and a nourishing warm beverage will help recovery.Low energy from depletion will get worse with exertion, moving around and multitasking. It will improve by rest, eating and drinking appropriately to one’s digestive capacity and with light stretching accompanied by deep breathing cycles (light yoga or Tai Qi).
Low energy from depletion may be a confusing situation. The rechargeable battery is comparable to the battery of your cell phone. Even when your cell phone is only 15% charged, it can still perform all its functions. The same happens with depleted people. Although their battery is very low, they are able to perform all their daily tasks and follow through. If they are unaware of their depleted condition, repressing or ignoring their fatigue, they will most probably rely on stimulants to some extent, such as coffee, to keep on going. The vicious cycle of fatigue and stimulants is a real threat and at some point the body will abruptly signal distress by creating a health crisis of some sort.
Low energy from excess causing stagnation
Popular causes for excess are lack of exercise, eating a large meal, thick blood, excess sleep or day sleep.
Low energy from excess is most prominent in the first hours of the day, especially after waking up late, or it could get worse by 16PM after a whole day of sitting (in the office, car or couch for instance). The adrenals of the excess person are likely to be stagnated, accompanied by poor circulation and a slow metabolism. They need more stimulation first thing when they arise from sleep or by 16PM if they have been sitting most of the day. Low energy from excess will get worse with eating too often, lack of movement and lack of motivation, ambition and a sense of purpose. It will improve by movement and exercise, eating light, drinking an invigorating tea like ginger tea, and by finding a significant goal to accomplish.
Mental fatigue and brain fog may occur naturally after a long day, but in more serious cases, it is persistent and chronic. Mental fatigue, confusion and a slow, cloudy mind are often a result of a rich, heavy, sweet diet which reduces circulation and creates phlegm which blocks clarity of mind. Eating food with spicy, pungent taste, clears and lightens a heavy mind, stimulates digestion and burns away an accumulation of phlegm that creates a sluggish body and mind. A light diet should be followed and phlegm provoking foods avoided. Engage in stimulating exercise first thing in the morning to refresh your mind and combat fatigue.
People with low energy from excess often notice that the more they move and take action, the better they feel physically and mentally.
Recurring short bursts of energy followed by fatigue
Short bursts of energy may come from the liver’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels.
If you are in a depleted condition, your liver function may be deficient, leading to erratic behavior and inability to keep blood sugar levels stable.
If you are in an excess condition, your liver function may be blocked, leading to alternating bursts of energy whenever you are active and crashing into heavy fatigue once liver goes stagnant again.
Late night energy burst
After 22:00 PM you might notice a ‘second wind’ of energy that lasts until 2:00 AM. Many people use this second wind energy for working late, reading, and otherwise keeping the mind or body active. The second wind energy is actually meant for charging your battery,and cleansing your internal organs. This energy is supplied by the liver. To help your body rejuvenate and cleanse from the daily stresses, wear and tear or just normal living, you should be sound asleep before the second wind rises.