Let's keep it simple. As an Acupuncturist, an important recommendation to my patients is to breathe! You got it, do that thing you have to do to keep you alive. This month, I encourage you to bring more mindfulness to your breath - think about your breathing instead of it just being an automatic process. When you bring mindfulness to your breath, you are more likely to be breathing deeper and in turn getting more oxygen and improving your Lung function. So how is this a Traditional Chinese Medicine tip and not just a regular for your health tip? Well, here's a breakdown of how we view breathing in Chinese medicine.
Mindful Breathing & Chinese Medicine: Gathering Qi
According to Chinese Medicine theory, Qi is vital. In essence, Qi is energy and is vital to our existence as humans. We are all given Qi from our parents at conception and this is call prenatal Qi.
But we need to acquire Qi every day in order to survive and this is called postnatal Qi. You can think of Qi as energy. How we live requires energy or the transference of energy to us from the food we eat and the air we breathe. When we eat food, our digestive system extracts what it needs from the food and combines it with the air we breath to form what we call in Chinese Medicine "gathering Qi" or "zong Qi".
This is the energy of the chest. It is impossible to have this without adequate oxygen. Gathering Qi is responsible for energizing the Lungs to assist in breathing, coordinating with the heart for adequate blood flow and heart function, influencing speech and throat function, and because of it's relationship to the Lung, adequate gathering qi is important for managing grief.
Five Minutes to Accumulate Your Qi, Energy and Life
Think of breathing like nutrition. If you don't get enough nutrition, your body cannot function. The same is true for the air you breathe. If you aren't getting enough oxygen through deep and mindful breathing, you will notice the physical manifestations of that: anxiety, rapid heart rate, headaches, loss of voice, chest tightness, dizziness, nausea.
For this month, take 5 minutes every day. Yes, I totally think you can find 5 minutes, to focus on your breathing. Don't do anything else except for take deep, slow breaths for 5 whole minutes. I can almost promise that you will feel a boost in energy, increased relaxation and more regular heart rate.