How do you release pent-up stress? Exercise? Walk? Listen to music or watch a movie? Chat with a friend? Eat something delicious? Sleep? Relieving stress regularly is a good thing, however you do it, without waiting for the pressure to build until your head explodes. I mean, as long as you don't rely too much on unhealthy things like binge eating, smoking, and drinking alcohol.
I suggest adding an energy perspective to your stress relief. Stress management is, in fact, energy management. Energy is the vital force underlying our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. We're healthy when the energy in our bodies flows well, achieving balance and harmony. Conversely, we are unhealthy when our balance and harmony are broken, and our energy flow is blocked.
The optimal energy balance for good health is called “Water Up, Fire Down”
in Asian medicine. It means that our body's cold energy should rise and hot energy sink. It'll be easy to understand if you think of it as keeping a cool head and having a fire in your belly.
What Happens to Your Energy When You’re Stressed?
When we are overloaded with stress, the energy of our bodies enters a state exactly opposite that of Water Up, Fire Down
. Your head grows hot and your belly cold as this energetic imbalance manifests in a variety of symptoms. With your head throbbing, your neck and shoulders stiff, and a stifling feeling in your chest, you have digestive problems, are anxious or worried, irritable for no reason, and have trouble sleeping at night . . . these are all stress reactions commonly experienced by everyone.
What should you do to correct this reversed energy state and bring balance, harmony, and flow to your body? You have to open up blockages in the energy pathway through which hot energy in your head sinks into your lower abdomen. Starting at a point in the hollow area below the lower lip, this pathway passes along the front center of the body, connecting to the genitals. In Asian medicine, it's called the Conception Meridian.
When stress builds up, energy points on the Conception Meridian are blocked. One of the commonly obstructed places on the meridian is the Joongwan
point in the upper abdomen. Joongwan means the exact center of the stomach area; in Asian medicine, acupuncture needles are placed there when treating digestive illnesses.
The Joongwan is also the site of the third of the seven energy centers, or chakras
, in our bodies. The third chakra has a deep association with self-esteem, confidence, emotional control, and personal power. When your third chakra is healthy, you live as a master of rich, mature emotions, without losing your center amid fluctuating feelings. If your third chakra
is weak, though, you're afflicted by lethargy and a lack of self-confidence, the victim of an emotional roller coaster, and prone to indecision.
I'll now introduce a breathing method for fully opening your Joongwan point to relieve stress. I call this approach to breathing the "Get Bright Method." Correcting your energy stagnation and imbalance, changing your energy to be light and bright, brings a variety of mental wellness effects, including stress relief, a greater sense of happiness, and enhanced positivity.
You have probably heard about the gut brain. The gut brain refers to a network of neurons spanning the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The gut brain and the head brain in the skull are intimately interconnected, upset in one causing upset in the other. The gut is responsible for producing 90% of our serotonin (the happiness hormone) and 50% of our dopamine (the joy hormone). It is no coincidence that mindfully stimulating the Joongwan, which is situated at the center of the gut brain, enhances mood and improves emotional control. You get bright
if you stimulate your Joongwan.
The Get Bright Method is especially helpful for people who feel frustrated or anxious due to ongoing stress, who are ordinarily tired or lack ambition, who have trouble getting to sleep at night, or who are irritable.
How to Locate the Joongwan Point
All right, then, let's start the Get Bright Method. First, you have to locate your Joongwan point. Your Joongwan is in the halfway between the bottom of your sternum and your navel. If you place your thumb on the spot where your ribs divide, forming an inverted V, and, with your fourth finger on your belly button, gently curl your index finger, the place where it touches is the Joongwan.
Warm-Up Exercises: Loosening up the Energy Knot
The following are two warm-up exercises, very simple movements for opening a blocked Joongwan point before practicing the Joongwan Breathing Method. You can do them standing or seated in a chair or on the floor.
The first movement involves using the palms of your hands to pat your chest and abdomen. With your palms, rhythmically pat along your Conception Meridian, a central line on your trunk from your neck to your lower abdomen. You can pat alternating hands, or pat using both palms at the same time. Breathe naturally but exhale slowly, with a long, "Hoo . . ." After repeating this movement for about 2 minutes, pat about 1 minute more, focusing on the area of your Joongwan. Sweep the palms of your hands from your neck to your lower abdomen three times, then finish.
The second movement involves working your arms and shoulders to relax your chest and back. Lightly holding your hands in fists, push your elbows back from in front of your chest, stimulating your back. Repeat this movement for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Next, with your palms open and facing upward, move your arms in opposite directions from in front of your chest toward your back. Repeat this movement for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Get Bright Breathing: Pressing and Breathing to Open
There are two Get Bright Breathing exercises. One is Joongwan Pumping, in which you rhythmically and repeatedly press your Joongwan, and the other is Joongwan Breathing, in which you deeply and slowly stimulate your Joongwan with breathing and pressure. You can do both exercises standing, sitting, or lying down. Use your fingers or Healing Life, a tool I developed for doing Belly Button Healing.
First, for Joongwan Pumping, just bring the index, middle, and ring fingers on both of your hands together, using them to rhythmically press your Joongwan for about 1 to 2 minutes. You can do it a little more easily and effectively if you use Healing Life. It is important at this time to relax your belly, shoulders, and arms so that they aren't tense. Breathe naturally but exhale slowly, with a long, "Hoo . . ."
For Joongwan Breathing, press your Joongwan as you exhale for 3 to 5 seconds, release your pressing hands as you inhale for 3 to 5 seconds. You can use your index, middle, and ring fingers on both hands or the thumb of one hand with the other hand over the first. Repeat this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes. When you press in on the exhale, press only until you get the feeling of a pulse beating in your abdomen or of a slight pain. Take care not to press too hard.
Get Bright Meditation: Just Be There Like Nature
Lie with your back flat on the floor, or sit with your back straight in a chair or on the floor. Imagine that you are a natural place you like, for example, on a beach listening to the sounds of gentle waves, on a hill watching a beautiful sunset, or in a field enjoying warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. Bringing your index and middle fingers together, touch them to your Joongwan, or place one hand on your Joongwan and the other hand over the first. Breathe comfortably in this position for about 3 minutes. Without trying to control your breathing, watch the changes arising in your body, including your respiration, feeling as if you're looking on from a third-person perspective.
Let Your Brain Know You Want to Get Bright
What's important when you use the Get Bright Method is connecting your brain and body. When you do any of the exercises introduced above, let your brain recognize the changes you feel in your body. Help your brain scan your condition and notice the process of subtle change in your body's senses.
"I have a stifling feeling in my chest, like it's completely blocked.” "My shoulders and neck are stiff." "Pressing on my Joongwan point, I feel pain." "I keep burping when I do Joongwan Pumping." "My mouth fills with saliva, my eyes with moisture, and the tips of my fingers and toes are warmer." "Breathing is much more comfortable." Noticing changes such as these hones your brain’s ability to be aware of your physical condition and senses. And let your brain know that being light and bright is the energy state you want to achieve.
When your brain recognizes the uncomfortable condition of your body, it starts actively working to solve the problem. Also your brain listens to your intention and tries to help you achieve your desirable energy state. This is the natural healing power built into everyone’s body and brain. Not artificial, it's a blessing given to us by nature.
How great is the distance between happiness and unhappiness? How long does it take to go from being unhappy to being happy? If that's hard to answer, let's try changing the question like this. How long does it take you to get angry? No time at all. In the same way, it doesn't take long for your mood to improve.
Happiness and unhappiness are energy phenomena. If we recognize when we're feeling unhappy and frustrated, it's up to us whether to remain in that state or create happiness by changing our energy.
If you're feeling down and frustrated, try changing your energy with the Get Bright Method. All healing begins in self-love and self-trust. Try taking some time to stimulate your Joongwan point, connecting with your body and brain. Then you'll be kinder to and easier on yourself, and, with that energy, you will be able to share more brightness with those around you as well as spread it in your own life.
I'm curious about what you experienced trying the Get Bright Method. Please share your experience with me.
If you're inspired by Ilchi Lee's words, you may like to sign up for his weekly email messages on his official website here