It’s the Holiday Season and time for spending time with friends and loved ones. As enriching as this may be, you can become depleted if you aren’t able to stay centered in yourself and recharge. Especially during the Winter season, it is important to spend time nourishing your roots: it is the time of year that is perfect for bringing the mind deep within the body to cultivate your essence and vitality. The Qigong practices I most recommend for this season invigorate your body, re-energize your mind, and keep your heart open and full of positive emotion.
The Bowing Exercise works best for me to quiet my thoughts, calm my emotions, and energize my body. I’ve created this video to give you comprehensive instructions for this practice. Bowing is used in cultures across the world for numerous benefits, and you can now enjoy these benefits yourself by incorporating the exercise into your regular routine. View the video below, and continue reading for additional insight into this ancient mind-body discipline (which includes my favorite peanut butter analogy for mind-body practices – it actually works better than any other comparison I can think of)!
The Bowing Exercise
The following is an excerpt from my book, “The Quadrant and 3 Phases,” available for purchase on amazon.
Bowing is an ideal Qigong exercise to cleanse and strengthen the body, heart and mind. It is extremely simple to perform, allowing the body and mind to merge in a rejuvenating flow. The greater number of bows you practice, the greater the challenge; but with this challenge comes the benefit of witnessing the profound healing that occurs when the mind is deeply unified with the body. The repetitive nature of the bows draws the mind continually back to the body, and to the breath, allowing energy to be absorbed deep into the bones to restore reserves of essential energy and vitality.
As a Qigong instructor, I practice bowing frequently; and as a father of two young children I make a lot of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I’ve found that peanut butter serves as a helpful analogy for the merging of mind and body achieved through bowing. In our day to day consciousness the mind and body are mostly separated, like ground peanuts from peanut oil. The peanuts sit at the bottom of the jar, representing our body, and the oil rests above, representing our mind. As you perform the bowing exercise you are stirring the oil into the peanut butter, and absorbing your mind into your body. Not only does this bring energy to the body (where the mind goes, energy flows), it also brings stability to the mind and makes it less apt to wander or separate from the body and the present moment.
Unlike peanut butter, however, we cannot purchase our body and mind pre-stirred. We must engage regularly in practices that bring the mind and body together into one, undifferentiated whole. Practices that aim to achieve this wholeness are significantly more effective when they involve movement of the body. Simple and repetitive, just like stirring, the bowing exercise gently raises the vibration of your physical body so it can soak up your mind and become one with it.
As you move deep into the flow of the bowing exercise your physical body is often forgotten, and you become immersed in your energetic and spiritual bodies. Though your physical body may tire, you begin to rely on your energetic and spiritual stamina; and this becomes a way for you to grow your energetic and spiritual vitality and increase your well-being at every level.
The form of bowing that I teach is most closely related to what is taught in schools of Zen Buddhism, and it is similar to the prostrations practiced by many Tibetans. Bowing, in an infinite variety of forms, is widely practiced throughout the world as both a posture for prayer and meditation, and as an activity for physical training and exercise.