Those of you familiar with traditional Chinese medicine may be aware that each of the organs of the body is assigned a 2 hour period in the 24 hour clock, during which time that particular organ is supposed to be functioning at its optimal level.
For the liver this time is sometimes placed as 11pm-1am, or sometimes 1am-3am. One of the functions of the liver is to detoxify poisons that have built up in the body and the blood stream, and I have heard it recommended (again in TCM circles) that in order to help your liver de-toxify your body and replennish your qi levels it is good to regularly be in bed and sleeping between 11pm and 1am.
As a habitual late night sleeper I have certainly found that getting to bed by 11pm at least once every three days does have a really tangible and positive effect upon my qi levels, and so I strongly recommend it to other people. Simply getting 7 or 8 hours sleep regularly (eg from 1am to 8 or 9am) does not have the same effect for me as getting to be that bit earlier, so that i am lying down and resting as my liver moves into its optimum functioning mode.
So, for this reason, if you are a habitual nightbird like me I recommend getting to bed in good time at least once every three days, for the sake of your overall health and qi!
Finally, here is a digram of the internal organs together with their respective times. If you would like to view an interactive version of this diagram, which details the emotions connected with each of the organs, please click HERE.
© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
Working with and absorbing stellar or cosmic qi is something that is increasingly emphasized as one becomes more advanced along many of the diverse paths of Qi Gong. But there is no reason why you can’t start working with it now and enjoy the benefits using the very simple method detailed below. We have recently moved to a house with a roof garden, and so I am enjoying it very much. As well as having the energetic benefits of absorbing star qi, it also helps make the mind very big, spacious and light.
Find an appropriate place to lie down at night, under an open sky.
Open your eyes and stare up at the starry sky for a while. Take in the vast expanse of the sky, empty your mind and enjoy the twinkling lights of the stars.
After a while close your eyes and imagine starry light flowing down from the stars and from the night sky into all the cells of your body.
In particular feel three focus points of starry energy and light building in the center of your brain, the center of your chest and the central area of your lower abdomen.
Take your time, finish when ready.
Repeat three times a week, or as often as desired!
© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We can begin to look at specific types and manifestations of qi by observing landscape, and the way in which it is composed of the four elements; earth (body of the planet, mountains, tress etc), water(lakes, rivers, oceans), air(sky) and fire (sun and stars).
In each of these four elements qi manifests in a particular way, and has particular powers and characteristics that we can learn to attune to and consciously utilize for healing and energizing purposes.
Below is a meditation for attuning to qi within the four elements in landscape. It is one of the first meditations that I wrote after I left Buddhist monkhood and went back into secular life back in 2001. Once you are familiar with the basic process you can easily use it to attune to the qi within any landscape. Enjoy!
(Note: The four elements used in this article earth, air, fire water is based around the four observable elements in nature. This is different from (but closely related to) the system of five elements that you find in Qi gong philosophy; earth, wood, fire, metal, water).
Mandala and Four Elements Meditation
Find a comfortable position, either seated or lying down, with a straight back.
Spend a minute or so focusing on the breathing and bringing your attention inward.
Bring to mind now a beautiful natural setting that you may be familiar with and love, one that when you think of it makes you feel very relaxed and peaceful and that takes you away from the trials of your daily life. This place should be a landscape that includes both land and a water element, above you you feel the energy of the sun, moon and stars.
(note: If you are able to actually go out physically to such a landscape to do the meditation, then this is great).
Wherever you choose to see yourself, see yourself sitting or lying comfortably on the ground of this place of inner retreat, surrounded by bright sunlight, and cooling shade, as refreshing breezes caress your body.
Feel your feet on the earth, the flowers and wonderful vegetation and water features around you, the only sounds that you hear come from nature.
Take the time now to attune yourself to the your spiritual being that lies within you, see this as a light and feeling of love at your heart.
Feel your consciousness expanding into the elements of nature surrounding you. As you breathe in and out you can feel your mind blending and merging with the environment around you.
Attune yourself to the earth and rocks, and feel this earth energy moving up through your feet as beautiful golden green light. Feel this light pervading your whole physical body now, clearing and balancing the earth element within you. See it going through your organs, flesh and bones, clearing and balancing their energies within you. Feel your earth element merging with the harmony of the natural earth element around you.
See the water element arising from the water near you as a clear blue light. See this light surrounding you and entering into the water element in the cells of your own body. See it clearing all of the imbalance and disharmony in your blood, fluids and watery elements of your physical body. See and feel your water element coming into harmony and balance with the water element of nature, with the rivers, lakes and oceans of the planet.
Feel and see the light and fresh air around you now moving into your physical body, fell it move through your lungs and out thru your other organs, thru your arms and hands, thru your legs and feet, thru your neck and head. Feel the pure light and energy of the air element moving into all the spaces in your body, clearing out and balancing your own air element. Feel the air element within you coming into line with the air element within nature, and with the sky.
Feel the heat and golden light of the sun now surrounding you and caressing you. Feel this light moving into your system now, clearing and purifying the fire element within your body. See and feel the regulation and distribution of your heat energy being cleared by this beautiful golden light and heat from the Sun. Feel your fire element now coming one with the fire element of nature.
Now feel the energies of Mother Earth Herself now coming up through your feet chakras into your heart, feel her love for you as one of her children. Feel her heart and yours now coming into harmony and merging as one at your heart. Take this feeling of love and oneness with the Earth Mother as your final object of meditation.
When you feel ready, become fully aware of your physical body and surroundings, and when you are ready, open your eyes.
© Toby Ouvry 2011. You are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact email@example.com
Balanced sensory awareness can be experienced as an awareness that is evenly distributed between the six aspects of our body (front, back, left, right, top, bottom) and the corresponding directions that surround us (in front, behind, to the left, right, above and below).
Because four of our senses are based toward the front of our head, the bias of our sensory awareness tends to be focused to the front, with subsidiary awareness of the left and right.
General Qi gong practice opens us up also to awareness of the sky and stars above, and planetary qi below.
Which direction is left out of the equation? Yep, it is behind, and using the back of our head, neck and back (as in back of torso) to feel and sense into our world.
Consciously focusing our awareness in the back of our body and learning to sense and feel into what is behind us is an interesting exercise:
- It makes us stop and think/be aware, as it provides us with a new perspective that we do not often focus on
- It gets us out of our mind and into our body
- It brings our overall sensory awareness into balance
- It teaches us to not over-rely upon our visual sense, and to “feel” and “hear” into our world more
- It develops our tactile sense, as the back of our body has no other major sense organs, just the sense of energy and touch coming through the skin receptors
- It is just a pleasant way of re-experiencing your world
Focusing on feeling your back and what is behind you is something that you can do anytime as a mindfulness exercise that will help you balance your overall sensory awareness and get you out of your head.
- You can do it whilst walking along (hint: don’t totally loose awareness of what is in front of you!)
- You can find a piece of open space and practice walking slowly and mindfully backwards, sensing with the back of your body as you go.
- You can take a one minute pause when you are working in front of your computer and just spend that minute focusing on what you feel in your back.
- It is nice to go out and try and sense landscape around you through the back of your body, rather than just seeing and experiencing it from the front and what is in your line of eye-vision
© Toby Ouvry, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous articles on directional awareness: