Learn Your Way. Live Your Way.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it ten thousand times—-Everyone has their own Way. Summer is always where I learn this lesson again with almost every conversation I have. It seems, there are ten thousand ways to thrive during Summer. For example:
- Maybe you embrace the heat, make it a priority to be out in the sun soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible, and stay up late to enjoy the long days.
- Or maybe you block your calendar to ensure you can partake of the festivals and fairs, organize cornhole games and barbeques, or spend evenings at the community pool.
- Or maybe you hunker down inside the air conditioning, get up before sunrise to walk your dogs during the coolest hours of the day, and sit on your porch during thunderstorms in hopes of catching the glimpse of a rainbow.
- Or maybe your Summer strategy involves other time-tested Ways to make the most of the Fire Element energy.
Regardless, when you learn YOUR Way, life becomes more…natural. And when you live in rhythm with your own Nature and the Nature around you, chances are you don’t just live—you Thrive.
The word “thrive” comes from an Old Norse word that means “grasp to oneself” or “to grasp one’s self” and has morphed into meaning “to grow vigorously and luxuriantly.” From a Qigong perspective, I love that this word brings together the energy of Spring Wood Element (growing) and the energy of late Summer Earth Element (abundance). This is another power of early Summer Fire Element (connecting).
Qigong is a powerful Way to help you grasp your “self” in order to better identify those strategies that help you thrive. Here’s one Qigong flow that might get you started. It’s called the Fruits of the Tree Flow. I recommend practicing each part separately until your body knows the movement well and can perform it in a state of relaxed flow. Then, when you know each part, string them together and see which part your body says is DELICIOUS!
1. Open your energy gates in the palms of your hands. Smack, punch, and tap the center point of your palms, then immediately stretch your fingers wide, make a claw and then a tight fist. Do this several times before relaxing your hands. Touch the center point of your palm with a finger, then relax and focus on that spot in the center of your hands to connect with your energy.
2. Create your Qi ball — the seed of your intention. Face palm points towards each other and let them connect magnetically. Feel the gentle pull and push between the palms by breathing and letting you hands float towards each other and apart. Set your intention: what would you like to grow luxuriantly in your life? Maybe it’s a relationship, a business, your career, your health, a dream, fun, or… Whatever it is, place that intention into your Qi ball to create the seed.
3. Plant the seed. On the exhale, lower the seed slightly, then turn the palms of the hands down to the earth and spread them apart as if you’re smoothing the dirt away from, then inhale your hands back together as if you’re smoothing the dirt over the seed you just planted.
- If this is where you feel most delicious, consider what you need to push away or smooth out in order to find balance in your life. Do you need to make space so you can begin something new? Do you need to clean up some area in your life to allow something to grow?
4. Water the seed. Instead of smoothing the dirt over the seed on the inhale, bring the backs of the hands towards your midline and draw up to the heart. Keeping the elbows in place next to your sides, exhale and let the wrists circle out and around as if water coming from a fountain to water the seed.
- If this is where you feel most delicious, consider how you can find more tranquility and self-care in your life. In order to become a flower or a tree, you need nurturing, and time to just soak, absorb, and relax. How do you feel nurtured? Can you find time in your day do nothing? Maybe pair it with a cup of herbal tea or a glass of sparkling water to make it more enjoyable.
5. Grow the flower. On the inhale, the wrists continue their circle until backs of the hands meet at the centerline with fingertips pointing up and raising to the heart to form the Lotus. Exhale in this position, then inhale and exhale again in this position feeling the stretch in the backs of the hands and sides of the arms.
- If this is where you feel most delicious, consider how you can be more active towards something you truly care about. Your heart doesn’t grow stronger by being still, sometimes it needs a little challenge to strengthen it. Is there something you truly care about, but just think about or tell yourself “someday…”? Are there actions you can take now? Even small actions can generate significant results.
6. Create the bud and open the flower. On the next inhale, rotate the wrists so the palms face away from you forefingers and thumbs creating a gentle diamond shape (this is the bud). On the exhale, open the flower by reaching forward and out with gently cupped hands; circle around and down.
- If this is where you feel most delicious, consider how you can serve others. My mom and dad used to say that what we most need to learn is what we end up having the most to share with others. That’s one of the reasons I teach Qigong—I need it!!! And once I learned it, it seemed only natural that I share with others who are ready to learn. What’s in your heart? What have you learned? Who could that help? And how could you find ways to share that with those who are ready?
7. Grow the tree. After the flower opens, the hands will be down by the sides, palms facing in, hands gently cupped. Inhale your fingers straight up the sides of your body so that when the hands reach your shoulders, your palms turn to face up to the sky and press up into a gentle stretch. On the exhale, the arms separate and float down either side of you—dropping acorns, pinecones, apples, or whatever “fruit/tree seed” is most meaningful to you.
- If this part of the form is where you feel most delicious, take some time to consider that your dreams or wishes might need more…space, vision, belief, reach. The question is what do you long for (not what do you think you might get). If you only aim for what you might get, you’ll never know what really could have been. Dream big!
8. Gather the seeds and start again. When the hands return to your sides raise them up slightly on an inhale (about waist high) so the palm points face each other again (gathering the seeds). From here, you begin again at planting the seed.
I hope you enjoy practicing this flow as much as I do! And when you find the area you feel most delicious, pay attention to the lesson it teaches you. Play around with the form and see what else you can learn about yourself. Be curious and have fun!