Monday, June 12, 2006

3: First Steps to a Healthier Immune System

In the simplest terms, I want you to work on three parts of yourself, your physical self, your spiritual self, and your energy body. I want you to do this in two ways, by adding things that make you stronger and more resilient and by subtracting things that make you weaker. So everything in this blog will be in one of this six categories:

1. Strengthening your physical self
2. Strengthening your spiritual self
3. Strengthening your energy body
4. Leaving behind the things that weaken your physical self
5. Leaving behind the things that weaken your spiritual self
6. Leaving behind the things that weaken your energy body

Let's define some terms.

By spiritual self I'm talking about your loving relationship with the rest of the universe and in particular the other sentient beings that you share it with. I personally believe in God and include my relationship with God in my spirituality but you can do as you like. If you have compassion for other sentient beings, that will be enough to improve your health and vitality.

By the energy body, I'm talking about Chakras and Qi (chee) and the channels of energy that run throughout the body. Scientists haven't quite figured out what this is all about, but we know from thousands of years of experience in Asia that there is an energy in the body that isn't really physical and isn't really spiritual either. This is the stuff of Qigong and Tai Chi. There may be more potential here to improve your health than in purely physical exercises and diet, or in spiritual exercises like prayer and meditation. We just don't know. So I say work on all three at the same time.

I'll try to not get hung-up on terminology. I want this blog to be helpful and easy to follow for English speakers. We'll talk about the energy body but I'll avoid the Sanscrit and Chinese terms as much as possible.

For homework, I'd like you to start thinking about the six categories above.

I suspect that you already know some things that you could do physically. Schedule regular walks with a friend for instance--this will improve you physically, spiritually and energetically. Think of a few things that are probably making you sick. If you can't make your own list, think about coffee, high-fructose corn syrup (it's in almost everything--even those mints they give you at restaurants), and carbonated beverages.

The biggest improvement you can make spiritually is your joy. As much as possible, get rid of things that make you sad. If you can't get rid of them (like relatives!) then learn acceptance (we'll talk about this later in a separate blog). Increase the things that give you joy! Joy will give you wings! Meditate on this. The things that give you joy will be different from mine.

Energy work may be new to you. You might start by reading about Tai Chi. I personally like the Chen version taught by Patrick Martin of Northern Arizona University. He has a set of tapes available that are very easy to listen to and learn. If you are physically weak you might want to start with Qigong which is related to Tai Chi. If you buy Patrick Martin's video, the first part of each lesson is actually Qigong which he uses as a warm-up exercise. I have used other Tai Chi videos and find that while they're technically correct, they may encourage you to do more strenuous exercises than you're ready for. So if you buy a video other than Patrick Martin's, go slowly and be gentle with yourself.

More to come . . .

Take a deep breath,