When we don’t give ourselves enough self-care, we tend to feel drained and perhaps even soul-less. Our capacity to care for others, or care at all, also wanes. So we need to keep recharging our batteries—that’s giving ourselves love.
While healthy food, good sleep, a walk outside, or doing some of your favorite things can refresh us, paying attention to our energy flow can help us refine our habits and refill our energy stores more quickly and easily. To keep our batteries recharging throughout the day, we can make sure we have Water Up, Fire Down energy flow. This is the main cycle of energy in our bodies. Warm (fire) energy flows down while cool (water) energy flows up.
Why Water Up, Fire Down
When this flow is cycle is blocked or reversed, we become hot-headed, stressed, with a tense neck and shoulders and a stiff abdomen. In this state, it’s harder to sleep well, digest food well, or even breathe well—the important things we need to do to care for ourselves. We may also become irritated more easily and prone to unhealthy behaviors.
On the other hand, having Water Up, Fire Down energy flow lets everything in our lives flow better. With it, when we do take time to rest, we rest deeply. Our hearts are more open and our minds our clearer. We have a greater capacity to love ourselves.
One important factor in having Water Up, Fire Down is maintaining a strong energy center in the lower abdomen. The pinwheel of energy turning deep in our belly, below the navel, acts as an energy generator. It fuels our actions. But it needs to be strong enough to draw down the warm energy and push up the cold energy in our bodies. It’s this energy center that powers Water Up, Fire Down circulation. When it’s too weak, our energy becomes sluggish, so we feel sluggish as well.
How Do We Do It
So if we want to recharge our batteries, we need to fill up this energy center regularly. We also need to watch ourselves during our day and see what movements, words, and behaviors drain our energy center and which ones fill it.
Try this exercise from Ilchi Lee’s book, Water Up Fire Down: An Energy Principle for Calmness, Clarity, and a Lifetime of Health whenever you need to energize yourself. This Intestinal Exercise is one of several in the book for strengthening the energy center in your abdomen.
- Stand or lie down with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Tuck your chin a little, close your eyes, and
focus your mind inside your lower abdomen.
- Place your palms on your lower belly with your thumbs at your navel and your index fingers touching.
- Pull your abdomen in toward your back, hold it for a moment, and then relax, releasing your belly naturally.
- Repeat 100 times, pulling and releasing your abdomen. Increase the number of repetitions as you become
more comfortable with the exercise.
Relax when doing this exercise so that your arms and shoulders don’t become tense. You don’t have to try to sync your breathing with your movements.
When doing Intestinal Exercise for the first time, you may feel pain in your abdomen or lower back if your belly is stiff. If this happens, use your palm to massage and release the stiffness, then gently resume doing Intestinal Exercise without being too intense.