What Causes Energy To Stagnate?
Many things can lead to stagnation of qi, the severity of which obviously depends upon the amount of stressors we encounter in our daily lives, the severity of these stressors, our perception of them and the effectiveness of our coping mechanisms.
I think it’s fair to say that a great number of us lead extremely fast-paced, hectic, stressed lifestyles that leave us frazzled and burnt out. Stagnant or stuck energy, if not balanced out, can lead to a disabling of our natural defense network (aka immune system) which gives way to chronic disease, suffering and eventual collapse. Pay attention to these causes and do your best to either avoid them or if that’s not possible create space in your schedule for activities which focus on breath work, relaxation and flow.
One of the main causes of qi stagnation are turbulent emotions; especially stress, anxiety, shock, depression, fear, frustration, resentment and anger. Many of us either repress our emotions or give in to them too much so that it snowballs rather than dissipates. Mark Twain offered a lot of wisdom in his famous quote, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Slight trauma may only cause a mild stagnation of qi (more feeling of discomfort), whereas more severe trauma will include both stagnation of qi and stasis of blood in the injured area leading to bruising, swelling, or pain. Even old and forgotten injuries can be the cause of stagnant energy. If not properly healed, accumulated scar tissue and reduced flow of blood and nutrients can cause old injuries to remain more vulnerable to future attacks of the same or different cause.
Spinal misalignments, whether from injury or habitual poor posture can impinge on nerves and cause a disruption in the communication between the central nervous system and the corresponding organs. Qi, represented as the bioelectrical nerve impulses, will not move as smoothly or as swiftly and in turn will encumber proper function resulting in various disturbances which we experience as symptoms (headaches, digestive issues, pain, etc).
We live in an increasingly toxic world today and are constantly exposed to poisonous substances from our food, water, air, drugs, personal items and cleaning supplies. Chinese medicine places the liver in charge of the proper movement of qi; thus, if the liver is overwhelmed with outside toxins (let alone our own metabolic waste products), it cannot fulfill its role properly and qi stagnation arises as a result.
Bacterial, viral and fungal infections cause your body to activate the metabolically expensive immune response which can easily drain your qi. Think back to when you caught a cold or fell ill, you probably felt fatigued and drained of energy. Well when qi becomes deficient,it can easily stagnate. Just as a stream that is low on water will not flow as readily as one that is full. This is especially true for those that have a prolonged illness or a chronic condition.
Healthy eating habits are unquestionably vital to our health and wellbeing. But HOW you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat. Eating in a rush and on the go, while working or working immediately after eating can lead to qi stagnation and indigestion. Foods that can worsen qi stagnation perhaps not immediately but in the long run include coffee or other stimulating beverages, alcohol and refined or sweet junk food.
Since qi is what aids in the movement of blood, lymph, nutrients and toxins into and out of our bodies, movement is an essential component of health. We must help our qi flow optimally in order to ensure that all our cells, tissues and organ systems are functioning at their best. When we sit for too long, we stagnate our energy and blood flow creating areas of tension and pain. This is commonly seen in people who sit all day at work and develop chronic back or neck pain. Moderate physical activity that doesn’t over-stress the body but gently helps move the energy is a fundamental element to joyful longevity.
Overwork & Insufficient Rest
This was the story of my life in college and may sound familiar to many people who are struggling to make ends meet in today’s especially driven society. Since the liver is the organ in charge of the proper flow of qi, when it doesn’t get ample time to rest, detox and recharge, it’s ability to properly manage its job is inevitably compromised. As mentioned above, depleted qi can become easily stagnated and cause additional problems.
Qi stagnation can begin with very mild symptoms. But if we choose to ignore the signs of disharmony and not rebalance ourselves, it will increase in severity and cause a domino effect on other energy pathways and organ systems. A turbulent internal environment will eventually lead to an immunocompromised state, disease and cancer.
After all, we are human, not machines. We must practice diligence to create time and space in our day to refuel and recharge so as to not to burn our candle from both ends. We should enjoy and savor the journey that we are on and not rush by miserably to the perceived destination while missing all the beauty on the way. Slow and steady wins the race. Fast and frantic burns you out.
Next week’s blog will delve into a number of methods we can use to resolve our stagnated energy, promote its free flow and feel amazing every day! =)